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 look at the role that Winnipeg Goldeyes reliever Victor Capellan has played over the last two seasons, and how that role may be ever more prominent in 2018.
Proving to Be True Unsung Hero
The last two seasons, the Winnipeg Goldeyes were crowned American Association champions. This is a team that was built to be an absolute dynamo, as Manager Rick Forney put together one of the best lineups the league had ever seen to go along with an outstanding starting pitching staff. It seemed inevitable that this team was destined to win.
Last year, Winnipeg had three of the top five batting averages in the league, four of the top seven RBI producers, and two of the top six home run hitters. They had the league MVP in Josh Romanski, Shawn Pleffner led the league in batting average (.340), and Reggie Abercrombie continued his victory over Father Time, finishing second in RBI (82).
The pitching staff had its share of heroes as well. Kevin McGovern was tied for the American Association lead in victories with 13, while also finishing third in ERA at 2.56. Charle Rosario finished tied for fourth in the league in victories (11).
Collectively, the group was one of the most formidable rosters the league has ever seen, but one fact that has been missed is that if any one of these players had missed a considerable portion of last season, the Goldeyes would likely have still won the championship. That cannot be said about one player in particular – reliever Victor Capellan. The right-hander has proven to be arguably the best pitchers in the league, and has proven in each of the last two postseasons that without his unbelievable performances this team would’ve been the runner-up in both years.
Getting Better with Age
Victor Capellan began his professional career with the Arizona Diamondbacks, where he spent five seasons before signing to play in Aguascalientes (Mexican League) in 2013. An injury sidelined the vast majority of his 2013 campaign, and he returned to play baseball with the Laredo Lemurs in 2014, appearing in just one game.
Capellan had been on the mound just twice in two seasons, but he came back with a vengeance in 2015, posting a 6-3 record and a 3.49 ERA in 53 appearances for the Joplin Blasters. The following season, the right-hander remained in Joplin through the first few months of the season, posting a 2-1 record and a 2.84 ERA with 7 saves before being dealt to the Goldeyes.
The righty had a solid finish to the 2016 campaign, posting a 3.95 ERA in 13 appearances, but after how well he had performed in Joplin that looked like a disappointing performance. Fortunately for Winnipeg, Capellan saved is very best for when it mattered the most. In the postseason, the right-hander appeared in nine of the 10 playoff games, posting a 1.86 ERA, striking out 15 in 9.2 innings pitched. That helped lead the Goldeyes to a five game victory over St. Paul Saints before downing the Wichita Wingnuts in five games to win the American Association title. The ability of Manager Rick Forney to send the right-hander out there night after night during the postseason helped to make his entire bullpen better.
Last season, Capellan had arguably his best professional campaign, posting a minuscule 1.25 ERA in 50 appearances. The Winnipeg reliever was 4-4 with 5 saves, striking out 75 batters in 50.1 innings while only allowing 48 total runners.
In the postseason, Forney leaned on his reliever once again, as Capellan appeared in eight of the teams nine games. His ERA did increase significantly to 3.75, but he was on the hill in every game during the championship series, and played arguably the most significant role in the Goldeyes’ championship repeat.
His Role May Be More Prominent
With those kind of numbers, it is actually quite a surprise that Victor Capellan has not signed by an affiliate club so far this off-season. He is only 27-years-old, and is clearly proving to be getting better with age.
For now, the right-hander has signed to return to the Winnipeg Goldeyes for the 2018 American Association season, and he may have to provide his best performance yet. The team has seen five of their nine everyday starters leave over the last month, leaving some rather large holes in the batting order. The pitching staff still looks strong, but the release of right-hander Mikey O’Brien means the team lost a starter who won 10 games for them last year.
Even closer Ryan Chaffee, who saved 21 games last season, will not be returning to the team this year. That puts an enormous amount of pressure on the rest of the pitching staff, and a huge portion of that will fall squarely on the shoulders of Capellan.
However, no one should think the right-hander isn’t fully embracing this challenge. When the stakes have been their highest over the last two seasons, he has risen to the occasion to be quite possibly be the best reliever in the league. You can be sure that Forney will give him every opportunity this season to prove that’s true.
American Association Daily Notes
The St. Paul Saints announced that infielder Noah Perio signed with the Colorado Rockies. He is the second Saints player in the last week to have his contract purchased, joining Jake Hager who signed with the Milwaukee Brewers.
By Robert Pannier
Member of IBWAA