American Association Daily will provide 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 examine the Jersey effect on the Kansas City T-Bones, as Manager Joe Calfapietra brings in former Jackals to make his new team a real threat in the South Division.
Manager and GM
There are many things to like about being a manager in the independent baseball leagues, but one thing that is quite appealing to most is that the team that takes the field is the one that the manager put together. That not only means that they can find players that fit their style of play but, if they have come from another managerial job in another independent league, they can bring in players from their former team who know the style of play that is expected. This is what Manager Joe Calfapietra is implementing with his Kansas City T-Bones team, as he has made a few key moves this off-season that should give the T-Bones a very New Jersey-like feel to them.
17 Years of Success
Before becoming the Kansas City manager, Joe Calfapietra spent 17 years as the manager of the New Jersey Jackals (Can-Am League). Calfapietra was quite successful in New Jersey, posting an 848-740 record, and making the playoffs 10 times, including seven in a row at one point. The Jackals also went to the championship series six times, winning in 2004.
What made Calfapietra so successful was that he had a real eye for talent, but he also built relationships with players that became lifelong ones. This meant that when he had a need, he could reach out to anyone of them and they would be more than happy to assist their former manager in filling a roster slot with a talented player.
He has also been loyal to them, making sure that even if he did not have a spot on his team that he would work to try to find them a team that offered a soft landing. In Kansas City, it has also meant that he has sought to bring in some of his former players.
Kansas City – the New Jersey Shore?
Before the 2017 season, Joe Calfapietra brought in three of his former players. Eddie Newton and Daniel Rockett were acquired, but they did not last the entire season in Kansas City. Gabe Perez, who had pitched for the Jackals in 2015, was also acquired. He had a solid season for the T-Bones, appearing in 21 games, 17 starts, and going 8-6 with a 4.68 ERA. Perez struck out 114 in 107.0 innings pitched, eighth most in the American Association.
At the end of January, the T-Bones Manager brought in LHP Jose Jose and 1B Art Charles. Jose had pitched for Calfapietra in 2016 and was with New Jersey last season as well. He has been devastating out of the bullpen, making 21 appearances in each of the last two seasons, posting a 2-2 record and a 2.43 ERA in 2016 and an 0-4 record and a 2.30 ERA in 2017. Jose has awesome control, walking a combined 13 batters in his two seasons, including just 4 last year, in 57.0 total innings while striking out 69 combined.
Charles should be a huge addition to a team that already has Kevin Keyes and Zach Walters. Charles spent much of 2017 in affiliate ball, playing 43 games at AA-Biloxi (Milwaukee Brewers) and 26 at AAA-Laguna (Mexican League), but in 2016 he hit 29 homers in 96 games for Calfapietra, with a .352 average. He even put up solid numbers in his 12 games in 2017 in New Jersey, hitting .295 with 3 homers and 11 RBI.
Charles should fit perfectly into this Kansas City T-Bones lineup. With the return of Walters, who hit .347 with 20 RBI in 18 games before the Kansas City Royals purchased his contract and Keyes, who blasted 24 homers in 98 games and finished with a .294 average, this could be the toughest heart of the order in the league. With Charles likely moving into the No. 4 spot in the order, it would give a great L-R-L 3-4-5 in the batting order. This should be a group that combines for better than 70 homers and 280 RBI. That would be unmatched by any team in the American Association.
The Jersey Attitude
Of course, it takes more than pure talent to go all the way in the American Association. It takes a lot of moxie, and that is one attribute that Joe Calfapietra has in spades. He is not just a great evaluator of talent, but is a hard nosed manager who knows how to inspire. It is no wonder that he would seek to bring in players that have gelled to his style. They have a lot of New Jersey in them as well.
With the lineup he has built, there is a lot to like about the Kansas City T-Bones in 2018. Best of all, the K.C. Manager is not even done yet. If they get a few table setters, look out!
American Association Daily Notes
The Cleburne Railroaders announced that the Los Angeles Angels purchased the contract of RHP Cortland Cox. He is the second player from the team to have his contract purchased…The Winnipeg Goldeyes announced that they have traded LHP Evan Rutckyk to the Ottawa Champions (Can-Am League) and that RHP Edwin Carl was signed for the upcoming season. Rutckyj appeared in 22 games and posted a 5.57 ERA in 2017. Carl started 19 games, and was 9-4 with a 4.60 ERA. He will be in the rotation this season as well…The Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks signed three players: OF Willie Doll, infielder Carlos Triunfel, and RHP Trey McNutt. McNutt spent time in the Chicago Cubs and San Diego Padres organizations before signing with the RedHawks last season. He was 4-3 in 38 appearances with 4 saves and a 5.10 ERA. Triunfel played in the Majors with the Seattle Mariners and Los Angeles Dodgers. Last season, the infielder played at York (Atlantic League) and Tabasco (Mexican League). He hit .271 in York in 62 games with 8 homers and 28 RBI…Willie Doll went to St. Mary’s (MN), where he was a career .374 hitter with 12 homers and 92 RBI in 154 career games.
By Robert Pannier