Sussex County Making Their Presence Known in American Association

Sussex County Making Their Presence Known in American AssociationAmerican 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, Robert Pannier examines the seven trades that Sussex County has made with American League teams over the last 50 days and how that will impact all teams involved.

Let’s Make a Deal

It was a few months ago when we looked at the dramatic impact that the Sugar Land Skeeters could have on the American Association this season. There were 14 players traded from five different teams to Sugar Land, with a number of players being promised in return.

How the Skeeters will impact the league is much more theoretical, but there is one team playing a purely practical role right now. In the last 50 days, there have been seven trades between American Association teams and the Sussex County Miners (Can-Am League), which should have an impact for all teams involved.

A Look at Each Transaction

Of the seven trades made, there have been four different teams involved. The Lincoln Saltdogs have been involved in three different transactions and the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks in two.

February 22 – Sioux City Explorers – the Sioux City Explorers got the ball rolling with a deal that sent OF Jayce Ray, and infielders Tanner Vavra and Joel Davis to Sussex County for infielder Jay Baum.

Vavra became expendable with the return of Nate Samson, and Manager Steve Montgomery had the center fielder he was looking for in Luis Durango. In addition, he would re-sign Michael Lang shortly afterward and had already added a leadoff hitter, making Ray expendable.

Besides clearing roster room, Baum was the player that Montgomery was looking for. The infielder can play second, short, and third, and it is likely at the hot corner where he will see the most action. Baum has a live bat, hitting .291 in 86 games for Sussex County last season but, most important to the Explorers Manager, is that he has speed. The infielder stole 20 bases last season and had 31 extra base hits, including 21 doubles. He could easily score 65 runs in this lineup, having the same kind of impact that Wes Darvill had in Winnipeg last season.

March 8 – Lincoln Saltdogs – the Lincoln Saltdogs traded infielder Leon Byrd to Sussex to conclude a November 1 deal that sent RHPs Michael Wagner, Parker Frazier, and Fabio Martinez plus a player to be named later for OF Jay Austin.

Austin’s stay in Lincoln was a short one, as he was dealt to the Explorers the next day, which completed two earlier transactions. Austin is an on-base machine, hitting .341 with a .383 on-base percentage in 2016 and following that up with a .349 average and .412 OBP last season. He also has speed, stealing 40 bases in 2016 and 20 in 2017.

March 14 – Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks – This was the first of two deals between the two teams. OF John Schultz was sent to Sussex County in exchange for a player to be named later.

April 5 – Lincoln Saltdogs – The stay of RHPs Michael Tamburino and Michael Wagner in Sussex County were short ones. They returned to Lincoln in exchange for the revisionary rights to Tyler Alexander, who had been acquired by the Saltdogs from the RedHawks just days earlier.

April 9 – Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks – The RedHawks traded OF Breland Almadova to Sussex County to complete an earlier trade, but what trade that was completing is not clear.

April 13 – Lincoln Saltdogs – Manager Bobby Brown traded infielder Johnny Ruiz to Sussex County in exchange for infielder Chase Simpson.

Simpson hit only .199 in 57 games for York (Atlantic League) last season after beginning the year in Altoona, the AA team of the Pittsburgh Pirates. He’s had some productive years offensively at that A level and can play short, first, and third. That gives Brown additional flexibility.

April 16 – Texas AirHogs – The AirHogs acquired LHP Pedro Hernandez from Sussex County for a player to be named later.

Hernandez is coming back from an injury, but he spent time in the Majors with the Chicago White Sox in 2013 and the Colorado Rockies in 2014. He has also spent some time in the American Association, pitching for the St. Paul Saints in 2015, when the left-hander was 8-3 with a 3.99 ERA in 16 starts.

How This Impacts Sussex County

The deals have helped all four American Association teams, maybe no more so than the Sioux City Explorers, but they have also brought a lot of talent to the Miners. There are rumors that Alexander may not remain in Mexico, giving Sussex County one of the best left-handers in all of baseball. They acquired three solid infielders, a pair of speedy outfielders, and they added an arm to their staff. These acquisitions looked to have profited the Sussex County Miners quite well.

Featured Image Courtesy of Clemson Tigers 

American Association Daily Notes

The Chicago Dogs added RHP Taylor Grover and LHP Tommy Thorpe to their staff. Grove pitched at AA-Portland (Boston Red Sox) in 2017. He was 3-5 with a 5.64 ERA in 29 games, 6 of which were starts. The right-hander struck out 82 in 75.0 innings pitched. Thorpe was a Chicago Cubs prospect. He split time between High-A Myrtle Beach, AA-Tennessee, and AAA-Iowa last season, combining to go 4-4 with a 3.76 ERA in 40 appearances…The St. Paul Saints added C Justin O’Conner and RHP Jake Esch. O’Conner is outstanding behind the plate, playing at AA-Montgomery and AAA-Durham (San Francisco Giants) last season. He threw out 5 of 13 runners at AAA. Combined, the catcher hit .227 in 85 games. Esch made it to the Majors in 2016 with the Miami Marlins and the San Diego Padres in 2017. He pitched at five different levels last season… The Kansas City T-Bones signed RHP Miguel Rosario. Rosario pitched at High-A Bradenton and AA-Altoona (Pittsburgh Pirates) last year. Combined, the righty was 3-2 with a 2.48 ERA in 26 appearances. He also had 3 saves.

Listen to Mound Talk with Sioux City Explorers Manager Steve Montgomery

By Robert Pannier
Member of the IBWAA