American 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, we confirm that the Texas AirHogs will have 13 members of the Chinese National Team joining them for the 2018 American Association season.
The Chinese Are Coming!
There is really no team in independent baseball like the Gary Southshore RailCats. Manager Greg Tagert has put together a culture that is based upon youth and fundamentals. They don’t play for the big inning, are not going to lead the American Association in home runs, or have six or seven players signed to affiliate contracts each season, but the RailCats play sound fundamental baseball and beat teams by doing all the little things right. The style of play has become so well respected that when a team loses to Gary they say they were “RailCatted.”
A New Sheriff in Town
The RailCats have been one of the most unique teams to watch because of how different they play in comparison to most teams in the league, but that will likely not be the case any longer. The Minor League Sports Report has now confirmed that the Texas AirHogs will add 13 players from the Chinese National Team to their roster for the 2018 season.
For those who are not familiar with the style of play in Southeast Asia, there is a focus on fundamentals, bunting, and moving runners. They don’t look for the three-run homer in Japan, China, or South Korea, but often move runners using hit and run and bunting. While they have produced home run hitters in these nations, it is far more true that they are the exception and not the rule.
What this will mean is that the Texas AirHogs will likely be playing that style of baseball this upcoming season. While only 13 players will be added from China to the team’s roster, there is no doubt that those players will have a prominent role on the team. Those players have likely been taught the style of baseball that is common to the culture of the area – in other words, they were likely “RailCatted” as part of their teaching of the game.
This Could Make Them a Real Contender
A lot may see this as nothing more than a gimmick, but consider the fact that Gary Southshore has consistently been one of the best teams in the American Association. They made the playoffs last season and were the 2013 league champions. The style of play may be boring to some, but it works, and could turn the Texas AirHogs into a potential playoff threat.
Also consider that this team has likely had months, if not years to get to know each other better before they even come to Spring Training. While most of the teams around the league will have 10 days to acclimate themselves to one another, these 13 players will know each other well, and that will likely make them a step or two ahead of everyone else around the league. This could definitely change the fortunes of the AirHogs.
American Association Daily Notes
The Sioux City Explorers announced the infielder Nelson Ward has signed with the team. Ward has been at AA the last two seasons, playing at Arkansas (Seattle Mariners) in 2017. There he hit .265 in 82 games with 32 runs and 22 RBI. He is a solid infielder at both third and second, and he can play center and short…The St. Paul Saints lost infielder Jake Hager when his contract was purchased by the Milwaukee Brewers. Hager had been signed by the Saints earlier this month…The Gary Southshore RailCats traded LHP Onas Farfan to Ottawa (Can-Am League) in a deal that brought OF Tyson Gillies to Indiana. Gillies hit .294 in 71 games with 46 runs, 11 homers, and 50 RBI…The Wichita Wingnuts traded OF Richard Prigatano to Sugar Land (Atlantic League). Prigatano is the fourth player that the Wingnuts have dealt to the Atlantic League team.
By Robert Pannier
Member of the IBWAA