Top Minor League Hitters in Milwaukee Brewers History: #4 Gorman Thomas, 1974 Sacramento

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Last week’s post featured Bill McNulty, who was listed as the fifth-ranked minor league hitter in Milwaukee Brewers history. This week’s submission honors his teammate in Sacramento in 1974, and long-time Brewer star, Gorman Thomas.

The seasons were somewhat similar (both had over 50 home runs and more than 120 RBI), but Thomas gets ranked higher due to the fact he was younger than league average, where McNulty was two years older.

‘Stormin’ Gorman’ was selected by the Seattle Pilots in the first round (21st overall) of the 1969 MLB June Amateur Draft out of James Island HS in Charleston, SC. Thomas reported to Billings in the Rookie Pioneer League and had a decent season, slashing .296/.363/.493 in 162 plate appearances and earned a promotion to Clinton in the Class A Midwest League the following season.

In 1970 Thomas struggled, generating a .212/.286/.337 slash line in just 85 games (injury, maybe?) and would return to the Midwest League the following year, although the Brewers affiliate played in Danville in 1971.

Thomas had a much better year, smacking a league-leading 31 home runs along with a slash line of .245/.331/.510 in 522 plate appearances.

In 1972, Thomas moved up to Class AA San Antonio in the Texas League, where he banged out 26 homers in a season that was similar to the previous one. (One wonders what kind of numbers he would have put up at El Paso’s Dudley Dome, where the Brewers AA affiliate would begin play at in 1981.)

Thomas spent the first three months of 1973 with the big club in Milwaukee but was sent down to AAA Evansville for two months before returning to the Brewers when the rosters were expanded in September.

That set up Gorman’s terrific 1974 season in the state capital of California.

#4 Gorman Thomas, 1974 Sacramento (AAA)

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Although the team didn’t do much (second-worst record in the Pacific Coast League), Thomas certainly shone that season just over 40 years ago.

Thomas ranked second in homers (51) and slugging (.656); third in runs scored (117), RBI (122), OPS (1.069), and total bases (311). He was fourth in the PCL with 93 walks.

After the PCL season was completed, Thomas earned another promotion to Milwaukee, where he played in 17 games the last few weeks of the major league season. In his first game back in a Brewers jersey, Thomas hit a game-winning two-run homer off Boston’s Diego Segui in the ninth inning for a 4-3 victory. In 57 plate appearances, Thomas slashed .261/.357/.478 with a pair of home runs.

Thomas would play two more seasons in Milwaukee before getting sent back to AAA Spokane in 1977. He would return to the big leagues for good in 1978.

Stormin’ Gorman will earn another mention in this series and his story will be rejoined then.

Stay tuned!

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