Sunday, March 30, 2014

Omaha Storm Chasers 2014 Preview

*Omaha debut
Position Players:
LF - Brian Fletcher
CF - Brett Eibner*
RF - Paulo Orlando
3B - Jimmy Paredes*
SS - Christian Colon
2B - Johnny Giavotella
1B - Matt Fields*
C - Jesus Flores*

Chris Dwyer
Danny Duffy
Justin Marks
Ryan Verdugo
John Lamb

C - Francisco Pena*, IF - Brian Bocock*, OF - Gorkys Hernandez, OF - Melky Mesa*

Buddy Baumann, Aaron Brooks*, Donnie Joseph, Michael Mariot, Clayton Mortensen, Spencer Patton*, Wilking Rodriguez*, Everett Teaford, Brett Tomko*, Ramon Troncoso*, Cory Wade*, P.J. Walters*

  • A variety of position players and pitchers will make their Omaha debuts this season (14 total), including OF Jimmy Paredes and former Royal Brett Tomko. 
  • CF and former Arkansas Razorback Brett Eibner makes his Triple-A debut after spending the past year in NW Arkansas.  Posting career highs in BA, HR, and OPS in 113 games for the Naturals, Eibner started off 2013 on a cold spell (1-32 to begin the season), his future seemed to be on the path towards destruction, but he began to heat up.  At the end of May, he was hitting .208.  In June, he batted .245 with 4 HR, then July he hit .270 with 8 HR.  Come August, he cooled off again, but the fact that he bounced back from such a poor start shows that he worked hard to improve his approach at the plate.  Eibner will impress the crowd at Werner Park with a strong arm and solid range in center field.
  • One of the more unfortunate stories of this spring involved a fan favorite: Danny Duffy.  The 25 year old lefty, trying to bounce back from Tommy John surgery in 2012, could not overcome his command issues during his time in the Big League camp.  In 11 innings, Duffy gave up 16 H, 14 ER, 6 HR, and 6 BB.  Both Duffy and Yordano Ventura were vying for the final spot in the Royals' rotation, but in the end, Duffy's struggles and Ventura's dominance made the decision too easy.  Rather than stick Duffy in the bullpen, he will remain as a starter for Omaha to get some innings while working on his control issues.
  • Omaha will return a pair of infielders that helped lead them to a Triple-A Championship.  Both Johnny Giavotella and Christian Colon will man second base and shortstop, respectively, for the Storm Chasers.  The two, much like Duffy, were fighting for a spot on the big league roster when newly acquired 2B Omar Infante started having some soreness in his throwing elbow.  Throughout Spring Training, the front runner for a back-up middle infielder was Pedro Ciriaco, who already had Big League playing time with the Boston Red Sox and Kansas City Royals.  With Infante likely starting the '14 season on the disabled list, Ciriaco seems to have the spot locked down.
  • Brett Tomko was an intriguing acquistion this spring.  Turning 41 in April, Tomko has 14 years of ML experience under his belt and last pitched for the Texas Rangers in 2011, only toeing the rubber in 8 games.  Tomko pitched for the Royals in 2008, appearing 16 games, 10 of those were starts.  He logged 60 innings, a 2-7 record with 6.97 ERA, 40 K's, 13 BB, and allowed 49 ER.  In mid-March, Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reported that Tomko was consistently hitting 91-93 mph on his fastball, while showcasing good command with his changeup and curveball.  A true journeyman of the game, Tomko just isn't ready to hang up the ol' cleats.

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