With just about 10 weeks before the start of the American Association season, the Sioux City Explorers have been one of the quieter teams in terms of building their club. They currently have 15 players signed to the active roster, and have just one catcher and two infielders signed and ready to compete for a spot on this year’s squad.
No one should mistake that for complacency however. This is a team with great evaluators, who know how to find and acquire quality talent. There is no doubt that come May 21, Sioux City will be fielding a quality ball club and be ready to compete for the Central Division crown.
In February, the team made some key moves aimed at reaching that goal. They also saw one of their most talented players move onto one of the Major League affiliates. On February 20, RHP Geoff Broussard saw his contract purchased by the Los Angeles Angels. Broussard had a big season for the Explorers in 2014, pitching in 41 games, and posting an 8-1 record with a 3.26 ERA. He also had 2 saves.
The 23-year old is a California native, and the organization is happy to see him get this opportunity. “I am very excited for Geoff and the opportunity he is getting again with another MLB organization, I felt Geoff was one of the best arms in the American Association last season and we wish him the best with the Angels,” comments X’s pitching coach Bobby Post.
On February 8, the Explorers signed RHP Ryan Zimmerman. The righty should be a real asset to the team’s starting rotation. He was an impressive 9-6 last season for Rockford of the Frontier League, with a 3.20 ERA. Of his 21 appearances, 17 were starts, and he proved he has excellent stuff, allowing only 89 hits in 112.1 innings pitched.
On the same day that Broussard was signed, Sioux City re-signed catcher Dillon Usiak. Usiak played in 71 games last season, hitting .209 with two home runs and 33 RBI. He is an excellent receiver, who threw out 22 percent of would-be base stealers last season. He can also play the outfield.
On February 25, the Explorers re-signed 1B/Of Brock Kjeldgaard. Kjeldgaard split time last season between Huntsville, the AA team of the Milwaukee Brewers, and Sioux City. In Huntsville he struggled, hitting just .176 with a home run and 8 RBI. After coming to Sioux City he caught fire, batting an impressive .358 in 14 games with three home runs and 15 RBI.
Manager Steve Montgomery is excited to see the slugger return to the Explorers this season. “I am thrilled to have Brock with us from the start of the season as he will be a tremendous addition to the middle of our line-up as he has proven to be a threat at the plate over his entire career with his ability to hit for power and drive in runs.”
On March 6, Sioux City re-signed another player from last season, inking OF Rene Tosoni to a new deal. Tosoni, a former big league player for the Minnesota Twins, split time between Sugar Land of the Atlantic League and Sioux City in 2014. Tosoni played 14 games at Sugar Land, where he struggled, hitting .170 with a home run and 8 RBI. However, after coming to Sioux City he became a real force in their lineup, hitting .277 in 99 games with 7 home runs and 57 RBI. Tosoni also posted an impressive .357 on-base percentage.
“Signing Rene back this season was one of our bigger priorities this off-season as he provides a big boost to our line-up, but more importantly he adds veteran leadership to our team on and off the field,” explained field manager Steve Montgomery.
By Robert Pannier