Laredo Lemurs Lingo: Off-Season Update
It was a great season in Texas for American Association baseball, as the Laredo Lemurs won an impressive 58 games and earned a spot in the league’s playoffs. The problem for the Lemurs was that the 73-win Wichita Wingnuts were also in their division, and that was the Lemurs opening round opponent. Laredo was summarily dispatched from the post-season, and left to figure out how to take last year’s success and turn it into a championship this season.
That task may not be as daunting as it may seem, as the Lemurs have one of the best managers in the league in Pete Incaviglia and the Wingnuts have seen five key pieces to last year’s team depart to other pastures. Their moves thus far have greatly strengthened their bullpen and they find themselves as a serious competitor to come out of the Southern Division and go all the way to the championship.
In the first couple of months following the end of the season, the Laredo Lemurs focus was on what to do with their own players. On September 19, the team decided to exercise the options on infielder John Alonso and LHP Casey Harman, giving Laredo the right to bring these two back.
Alonso was one of the key pieces to the Lemurs batting order last season. He finished with a .344 average in 88 games, with 59 runs scored and 66 RBI. He also blasted 17 home runs, tied for second on the team, and posted an amazing .404 on-base percentage. Alonso played both third and first for the Lemurs last season.
Harman made 17 appearances for Laredo last season, 13 as a starter. He finished the season 6-2 with a 4.17 ERA. The lefty showed impressive control, walking just 12 batters in 84 innings pitched.
On October 14, the Lemurs exercised their option on RHP Mark Haynes. Haynes pitched eight games in relief last season, going 0-1 with a 3.00 ERA.
On November 11, catcher Carlos Ramirez was released by Laredo. Ramirez had played in 77 games for the Lemurs in 2014, hitting .221 with 6 home runs and 41 RBI. The loss of Ramirez left a big void at the catcher position for the Texas team that became even more apparent when Danny Taveras was released on December 22.
On December 19, the team added two right-handers to the roster. Justin D’Alessandro enters his fourth season in professional baseball. The righty started his career with the Toronto Blue Jays rookie league team, and spent last season with the Kansas City T-Bones. He struggled in three appearances, posting an 0-1 record and a 17.47 ERA. Injuries plagued him much of the last two seasons, but he appears healthy and ready to go now.
Joining D’Allesandro is right-hander BJ Hyatt. Hyatt split time between the Greys and Southern Illinois in the Frontier League last season. Combined he appeared in 17 games with an ERA of 5.40 and an 0-1 record.
On December 22, the club made a blockbuster deal with the Sioux Falls Canaries, sending AA Rookie of the Year Jeremy Strawn, his brother Josh, Tyler Pearson, Gerardo Avila, and Harrison Kain north, while getting AJ Kirby-Jones, LHP Jose Testa, and RHP John Brebbia. The loss of the three pitchers, in particular, left a big gap, but the addition of Kirby-Jones was a huge one. The first baseman hit .280 last season, and showed great power, hitting 23 home runs and driving in 69 runs. He had an outstanding .378 on-base percentage and made just 2 errors in 87 games.
Testa was an outstanding set-up man in Sioux Falls, appearing in 31 games and posting a 3.32 ERA. He adds a quality arm to the bullpen, as does Brebbia. The right-hander also worked in the set-up role, going 3-2 in 34 appearances (5 starts), with one save. The righty can throw the heat, striking out 76 batters in 65.1 innings pitched, and will get a shot at the closer’s role this season.
On January 12, Laredo signed former Kansas City T-Bones infielder Nick Giarraputo. Giarraputo appeared in 28 games last season for the T-Bones, hitting .224 with 2 home runs and 12 RBI. He also scored 11 runs and stole 2 bases for Kansas City.
A week later the team traded RHP Michael Suk to Sussex County of the Can-Am League. Suk appeared in 31 games last season, and was 5-2 with a 3.44 ERA. On February 5, infielder Kyle Brandenburg found himself dealt to a Can-Am League team, this time to Ottawa. Brandenburg was a .242 hitter in 62 at-bats with 2 RBI.
Yesterday the Lemurs added another quality arm for their bullpen when RHP Ian Kadish was signed. The right-hander pitched for Gary Southshore last season, where he was 2-1 with a 2.02 ERA and a save. Kadish allowed just 26 runners (21 hits and 5 walks) in 26.1 innings pitched, while striking out 28. He, too, may get a shot at the team’s closer role.
By Robert Pannier