Grand Prairie AirHogs Press: April Update
The Grand Prairie AirHogs entered March needing to fill some key positions on their roster so that they could be a real contender for the American Association title. To reach those ends the club signed a group of players that filled needs all over the diamond and, as a result, they are looking like a formidable foe to battle in the South Division.
On March 12, the Grand Prairie AirHogs re-signed two pitchers for the upcoming season. RHP Ty’Relle Harris was re-signed to a new deal. The righty split time between Grand Prairie and Bridgeport last season, finishing 4-10 with a 5.86 ERA in 34 appearances, 8 of those starts. He has electric stuff, but has to work a bit on harnessing it to become one of the top tier starters in the league.
RHP Danny Gutierrez also split time between two clubs last season, pitching for Grand Prairie and Fargo-Moorhead. Between the two he was 3-7 with a 4.36 ERA in 22 appearances, 16 of which were starts. The right-hander pitched significantly better as an AirHog, posting a 3.70 ERA in 11 appearances (10 starts).
On March 13, OF Chris Elder joined the AirHogs. The outfielder played for Evansville of the Frontier League last season where he hit .277 in 85 games. He also homered 4 times, drove in 36 runs, scored 35 and stole 14 bases. Elder is a career .274 hitter in four minor league seasons. He spent his first three seasons in the Kansas City Royals farm system, although he did play 28 games for Evansville in 2013.
On March 31 the club signed four players to deals. Victor Diaz was acquired from the Wichita Wingnuts earlier in
the off-season, and brings a solid bat to the club. This will be Diaz’s 14th season in professional baseball, four of which were at the Major League level with the Texas Rangers and New York Mets. He is a career .285 hitter in 1201 games at the minor league level.
Infielder Frazier Hall returns for another season with Grand Prairie. In 76 games last season he hit .253 with 7 home runs and 31 RBI. He added a solid .349 on-base percentage.
LHP Jared Gaynor returns to Grand Prairie as well, after splitting time between Wichita and the AirHogs last season. The lefty went a combined 0-2 with a 5.47 ERA, however, in Grand Prairie he was awesome in his two starts, posting a 1.74 ERA. He could be a real force at the top of their rotation.
RHP Zachary Dando sat out last season, but his first three seasons were spent with the Houston Astros organization. In 2013 he played for their rookie league team and Low-A Tri-City. Combined he made 20 appearances, was 2-1 and had an ERA of 2.65. The righty has shown good control in his career, walking just 37 in 101 innings pitched, while striking out 87.
On April 2, C Zane Chavez was signed. He had been with the AirHogs in 2012, but was signed by the Orioles organization where he had been the past two seasons. Last season he played for High-A Frederick in the Carolina League and AA-Bowie. Combined he hit .267 in 51 games with 6 home runs and 18 RBI.
By Robert Pannier