Winnipeg Goldeyes Gazette: March Update
Some teams in the American Association were fine-tuning their rosters in February in preparation for the upcoming season, but not for the Winnipeg Goldeyes. For the team north of the border, February was a month that saw some dramatic alterations as the Goldeyes attempt to repeat as North Division Champions and take aim at their second league championship in four seasons.
On February 5, Winnipeg made their first moves, signing catcher Ramon Ortega and OF Brett Krill. Krill had been the San Francisco Giants organization the last four seasons, splitting time last year between three levels. Combined he hit .191 with 15 RBI in 64 games.
Despite his struggles, the team is excited to have him joining their roster this season. “Krill’s an athletic outfielder,” adds Winnipeg manager Rick Forney. “He was really good in affiliated baseball when he got to play on an everyday basis during his first two years. He can play all three outfield positions. He has a little bit of pop in his bat, but he needs to play everyday for us to see that. I am anxious to see how he looks in a Goldeyes uniform.”
Ortega made his professional debut last season, playing for the Frontier Greys of the Frontier League. In 38 games he hit .208 with a homerun and seven RBI. He will be backing up veteran Luis Alen this season.
On February 9, the team dealt popular outfielder Reggie Abercrombie to Sussex County of the Can-Am League for a player to be named later. The 34-year-old played in all 100 games last season, hitting .284 with 19 home runs and 74 RBI. The move was a tough one for the Goldeyes, but one they feel is in the best interests of Abercrombie’s career.
“Reggie was a leader for our team last season and we thank him for everything he brought to our organization,” Forney explained. “This trade gives him an opportunity to be reunited with manager Steve Shirley, who he played for during his time in Sioux Falls.”
Nine days later the team added right-hander Coby Cowgill. The righty split time between two class-A levels for the San Diego Padres last season where he was 5-4 overall, with a 6.90 ERA in 22 appearances, 14 of them starts. The Goldeyes manager is excited about the addition of Cowgill to the team’s rotation.
“He’s what we are looking for in terms of adding a young starter to our rotation,” Forney points out. “He has a powerful arm. His velocity is usually in that 91-92 MPH range. Sometimes it gets a little bit better than that. He shows signs of being a successful starter. We’re going to put him in the rotation and see if he can man that fourth or fifth spot for us.”
On February 20, the Goldeyes gutted some key pieces from last season’s division winning team, releasing five players. In the group was shortstop Tyler Kuhn, OF Donnie Webb, and RHPs Ethan Hollingsworth, Chris Kissock, and Taylor Sewitt. The release of Webb and Kuhn is going to leave a big gap in the team’s batting order. Kuhn was tied for second in the league with a .360 average, and the two combined for 130 runs scored, 15 home runs, and 106 RBI. Webb led the team with 32 steals.
The pitching staff also took a big hit. Hollingsworth was 8-1 in 14 starts, and had an impressive 3.38 ERA. Kissock led the team with 17 saves, and Sewitt was a stud out of the bullpen last season. It will be hard to replace five key players like that, but if a team can do it, it is the Winnipeg Goldeyes.
On the same day the team dealt two other players. RHP Matt Jackson was sent to Laredo for a player to be named later. The right-hander went 11-7 in 21 starts with a 4.17 ERA. He was second on the team in innings pitched (120.2) and struck out 82 batters.
Catcher Jordan Guida was sent to Amarillo for future considerations. Guida hit .281 last season with 2 home runs and 10 RBI in 45 games played.
On February 26 the team re-signed catcher Luis Alen for the 2015 season. This will be the catcher’s seventh season with the team, and he has had quite a career in Canada. He hit .289 last season with 6 home runs and 50 RB in 96 games. Amazingly, he struck out just 16 times in 393 plate appearances.
The Winnipeg Goldeyes now have 15 players signed to their roster. With just eight pitchers and three outfielders, there are clearly some holes left to fill.
By Robert Pannier