2020 American Association Preview: Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks
American Association Daily provides insights and features on the American Association of Professional Baseball League, as well as player and coaching profiles and transactions going on with teams around the league. In today’s edition, Robert previews the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks and what to expect from this team during the 2020 American Association season.
Preview the 2020 Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks
Manager: Chris Coste (First Season as manager with the RedHawks)
2019 Record: 63-27 (Second in North Division, Second in American Association)
Home Ballpark: Impact Field
A Quick Recap of 2019
Big things were expected from the RedHawks in 2019 and they came through. First-year Manager Jim Bennett did a masterful job of keeping this team near or at the top of the North Division standings all season. They looked destined to go deep into the playoffs, but the loss of catcher Daniel Comstock and SS Yhoxian Medina just before the season ended proved to be costly.
However, the team did not let this become an excuse or distraction, as they hung onto the final playoff spot in the North and looked like they were about to sweep their way to the championship series after winning the first two games in Fargo-Moorhead, before taking a 4-0 lead into the bottom of the seventh inning in a game where starter Tyler Pike was tossing a perfect game through six. However, a pair of homeruns tied the score, and the Saints battled for three improbable victories to end the RedHawks season.
Key Losses: RHP Geoff Broussard, Devan Ahart, Yhoxian Medina, 1B Chris Jacobs, OF Tim Colwell, RHP Mike Tamburino
Key Additions: RHP Tyler Wilson, C Dylan Kelly, C Blake Grant-Parks, 1B/OF Stewart Ijames, RHP Braden Hagens, Christian Ibarra
Looking Ahead to 2020
While the 2019 season ended in great disappointment, there is still a lot of optimism in Fargo-Moorhead. This team is just as deep as last year’s squad and may actually be better offensively, as hard as that is to believe.
The starting rotation sees Ryan Williams (2.92, 13 starts) and Bret Helton return (6-7, 17 starts). Dustin Beggs started last season in rookie league ball on a rehab, and worked his way all the way to AAA, going a combined 9-5 through five levels. Former Major Leaguer Bradin Hagens could be the No. 4 starter.
Losing Geoff Broussard, who led the American Association in saves with 28, is a big loss. However, the RedHawks acquired Tyler Wilson (24 saves, 1.71) from the Cleburne Railroaders in the dispersal draft, so the closer’s role is set. Should Wilson falter or need a day off, the team has the luxury of Jake Cosart, who split time between A and AA last season. Ryan Thurston comes from Gary, and the team brough in Reese Gregory, who was awesome for Lincoln last year. Brent Jones returns and they have added Mitchell Osnowitz, Jackson Sigman, and Robbie Gordon. The starting staff is not awesome, but the bullpen can bridge the gap to Wilson.
Catching may have been an issue at the end of last season, but it will not be a problem this year. Fargo-Moorhead selected all-star Dylan Kelly (.287, 97 games) in the dispersal draft, and he has arguably been the best catcher in the league over the last three years. They also added Blake Grant-Parks, who hit .327 in Rockland (Can-Am League), as well as Sherman Graves (Sante Fe – Pecos League). He clubbed 19 homers in the Pecos League, but could have a lot of trouble getting onto the field.
Medina is gone, but the team found an equally talented replacement in Christian Ibarra, who hit 16 homers last season and is an outstanding shortstop. MVP candidate Leobaldo Pina (.323, 10 homers) returns as does his fellow teammate MVP candidate, Correlle Prime (.312, 18 homers). Stewart Ijames (.281, 12 homers) comes from Kansas City, and Brennan Metzger (.314, 99 games) sets the table. They also added Forrestt Allday, and he should combine with Metzger to be a brutal 1-2 at the top of the order.
The RedHawks are going to hit. There is no doubt about that.
Everything was looking like it was going to be a sixth championship in Fargo-Moorhead last year, but injuries crushed those dreams. This team returns deeper and may even be a little better. They have a new manager and that is usually a wild card in these situations, but there is no need to worry about Chris Coste. He has plenty of experience and is up to the task.
What we like about this team is that they came to the shortened Spring Training ready to go. It is not going to take two weeks for this team to get ready, and that will be a difference maker in a 60-game season. Look for the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks to grab one of the two playoff spots.
By Robert Pannier