Twins pick up Canaries star Tomscha
Former Canaries third baseman Damek Tomscha. (Canaries file)
Growing up in Sioux City, Iowa, Damek Tomscha dreamed of playing for the Minnesota Twins. Now, one of the top Canaries' sluggers and defensive dynamos of all time will get his shot of living the dream.
The Twins purchased the rights to the third baseman from the Birds on Wednesday, pending the passing of the team's medical examination.
After a blistering 2020 season in which he anchored the American Association's highest-scoring offense (by far) and was second in the league in RBI while making frequent "web gem" highlights for a team that reached the championship series, the 29-year-old Tomscha is back in MLB system, where he spent six seasons (2014-19) and reached the Triple-A level twice before landing in Sioux Falls last season.
"Growing up cheering for the Twins definitely makes the opportunity to play for the organization way more exciting for me, my family, and my friends in Sioux City," Tomscha said Wednesday.
"I can't thank the Sioux Falls Canaries, (manager) Mike Meyer, and the rest of my teammates, and other teams enough for pushing through the difficult circumstances last summer and playing the season. Without the season last summer, this opportunity with the Twins would not have been possible."
Indeed, the loss of all affiliated minor league baseball due to the pandemic in 2020 was the Canaries' gain in the case of Tomscha, who drove in a team-best 49 runs in 55 games of a 60-contest regular season that was shortened by 40 games and started a month late, also due to Covid-19.
Tomscha was fifth in the Association and third in the loaded Birds lineup in batting average (.320), hit 10 home runs (second on the team), and cranked out a Birds-best four triples to go along with a dazzling defenisve play at the hot corner seeemingly every game.
"I'm so excited for Damek to get another opportunity with a great organzation in the Minnesota Twins," Canaries manager Mike Meyer said. "Damek was the anchor of our lineup and put together nothing but quality at-bats and produced a bunch of big hits for us. He also played the best defensive third base I've ever seen in The Birdcage, which says a lot, because we've had some good ones.
"He's a great player and an even better person and I look forward to following his time with the Twins, which I hope will get him that shot in the big leagues."
The star of the only Sioux City North High School team to capture an Iowa state baseball championship, Tomscha in 2009 took his talents to Iowa Western Community College in Council Bluffs and showed enough promise in two seasons to earn a spot at Auburn in the SEC -- the best major college baseball conference in the nation.
He was drafted three times by three different teams from 2010-13 but stayed in school, and after his senior campaign with the Tigers was selected by the Philadelphia Phillies in the MLB Draft's 17th round in June 2014.
In those six seasons in the affiliated minors, Tomscha hit .273 with 55 home runs and 299 RBI in 603 games. That's nearly one RBI every two games, or an 80 RBI season in the majors. He has also hit .315 in three collective seasons of winter league ball in Puerto Rico and Australia.
The Phillies called up Tomscha to the Triple-A level in 2018 and again in '19, when they eventually traded him to the White Sox system. The Birds signed him as a free agent prior to the 2020 season. With clutch hit after jaw-dropping web gem, Tomscha helped carry the Canaries to the 2020 American Association Finals -- their first playoff berth in a decade.
"Obviously, we came up short last season in the championship series but I had a blast playing for Sioux Falls in 2020," Tomscha said. "I'm wishing them nothing but the best this year!"
This leaves Meyer on the hunt for a new third baseman. So far, the manager is pleased with the 2021 roster construction, which includes the return of some of the biggest bats in that explosive 2020 lineup -- Logan Landon, Jabari Henry, and Mike Hart. Joining them are towering sluggers Troy Alexander (formerly of the Saints) and Nate Etheridge, a 6'5 minor league veteran masher.
To read more about the latest moves, including Meyer's pitcher signings for 2021, click here.
Season tickets are on sale and the 2021 schedule is out, with the opener in Sioux Falls on May 18 kicking off a slate of 56 games in The Birdcage through Labor Day.
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