American Association 2021 Mid-Season Report: Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks
American Association Daily provides insights, features, and recaps of the action from around the American Association of Professional Baseball League, as well as player and coaching profiles and transactions. In today’s edition, Robert Pannier looks at the first half of the season for the Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks, looking at top players, areas to improve, and where this team is likely to finish.
Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks Reach Midway Point
Record: 19-29 (5, 11) (Place in Division in parenthesis, followed by record overall)
(Overall ranking in American Association listed in parenthesis)
Average: .303 (2)
Homeruns: 57 (3)
Runs: 319 (2)
Stolen Bases: 20 (8)
On-Base Percentage: .365 (T-4)
Slugging Percentage: .465 (1)
ERA: 4.62 (2)
Strikeouts: 432 (5)
Opponent Batting Average: .238 (1)
Saves: 10 (T-7)
Fielding Percentage: .981 (T-2)
Errors: 34 (T-5)
First Half Recap
Fargo-Moorhead got off to a fast start, and became the team that Major League organizations first began to pluck. Left-hander Tyler Pike was one of the first to go and, when ace Kevin McGovern got off to a ridiculously hot start, he was out the door as well. Even closer Blake Rogers found himself heading back to affiliate ball.
Those kinds of departures would be crippling for most teams, but the RedHawks have figured out a way to continue to win. The reason has been that this team is built to be good in every facet of the game. They are among the league leaders in run scored, ERA, homeruns, Fielding percentage, and opponent batting average, and those are the kind of numbers that will make you a championship club.
Leading the charge has been a pair of veterans. Leobaldo Piña is having a resurgence, leading the team with a .348 batting average. Correlle Prime has also continued to be impressive, hitting .313. Both have 10 homers. However, it is not just been the two. Six players in the everyday lineup are hitting above .300, and it has been youngsters like Sam Dexter and Kevin Krause who have made this lineup the very best in the league. Add to it Jordan George (.335) and Dylan Kelly (.285) and is not surprising how well this team is doing.
However, no one can ignore the performance of manager Chris Coste. This is a pitching staff that has had to reinvent themselves three or four times this season, and Coste has figured out a way to get the most out of his talent. The job that Ryan Flores has done in particular, has been spectacular and, should the RedHawks win the title, it will be the way he has handled Flores that will become legendary.
Flores has given up runs in each of his last three outings, but he had a string of nine straight outings covering 16.2 innings pitched where he was not scored on. The team even moved him into the starting role in his last outing, where he gave up one run on two hits in five innings. Flores can set up, close, start, and has flourished in just about any spot the team needs.
Honorable mention to Gage Hinsz. The right-hander entered July with an ERA at 7.11, but has allowed two earned runs in his last 10.1 innings pitched.
Bret Helton will be a key for how far this RedHawks team goes. Helton was outstanding the last two seasons for Fargo, especially last year when he posted a 3.46 ERA, starting and working out of the bullpen. This year he got a full-time gig as a starter but it has not been pretty. Over the last five starts, Helton has given up 27 earned runs in 25 innings pitched. The team has stuck with him, but he needs to start delivering.
What They Need
There is really only one thing this team needs, and that is for Helton and Hinsz to deliver as the team expected. Both have shown they have the talent, but the key will be getting that talent to materialize. This must happen for this team to succeed, because it allows them to keep Flores in the bullpen.
What to Expect
If Hinsz continues to shine like he has over his last two starts or if Helton catches fire this is the team to beat. I have been very high on how well Chicago is playing, but Fargo is the best all-around team in the league. They simply need one of these two starters to step up. I think they fall short in that projection, relegating this team to second in the division.
By Robert Pannier