Two Moves Solidify RedHawks as American Association ‘Superteam’
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 the two acquisitions that the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks made on Friday and how that solidifies the team as the one ‘superteam’ in the American Association
Hey Rob, Not So Fast!
A little over a week ago, I looked at the rosters in the American Association heading into spring training and how it looked like there was going to be parity (the correct word this time) in the league this season. That there would be no ‘superteam’ in the league this year. That conclusion may have been premature.
Things changed on Friday, as the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks made two acquisitions that clearly make this the team to beat. With the best starting rotation in the league and now two huge pieces in their lineup, this team is ready to defend their title and become the first to win back-to-back league championships since the Winnipeg Goldeyes (2016-17).
Let’s Look at the Moves
The first big move was the signing of outfielder Dillon Thomas. Thomas is no stranger to the American Association, as he played for the Texas AirHogs in 2018, appearing in 80 games where he hit .333 with 14 homeruns and 54 RBI. That may not seem like particularly impressive numbers but, for those who do not remember, the AirHogs were experimenting by hosting the Chinese National Baseball team, and had very little talent around Thomas. He had no protection in the lineup, yet still put up incredibly impressive numbers, so impressive that it drew the attention of the Milwaukee Brewers organization who purchased the contract of Thomas, sending him to AA-Biloxi.
Following the pandemic year, Thomas signed with the Seattle Mariners and was sent to AAA-Tacoma. He appeared in four games for the Mariners that season, and played in eight games for the Los Angeles Angels this year. The outfielder proved that he has what it takes to reach the highest level of the game, and now gives the RedHawks a lineup that is going to be hard to slow down. The heart of this batting order is going to include Manuel Boscan, Correlle Prime, Leobaldo Pina, Evan Alexander, and now Thomas. That’s 75 home runs and 350 RBI with plenty of spare.
Also joining the team is B.J. Lopez. The catcher was acquired from the Kane County Cougars where he has done a great job handling the Cougars pitching staff the last two seasons. Lopez hit .238 last year with five home runs and 30 RBI in 75 games. He may not add a lot of offense, but this is a team more concerned about having a catcher who calls an outstanding game, and Lopez does just that.
This Team Is Stacked
The RedHawks already had a formidable team ready to defend their title. The starting rotation is going to include their two left-handed aces (Kevin McGovern and Tyler Grauer) and returns two outstanding rookies who were spectacular in the rotation last season as well (Peyton Wigginton and Davis Feldman). Closer Alex DuBord also returns after leading the American Association in saves last season, and the bullpen has an outstanding group of returning arms as well, including Tanner Riley, Brady Stover, and Reid Burlingmair. New additions Brendan Knoll, Eric Ezersky, and Jacob Harsany should help to maintain leads to get to the board.
In addition, the “Stunt Men” return this season as well. These were the players who played a critical role in the team winning the Miles Wolff Cup last season, even if they did not get a lot of fanfare. This group of Alec Olund, Sam Dexter, Nick Novak, and Ben Livorsi will help to keep the rallies alive.
With this group, it is looking like it may be another happy end to the summer in eastern North Dakota and western Minnesota.
By Robert Pannier