Sioux Falls Canaries Chat: April Update
The Sioux Falls Canaries have been busy making moves to improve their team around the diamond. Catchers, infielders, and pitchers have been the order of the day as the club looks to compete for the American Association title next season. Sioux Falls finished in last place in the league last year, but their moves prove they are committed to competing and staking a claim to the North Division title.
One of the key changes that will be seen in Sioux Falls this season is that Canaries manager Chris Paterson filled the remaining positions in his coaching staff during March. Roosevelt Brown was added as the team’s new hitting coach and Joe Winkelsas was tabbed to guide the pitching staff. Both have ties to the Atlanta Braves organization, a club that is known for developing players, so there is no doubt that the two will be real solid additions to the staff.
“These guys are two of the best out there today” said first year manager Chris Paterson, “Their experience and knowledge of the game will go a long way towards helping us bring a winning team back to Sioux Falls.”
On March 10, LHP Joe Bircher was re-signed by the Canaries. Last year for Sioux Falls the 6-4, 220 pound left-hander was 4-8 with a 4.37 ERA in 18 starts. He showed good control, walking just 37 batters in 107 innings pitched with 60 strikeouts.
Two days later the Sioux Falls Canaries signed another left-hander, this time it was Jordan Sechler. The lefty had pitched for the Atlanta Braves rookie league teams the past two seasons. Last year he was 1-2 with a 3.26 ERA in 15 appearances with 4 saves. Sechler has a solid fastball, striking out 18 batters in 19.1 innings pitched.
On March 17, INF RJ Perucki was signed by the club. Perucki played for Rio Grande Valley in the United League last season, where he hit .280 with two home runs and 18 RBI in 40 games. He also had a solid .340 on-base percentage and made just three errors.
Looking to add some more infield depth the Canaries signed Michael Wing on March 23. Wing was with Gateway of the Frontier League last season, where he hit .284 in 84 games, with 14 home runs and 50 RBI. His bat will be a welcome addition to the Sioux Falls lineup, and should make the heart of their batting order a lot more dangerous.
On March 25, Cameron McVey was signed by Sioux Falls. The right-hander pitched in his first three professional seasons for the San Francisco Giants organization. Last year he was with Salem-Keizer, the club’s Low-A affiliate where he was 1-2 with a save and a 5.86 ERA in 22 appearances.
On March 31, RHP Tyler Pearson was signed by Sioux Falls. The right-hander was with Laredo the last two seasons. Last year he was one of their most valued starters, posting a 7-8 record and a 4.28 ERA in 29 appearances, 14 of which were starts. He also had a save. His issue is with control, walking 72 batters in 101 innings pitched, but he has real quality stuff (97 strikeouts and only 81 hits allowed).
April 2 saw the club sign RHP Brett Gerritse and C Richard Stock. Stock is entering his fourth professional season. The last three years he was with the Cleveland Indians organization, reaching their Mid-A Lake County club last season. In 2014 Stock hit .261 in 52 games played, with 4 home runs and 26 RBI.
Gerritse showed real promise last season, beginning the year at Mid-A Charleston, and ending at AAA-Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. It was his sixth season with the Yankees organization; a career that saw him go 24-23 with 2 saves in 116 career appearances. The righty had a very respectable 3.59 ERA during that span, including a combined 3.92 between three levels last season.
On April 5, RHP Shawn Blackwell was inked to a deal by Sioux Falls. Blackwell had a fine season for Washington of the Frontier League last year, going 10-4 in 21 appearances, 17 of them starts, with a 3.70 ERA. That was a complete turnaround from the previous season when he had the reverse record (4-10) and a 5.36 ERA. The right-hander looks to be a real quality addition to the starting staff.
On April 9, INF Jerome Pena was signed by the Canaries. Pena played for the Baltimore Orioles High-A team in Frederick last season, where he hit .269 in 93 games with 5 home runs and 39 RBI. He is a quality defender, and combined with Wing the left-side of the infield should be real solid defensively.
By Robert Pannier