In its third decade of honoring the nation's best high school athletes, Gatorade joined with RISE Magazine to name senior first baseman BRAD HAND of CHASKA HIGH as its 2007-08 Minnesota Baseball Player of the Year.
The 6-foot-3, 210-pound senior first baseman had produced a .344 batting average, 17 RBI, 15 runs scored and six home runs at the time of selection, leading the Hawks to a 13-7 record entering the Class 3A state tournament. A returning First Team All-State honoree as named by the Minnesota Coaches Association and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Hand, also a left-handed pitcher, had compiled a 5-1 record with a 0.55 ERA and 65 strikeouts in 38.1 innings through 20 games. He concluded his junior season with a 4-1 pitching record, including a 1.69 ERA and 72 strikeouts in addition to batting .419 with six home runs.
Hand has maintained a 3.21 GPA in the classroom. He volunteers as part of multiple community-service initiatives, providing nutritious meals to the hungry at eight sites in the Twin Cities metro area on behalf of Loaves and Fishes, as well as donating his time to the local Christmas in May program, an organization dedicated to rebuilding homes for residents who are unable to physically or financially do the work themselves.
"He's definitely the best player in the state this year," said Mike Halloran, head coach of rival Eden Prairie High. "He dominates games, and his control is very good. He's also one of the most dangerous hitters in the state. I really don't see any weaknesses."
Hand has verbally committed to a baseball scholarship at Arizona State University this fall, but is projected as an upper-round selection in next month's Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.