San Antonio Calzones de Laredo 2019 Season Preview

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Updated: October 16, 2013

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San Antonio Calzones de Laredo 2019 Season Preview

 

Following a 2018 season which saw the Calzones return to the playoffs for the first time since the 2007 season, the team concentrated on keeping their core assets together while simply adding around the edges to what is otherwise a well balanced team. Part of keeping the core assets together involved re-signing 2018 mid season acquisitions like 1b/DH Octávio Pexego and 2b Leslie McDonald. In addition, the team handed out contract extensions like they were candy, helping to assure the fan base of the Calzones commitment to keeping this team together over the long term.

 

A breakdown of the contract extensions and signings this off-season

 

Middle reliever Glenn Martin signed a two year extension for 1.05 million dollars per season which wiluarantee the arbitration eligible Martin will be under contract through 2021.

 

Second basemen Leslie McDonald, who could have been a free agent after 2019, was signed to a one year extension at 11.9 million dollars for the 2020 season.

 

1b Octávio Pexego, who would have been a free agent, was signed to a 3 year deal with an optional 4th year. The contract is for 40.2 million over three seasons, but could look a bit expensive in years two and three if Pexego’s production plummets.

 

Starting pitcher Bob ‘Hoss’ Harris, who would have been arbitration eligible after the 2019 season, was signed to an extension for the 2020 season at 3.56 million dollars, and in addition the team holds an option on Harris for the 2021 season at 4.2 million dollars.

 

Infielder Lowell Peterson, who would have been arbitration eligible after 2019, was signed to a one year extension at $880,000 for 2020.

 

Starting pitcher Vincente Coronado, acquired from the Omaha Cyclones during the off season, was signed to a one year extension for the 2021 season at 6.82 million dollars. In addition, his option for the 2020 season was automatically picked up by mutual agreement.

 

Starting catcher Dan Glenn, off two consecutive all leather awards, was given a two year extension through the 2021 season worth 2.66 million over the life of the contract. Glenn would have been arbitration eligible after next season.

 

Left fielder Dan Perry, who would have been arbitration eligible after the season, was given a one year extension worth 1.64 million dollars for the 2020 season.

 

Pitcher Xavier ‘X-Factor’ Gómes, who would have been arbitration eligible after the season, was given a one year extension for the 2020 season valued at 3.46 million dollars.

 

Starting pitcher Roberto Rosado was given a one year extension for the 2021 season, valued at 12.64 million dollars, and in addition his option for the 2020 season was picked up by mutual agreement.

 

Pitcher Oliver González, who would have been arbitration eligible after the season, was given a one year extension for the 2020 season at 2.23 million dollars.

 

SP Randy ‘Tugboat’ Smith, who would have been eligible for arbitration after the 2019 season, was signed to a 4 year deal at 9.79 mil per year.

 

LF Robert Johnson, who would have been arbitration eligible after 2019, was signed to a 4 year extension worth an average of 7.845 million per season

 

Noticeably absent from the list of players who are either potential free agents or arbitration eligible after the 2019 season and offered contracts were long time RF José Hernández, middle reliever Francisco Chávez, and pitcher Clarence Flores. The team had no comments as to the contract status of those three players, though all three have been rumored to be on the trading block.

 

The only major departure from the 2018 squad is closer Shiro Shimizu.

 

Major additions to the team came through both free agent signings and trades. SP Vincente Coronado was added in a trade with Omaha, while veteran left handed pitcher Cipriano Peña was signed to a 2 year deal at an avg of 3.915 million, with a team option for a third season. Also acquired in trade was left handed pitcher Joe Riley, in a deal with the Yuma Bulldozers. Riley spent time in winter ball to learn a third pitch and will begin the year in the AAA Joplin Red Racers rotation.

 

Also acquired in trade from Yuma was RF Charlie Tucker, whose sweet swing figures to fill the #2 hole in the Calzones lineup with a great degree of consistency most days. Signed in free agency was 1b Jarrod Wright, to a two year deal that averages 4.6 million per season with an option for a third season. 1B Denny Parkinson was also signed to a minor league deal with a major league option for 1.2 million.

 

One other new face in Laredo this season will come from within the system, where C Antonio Ayala becomes the backup for Dan Glenn.

 

 

The Rotation

 

Bob ‘Hoss’ Harris – R – 29 – acquired 12-1-15, Rule 5 draft from the Kalamazoo Badgers

Harris couldn’t break glass with his fastball, but he mixes his 5 pitches very well and keeps hitters off balance. He is a traditional ace by no means. He relies on solid control and lets his defense do the work behind him. He is a workhorse, setting a Calzones record with 250.1 innings pitched last season, and he has averaged slightly over 217 innings per season in his three seasons with the Calzones. He was 14-9 with a 3.45 ERA last season. His gutsty determination and hard work make him one of the team’s leaders in the clubhouse. He will miss his first start of 2019 with a sprained ankle, and the Calzones don’t plan to work him quite as hard as they did last season, but when he returns the expectation is still for another solid season of 200+ innings.

 

Vincente Coronado – R – 30 – acquired 11-25-18, trade with Omaha Cyclones

Coronado suffered injuries in each of the last two seasons, but there were rumors of malingering as the Cyclones fortunes plummeted over the last couple of years. Several anonymous Cyclones questioned the severity of his injures and felt he may have been dogging it and looking for a way out of Omaha. When healthy, Coronado has been a quite effective pitcher. His fastball is only in the low 90’s, but he is adept at changing speeds and keeping the ball in the ballpark. He can work deep into games and he worked at least 208 innings in 3 straight seasons from 2014 to 2016. The Calzones believe a return to a winning atmosphere and decent health should return Coronado to those levels in 2019. He’ll take the two hole in the Calzones rotation to start the season.

 

Randy ‘Tugboat’ Smith – L – 26 – acquired 7-31-17 in trade with Yuma Bulldozers

A hard throwing southpaw who can hit 99 on the radar gun, Smith managed a 14-8 record while posting a 2.58 ERA. It’s rare for balls to leave the yard on Smith, as he has allowed just 35 HR in 70 PEBA starts in his career. He allows well less than a hit per inning pitched, but is still sometimes dogged by control issues. His tendency towards high pitch counts and early exits limit his effectiveness at times, but most days he will work a solid 7 innings and put the Calzones in a position to have a chance to win. He could someday be the ace of the staff, but he will need to conquer the control issues before he makes that jump. For now, he remains in the three hole in the Calzones rotation.

 

Oliver González – R – 25 – acquired 3-22-17 in trade with Yuma Bulldozers

A hard throwing right hander, the young González finished 10-8 with a 3.76 ERA in 153.1 innings in 2018. He started the season in the bullpen before moving to the rotation. He did falter a bit down the stretch, not unexpected for a pitcher who has less than 250 innings of PEBA experience. González work ethic has been questioned at times, making it imperative that the veteran pitchers on the staff provide a solid influence on him. His 97 mph fastball is complemented by excellent control and the ability to change speeds well. González holds the four hole in the Calzones rotation to start the season, but could sit much higher in the rotation this time next year.

 

Roberto Rosado – R – 28 – acquired 6-8-11 in trade with Florida Featherheads

The Calzones all time saves leader moved into the rotation in the middle of last season, and was instrumental in helping lead the Calzones to the playoffs. Rosado hits the mid 90’s on the gun, and none of his pitches rate much better than average, but somehow Rosado finds a way to do the job and do the job well no matter what role he is cast in. He won a Shutdown Reliever award as the Calzones closer in 2015 and has been a two time all-star. In 2018 he compiled a 12-11 record with a 3.22 ERA in 178.2 innings pitched. The Calzones remain concerned about piling too many innings on the lanky Rosado, and he will start the season as the teams number 5 starter. With off days early in the season causing his spot to be skipped, he’ll likely see some bullpen time as well until a fifth starter is needed on a regular basis come June.

 

Waiting in the wings: Clarence Flores, Xavier ‘X-Factor’ Gómes, Cipriano Peña, Joe Riley, John Miller, Ed Stanley

 

SUMMARY: The Calzones rotation might not be the flashiest, but it is consistent, deep, and effective. The Calzones led the IL in fewest runs allowed in 2018, and the pitching staff, especially the rotation, should be just as good if not better this season. The rotation was a huge key to getting the Calzones to the post season in 2018, and young guys like González and Smith should only be better. Harris and Coronado can do the heavy lifting and eat a lot of innings. The depth of the rotation is incredible. There are no less than a dozen pitchers in the organization that the Calzones would feel comfortable sending to the mound to start a game.

 

 

The Bullpen

 

Clarence Flores – R – 26 – acquired 11-6-15 in trade with the Aurora Borealis

Flores struggled at times in 2018, going 6-6 with a 4.82 ERA, splitting time between the bullpen and rotation. As the rotation solidified behind Rosado and González last year, Flores became the odd man out and worked quite effectively from the bullpen. A former first round pick of the Borealis, Flores was 10-4 with a 3.36 ERA in 2017, and his upside remains high. He throws in the low 90’s, but explosive late movement on his three above average pitches make him quite effective when he is on his game. He has the ability to work deep into games, and he gives the Calzones a viable option for the rotation when needed. He is penciled into middle relief for 2019, but will open the season in the rotation for at least one start as Bob Harris mends from a sprained ankle. Flores has been the best pitcher on the team in the spring, posting a 1.65 ERA in 16.1 innings.

 

Xavier ‘X-Factor’ Gómes – R – 26 – drafted 6-7-10, round 2, pick 3, by the San Antonio Calzones de Laredo

The biggest issue with Gómes is keeping him healthy. He is clearly made of glass. When healthy, the homegrown native of McKinney, Texas is a quite effective pitcher. He can touch 94 on the gun, and keeps hitters off balance with a decent if unspectacular four pitch arsenal. He is quite effective at keeping the ball in the park. He was quite effective after returning from a season long injury last September, posting a 3-0 mark with a 3.55 ERA in 25.1 innings, including 2 starts amongst his 15 appearances. Gómes is a vocal clubhouse leader. Due to the numbers game and having an option remaining, Gómes was slated to begin the season in AAA, but the injury to Harris has given him a reprieve and he will open the season in the middle relief/swing man role.

 

Cipriano Peña – L – 31 – signed as free agent, 11-25-18, by the San Antonio Calzones de Laredo

With the free agent pool devoid of quality left handed pitching, the Calzones moved quickly in the off season to sign Peña to a 2 year deal. Peña has been a workhorse in his career, 4 times exceeding 200 innings, including years of 245 and 247 innings pitched. He was unceremoniously released late in the season each of the last two years, but still appears to have enough in the arm to be an effective reliever and even a member of the rotation should the situation present itself. He only hits the low 90’s on the radar gun, but mixes 6 rather average pitches well enough to mostly keep opposing enough off balance to be effective. He brings a good work ethic to the clubhouse. He will begin the season as the Calzones primary left handed reliever in the middle innings, but a spot start here and there throughout the season would not be out of the question.

 

Francisco Chávez – L – 29 – acquired 3-15-18 in trade with Aurora Borealis

A starter his entire career with Aurora, Chavez was converted to relief with the Calzones in 2018. He was 5-6 with 5 saves and a 4.19 ERA in 54 appearances in 2018. He is the prototypical crafty lefthander, barely touching 90 on the gun with his fastball. This season, with Pena doing the heavy lifting from the left side in the middle innings, Chavez will become the teams lefty specialist.

 

Glenn Martin – R – 26 – acquired 11-24-15 in trade with New Jersey Hitmen

A hard thrower who hits 98 with his fastball and keeps hitters off balance with an above average change up, Martin has had issues with his control to this point in his young career. His ability to notch strikeouts and keep the ball in the park, however, are generally effective at preventing the walks from being damaging. A hard worker who leads by example, it is hoped Martin takes a step forward with his control this season and becomes one of the elite setup men in the IL. He has been remarkably consistent each of the last two seasons, posting ERA’s of 3.46 and 3.42, working 53 and 54 games, 52 and 52.2 innings, allowing 20 ER in both seasons, 4 HR in both seasons, 32 walks in both seasons, and 56 strikeouts in both seasons. He will be the Calzones main right handed setup man and could even notch a save or two.

 

Ed Stanley – L – 28 – acquired 6-29-14 in trade with Kentucky Thoroughbreds

Stanley approaches the mid 90’s with his fastball, and has a hard breaking curveball that is his out pitch. He’ll also occasionally mix in a change up just to keep hitters off balance. Every season the Calzones go into the year planning to use Stanley exclusively in the left handed setup role, yet every season he ends up starting 10 to 20 games and working well over 100 innings. He is a bit limited as a starter, usually able to barely scrape through 6 innings, and with the increased depth of the Calzones rotation Stanley should work exclusively from the bullpen this season. A vocal leader in the clubhouse, and the Calzones primary left handed setup man in 2019.

 

Shawn Marshall – R – 26 – acquired 4-2-18 in trade with Kentucky Thoroughbreds

After some early season control issues, Marshall settled down in his rookie season with the Calzones in 2018 and had a fine season, going 3-2 with 6 saves and a 3.43 ERA. By September, Marshall was the hottest pitcher in the Calzones bullpen and had taken over the closer role as the team made it’s playoff push. A hard thrower who hits 98 on the gun, Marshall has an explosive fastball and compliments it with a plus slider. He could lose a few save opportunities during periods when Rosado is in the bullpen, but Marshall is the Calzones primary closer heading into the 2019 season.

 

Waiting in the wings; Joe Riley, John Miller, José Caballero.

 

SUMMARY: The bullpen is solid, if unspectacular. Marshall and Martin should see continued improvement as the late innings guys, and Stanley as the lefty in the late innnings is dependable. In the middle innings, all of those guys could start, and their ability to work multiple innings and back to back days gives the late inning guys a lot of breathing room. The fact that the rotation is solid keeps a lot of heat off the bullpen, and the fact that the staff is so deep in potential starters gives the pitching staff a lot of flexibility.

 

Up and coming:

 

Joe Riley – L – 25 – acquired 12-15-18 in trade with Yuma Bulldozers

Acquired in a deal that sent Kurt Keller to Yuma over the winter, Riley went to winter ball to learn a third pitch this past offseason and will begin the season in AAA and get stretched out learning to start. A southpaw with good endurance, Riley is adept at keeping the ball in the park, but needs to harness the control. He is not a hard thrower, barely scratching 90 with a tailwind, but he effectively mixes a sinker, slider, and curveball. Likely to be the next pitcher called up if/when the Calzones need a left hander, he gives the Calzones a bit of insurance.

 

On the fringes:

 

John Miller – L – 27 – acquired 5-4-14 in trade with Yuma Bulldozers

Having spent parts of 5 seasons with the Calzones 2017 remains the only season Miller spent the full season at the PEBA level. A southpaw who can touch 94, with decent control, Miller’s three pitch repertoire is less than dominating, though he can be moderately effective as either a starter or reliever. He remains the Calzones emergency option if the team is decimated by injuries, but otherwise should plan on biding his time at AAA.

 

José Caballero – R – 24 – signed as minor league free agent, 8-7-18

Caballero is a hard thrower who mixes a 97 mph cutter with a hard breaking slider. While his stuff is slightly above average, his control is average at best. Last year he was hit terribly hard at both AAA and in his short callup to San Antonio in September. His babip in 50 innings at the AAA level was .405. If his babip returns to somewhat of a normal level, he could be an effective middle reliever. There is even some thought of having him learn a third pitch to make him a potential swingman. But first he has to prove that last season’s babip was a fluke and not a pattern.

 

Prospect Watch:

 

AA – Mario Chávez – L -21 – signed as minor league free agent 4-12-15

If you can look past the fact that Chávez is going to walk a few batters, he is quite an effective pitcher. Take out a misguided 9 game promotion to AAA at the young age of 20, and his career ERA is 1.52. He has allowed just 94 hits in 142 innings below the AAA level, and just 6 of those hits were home runs. Last year at AA, he was 2-1, with a 1.46 ERA and 21 saves. He hits 94 on the radar gun with the fastball and mixes in a devilish changeup to buckle hitters knees. He just turned 21, and he will be allowed to dominate AA for another full season before making the jump to AAA. Whether his lack of control will hurt his development at higher levels remains to be seen, but he could have the makings to be an effective left handed specialist down the line.

 

A – Jorge Córdova – R – 19 – signed as minor league free agent 12-27-15

Córdova was signed as a raw youngster at the age of 16, and has been developed slowly in the Calzones system, spending his first three seasons mostly in relief with 2 token starts last season. The burly Córdova can bring the heat and chalk up 3 digits on the radar gun, but he compliments the fastball with a plus slider, plus change, and will occasionally mix in an avg slider just for good measure. The Calzones scouting department is high on his potential. Just 19, and he will be beginning a second season at A ball, though it is very likely he could be at AA before mid season.

 

SS-A – Dave Kirkpatrick – R – 19 – drafted 6-7-18, round 3, pick 12, by the San Antonio Calzones de Laredo

Kirkpatrick struggled in his first season of pro ball, not uncommon for a pitcher coming straight out of high school. He has a 96 mph fastball and a plus splitter. He has the endurance to start, but really needs to learn a third pitch if he is ever going to be an effective starter at a higher level. The scouting department loves his upside potential, especially if he adds a third pitch and adds another foot to the fastball, but his work ethic remains a concern.

 

 

Offensively, the Calzones were highly inconsistent the first four months of 2018, but the additions of Leslie McDonald and Octávio Pexego at the trade deadline turned the Calzones offense into one of the most productive units in the league over the course of the final two months of the season. With the re-signings of both players this past off season, the Calzones go into the season as a much better offensive unit than they were at the beginning of 2018. In addition, the Calzones added Charlie Tucker via trade, as well as power hitting Jarrod Wright through free agency. If the Calzones offense has any problem this season, it will be finding a way to get everyone their share of the at bats.

 

Catchers

 

Dan Glenn – R – 26 – acquired 12-13-16 in trade with Kalamazoo Badgers

A Rule 5 pick by Kalamazoo in 2016, the Calzones traded for Glenn two weeks later and have never looked back at the catcher position. An All-Leather Award winner in each of his first two seasons, Glenn is the standard by which catchers are measured defensively. In each of his two seasons, the Calzones have been the most difficult team in the league to run on. He is excellent and blocking balls in the dirt, with a combined 3 passed balls the last two seasons, and just 2 errors per season in each of his first two years. He is never going to be a great hitter, but he does have some pop and can be counted on for about 12 to 15 HR from the bottom slot in the batting order. But his defensive prowess far outweighs what he lacks in hitting ability. The native of nearby Seguin, Tx is the Calzones starting catcher and number 9 hitter for years to come.

 

António Ayala – R – 23 – drafted 6-7-14, round 6, pick 3, by the San Antonio Calzones de Laredo

Ayala batted .311 with 14 HR and 44 RBI in 386 at bats at AAA last season, and for his career at all levels he is a .301 hitter. Scouts aren’t sold on his power, but they love his ability to make contact. He isn’t the defensive catcher that Glenn is, but he is dependable behind the plate. On the days he is in the lineup, he gives the Calzones a little more offensive presence. The Calzones backup catcher.

 

Waiting in the wings: Ted Young, Ramón Hernández

 

Ted Young – R – 25 – drafted 6-7-15, round 6, pick 4, by the San Antonio Calzones de Laredo

Young has emerged as a solid contact hitter, batting .318 at AAA Joplin in 201 at bats in 2018. He does lack patience and doesn’t show much power, but his defensive skills are above average, with an especially strong arm. He will take over the starting catching role in AAA this season and be waiting for an opportunity at the PEBA level.

 

Ramón Hernández – L – 22 – signed as minor league free agent 7-6-16

Hernández batted .261 with 20 HR and 58 RBI in 399 at bats for Monterey in 2018. He has excellent power, but lacks plate discipline, walking just 8 times in more than 400 plate appearances in his attempt to channel Manny Sanguillen. His defensive skills are average at best, but his left handed power make him intriguing as a potential backup catcher someday.

 

Prospect watch:

 

SS-A Ned Hopkins – R – 17 – signed as minor league free agent 12-10-17

Hopkins has the ability to make contact, but needs much work on his plate discipline as well as his mediocre at best defense. But he is still very young and the organization is willing to take their time and see how much he can develop over the next few years.

 

SUMMARY: Having the best defensive catcher in the game behind the plate most days gives the Calzones a huge advantage when it comes to stopping the running game, as well as limiting free bases on passed balls and wild pitches. For an organization that prides itself on doing the little things right, it starts with Glenn behind the plate. Ayala gives the team a solid backup who can occasionally provide a little more offense. After trading Jeff Richard over the winter, the next tier of catchers in the organization is a bit weaker than before, and something that will need to be addressed in coming drafts. Fortunately Glenn and Ayala are both quite young and the team has time to address the issue.

 

 

Infield

 

1b/ DH Octávio Pexego – L – 36 – acquired in trade with Tempe Knights 7-31-18

A key force during the Calzones playoff drive in 2018, Pexego was acquired at the trade deadline after almost everyone had written him off after an awful season at Kentucky in 2017. He spent the majority of 2018 in the Tempe minor league system before the Calzones took a chance on him at the deadline. He provided solid production for the Calzones down the stretch, but more importantly his presence changed the entire dynamic of the previously sputtering Calzones lineup. It was for this reason as well as his leadership in the clubhouse and his popularity with the fans that he was rewarded with a 3 year contract extension in the off season, He has clearly lost a step in the field and will likely see just as much time at DH as he does at 1b, and he could be rested more regularly against lefthanders.

 

1b?DH Jarrod Wright – R – 32- signed as free agent 3-18-19

The Calzones needed a big presence from the right hand side, an Wright’s power bat gives them that. Wright set the Calzones record for HR with 43 back in 2016, before being dealt to New Orleans. Signed to a two year deal just this week at the bargain basement price of an avg of 4.6 million dollars per season, Wright should again enjoy the short left field porch in Elysian Fields. He is just a .229 career hitter against right handed pitching at the PEBA level, but his career .973 OPS against left handed pitching is solid. His 162 game averages at the PEBA level are 37 HR and 96 RBI. In the 4 seasons in which he has accumulated at least 500 at bats, he averages 37 HR. He brings a solid glove with him, though he spent his two seasons in New Orleans exclusively in the DH slot. He’ll fit into the lineup somewhere most days, as part of the 1b/DH mix that includes Pexego, OF/DH Dan Perry, and 1b/DH Parkinson.

 

1b/DH Denny Parkinson – L – 28 – signed as minor league free agent, 3-13-19

Signed to a minor league deal with a major league option, Parkinson will surely be with the Calzones in 2019 as a key bench player. While he lacks plate discipline, his ability to hit for power from the left side make him the perfect late innings pinch hitter. His solid glove could earn him an odd start at 1b against a tough lefthander. He brings excellent qualities to the clubhouse. His role with the Calzones this season will be quite specific; come off the bench to give us that key hit late in a game when we need it most.

 

2b Leslie McDonald – R – 30 – acquired 7-31-18 in trade with Kentucky Thoroughbreds

The often streaky McDonald parlayed a slow start in Kentucky last season into a trip to AAA and eventually a trade out of town. The Calzones came in at the trade deadline and scooped up the somewhat expensive McDonald on a hunch that he would be rejuvenated by a playoff race. McDonald remained streaky with the Calzones, but when he was hot he carried the Calzones. A solid glove man with an all-leather award in his trophy case, McDonald brings veteran leadership to the clubhouse as well. He batted .297 in 47 games for the Calzones down the stretch, and the Calzones have already extended his contract out to 2020. He’ll rack up some strikeouts as he likes to see a lot of pitches, and he will continue to be streaky with the bat. But with a solid lineup around him, he owns the 3 hole in the Calzones lineup.

 

SS Thom Wright – R – 24 – acquired 7-8-18 in trade with Palm Springs Codgers

Wright combined for 43 HR and 118 RBI between two stops in 2016, at A and AA. Injuries in 2017 and early in 2018 seemed to set him back in the Palm Springs organization. The Calzones dealt for him in early July, and by late July he was a mainstay at SS in the Calzones lineup. Combined at 4 separate stops in 2018, Wright hit 24 HR in 442 at bats, including 9 in 53 games with the Calzones. Still only 24, with more room for growth and his power to develop. In the field he has the range to get to just about everything, and he will provide a solid double play combination with McDonald in the middle of the infield. The ceiling is high on his power potential, but it will be up to the veteran leadership of the Calzones other infielders to help Wright harness his potential. A 25 HR season out of the 8 spot in the lineup is not out of the question for the young shortstop.

 

3b Juan Carlos Flores – R – 26 – drafted 6-7-14, round 8, pick 8, by the San Antonio Calzones de Laredo.

Flores held his own as a rookie in 2018, batting .255 with 13 HR and 50 RBI as well as 25 doubles in 364 at bats. His minor league numbers in 2017/18 suggest there is a lot more upside to Flores game yet. Defensively, he will never be confused with Brooks Robinson, but he has a strong arm and fields the position adequately. As well as playing the corner infield positions, he could move to LF in an emergency, though a comparison to Pat Burrell wouldn’t be unfair in that situation. Most days he will start at 3b and bat 6th or 7th.

 

Util Infielder – Lowell Peterson – R -29 – acquired 11-22-16 in trade with Manchester Maulers

Fun fact, Peterson was originally a 15th round draft choice of the Calzones in 2011. Released and signed to a minor league deal by Manchester, the Calzones would 5 years later make a trade to re-acquire Peterson. A late bloomer, Peterson would probably win an all-leather award if he was the starter at 3b,he’s that good with the glove. But his role with the Calzones will be as the utility infielder in 2019. In 415 at bats in 2018 he batted .241 with 21 HR and 67 RBI. His solid defensive skills make him capable of starting anywhere on the infield, and when he is in the lineup his decent power means the lineup doesn’t lose all that much. Peterson should again accumulate at least 400 at bats, as he will start at least twice at 3b, and once each at 2b and SS to give the other infielder regular rest. In addition, on days he is not starting he is prime candidate to come off the bench and pinch hit with his right handed power, and on days he is not in the lineup he will be a late inning defensive replacement at 3b. Peterson could surely start for most teams, but he remains the Calzones utility infielder.

 

Waiting in the wings: Alejandro López, Leland Terry, Dean Tuffin.

 

Alejandro López – R – 26 – signed as a minor league free agent 7-13-15

López has good power, hitting 32 HR’s each of the last two seasons, including 12 in 135 at bats at the PEBA level with the Calzones. His glove is well above avg for the middle infield, and we feel comfortable with López filling in at the PEBA level if the need arises.

 

Leland Terry – R – 25 – draft 6-7-15, round 4, pick 3, by the San Antonio Calzones de Laredo

A hard worker who always plays well above his scouting reports, Terry batted .292 with 20 HR and 83 RBI at AAA in 2018, and earned a late season callup to the Calzones where he batted .286 in 11 games. More of a natural corner infielder, Terry worked on his defense over the winter and could be called upon to work in the middle infield with more regularity. He’ll start the season in AAA waiting for an opportunity.

 

Dean Tuffin – L – 30 – signed as minor league free agent 3-5-19

Tuffin was a budding power prospect in the Calzones organization back in 2011 when he hit 31 HR for Drumright. He was dealt to Tempe, which began an odyssey that included a trip to Japan, as well as stops in the Manchester, Kentucky, New Orleans and Gloucester organizations before making his way back to San Antonio. Stuck with the label as a 4A career minor leaguer, Tuffin has none the less hit 30 or more HR 3 times in his career, including 30 last year in just 220 at bats at 3 stops in the lower minors. His 162 game averages are 36 HR and 108 RBI to go with a .275 batting average in his career. The big Aruban finds himself again as a teams insurance policy, as he is not likely to crack the 1b/DH group in Laredo that includes Pexego, Wright, and Parkinson. Still, he’s a solid insurance policy to have around if the Calzones end up in a position where they need to break the glass.

 

Prospect Watch

 

AA – Raúl Torres – 1b – R – 24 – acquired 7-31-16 in trade with Gloucester Fishermen

Torres batted .315 for AAA Joplin last season, but failed to show much power with just 6 HR. The Calzones are still hopeful that Torres will develop at least average power. He handles himself adequately around the bag at 1b. He is on the teams 40 man roster, but faces a crowded group in front of him at the moment. A numbers game has him shuttled back to AA this season, where it is hoped that his power will finally begin to develop.

 

A – Jack Speed – 2b – L – 20 – signed as international free agent, 2-27-18

Speed lives up to his name, he swiped 15 bags in 83 games at SSA Taku in 2018. A patient and disciplined hitter, his defensive skills still need some work but he looks like he could have a future as a two hole hitter someday.

 

SUMMARY: Offensively, the Calzones infield is more than solid, with no weakness in the batting lineup at any position. There is power throughout, from the 15 HR type power of McDonald to the 35+ HR power of Wright. Even the utility infielder, Peterson, is likely to chip in with about 20 HR from his semi regular status. Defensively, the team is solid up the middle. The corners are a little more challenged when Pexego is at first or Flores at third, but the variety of lineups we can send out to the field will help mitigate the issues at the corners. Parkinson provides a much needed bench bat. In the minors, the Calzones have several guys they can turn to without hardly missing a beat, though the lower minors still need some upgrades in order to keep the talent flowing in the years to come.

 

 

Outfield

 

CF Marco Ramos – L – 24 – acquired 11-8-17 in trade with Yuma Bulldozers

Ramos batted .269 with 22 HR and 54 RBI while stealing 40 bags from the Calzones leadoff spot in 2018. In addition to his offense, he picked up the all-leather award in CF in 2018. He did not commit a single error all season and threw out 11 base runners with his arm. If he has a hole in his game, it is that he struggles against left handed pitching, batting just .205 in against southpaws in 2018. Despite his speed, Ramos is a little weak in getting on base, and will shift much lower in the batting order most days this season to take advantage of his power and ability to drive in runs. Against left handed pitching, he will likely sit. Still, he is the Calzones starting CF and should expect to start more than 130 games.

 

LF Robert Johnson – L -24 – acquired 7-5-15 in trade with Duluth Warriors

Johnson has been the Calzones regular left fielder for each of the last two seasons, and has not even reached his prime as he is just 24 years old. He won an all-leather award in 2017, though he was actually a much better fielder in 2018 when splitting time in RF probably cost him votes. He scuffled a bit offensively in the first four months of the season, but really began to put it all together over the final two months of the season in 2018. Johnson has a solid eye at the plate and should improve on his walks totals in the years to come. He has at least average power potential, and an improvement over the 12 HR he hit last season should be expected. He has very good speed, but will likely top out in the 12 to 15 stolen bags range. His plus defensive skills should be found most days in LF, though he could spell Ramos in CF versus an occasional left handed starter. Johnson appears slated to take over the Calzones cleanup spot in 2019.

 

RF Charlie Tucker – L – 23 – acquired 12-15-18 in trade with Yuma Bulldozers

The Calzones were willing to give up an excellent young prospect as well as a first round pick in the 2019 draft to acquire Tucker, who they believe will help rectify some of the problems at the top of the order with setting the table for the guys in the middle. Tucker has hit at every level, with a career avg of .339 and an on base pct of .402. He is an excellent gap to gap hitter who can use his legs to stretch out the extra base. He will hit for a high average and rarely strikeout, making him an ideal number two hitter. He has some speed, but is not a burner, and should not be counted on for more than a handful of bags a season. He has solid range in the outfield, though his arm is more than a notch below that of former RF Hernandez. He can be a bit injury prone, but if he can accumulate 450+ at bats he should be in the running for a batting title. The Calzones regular RF and number two hitter.

 

LF/DH Dan Perry – R – 27 – acquired 3-15-18 in trade with Gloucester Fishermen

First Perry forced the Calzones to call him up by .360 at Joplin, and by late in the season he had forced his way into the regular lineup by batting .316 with a .378 OBP in 72 games. He hit 5 of his 6 HR in September, and the Calzones found a way to get him in the lineup most days down the stretch, either in LF or at DH. Defensively, he is okay in left field, but his arm is lacking. Most days, it is preferred that he DH, though against left handed pitching the makeup of the roster suggests he will be in left field. Despite his lack of speed, his on base skills have him penciled into the leadoff spot for the Calzones in 2019. He won’t ever be confused with Vince Coleman, or even Choo Choo Coleman for that matter, on the base paths as he is just 1 for his last 12 in stolen base attempts and has swiped just 19 bags against 34 caught stealing lifetime. He’ll be at the top of the Calzones lineup on a regular basis, though how everyone fits into the 1b/DH/LF crowd is yet to be fully determined. Needless to say, there are a lot of good option, and Perry is one of them.

 

OF José Hernández – R – 27 – acquired 3-1-14 in trade with Yuma Bulldozers

Hernández has been a solid RF throughout his career, with one of the most feared arms in the league. His bat, however, has never lived up to expectations. It has been decent from a power perspective, averaging 22 HR a season for his 5 PEBA seasons, and he has totaled as many as 47 doubles in a season, and he has averaged about 74 RBI a season. While Hernández expects to start, the makeup of the lineup after the acquisition of Tucker precludes a regular job for Hernández. He’ll move into the 4th outfielder role, and likely start a game a week in both CF and RF, and otherwise start against lefthanded pitching. He is one of the team leaders, and as such we hope he adjusts to the new role by worrying more about the name on the front of the jersey than the name on the back.

 

Waiting in the wings: Wade Wilkins, Mark Smylie, Debebe Berradi

 

OF Wade Wilkins – R – 23 – acquired 11-25-17 in trade with Yuma Bulldozers

Wilkins has some power, some speed, and the ability to go get a flyball in the outfield. The question marks remain about whether he will ever hit for average. An insurance policy who will start the season at AAA.

 

OF Mark Smylie – R – 27 – acquired 11-8-17 in trade with Aurora Borealis

Smylie doesn’t have the raw power that Wilkins has, but he makes better contact and uses the gaps well. He has decent speed and could fill a role in the outfield if an emergency arose. He has been murder on left handed pitching in his career and could probably do well in a platoon role. Another insurance policy who starts the season in Joplin

 

OF Debebe Berradi – R – 25 – acquired via waiver from Gloucester Fishermen, 3-3-19

Berradi has the ability to hit, but little of that is for power, and he lacks speed, and is little more than a statue in the field. He is considered more of a ‘break glass in case of emergency’ insurance policy. It would likely take a bus wreck to get him to the PEBA level, and even then only as an emergency DH.

 

 

Prospect watch

 

AA – CF Ramón Mendoza – L – 21 – signed as minor league free agent 12-29-14

Signed at the age of 16, Mendoza has crept up the Calzones organizational charts and is now positioned to get in line as the CF of the future for the Calzones. He can absolutely fly in the outfield, and he has begun to show signs of putting that speed to occasional use on the basepaths. The scouts are slowly raising the ceiling on his potential with the bat, and continued progress could have him amongst the most promising prospects in the organization in another season or two.

 

A – OF Iván Rosa – L – 18 – signed as minor league free agent, 6-3-17

The biggest issue with Rosa is whether he is a pitcher or a hitter. He could turn into a solid left handed starting pitcher, but his bat is way too good to ignore any further. It has to be looked at. He has the ability to make great contact and has blazing speed. He put up decent numbers with the bat as a 16 yr old at Taku, batting .281 in 26 games. He has the ability to play a corner outfield spot, and the range to be a pretty good first basemen if needed. He could still see some time as a pitcher, we might alternate months with whether he pitches or plays the field and hits.

 

A – OF Fernando Mendoza – R – 18 – signed as international free agent, 6-9-18

Yet another Mendoza we could see playing CF in San Antonio someday. His numbers didn’t overwhelm in his first year of pro ball at Taku, yet here he is getting the promotion to A ball to begin his second season at the young age of 18. Another outfielder with blazing speed, and his skills in the outfield are good enough that he will be asked to play CF regularly. He has good range, though it is hoped he learns to get better jumps on the ball, and a cannon for an arm. Scouts think highly enough of his potential that he on the teams radar.

 

A – OF Tim Churchill – R – 19 – signed as international free agent 3-26-18

Churchill had a fine first season of pro ball at Taku, batting .283 with a .373 obp with 9 Hr and 15 stolen bags. He can fly on both the basepaths and outfield, and projects to have tremendous power. Questions remain about whether he will hit for average at a higher level, but if he can learn to make consistent contact he is another potential centerfielder in waiting.

 

SUMMARY: The Calzones boast a solid young outfield of Tucker, Ramos, and Johnson. Hernandez could be a solid 4th outfielder if he adapts to the role. Things could get dicey if the Calzones suffer a rash of outfielder injuries, as things get weak in a hurry after Smylie and Wilkins, and there is almost zero depth from the left side of the plate. The best prospects in the organization are at the lower levels of the minors, but with the starting outfield of the Calzones all 24 or younger, there is plenty of time to wait for re-inforcements.

 

 

Projected Starting lineups

 

Against RHP

 

DH Dan Perry

RF Charlie Tucker

2b Leslie McDonald

RF Robert Johnson

1b Octávio Pexego

3b Juan Carlos Flores

CF Marcos Ramos

SS Thom Wright

C Dan Glenn

 

bench: Parkinson, Wright, Hernandez, Peterson, Ayala

 

 

 

 

 

Against LHP

 

LF Dan Perry

CF Robert Johnson

2b Leslie McDonald

1b Jarrod Wright

DH Octávio Pexego

RF Jose Hernandez

3b Juan Carlos Flores

SS Thom Wright

C Dan Glenn

 

bench: Parkinson, Peterson, Tucker, Ramos, Ayala

 

WHAT NEEDS TO GO RIGHT: The young players need to continue improving. Pexego has to remain consistent in the middle of the order, but with a scrum at 1b/DH, he should get a fair amount of rest to stay fresh. On the pitching side, the rotation has to continue to carry the load, but when you have a dozen pitchers capable of starting, holes can be plugged rather easily.

 

WHAT CAN’T GO WRONG: The depth of this team makes injuries rather easier to digest and work around. But the team couldn’t handle 3 or 4 injuries to the rotation, as the trickle down effect on the bullpen would be almost impossible to overcome, especially if the team were to lose a key reliever like Marshall or Martin for any length of time. Offensively, if more than two of the young hitters regressed, it could make the road to the playoffs a bit more challenging.

 

 

OUTLOOK: After an 86 win season that saw the Calzones make the playoffs in 2018, this team, at least on paper, looks considerably better. The pitching staff is deeper with the addition of Coronado, and also more balanced with the addition of southpaw Peña. Offensively, the top of the order should get on base at a better clip, providing more opportunities for the middle of the order to drive in runs. Power runs up and down the lineup, and while there aren’t likely to be huge numbers from any one player, the team should easily hit on the plus side of 200 HR’s this season. The bench is considerably deeper, with guys like Parkinson and Peterson giving the team power options from both sides of the plate. Ayala gives the team a considerably stronger offensive presence in the backup catcher role. Combine those bench players with the players who are the odd man out in the DH/1b scrum each day, and this a dangerous bench. If there is a hole in the offense, it a lack of speed on the basepaths.

 

This is also a young team, with many players who have yet to reach their prime. On offense, guys like Wright and Flores have the potential to grow much more yet, as does the very young outfield of Ramos, Tucker, and Johnson.

 

Overcoming Florida in the Dixie won’t be easy, but that’s not to say it can’t be done. Despite the Featherheads star power, the Calzones pitching staff was better in 2018. And after the offense began humming late in the season, the Calzones offense was nearly as good as anyone in the league. If the pitching staff holds up it’s end of the bargain, the improved and deeper offense could stand a chance of propelling the Calzones to the top of a tough division. And that’s not to overlook a Kentucky team, who with a solid young pitching staff and up and coming offensive talent could be as dangerous as anyone.

 

It should be as an exciting a season as ever in Laredo. The Calzones have arrived, and now is the time.