New Jersey Jackals Journal: May Update
Looking to make a run to return to the Can-Am League championship series, the New Jersey Jackals have done a great deal over the last month to prepare for the upcoming season. Manager Joe Calfapietra has been adding a group of quality arms that will keep this team quite competitive this season. The club has had four straight seasons winning at least 55 games, and with the moves they are making there is no doubt that a fifth is a likely outcome.
To close out March the New Jersey Jackals added two RHPs and an infielder. Danny Moskovits pitched for Quebec last season, where he was 2-2 with a 3.03 ERA in eight appearances, five of them starts. The righty has good stuff, and should be a quality addition to their staff.
Right-hander Justin Van Grouw pitched for the Arizona Diamondbacks organization last season, pitching at their High-A Visalia club and at AAA-Reno. Combined he made 22 appearances, posting an 0-1 record and a 5.00 ERA. Interestingly, Van Grouw struggled at Visalia, but pitched six scoreless innings at Reno.
Infielder Steve Proscia was also signed to a deal. Proscia’s first three seasons of professional ball were in the Seattle Mariners organization, but last season he played with the Los Angeles Dodgers High-A club at Rancho Cucamonga. In 115 games there he hit .233 with 14 home runs and 60 RBI. The power bat should fit in nicely in the New Jersey Jackals lineup.
Looking to add some more quality depth to their infield, the Jackals signed Matt Wessinger. Wessinger can play anywhere in the infield but first. He has played his first three professional seasons with the Colorado Rockies organization. Last season he played for Modesto, the club’s High-A affiliate. He appeared in 110 games, hitting .214, with 4 home runs and 40 RBI.
On April 7, infielder Mark Threlkeld was signed by New Jersey and 1B Jon Talley was dealt to Ottawa for cash. Threlkeld was drafted by the Kansas City Royals organization in 2011, and has played all four of his professional seasons with the club’s affiliates. Last season he split time between High-A Wilmington and AA-Northwest Arkansas. In 102 combined games he hit .245 with 11 home runs and 44 RBI.
On April 8, OF Jamal Austin was inked to a deal. Austin has spent all four of his professional seasons with the Seattle Mariners organization. Last season he had a solid year at AA-Jackson where he hit .262 with a home run and 19 RBI. Austin does not have a lot of power, but he has great speed and is an outstanding baserunner (19 steals in 22 in attempts).
With the club adding some depth to the batting order, it was time to return to improving the team’s pitching depth, and that is what the club did starting on April 15 when they signed RHP John Walter. Walter is another former Royals prospect, who was also with Wilmington last season. In 30 appearances he posted a 6-2 record and a 3.80 ERA. The right-hander also has 17 career saves in the minors and will get a shot at being one of club’s primary set-up pitchers.
Two days later LHP Donnie Joseph and OF Justin Trapp were signed by New Jersey. Joseph appeared with the Kansas City Royals in both 2013 and 2014. Most of last season he split between the Marlins AAA team in New Orleans and the Royals AAA team in Omaha, appearing in 28 total games with a 5.50 ERA and a 2-1 record. With the Royals he was hit hard in his only appearance last season, but in 2013 he made six relief appearances and was not scored upon.
Justin Trapp has been a Royals prospect since 2009. Last season he was at Northwest Arkansas where he hit .239 in 113 games with 4 homers and 26 RBI. He can play the middle infield positions and the corner outfield ones as well.
Looking to add another quality left-hander to their bullpen, the Jackals signed Brandon Sisk on April 23. The lefty appeared in three games for the Nationals rookie league team last year, as well as 13 at AA-Arkansas and 17 at AAA-Salt Lake, both affiliates of the Los Angeles Angels organization. Combined he was 0-3 with a 7.07 ERA.
One day later INF Frank Salerno was traded to Fargo-Moorhead of the American Association in exchange for RHP Alex Powers. Powers enters his third season of professional baseball, after playing with the Chicago White Sox affiliates the last two seasons. Last season the righty pitched at the club’s rookie league team in Great Falls and with their Mid-A team at Kannapolis. Combined he made 24 appearances, was 3-3 and had a combined ERA of 3.15. Powers showed great command of his stuff, striking out 45 in 45.2 innings pitched, while walking just 11.
On the last day of April the Jackals swung a deal with St. Paul of the American Association, sending Anthony Phillips to St. Paul in exchange for a player to be named later.
By Robert Pannier