SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — After finishing 20 games below .500 last season, the Canaries assembled an almost entirely new roster this Spring, with just eight returning players.
The Canaries saw their top three starting pitchers leave for another league or suffer season-ending injuries last year. This season, they’ve brought in as many arms as possible with nine pitchers competing for five starting slots.
“We wanted to make sure if we do lose a guy to an affiliate, or to Mexico, or somebody gets hurt, we got someone in the bullpen that’s built up to come in and fill that rotation spot,” Manager Mike Meyer said.
Along with depth, Sioux Falls has added plenty of talent to its pitching staff.
“We have eight, nine guys that have started in pro ball which is different than I’ve ever been a part of, but it’s really cool having a lot of depth,” Pitcher Grady Wood said.
Offensively, the Canaries have changed their approach. After focusing on slugging and power last season, on base percentage has become the team’s new primary focus.
“When you’ve got Alay Lago who can really swing it, Kevin Taylor, who’s the best hitter I’ve seen in person, and Clint Coulter, who got some serious juice, first rounder with the Brewers. You add in Trey Santos who hits 17 bombs and 19 doubles last year, and Adrian Nieto, who played a full season in the big leagues, that’s a pretty good mix right there,” Manager Mike Meyer said.
The Canaries will also play a much different schedule, as they’ve made the move from the American Association North division to the South, creating a new challenge when it comes to scouting reports.
“We’ll have to build analytics a little bit more. Really dive into that and try to get in as many numbers as we can early,” Meyer said.
After a disappointing 2018 season, the Canaries believe this year’s squad can end an eight year playoff drought.
“We got a lot of grinders, we got a lot of experience and starting pitching. It’s different and it’s going to be a good year,” Wood said.
The Canaries open the regular season with a 13-game road trip, beginning Thursday night at Cleburne. First pitch is set for 7:06.