Sugar Land Skeeters Must Have Prospects Growing on Trees

Sugar Land Skeeters Must Have Prospects Growing on TreesAmerican Association Daily will provide 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 Sugar Land Skeeters have been making a lot of deals with American Association teams. This should have a dramatic effect on the playoff races for next season. 

The Art of the Deal

Making deals in sports where one player is sent to another team for a player to be named later is quite common, no matter what sport or level you are talking about. Often times, there is a player who has already been chosen as the player to be named. It may also be the case where a group of players have been offered, and the acquiring team will later be allowed to select one or two from that group to complete the deal.

This is not always the case, however. Last season, the Gary Southshore RailCats dealt all-star Charle Rosario to the Winnipeg Goldeyes for Dan Minor and four players to be named later. There was a lot of speculation as to who those players would wind up being as insiders looked over the Goldeyes roster, but This Week in the Association’s Kevin Luckow astutely predicted that not a single player would come from the active Winnipeg roster. That proved to be true.

On October 24, Winnipeg traded for infielder Mitch Glasser and left-hander Onas Farfan from the Cleburne Railroaders, then traded the duo to Gary Southshore. On December 15, the Goldeyes acquired Luis Diaz from Joliet in the Frontier League, then sent the infielder to the RailCats. There is currently still one player owed to Gary.

Sugar Land Taking It to a Whole New Level

Who that last player will be has yet to be determined, or at least revealed. RailCats Manager Greg Tagert has been at this game for a long time and there is no doubt that who he receives will really add some talent to his team. Minor starred after being acquired in the deal, posting a 3-1 record in six starts with a miniscule 1.47 ERA. Glasser has been one of the best players in the American Association over the last three seasons, hitting .282 a season after hitting .314.

Most teams know that the players they are receiving should give them some talent to build from, if not now at least for the future. However, the recent trades that the Sugar Land Skeeters have been making have to make a few question that possibility.

It is not that Sugar Land does not have talent or that they are some kind of welsher when it comes to deals. It is the sheer number of deals that they have been making lately that has to have some wondering if there is enough talent in the cupboard to be able to accommodate all of the trades they have made.

The wheeling and dealing began on January 9, when the Sioux Falls Canaries traded right-hander Jose Ortega to the Skeeters for a player to be named later. A day later, the Kansas City T-Bones sent RHP Jared Mortensen and infielder Kyle Petty to Sugar Land for two players to be named later. That same day, the Wichita Wingnuts sent star infielders Matt Chavez and T.J. Mittelstaedt as well as RHP Mike Devine to the Texas team for three players to be named later. The Skeeters were not done. Two days ago, they added former Major Leaguer Denis Phipps, LHP Josh Blanco, RHP Luis De La Cruz, and star infielder Alvaro Rondon from the Texas Airhogs for four players to be named later.

If you were having a little difficulty keeping up with the math, that is 10 players to be named later that the Atlantic League team owes to these four American Association teams. On a team with a 25 man roster, that is quite a feat to be able to send the kind of talent that must be expected in return.

The Eyes of the American Association Are Upon You

There is no doubt that the Sugar Land Skeeters have put together a team that should have a real shot of competing for the Atlantic League title. Rondon is one of the best table-setters in all of independent baseball, and Chavez and Mittelstaedt are sure to drive home runs and hit for both power and average. Add the pitching depth the team added, especially in their bullpen and, on paper, they have to be thinking they should be printing playoff tickets right now.

That is exciting for Sugar Land, but teams in the American Association have to now be watching who will be coming to the four teams. This will not only impact those teams, but should have a dramatic impact on others as well as the playoff races.

What is even more interesting about this is that all but Sioux Falls are in the South Division, and they only have one player coming to them. If Texas, for example, is able to acquire four outstanding players, it would completely change the face of the division, and likely cause great irritation with the two other teams that did not get these players.  This should make many ponder if the players have already been named and, if not, who has the priority in acquiring the player or players they want.

This is a story line that is going to be very interesting to watch over the coming months.

AAD Notes:  With all-star catcher Martin Medina retiring, the Wichita Wingnuts were looking for a catcher to lead their staff and they decided to go back to the future to do so. John Nester, who played for Wichita three seasons ago, returns to the team. Nester was brilliant in his one season for the Wingnuts, hitting .281 in 80 games with 5 homers and 43 RBI. He has not played professionally in three years, so what kind of shape he is in will be a question mark. However, if he is ready to go, the Wingnuts pitching staff just got about a half-run better as he is one of the best in the business behind the plate…In a move that should be no surprise to anyone, Wes Darvill was picked up by the Los Angeles Dodgers. What is a surprise is that this did not happen earlier. The Goldeyes third baseman hit a career high .309 last season with 53 runs scored, 49 RBI, and 30 stolen bases, while only being caught three times. He was an MVP candidate for much of the season, and earned a well-deserved return to affiliate ball.

By Robert Pannier