Hey Naturals Fans…
Minor league transactions often slip under the radar but recently a couple very important parts of the Naturals ’08 playoff team were re-signed by the Royals. 1B/3B Juan Richardson and OF Cory Aldridge each signed a minor league contract for the upcoming season.
Both Juan and Cory played integral parts in the Naturals playoff run
last season as big bats in the middle part of the line-up and just as
importantly by mentoring some of the younger players off the field.
They have combined for 10 years of experience in Double-A baseball,
with over half of that time coming in the Texas League.
Last season, Richardson, who will be 30 years old in January, hit .296 with 16 homers and 82 RBIs to go along with a team-best 36 doubles in 133 games. Aldridge, who turns 30 next summer, joined the team at mid-season after being signed out of an independent league and batted .269 with 10 homers and 40 RBIs in just 49 games.
Their signing with Kansas City does NOT guarantee by any means that they will be back in a Naturals uniform next season, but it is at least a possibility and speaks to how highly the Royals valued their work this past year. A logical guess would be that both players will get every opportunity to make Triple-A Omaha out of spring training. If that doesn’t happen then the players and the Royals can re-evaluate their options which could open the possibility of one or both players returning to NWA.
Goal #1 for a minor league team is too develop young players and help them make the major leagues, but having veterans like Richardson and Aldridge on a team is important as well. They have been productive at this level in the past and can help the team win games while also showing the way for younger players in the clubhouse.
Hey Naturals Fans…
Steven Davis here as we are officially into the off-season. Late last week, we received great news about our coaching staff for next season.
Brian Poldberg will be returning as the Naturals skipper for next season. Personally, I could not be more excited to have Poley returning to manage the club. He was a steadying force last season for this inexperienced club.
Remember, the Naturals had tough stretch in early June that cost them a shot at the first-half title, only to bounce back and play their best baseball in the second-half of the season. And particularly the last week of the year. That is a direct credit to the manager and the environment he created for the players to be successful.
Pitching Coach Larry Carter will also be back next year which is great for two reasons. 1) The pitching staff is in good hands with instruction coming from the 2008 Texas League Coach of the Year and 2) There will not be a shortage of entertainment with L.C. around.
Hitting Coach Tommy Gregg will be missed, but we are looking forward to having former major leaguer Terry Bradshaw in NWA. He is a veteran of the Royals system and everyone has nothing but positive things to say about him.
That’s all for today. We’ll check in periodically throughout the off-season to keep in touch and get everyone fired up for the 2009 season. Stay warm, Spring Training will be here before you know it!