What Gems Might the California Winter League Have to Offer

What Gems Might the California Winter League Have to OfferAmerican 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, we look at the California Winter League and players that could find their way onto an American Association roster. 

It’s Always Sunny in California

If you are hankering for some baseball and getting up at 2 am to watch the Australian Baseball League was just not working for you, know that there is an option out there on the West Coast. The California Winter League (CWL), which has been the official Winter league of the Frontier League, began play a few weeks ago and has about 10 days left in the schedule, is giving American Association fans the opportunity to see some potential talent that may make it onto a roster come the end of May.

This league has had some success in placing their top talent with other leagues, including having nine players contracts purchased by Major League organizations last season. The American Association is no stranger to the CWL, as 11 players came from the league following the 2017 campaign.

The most well-known was RHP Dylan Thompson, who pitched for the Sioux Falls Canaries in 2016, then pitched for the New York Colonials in the CWL before returning to Sioux Falls where he put together an All-Star season.

Cleburne Railroaders Manager Gabe Suarez spent the 2017 winter managing a the team as league.

American Association Alumi in the Sunshine State

This season there a few names who will be familiar to American Association fans. Former Cleburne Railroaders closer Winston Abreu is managing the Washington Blue Sox, and they are thriving under his leadership, posting the top record in the league (8-4), leading the American Division.

Jake Luce is a name that is familiar as well, as he played for Amarillo, Wichita, Sioux Falls, and Texas, helping the Wingnuts to win the 2014 league championship. Luce is having an outstanding season for the Canada A’s, hitting .357 in 11 games with 6 runs and 5 RBI.

KC Huth was one of the best defensive center fielders in the American Association last season, while hitting .236 in 93 games. He is destroying the ball for the American Division leading Washington Blue Sox, hitting .517 in 11 games with 7 runs and 4 RBI.

Guess Who May Be Coming to Dinner

With the success that players like Luce and Huth have had, it is not surprising that American Association teams would be taking a look at the top talent in the California Winter League to see who might be available to fill a roster spot or two. Here are a few that should get a look, who likely will at least wind up in the Pecos League.

Christopher Mangus and Gabriel Gunther – Alberta Grizzly

Christopher Mangus is second in the California Winter League in batting with Gabriel Gunter third. Mangus has played well at third and is hitting .500 (11-22). Gunter is hitting .480 (12-25). Gunter leads the league in runs scored (11) and has 4 doubles.

Carter Grote – Canada A’s

Carter Grote is the one every day player that it would not be surprising to see him get some serious looks from teams in the American Association and from affiliate teams as well. The second baseman is a slick fielder and has a lively bat, leading the league in home runs (4) and RBI (13). It is not common to find a middle infielder with power and average (.382), and so he should get some serious looks.

Will Krug – Manitoba North Stars

There are managers around the league who love to run, and Will Krug is the kind of outfielder who could be a difference maker. He is a slick fielder who leads the league in stolen bases with 16 in just 11 games. Krug is hitting .343.

Austin Bueter – Alberta Grizzly

It is hard to judge how a pitcher’s game will translate to a far superior league, so the numbers have to be off the chart. Austin Bueter is one such example. The right-hander is 2-0 with a 2.23 ERA. What has been most impressive is his 27 strikeouts in 15.2 innings pitched.

Joseph Costello – Washington Blue Sox

Joseph Costello maybe the very best pitcher in the league. He is 3-0 with a 1.31 ERA, but the command this right-hander has is off the charts. He has allowed just one walk in 16 innings of work, while striking out 22. He has only allowed 7 hits, making a WHIP of 0.50.

Kyle Brown – Palm Springs Power

If a left-hander is what a team is looking for, then Kyle Brown could be the perfect addition. The lefty is 3-0 and leads the CWL with a 0.00 ERA in 14 innings pitched. He has allowed 11 total base runners while striking out 16, and has blanked the two best teams in the league in his outings against them.

American Association Daily Notes

The Winnipeg Goldeyes had their second player contract purchased by an affiliate club when the Philadelphia Phillies signed right-hander Josh Tols. Tols was with the Kansas City T-Bones two seasons ago, when he was 5-4 with a 4.18 ERA in 27 appearances. Tols remained in his native Australia last season, but joined the Goldeyes earlier this month…The Gary Southshore RailCats acquired RHP Justin Sinabaldi from Lake Erie (Frontier League) for OF Cameron Newell. Sinabaldi has spent the last two seasons in Lake Erie. Last year he had a breakout campaign, posting a 5-2 record with a 3.15 ERA in 36 appearances. The right-hander has great command, allowing 13 walks in 60 innings pitched while striking out 73.

By Robert Pannier
Member of the IBWAA

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