St. Paul Saints Sermon: May Update
It is hard to believe that it is less than three weeks before the beginning of the American Association season begins. March ended as a sad one for the St. Paul Saints when star 1B Ian Gac was signed to play in the Mexican League, but he returned to the Saints less than four weeks later, and will anchor the club’s four-hole when the season begins.
April was incredibly busy in St. Paul, as manager George Tsamis has been feverishly filling the club’s remaining spots on the 28-man spring training roster. Now at 23 there are just a few spots left before the club kicks off training camp, which is now just a week away. It is an exciting time for the club as they prepare to open their new ballpark.
On April 9, INF Devin Thaut was dealt to Sussex County of the Can-Am League. Thaut had an outstanding season for the Saints last year, hitting .342 in 72 games with 3 home runs and 33 RBI. He showed the great ability to get on-base, posting a .419 OBP, and scored 50 runs.
On April 13, St. Paul inked three players to deals, and placed RHP Nick Barnese on the inactive list. OF Mitch Elliot was re-signed after a great debut with the team last season. He was added late in the year, and hit .300 in 10 games with nine RBI and six runs scored.
INF Michael Antonio has been a prospect of the Kansas City Royals organization since being drafted in 2010. Last season he split time between Mid-A Lexington and High-A Wilmington, where he combined to play in 100 games, hit .265, score 51 runs, homer 9 times and drive in 55 runs.
RHP Chris Smith was also signed by the Saints, but his stay in St. Paul lasted just one day. His contract was purchased by the New York Yankees organization and he is currently at High-A Tampa.
The loss of Barnese to start the year is a tough pill to swallow. The right-hander was 6-9 last season with a 3.85 ERA, and was expected to anchor one of the team’s top two spots in the rotation this season. It is a deep rotation that could withstand his absence for a time but, if the Saints are going to make a title run, Nick Barnese is going to be needed.
On April 21, OF Josh Romanski signed with Mitsubichi of the Japanese League. Romanski had been acquired from Gary Southshore to complete a deal from late last year. The Saints are very deep in the outfield, so the move is not crushing, but Romanski’s loss still hurts.
The blow was softened three days later when Gac returned to the club. Gac played with Veracruz for 12 games before deciding to return to Minnesota. Last season he put up huge numbers, leading the American Association in home runs with 27, while driving in 77 and batting .349. Down the stretch he was just ungodly good, and was a key reason why the Lincoln Saltdogs advanced to the league title series.
The loss of Barnese became a much bigger deal on April 25, when RHP Justin Klipp signed with Monclova of the Mexican League. He already made his first start for the club, and should be a big asset in Monclova.
Needing to add some depth to their pitching staff, the St. Paul Saints made a deal with the Wichita Wingnuts for RHP Mike Zouzalik and the revisionary rights to RHP Chris Peacock for the revisionary rights of closer Matt Nevarez. Zouzalik was just a beast last season for the Wingnuts. The righty appeared in 47 games, posting a 4-0 record and a 3.06 ERA. He was struggling through the first month of last season, but after June 26 the right-hander was scored on in just four of his last 28 appearances. That included a stretch where he allowed a run once in 21 appearances. He will be a big addition to the club’s bullpen.
Chris Peacock was also acquired and signed a contract with the Saints on April 27. The right-hander split time between Rio Grande Valley of the United League and Wichita. At Rio Grande Valley he was 5-2 with a 2.27 ERA in 30 appearances. He also added 3 saves. Peacock had a 2-0 record in Wichita, but with a 7.50 ERA. However, that ERA is deceiving considering that he was only scored upon in two of the six appearances he made. He also pitched quite well in the post-season, allowing just one run in four relief appearances.
The same day that Peacock was inked to a deal, RHP Ryan Rodebaugh was also signed. The right-hander made two appearances for AAA-Round Rock, an affiliate of the Texas Rangers, before being released. He was 3-0 last season at AA-Frisco.
On the last day of April the St. Paul Saints acquired INF Anthony Phillips from New Jersey of the Can-Am League. Phillips made three stops for the Philadelphia Phillies organization last season, including Mid-A Lakewood, High-A Clearwater, and AA-Reading. Combined he hit .230 in 90 games with 27 runs scored and 24 RBI.
By Robert Pannier