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Standout Tartan shortstop to play for Gophers

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- No one is giggling at Ryan Abrahamson today. Abrahamson took his share of hazing when he sprouted to 6 foot 4 after his sophomore year, and Tartan baseball coach Curt Russell left him at shortstop. There were more giggles on th...

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- No one is giggling at Ryan Abrahamson today.

Abrahamson took his share of hazing when he sprouted to 6 foot 4 after his sophomore year, and Tartan baseball coach Curt Russell left him at shortstop. There were more giggles on the ice. Abrahamson was almost an inch taller in skates as a forward for Tartan's hockey team.

As the one-liners flowed, Abrahamson tuned out the rhetoric and focused on improving his skills, particularly on the baseball field. Yes, 6-4 is quite tall for a shortstop, but few high school players in Minnesota were as productive -- at the plate or in the field -- as the Tartan graduate demonstrated this season.

"I guess things turned out OK," Abrahamson said. "I never thought I would be in a position like this. You always think there's somebody out there better than you."

Not this year. Abrahamson led Tartan to a 19-5 finish, which included a 6-0 performance as a pitcher. He batted .452 and set single-season school records with 13 homers and 49 runs batted in. Twenty-six of his 38 hits went for extra bases.

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The long ball, a consistent part of Abrahamson's offense, helped him earn a scholarship at the University of Minnesota. His bat also attracted moderate interest from the Twins, who chose him in the 40th round of last week's major-league amateur draft.

For a kid teased because of his height, life is pretty cool right now.

Baseball became Abrahamson's priority as soon as Tartan's 2008-09 hockey season ended. He scored 16 goals but had no interest in putting on skates again.

Another change is awaiting Abrahamson as he prepares to join the Gophers' program. Gophers coach John Anderson told him that he will be moved from shortstop to the outfield or first base.

"I'm OK with that," Abrahamson said of the position change. "I wasn't expecting to stay at shortstop in college. It doesn't matter that much where I play."

Abrahamson calls the Twins his "favorite baseball team," but he's leaning toward resuming his career in college.

Abrahamson had a special moment about a week before the draft. He and several local college players were invited by Twins player personnel officials to participate in a batting practice session at the Metrodome.

Tartan didn't play in the Metrodome during Abrahamson's career, so the session was a first-time experience for the slugger.

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"It was really a lot of fun to hit in the Dome," Abrahamson said. "I was able to hit four or five over the wall."

At Tartan, Abrahamson's favorite moment had nothing to do with one of his big hits or dominant performances on the mound.

In a game against Cretin-Derham Hall this season, the score was tied in the seventh inning, and Tartan had runners on second and third with Abrahamson due up. The Raiders intentionally walked him, taking their chances with cleanup hitter Hogan Jackson.

Jackson hit a grand slam to win the game.

"That was such a good feeling to see that," Abrahamson said of Jackson's blast. "It showed that we had guys up and down our lineup who could produce. It wasn't about me all the time."

Related Topics: BASEBALL
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