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, Michael Lang proves to be in oddity in the league, returning to the Sioux City Explorers for his fifth straight season and sixth overall with the team.
There’s No Place Like Sioux City…for Michael Lang
In independent ball, it isn’t often that a player remains with the same team for more than three seasons. There are those rare instances, like a Reggie Abercrombie in Winnipeg or a Brent Clevlen with the Wichita Wingnuts, but this is truly a rarity. However, the Sioux City Explorers have such a player on their roster, as it was announced last week the Michael Lang will be returning for his fifth season straight season and sixth overall with the team.
An Iowa Legend
While Michael Lang hails from New Jersey, he has made the Iowa city his regular destination, at least for the summer. The outfielder was not drafted coming out of Rutgers University, and so he opted to join the Explorers. His stay there would not long, as Lang hit a gaudy .405 in 34 games before having his contract purchased by the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Lang spent the rest of 2012 at Low-A Yakima, and was then assigned to Mid-A South Bend in 2013. He hit .263 in 87 games, but was not given much of a chance to prove his worth, as the team released him at the end of the season.
In 2014, Steve Montgomery became the Explorers new manager, and he was happy to bring Michael Lang back. The outfielder returned to form, hitting .295 in 79 games with 53 runs scored.
The following season proved to be a breakout one for Lang. He hit .343 in 81 games while stealing 45 bases, scoring 75 runs, and driving home 59. It was a season of many huge performances for the outfielder, but none bigger than his throw to home plate in the ninth inning of Game 4 of the first round of playoffs that gunned down Nate Hanson and sent the Explorers onto the American Association championship series.
The last two seasons, the veteran has put together solid campaigns. In 2016, Lang hit .284 in 89 games with a career high 83 runs, and he stole 30 bases in 34 attempts. The following season, the outfielder hit .258 in 90 games with 64 runs scored. He stole 18 bases and was caught just one time, which gave him 108 steals over the last four seasons while only being thrown out 13 total times.
The Outfield Should Have a Great Deal of Speed
Manager Steve Montgomery loves to put pressure on opposing defenses and, with the re-signing of Michael Lang, he is not only going to have a great deal of speed in his outfield group, but he has three guys who could each play center field. That is going to make for a no man’s land for getting hits this season.
Luis Durango is a former Major Leaguer who has stolen as many as 41 bases three times in a single season. He is also an outstanding defender who has a strong arm. Durango threw out 13 runners in 2012 for AAA-Gwinett (Atlanta Braves).
Tony Campana is also a former Major Leaguer, who hit .301 in 96 games last season with 35 stolen bases. He, too, can play exceptional defense, making just 2 errors in 2017. The combination of this three is going be one of the best groups in the American Association.
Featured Image Courtesy of the Hudson Reporter
American Association Daily Notes
The Wichita Wingnuts announced the signing of three players. RHP Fernando Martinez was signed on Wednesday. On Friday, the team announced that OF Nick Kaye and Greg Golson were signed for 2018. Golson spent last season between Quintana Roo (Mexican League) and Somerset (Atlantic League). He hit .260 in Mexico and .255 in Somerset. Golson played parts of four seasons in the Major Leagues, appearing last with the New York Yankees in 2011. Kaye comes from the Texas Rangers organization, where he played the last three seasons. Last year, he played 24 games in Low-A Spokane, where he hit .129…The Chicago Dogs remain busy, adding three players of their own. On Wednesday, they added RHP Brandon Shimo. The right-hander has played four seasons in independent ball, joining New Britain (Atlantic League) last year. He was 4-4 with a 4.11 ERA in 53 relief appearances. On Thursday, the Dogs added RHP Connor Root and LHP Jim Fuller. Root has pitched two seasons in independent ball, pitching for Somerset last year, where he was 1-3 with a 4.56 ERA in 16 appearances. Fuller spent eight seasons in affiliate ball, reaching AAA-Nashville (Oakland A’s) in 2015 and AAA-Indianapolis (Pittsburgh Pirates) in 2016. Last season, the lefty pitched for Long Island (Atlantic League), where he was 1-0 in 18 appearances with a 2.30 ERA…The Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks signed OF Brennan Metzger on Thursday. Metzger is a former San Francisco Giants prospect, who is not new to the American Association, appearing in 52 games for Gary and 21 games for Laredo in 2016. The outfielder was with Sonoma (Pacific Association) last season, where he hit .312 in 66 games with 7 homers and 40 RBI…The Sioux City Explorers added two arms to their very deep pitching staff on Friday. RHP Geoff Broussard was with the Cincinnati Reds organization last season, pitching at three levels, including AAA-Louisville. Keith Picht pitched for Sioux City last year, going 2-4 in 34 appearances with a 4.12 ERA…The Kansas City T-Bones announced on Friday that RHP Travis Hissong had been signed. Hissong started out as a New York Yankees prospect, but was acquired by the Milwaukee Brewers organization last year. The righty was 2-2 with a 4.82 ERA in 34 appearances between the two organizations…The Winnipeg Goldeyes began the rebuilding of their lineup, adding outfielder Reynaldo Rodriguez. Rodriguez played for Leon (Mexican League) in 2017, but was a longtime prospect in three different organizations, including most recently with the Minnesota Twins where he reached AAA-Rochester in 2016.
By Robert Pannier
Member of the IBWAA