Sioux Falls Signs Three to Bolster Pitching Staff

Sioux Falls Signs Three to Bolster Pitching StaffAmerican 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, the Sioux Falls Canaries add three pitchers to a staff that is looking quite strong, making the Canaries a real competitor in the North Division.

Three Arms Sign with Sioux Falls Canaries for 2018

Mike Meyer had done a lot to address his lineup in the off-season, which finished seventh in the American Association in hitting in 2017. This week the Sioux Falls Canaries Manager focused his attention on his pitching staff, bringing back two hurlers from last season and signing a third to bolster his pitching staff for the upcoming campaign.

Bo Hellquist and Nicco Blank pitched for Sioux Falls last year, while Ryan Fritze was with the Gary Southshore RailCats. With the signing of the three pitchers, the Canaries now have nine pitchers signed for 2018 and 18 players signed total.

Bo Hellquist

Hellquist was with the Minnesota Twins organization in 2016, going 5-3 with an impressive 2.25 ERA in 10 starts for the team’s Gulf Coast team. Most impressive was hit 7 walks and 46 strikeouts in 52.0 innings pitched, however the organization opted not to retain him. Last season, the left-hander was 4-2 in 14 appearances for Sioux Falls, 6 as a starter. He had a solid 3.75 ERA, walking only 21 in 50.1 innings pitched.

With Joe Bircher and Grady Wood at the top of the rotation, it would make sense for Hellquist to get a shot at the No. 3 or 4 spot, along with Bryce Morrow. Look for him to get the ball every fifth day for the team.

Nicco Blank

Blank had been pitching for the New York Mets organization in his first three professional seasons. He split time between Low-A Brooklyn and Mid-A Columbia in 2016, striking out 42 in 31.2 total innings pitched. Last season, the right-hander pitched for Sioux Falls, where he went 2-2 with a 5.40 ERA in 39 appearances.

Blank has a cannon for an arm, striking out 52 in 45.0 innings pitched, and should get a serious look at the closer’s role. However, he is going to need to cut down on his walks (27 in 2017) if he is going to be an effective closer. Mike Meyer is a magician improving young arms, and Blank could wind up becoming one of the most dominant relievers in the American Association this season under his tutelage.

Ryan Fritze

Fritze pitched for the RailCats last season, where he was 5-1 in 19 appearances. The record was impressive, but the 7.89 ERA needs a dramatic improvement. As with Blank, the primary issue with the young right-hander is walks, as he allowed 17 free passes in 21.2 innings pitched last season. He did strike out 19, and the vast majority of the runs he allowed came in four bad outings.

Fritze has the kind of stuff that could make him an effective seventh or eighth inning guy, but he has to get greater command of his pitches. Working with Meyer for a full season should make a significant difference.

American Association Daily Notes

The Kansas City T-Bones signed infielder JC Rodriguez. Rodriguez spent the first seven years of his professional career in the New York Mets organization, last year splitting time between High-A St. Lucie and AA-Birmingham. Combined, he hit .215 with 51 runs scored and 40 RBI, but was unreal in the field, making just one error…The Lincoln Saltdogs traded LHP Anthony Pacillo to the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks in exchange for a player to be named later. Pacillo has been a part of a trade that continues to find the conclusion elusive. Originally, Will Solomon had been traded to Lincoln from Fargo in September, but was reacquired in January for Pacillo and RHP Tyler Herron. Now the left-hander returns to the RedHawks, as a player to be named later will replace him on the Saltdogs roster. Pacillo was 1-1 with a 6.28 ERA in 22 appearances last season.

By Robert Pannier
Member of the IBWAA

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