Rockers add quality veterans to 2020 lineup
The High Point Rockers have re-signed 2019 ALPB All-Star Tyler Ladendorf for the 2020 campaign. The soon-to-be 32-year-old, who played a piece of 2019 in the Rays organization, will function as a player/coach for the Rockers this season.
Ladendorf flashed some pop in 2019 while with the Rockers, hitting a career-high 13 home runs (his previous high was 9 in double-A, during the 2012 season) while slashing .256/.334/.432. Ladendorf’s numbers haven’t necessarily declined over the past few seasons, but it’s unwise to project any major improvements in his on-field contributions as he eyes his potential future in coaching. Overall projections for Ladendorf will have to be adjusted as his potential playing time becomes clearer. However, his veteran leadership will give a boost to the entire High Point roster.
In July of 2016, Matt Fields left the Somerset Patriots and walked away from a 12-year professional baseball career. Just recently, Matt Fields walked into a tryout overseen by High Point Rockers’ bench Billy Horn. On Thursday, it was announced that High Point has signed Fields for 2020.
How do you project for this situation? It will be over 3 and a half years between professional baseball games for Fields by the time the ALPB season opens. One would figure Matt can’t be all that rusty if he was able to impress High Point enough to get signed. Examining trends of players coming off of similar layoffs, Fields projects to hit somewhere between .230/.300/.495 and .255/.329/.510. Honestly, who knows? We’ll just need to keep an eye on Matt Fields through pre-season and early May, adjusting projections as we learn more.
In summary… Matt Fields…
Very Interesting Story: Absolutely.
Unknown Quantity: Oh yea.
Ducks solidify their leadership for 2020
The Long Island Ducks seem to have finalized their 2020 coach staff. It was announced Thursday that Goose Gozzo will fill the role of pitching coach this season. Goose will join manager Wally Backman and hitting coach (as well as outfielder) Lew Ford in the Long Island dugout.
Skeeters find partner for Albert Cordero behind the plate
The Sugar Land Skeeters have signed catcher Jake Romanski. Romanski, who is entering his age 29 season, has been in the Red Sox organization since finishing his career at San Diego State in 2013. 2019 was a difficult year for Romanski, as he slashed .209/.248/.255 in 36 appearances between double-A and triple-A. Positively, Jake threw out 30% of attempted base stealers in 2019 and has caught nearly 50% of base stealers during some of his previous seasons. However, it should be noted that Romanski has missed 150 games since the start of 2017 due to 2 separate PED violations.
Romanski is expected to split time at catcher with Albert Cordero, and his portion of the playing time will depend on his results as he settles into the Atlantic League. He currently projects to see about 200 plate appearances and slash .265/.294/.346. That is all very much up in the air until we can learn more during April and May as rosters come together and play begins.
Blue Crabs take a flyer on Greyfer Eregua
The Southern Maryland Blue Crabs have decided Greyfer Eregua is ready for his Atlantic League debut. The Blue Crabs announced they had signed the right-handed Venezuelan pitcher on Thursday. The team is betting on Eregua returning to the pitcher he was for 7 years in the Cubs and Angels’ systems. In 2017 and 2018, Greyfer’s consistent climb through MiLB hit a snag as injuries began to crop up.
In 2019, Eregua found himself out of affiliated ball and out of answers on the mound. Between the American Association’s Cleburne Railroaders and the Frontier League’s Lake Erie Crushers, Eregua posted a 5.49 ERA paired with a 1.348 WHIP.
So why the jump to the Atlantic League? Last season’s results were bad, yes. But Eregua was coming back from limited action the previous season and likely struggling to settle into independent ball after playing with affiliated clubs since he was 18. This could be a season where a somewhat more matured Greyfer calms down, brings his strikeout rate back up, and brings his walk rate back down. A productive season in the starting rotation with a mid-3.00 ERA is certainly a possibility and one which the Blue Crabs felt was worth gambling on. With that said, 85% of projections point toward an ERA between 5.00 and 5.50 split between the bullpen and rotation. Here’s hoping a return to form is in order for Greyfer Eregua’s age 26 season.
Taylor Wright looks to continue comeback with Somerset
Taylor Wright has been re-signed by the Somerset Patriots, continuing a very interesting story that cropped up last season. Taylor was out of baseball for 3 years after finishing his college career at Brown in 2015, but in 2019, Taylor Wright was back in a big way.
In 48 and 2/3 innings in the with the Frontier League’s Evansville Otters, Wright allowed only 5 earned runs, struck out 10.4 batters per 9 innings, and logged 18 saves. In a small sample, Wright looked reliable on the mound for the Patriots at the end of the season (4 IP, 1 earned run).
Wright’s 2020 is challenging to project. Duplicating last season’s success will be tough during a whole ALPB season. However, something close to last season’s progress may send Taylor toward affiliated ball mid-season. Presently, Taylor Wright’s projections are somewhere in between these possibilities (45 IP, 3.45 ERA, and a 0.945 WHIP), but we should learn how high Wright’s ceiling is within the first month of the 2020 season.