Re-Signing Jimmy Kerrigan Puts Bite Back in Cougars Lineup
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 how the resigning of Jimmy Kerrigan should push the Kane County Cougars to the top of the East Division
All He Did Was Earn the MVP
This offseason has been a lot of fun as every American Association team enters this season looking like they are ready to compete for one of the eight playoff spots. This is a very deep league this season, with only one team (the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks) looking like they are a level above the other 11.
With that kind of parity, it is important that clubs make moves that set themselves apart from the others within their division. That is what the Kane County Cougars did on Wednesday when the team announced that they had re-signed American Association MVP Jimmy Kerrigan for the upcoming season.
In the Interests of Full Disclosure
Now, before diving further into this article, it is important to note that Kerrigan was not selected by the American Association as the Batter of the Year. That went to Winnipeg Goldeyes outfielder Max Murphy, who had outstanding numbers, some that were even better than Kerrigan’s. The difference was that Kerrigan played in a lineup that did not have a lot of support or protection for him, and his effort earned MVP honors from This Week in the Association and the Minor League Sports Report.
Kerrigan came to Kane County with impressive credentials. The outfielder had reached AAA-St. Paul in 2021, and had been at AAA since 2018. In fact, he spent just one full season lower than AAA, his first in professional baseball (2017).
Last year, he joined the Cougars, appearing in all 100 games, scoring 80 runs, recording 60 extra-base hits, including 27 homeruns, and had 89 RBI. Kerrigan also hit .304. He finished fourth in home runs, first in games played, third in at-bats (398), third in runs scored, second in total bases (237), third in doubles (31), second in extra-base hits (60), fifth in slugging percentage (.595), and fourth in hit by pitches (14). It was an impressive set of statistics for the outfielder, who was well deserving of the accolades he received.
Leading the Pack
The Cougars finished tied for the top record in the East Division last season, which was another significant reason why Kerrigan was named as the MVP. This season, it may take a similar effort for this club to reach the top of the division. The club re-signed Cornelius Randolph (.310, 14 HR, 64 RBI), who put up solid numbers, and will likely hit in front of Kerrigan. Galli Cribbs (.259, 1, 43) also re-signed with the club. Also returning is Josh Allen, who sat out much of last season, but is expected to battle for the third-base position this season.
Newcomers to the club include outfielder Cesar Trejo, who appeared in 27 games for Cleburne last season, hitting .226 with three homers and 15 RBI. Manager George Tsamis has also added two additional outfielders. Armond Upshaw was in the Washington Nationals organization, beginning 2023 at AA-Harrisburg before his release. He had 10 homers in 100 games between High-A Wilmington and Harrisburg last year, combining to hit .245 with 63 runs and 49 RBI.
Jonah Davis was at AA-Springfield (St. Louis Cardinals) last season, where he hit .146 with eight homers and 22 RBI in 67 games. Davis had a single season-high 19 homers in 2019 at Greensboro (Pittsburgh Pirates).
While Kane County still has two catching positions and at least two infield positions to fill, but it looks like Kerrigan may be the big bat in this lineup again. Randolph finished 13 homers behind him last season, which was second-most on the team, and it looks like that could be the case again this season. This should be a solid rotation with a very deep bullpen, and the club will be relying on Kerrigan to lead them back to the playoffs this season. He proved last season that he can do just that.
By Robert Pannier