Saints infielder Michael Helman putting himself in position for big league call-up

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Just over a year ago, St. Paul Saints infielder Michael Helman was putting up the type of numbers that were creating buzz around CHS Field that he could get his first big league call-up.

A dislocated shoulder put an end to the speculation and nearly ended Helman’s season, sidelining him from May 12 to Sept. 13.

All these months later, let the speculation begin again.

The 27-year-old Helman is hitting a robust .387 in June and hit his 10th home run of the season on Sunday in the Saints’ 7-4 loss to the Syracuse Mets. For the season, Helman is batting .276 with 10 home runs and 31 RBIs despite missing a couple weeks due to a left hamstring strain.

“I’ve always said that when he’s healthy and going good, he’s one of the best players on the field,” Saints manager Toby Gardenhire said. “And that’s what he’s doing right now.”
Helman, an 11th-round pick by the Twins in 2018 out of Texas A&M, said he is handling the latest buzz the same way he did a year ago.

“I don’t think about it; if it happens, it happens,” Helman said. “If they need something at that time, it could be you, whether you’re playing well or not.”

Helman said he met with hitting coach Shawn Schlechter a few weeks ago to iron out a problem with his swing.

“I was letting my front-leg kick get pretty high,” Helman said. “It was messing with my timing; being able to recognize pitches. We narrowed that down, and it feels a lot better now.”

Helman provided the majority of the Saints’ offense on Sunday, with a two-run homer and an RBI double. He was on base four times, adding a single and a hit by pitch.

The loss dropped the Saints to a season-low eight games under .500 at 27-35. They haven’t been above .500 since April 11, when they beat Iowa to improve to 6-5.

Sunday marked the end of the Saints’ 11th series of the season. They have won only two of them, including an abbreviated two-game set with Columbus to start the season, while losing six and splitting three.

Injuries have played a part, but the roster does not featured as many top prospects as it has in the past.

“It feels like as soon as we do a couple things right, we go back and do a couple things wrong,” Gardenhire said. “We’ve got a good group, and I expect good things going forward, but it’s been tough.

“Hopefully, we’ll stay healthy and keep all the guys on the field, and start going in the right direction.”

Gardenhire knows his main job is getting players ready to help the Twins. But he doesn’t discount the importance of winning games.

“Winning is part of development,” he said. “Losing every day doesn’t develop you, it doesn’t help you get better as a player. You need to learn how to win games. We’ve always done that, and we’ll get back to that. The guys aren’t happy with losing, believe me.”

Helman is among them.

“I would say, it doesn’t matter what level you’re at, the main goal is to win ballgames,” he said. “When you’re winning ballgames, that’s when you know everyone’s playing well and you’re clicking as a team. That’s what you want to see out of everybody.”


Austin Martin was held out of the lineup for the third straight game after getting banged up while making a diving catch in center field. Gardenhire said it was mostly precautionary and expects Martin to play in the upcoming series in Louisville.

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