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. we look at who will be setting the table for the potent middle of the order for the Kansas City T-Bones.
Kansas City with a Great Group of Table-Setters
With the 2018 American Association season a little over a month away, teams are really starting to look for those final pieces that will make them a contender for the league championship. Kansas City T-Bones Manager Joe Calfapietra is no exception.
The T-Bones skipper had put together a heart of the order that was going to be the American Association’s version of Murder’s Row, but Art Charles signing in Mexico took away one-third of that group. However, one should expect that the duo of Kevin Keyes and Zach Walters will have a lot of opposing pitchers sleeping poorly the night before facing the T-Bones. These two could easily combine for over 40 homers and 180 RBI.
Getting to the Meat of the Order
The big question for the Kansas City T-Bones is who will be setting the table? Calfapietra has put together a group who should give the Keyes-Walters combination a lot of opportunity to drive in runs.
Dillon Thomas – Thomas is a former Colorado Rockies prospect who split time between High-A Lancaster, AA-Hartford, and AAA-Albuquerque last season. Combined, he hit .229 in 98 games but, in AA the season before, Thomas hit .289 in 111 games with 40 runs and 15 stolen bases. He can play either corner outfield position.
Tyler Horan – Horan started last season with the San Francisco Giants AA-Richmond club before coming to the Kansas City T-Bones. He hit .229 in 30 games for the T-Bones, but was a .265 hitter for Richmond in 2016. He doesn’t have as much speed, but could draw 60 walks, making him a guy who could hit second.
Nick Torres – Torres was at AA-San Antonio (San Diego Padres) last season, where he hit .277 and scored 59 runs. He also got some pop in his bat, hitting 11 homers and driving in 61 in 119 games, which may make him more valuable at the No. 5 hole in this lineup.
Keith Curcio – Curcio is the speed guy in the group. He hit .219 at AA-Mississippi (Atlanta Braves) last season, but was a .271 hitter in High-A Carolina the year before. In 2016, Curcio stole 24 bases, only being nabbed six times, and he has good plate discipline, walking 54 times for Carolina. A .360 on-base guy would be ideal at the top of this order.
Jason Rogers – if Calfapietra is looking for a veteran presence at the top of the order, then Rogers may be the ideal choice. He has logged time at the Major League level three times, including 2016 with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Last season, Rogers hit .289 at AAA-Indianapolis (Pittsburgh) and had a .362 on-base percentage.
The Mexican League has impacted no American Association team as much as the Kansas City T-Bones. They not only lost Charles, but Cedric Hunter as well. Hunter hit .360 in 43 games after coming to the T-Bones last year and his loss may be the biggest of all. However, there are some table-setters on the roster already and there are still 26 days until Spring Training gets underway. No doubt that Manager Joe Calfapietra will make sure his heart of the order is pumping out big RBI numbers.
American Association Daily Notes
The Cleburne Railroaders signed catcher Derek Shomon and RHP Shawn Blackwell. Blackwell is not new to the American Association. He pitched for Sioux Falls in 2015 and 2016 and Sioux City in 2016 as well. Last season, the right-hander made 36 appearances for Normal (Frontier League) where he was 7-5 with a 2.92 ERA, striking out 102 in 89.1 innings pitched. Shomon was also in the Frontier League last season, playing for Lake Erie. In 7 games, the catcher hit .053…The Kansas City T-Bones traded LHP Rich Mascheri to the Chicago Dogs. The left-hander appeared in 43 games for the T-Bones last season, posting a 4-3 record with a 3.31 ERA. He struck out 59 in 54.1 innings pitched…The Lincoln Saltdogs signed outfielder Angel Reyes. Reyes was in High-A Jupiter (Miami Marlins) last season. The outfielder hit .233 in 96 games…Sioux Falls signed RHP Casey Upperman. The righty pitched for the Railroaders last season, where he was 2-2 with a 2.19 ERA in 35 appearances…The Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks traded outfielder Breland Almadova to Sussex County (Can-Am League)…The St. Paul Saints signed a trio of arms: LHP Ryan Boelter and RHPs Ryan Schlosser and Tyler Warmoth. Boelter has been in the Chicago White Sox organization the last two seasons. He was at Great Falls (Pioneer League) and Mid-A Kannapolis (South Atlantic League) last year, where he combined to go 2-0 with a 2.65 ERA in 20 appearances. Schlosser spent his first two professional seasons in the Atlanta Braves organization. Last season he split time between Danville (Appalachian League) and Mid-A Rome (South Atlantic League). Combined, the righty was 2-8 with a 5.91 ERA. Warmoth has only two years of professional experience as well, but he made it to AAA-Salt Lake last season, as well as pitching at AA-Mobile and High-A Inland Empire. Combined between the three-levels, the right-hander went 2-3 with a 2.97 ERA. He struck out 62 in 60.2 innings pitched.
By Robert Pannier
Member of the IBWAA