The Lincoln Saltdogs were just three wins from the American Association championship last season, and after losing a few key pieces from last season’s team, they now look to restock to make another run. The early part of the off-season saw them playing catchup with some of their division rivals, and they were quiet for much of February, however, the Saltdogs have made several moves over the last two weeks to fill their roster with a talented crop of players.
On February 23, Lincoln re-signed LHP Conor Spink. Spink pitched in 29 games for the Saltdogs last season, posting a 4-1 record and a very impressive 3.05 ERA. The lefty worked out of the bullpen exclusively, and had outstanding numbers for the team. In 44.1 innings pitched he allowed just 35 hits and 13 walks, while striking out 40. He also yielded just one home run. His season ended in June when he suffered an injury to his pitching arm, but he is in top shape and ready to deliver to the Saltdogs this season. He will be a major key to their bullpen this season.
The next day LHP Lars Liguori came to Lincoln to complete an earlier trade with Sioux City. Last season was the lefty’s first playing professional baseball. He pitched well for Brownsville of the United League, going 0-2, but with an impressive 2.98 ERA in eight appearances. After arriving in Sioux City he struggled going 2-4 record with a 6.36 ERA. He has great stuff and should be a real asset to their staff with a little work from the Saltdogs’ coaching staff.
On March 2, the Nebraska club re-signed LHP Kevin McGovern. The left-hander showed flashes of brilliance last season. He was 2-1 in July with an outstanding 2.28 ERA for the month, earning himself American Association Pitcher of the Week honors during the month. Overall he finished 3-3 with a 4.21 ERA in 10 starts.
March 4, Lincoln signed RHP Zach Arneson. The right-hander pitched three seasons as a Yankees farmhand before joining Gateway of the Frontier League last season. He made 13 appearances last year, going 1-0 with a 3.78 ERA. He can bring the heat as well, striking out 18 batters in 16.2 innings pitched.
On March 5, Lincoln brought in catcher Mitch Canham, an eight year veteran of minor league baseball. Canham has played for the Padres, A’s, Cardinals, Royals and Nationals affiliates and has reached AAA level on several occasions. He is a career .253 hitter in 606 games played with 271 runs scored and 259 RBI. His bat will be a welcome addition for Lincoln this season.
The Lincoln Saltdogs have 21 players signed on their active roster for this season, and are able to add seven more before training camp begins. They made a couple of key additions to their pitching staff so far that should make them one of the more formidable starting rotations in the league. If Liguori is able to work on his command a bit, this team will have four quality starters and it would not be a surprise to see them back in the championship this season.
By Robert Pannier