Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks Review: Off-Season Update
Last season ended with the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks finishing third in the North Division of the American Association, 19.5 games behind the division winning Winnipeg Goldeyes. It was a very tough season, but ended with some hope when the team split their last ten games.
So far this off-season the RedHawks have moved carefully to fill their roster. With three-and-a-half months left until the season begins, only 14 of their 22 spots are filled on their roster, with only one outfielder under contract. Clearly management is taking careful steps to field a quality team ready to unseat Winnipeg and bring the North Division title south of the border.
One of the biggest moves the team made this off-season was to name Michael Schlact their pitching coach. Schlact had been a starting pitcher in the American Association last season, but chose to move to the coaching ranks this year. While only 28-years-old, the righty already has ten seasons of professional experience under his belt.
RedHawks manager Doug Simunic is thrilled to turn the staff over to Schlact. “He’s a young guy who wanted to make a transition from a playing career to a coaching career. In doing our due diligence and in speaking to him, I’m confident he can be very successful in this new role. He’s very passionate about baseball and about becoming a coach and we think he can help us get our pitching staff back among the leaders in the American Association.”
In December, F-M made a series of moves over a very short period of time. First came the re-signings of RHP Brian Ernst and infielder Frank Salerno. Ernst was 9-6 for the RedHawks last season, with a 4.72 ERA in 20 starts. Ernst pitched well for the team, yielding just 118 hits in 116.1 innings pitched, but he also walked 68, something the new pitching coach will most certainly be addressing. This will be the righty’s third season in Fargo-Moorhead.
Salerno was a late addition to the squad last season, but proved he is a keeper, hitting .327 in 12 games. He has a smooth swing, and has the look of a real run producer for the RedHawks. In those 12 games he scored 10 runs, drove in 10, and hit 5 doubles. He can play both middle infield positions.
Outfielder Buddy Sosnoskie was acquired the Florence Freedom of the Frontier League during this time as well. Sosnoskie returns to the place where he began his professional career in 2012. In 2012 he hit .339 with 31 RBI and 35 runs scored in 53 games. He was with the RedHawks in 2013 as well, but was traded to the St. Paul Saints following the season and eventually wound up in Florence. Last season he hit .236 with 24 RBI and 31 runs in 53 games. His season was abbreviated due to a broken finger.
January saw Fargo-Moorhead add some depth to their starting rotation and infield. First, infielder Jared Schlehuber was signed as a free agent. The 26-year-old had been in the Kansas City Royals system the last three years. Last season he split time between High-A Wilmington and Double-A Northwest Arkansas. In the two stops he hit .214 with 8 home runs, 29 runs scored, and 32 RBI in 93 games.
Jeremy Gooding started last season with the Fort Worth Cats of the United Baseball League before joining the Amarillo Sox late in the season. He was 2-2 with a 1.65 ERA at Fort Worth, and 0-0 with a 1.50 ERA in two starts for Amarillo. He can throw the heat, striking out 19 in 12 innings pitched.
Last month also saw the team void its deal that sent Buddy Sosnoskie to Fargo-Moorhead. The outfielder decided not to play professional ball in 2015.
By Robert Pannier