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 Pannier examines the trade that sent Zach Walters from the Kansas City T-Bones to the St. Paul Saints for Noah Perio, Jr.
Examining the Noah Perio, Jr. – Zach Walters Deal
On Sunday evening, the St. Paul Saints sent infielder Noah Perio, Jr. to the Kansas City T-Bones for infielder Zach Walters. The trade was rather a surprise as both players are infielders, veterans and hitting machines, and may have more to do with freeing up cap room for Kansas City than anything else.
What Zach Walters Brings to St. Paul Saints
The St. Paul Saints offense has been in a doldrums of late. This was the No. 1 offense through the first month of the season, but has struggled of late, especially with runners in scoring position. Manager George Tsamis had been looking for players who he could change the face of this offense and Zach Walters can certainly do that.
Walters is a former Big Leaguer, who spent parts of four seasons in the Major Leagues, most recently with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2016. In 46 games this season, the infielder was hitting .279 with 6-homers and 34-RBI. Last season, he spent 18 games with the T-Bones, hitting .347 with 6-home runs and 20-RBI before his contract was purchased.
Walters had gotten off to a slow start this season, hitting .221 as late as June 10, but he has raised his average nearly 60 points in the last month and is the kind of hitter that the Saints Manager has been looking for. He likely moves into the No. 3 position in the batting order, allowing Tsamis to move the deadly Burt Reynolds into the cleanup role.
For Tsamis, what may have really prompted the deal is the need for a leader on this this St. Paul team. Brady Shoemaker has outstanding leadership qualities but leads more in how he carries himself. They need a more outspoken leader, and the void will likely be filled by Walters, who is expected to retire from baseball at the end of the season to pursue his dream of becoming a Navy Seal.
What Noah Perio. Jr. Brings to Kansas City T-Bones
The Kansas City T-Bones are the second best hitting team in the American Association, trailing only the Sioux City Explorers. This is as deep of a team as there is, and so this has likely afforded Manager Joe Calfapietra the opportunity to tinker with his team looking for the very best group of 23 that he can field.
Noah Perio, Jr. can flat out hit, and he can play anywhere on the infield. Perio joins Kansas City hitting .311 in 44 games with 17-RBI and 26-runs scored. He is an excellent second baseman, who has good range at short, but needs to work a little on his instincts. He has logged plenty of games at third as well, and has played well at first this season.
Perio is a gap hitter, knocking 12 doubles this season, but he will likely see his power numbers rise in Kansas City. This is the perfect park for how he approaches hitting, and the infielder could prove to be another formidable weapon in this already extremely talented T-Bones lineup.
The Negative Effect
The truth is that there is really no negative effect for either team. Perio gets on-base a little more and he can do so many things with the bat. The move likely means Calfapietra will move Perio into the No. 2 hole in the lineup, moving Todd Cunningham to the three spot. Perio hitting second should allow the T-Bones to use the hit-n-run a lot with Dylan Tice hitting first. It also gives protection for Calfapietra as a number of affiliate clubs have been checking out Tice for about a month now.
For St. Paul, Walters will make a great double-play partner for SS Anthony Phillips. He is a solid second baseman who has suddenly turned a spot that has been a liability of sorts since Josh Allen was signed by the New York Mets into a strength. There is no doubt that Phillips and Walters should mesh well and give the Saints a double-play combo that should match the 2015 pairing of Phillips and Dan Kaczrowski.
By Robert Pannier