AirHogs Acquire Three New Players
GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas -- Grand Prairie AirHogs manager Ricky VanAsselberg began the club's defense of its 2011 American Association championship with several blockbuster trades this week, acquiring first baseman Trent Lockwood from the Sioux Falls Fighting Pheasants, centerfielder Keanon Simon from the Kansas City T-Bones and lefty reliever Ronnie Morales from the Lancaster Barnstormers of the Atlantic League.
The three new additions did not arrive cheaply, however, as the AirHogs sent infielders Jake Taylor and Cory Morales (acquired from Fort Worth in the dispersal draft) along with righty pitcher Bo Schultz to Sioux Falls for Lockwood, who was the second pick in the dispersal draft. They also sent righty Josh Rainwater, who set a league record for wins in a season with his 14 in 2011 along with a player to be named later to Kansas City for Simon. Morales was acquired for slugging infielder Cesar Nicolas.
Lockwood hit .338 with the Cats in 2011, with 20 home runs, 90 RBIs, 37 doubles and 75 walks while playing in 99 of Fort Worth's 100 games. The Waco, Texas native attended Groesbeck (Texas) High School and UT-San Antonio for two years before signing as a undrafted free agent with the New York Yankees after a very brief independent baseball stint in 2008. He played in Single-A Tampa in 2010, before joining the Cats in 2011.
The lefty-swinging 25-year-old torched the AirHogs in 2011, hitting .404 in 14 games with three home runs and nine RBIs, as well as drawing 11 free passes.
Simon, a native of Allen, Okla., went to Oklahoma State for four years before being selected bythe Pittsburgh Pirates in the 25th round of the 2007 draft. He spent two years in the Pittsburgh organization before a season in Amarillo and two with the T-Bones.
In 2011, the 27-year-old hit .332, with six home runs and 40 RBIs, along with 25 stolen bases. Also a left-handed hitter, Simon also hit well against Grand Prairie in 2011, batting .333 with a pair of doubles and two steals in six games.
Morales was a workhorse for the York (Pa.) Revolution in 2011, appearing in a league-leading (by 10 games) 70 games, posting a 2-2 record with a 3.81 ERA. The 27-year-old from Wichita, Kan., spent two years in the White Sox system before two years split between the Wichita Wingnuts and Lake Erie (Ohio) Crushers of the Frontier League.
"I envision these three players as big contributors in 2012," VanAsselberg said. "It's tough to have to give up the players we did, but the roster rules don't allow us to keep all of the veteran guys we had last year. I hate to lose the guys we lost but I think we'll be able to make another run at the championship this season."
In separate trades, the AirHogs also sent closer Jon Hunton to the Long Island (N.Y.) Ducks of the Atlantic League and infielder David Espinosa to the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs of the same league. Both deals return a player to be named later to Grand Prairie. Each of those players finished the Atlantic League season with those respective teams after helping the AirHogs to the 2011 American Association championship.
Finally, Grand Prairie announced that centerfielder Danny Figueroa has retired. Figueroa hit .270 during the season, with a home run, 30 RBIs and a team-high 31 stolen bases.
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