Tommy Collier Set to Return to Defend Title with T-Bones
In American Association Daily, the Minor League Sports Report’s Robert Pannier examines the re-signing of right-hander Tommy Collier by the Kansas City T-Bones. Collier was the Pitcher of the Year in 2018.
Tommy Collier Re-Signs with T-Bones
The South Division in the American Association was the most daunting in 2018. The Sioux City Explorers had the Rookie of the Year (Justin Vernia) and the Most Valuable Player (Jose Sermo) on a team that went 71-29. The Kansas City T-Bones won the American Association title after going 62-37, the second best record in the league. The Wichita Wingnuts did not even make the playoffs and they had the third best record in the league (61-39) while the Lincoln Saltdogs had the sixth best record at 51-48.
The 2019 season is not expected to be any easier in the South as the Cleburne Railroaders have been rebuilt by former Wichita Wingnuts player personnel wizard Josh Robertson, the Sioux Falls Canaries move from the north to the south, and the Texas AirHogs may actually be a significantly better team, yet win less games than they did in 2018 simply because this division is so good.
The Sioux City Explorers took a big step last week to remain on top when they re-signed MVP Jose Sermo, and Kansas City Manager Joe Calfapietra served notice that his team intends to repeat with the re-signing of Pitcher of the Year Tommy Collier.
An Unforgettable Year
The 2018 season was an unforgettable one for the Kansas City T-Bones for more than one reason. Not only did the team see more than a dozen of their players signed to play in Mexico or return to affiliate ball, but the team beat some pretty incredible odds to win the American Association title.
In addition, right-hander Tommy Collier put together one of the most impressive seasons in league history. The right-hander was tied for the league lead in wins, going 12-3, and he led the American Association in strikeouts with 12. Collier led the team in innings pitched with 133.0, while walking just 22 batters. He finished with a 3.11 ERA.
It was a dominating season for the righty especially considering that at one point Collier was 1-3 with a 5.16 ERA. After being battered for six runs on nine hits in a six innings stint against the Explorers, it would not have been surprising if Calfapietra was considering pulling the righty from the rotation.
However, the T-Bones Manager stuck with him, and Collier delivered. The right-hander became the ace of the staff, going 11-0 after June 13. In his final 15 starts, he allowed two runs or less in eight of those appearances, including shutting out the Wichita Wingnuts on August 30 in a game that proved to be the deciding factor in putting Kansas City into the playoffs. He also struck out 12 in that August 30 start, a season high. It was his fourth double digit strikeout performance of the season.
Back for More
Surprisingly, Tommy Collier was not signed by an affiliate club in the off-season. So, the league’s best pitcher will be returning to the Kansas City T-Bones for another campaign. This should keep the T-Bones right in the thick of things as they look to repeat as American Association champions.
By Robert Pannier