St. Paul Saints Make Moves with Eye on Next Season: Saints Summary
With the trade deadline looming ever so close Friday night, the St. Paul Saints made a series of trades that should help some of their rivals, but will give the team from Minnesota a stockpile of players as they enter their new ballpark next season. While still mathematically alive in the Wild Card race, the Saints are better off preparing for next season, and that is what they did.
The trades actually began last weekend when the Saints sent utility player Jared McDonald to Wichita for a player to be named later. That player wound up being right-handed starter Justin Klipp, who started Thursday night’s game for St. Paul. Klipp is a solid starter, who should be able to give the Saints 22-24 starts next season. He was 7-3 this season for Wichita with a 3.91 ERA.
The McDonald trade was not the only move the team made last weekend. Catcher Dwight Childs was dealt to the New Jersey Jackals of the Can-Am League for a player to be named later. With a need at catcher, St. Paul signed free agent Vinny DiFazio who had been released earlier in the season. Rookie outfielder Tyler Peterson was also signed to a contract.
On Thursday the Saints were back at it again. RHP Jeff Shields started Thursday night’s game and earned a complete game victory. Immediately following that, he joined Childs in New Jersey in a trade that brought three players to be named later to St. Paul. Reliever MacKenzie King was later dealt to the Lincoln Saltdogs for a player to be named later. King had been having an outstanding season for the Saints, pitching in 13 games, and posting a 1-0 record with a 1.96 ERA.
There were a few other moves the team made as well. Starter Robert Coe was released and catcher Carlos Escobar was re-signed by the team. Coe was 5-7 for St. Paul this season with a 6.60 ERA in 16 starts. Escobar had been with the Saints earlier in the season, but was released June 21. With the Saints using Jake Taylor more and more in the DH role, there was a need for the team to have a third catcher to backup DiFazio.
With the deadline approaching Friday night, the Saints made two moves that should have a huge impact on the playoff picture, and will likely help the team out immensely next season. Infielder Henry Wrigley was dealt to the Gary Southshore RailCats for two players to be named later. The loss of Wrigley leaves a huge whole in the Saints lineup. Hitting cleanup regularly, Wrigley is fourth in the league in RBI with 68 and has 14 home runs. He was an All-Star this season, but has struggled greatly in the last month, seeing his average drop 30 points in the last few weeks alone.
St. Paul also sent closer Dan Sattler to the Wichita Wingnuts for the rights to Matt Nevarez, should he return to the league, and a player to be named later. The big right-hander has been dominant in their bullpen this season, going 3-4 with 19 saves in 20 chances. He has lost his last two appearances, but that has primarily been because he has been asked to pitch into a third inning of relief in both of those outings and simply wore out. In Wichita his job will be to close out the ninth, and in that role he will be a stud for the Wingnuts.
The loss of so many players sent the team looking for replacements for the last 10 days of the season. As a result, three rookies are joining the team, and one rookie is returning.
Pitcher Andy Johnson is rejoining the team after being waived on August 1. He was 1-0 for St. Paul before sustaining a concussion. Johnson had been a part of the Braves organization the last five seasons.
Two other pitchers were added to the staff as well. Drew Ghelfi was a standout at the University of Minnesota and was drafted by the Brewers in 2013. The reliever spent this season with LaCrosse of the Pioneer League, where he made nine appearances and had a 9.00 ERA. He will be joined by Tommy Danczyk, who just finished an outstanding season with St. Thomas of the MIAC. Danczyk was tied for the league lead with 10 saves and had a 4-1 record with a 2.47 ERA in 51 innings pitched. He also struck out 51 batters.
The Saints also signed outfielder Mitch Elliot, who may turn out to be a real gem for the club. He just finished playing for Xavier University, where he only played in 23 games due to a leg injury, however, upon his return he was named the Big East Tournament’s most outstanding player after hitting .307, with a home run, 10 RBI and 12 runs scored. He was named a top prospect in the Futures Collegiate Baseball League after finishing second in the league in 2013 with a .358 batting average.
While the changes may not have much of a positive impact for this season, St. Paul acquired eight players to be named later, and now has the rights to Matt Nevarez, should he return. That is quite a load, and with the team moving into its new ballpark next season, it should make drawing free agents a much simpler task. Winnipeg better enjoy their North Division title this year, because the St. Paul Saints have made the moves to take it away next season.
By Robert Pannier
Senior Baseball Editor
Member of the IBWAA