Making a Splash, Saints Sign Former League MVP, Outfielder Josh Romanski, Pitcher Benji Waite
ST. PAUL, MN - Josh Romanski will finally wear a St. Paul Saints uniform. The 2017 American Association MVP was traded to the Saints following the 2014 season, but never played for the team. The Saints signed the free agent outfielder and also signed a familiar face, right-handed pitcher Benji Waite, who will start Thursday night's game against Kansas City.
The 32-year-old Romanski began the season with the Winnipeg Goldeyes, where he spent the last four seasons, and was hitting .266 with eight RBI in 33 games. In 128 at bats he scored 14 runs, had five doubles, stole five bases, with a .336 on base percentage and a .305 slugging percentage. Romanski suffered an upper body injury in the second game of a double header on June 22 and was released on June 24.
Romanski began the 2018 season in Mexico with Pericos de Puebla where he hit .226 with two home runs and 10 RBI. After being released after 27 games, he re-signed with the Goldeyes on June 21. Romanski hit .313 with four home runs and 30 RBI in 69 games. In 278 at bats he smacked 10 doubles, one triple, had a .373 on base percentage, and a .399 slugging percentage. He came right out of the gates with the Goldeyes and hit safely in his first 12-straight, including nine consecutive multi-hit games from June 22-30.
Romanski began his American Association career in 2014 with the Gary SouthShore RailCats. In his pure rookie position player year, he hit .311 with seven home runs and 60 RBI in 96 games. In 366 at bats he scored 56 runs, ripped 17 doubles, four triples, stole 11 bases, with a .364 on base percentage and a .437 slugging percentage. Romanski utilized his speed early on swiping a bag in back-to-back game twice and five straight games from May 30-June 4. He had two, nine-game hitting streaks from July 6-15 and the final nine games of the regular season from August 23-September 1. The former hitting streak included four straight two-hit games and the latter had six consecutive multi-hit games.
The Saints received Romanski and right-handed pitcher Dustin Crenshaw in a trade with the RailCats following the season that completed an earlier trade in which the Saints send infielder Henry Wrigley to the RailCats. Romanski elected to spend 2015 in Japan playing for Mitsubishi High Powered Systems in the Industrial League. Following his one season in Japan the Goldeyes signed him as a free agent in December of that year.
In 2016 he helped the Goldeyes to their first of back-to-back American Association Championships. He hit .305 with nine home runs and 64 RBI in 91 games. In 328 at bats he scored 67 runs, crushed 22 doubles, three triples, walked 60 times, stole seven bases, with a .409 on base percentage, and a .473 slugging percentage. He finished third in the league in walks. Romanski began the season red hot, recording an RBI in an incredible eight straight from May 25-June 2, including four on May 25 at Laredo. He recorded a 10-game hitting streak from June 21-30, homered in back-to-back games for the first time in his career on June 10 and 12 and had a five RBI game on September 2. He had seven games of three hits or more.
The MVP season came in 2017 when Romanski put together an impressive season helping the Goldeyes to their second championship. He hit .324 with 11 home runs and 81 RBI in 98 games. In 404 at bats he scored 74 runs, ripped 27 doubles, had 46 walks, stole 10 bases, with a .393 on base percentage and a .473 slugging percentage. He finished second in the league in hits (131), tied for second in RBI, fourth in average and doubles, and fifth in runs and total bases (191). He was chosen to the Mid-Season and Post-Season All-Star team. In the All-Star game he went 2-4 with a double. Romanski had a career high 13-game hitting streak three times from May 27-June 11, June 18-July 1, and July 5-18. He set a career high with an RBI in nine straight from June 22-July 1. He doubled in four-straight from July 30-August 2 and had a four hit, five RBI game on August 13 vs. Wichita. Romanski had nine games with three or more hits.
Romanski was originally selected in the 15th round of the June First-Year Player Draft by the San Diego Padres out of Norco (CA) High School in 2005. He elected to enroll at the University of San Diego which paid off as the Milwaukee Brewers selected him in the fourth round of the 2008 draft. After having Tommy John surgery after playing in just four games as a designated hitter, he returned in 2010 as a full-time pitcher when the New York Yankees signed him as a free agent. He reached Triple-A in 2013, pitching in one game for Scranton/Wilkes Barre. His best season was in 2011 when he went 7-6 with a 2.97 ERA in 30 games (18 starts) between High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton. He struck out a career high 10 on June 20 while with the Tampa Yankees against the Clearwater Threshers.
The 32-year-old Waite returns to the Saints after spending the 2016 season, and most of 2017, with the team. He was pitching in Germany for Buchbinder Legionaire of Regensburg in the 1st Bundesliga of Germany this year. He was 4-2 with a 2.28 ERA in 12 games (eight starts). In 55.1 innings he walked 25 and struck out 71 while opponents hit .157 against him.
Last season he pitched for the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks and went 4-4 with a 3.92 ERA and one save in 25 games (four starts). In 57.1 innings pitched he walked 18 and struck out 35 while opponents hit .266 against him. He started the first four games of the season and tossed a 6.0 inning one unearned run performance on June 9 vs. Gary SouthShore.
Waite graduated from the University Alabama-Birmingham in 2010 and pitcherd in Germany in 2011 and Switzerland in 2012. He began his professional career in the stated in 2013 when he was signed by the Trinidad Triggers of the Pecos League. He went 6-4 with a 3.04 ERA in 16 games (seven starts) including a complete game. In 56.1 innings pitched he walked 24 and struck out 47 while opponents hit .255 against him. His complete game came on July 3 when he allowed one run on four hits against the Raton Osos.
The next season Waite pitched in the United League for the Rio Grande Valley Whitewings where he went 6-2 with a 3.35 ERA in 30 relief appearances. In 43.0 innings pitched he walked 16 and struck out 42.
In 2015 Waite began the season with the Winnipeg Goldeyes and went 0-0 with a 2.89 ERA in 10 games. In 9.1 innings pitched he walked seven and struck out four while opponents hit .275 against him. After being released by the Goldeyes on June 19 he was signed by the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks a week later. With the RedHawks he went 1-0 with a 4.11 ERA in 23 games. In 30.2 innings pitched he walked 13 and struck out 21 while opponents hit .243 against him. He had a scoreless outing in 14 of his 23 relief appearances with the RedHawks. He had five appearances against the Saints, one of the best hitting teams in the league in 2015, and allowed just two runs in 9.0 IP including a 3.1 inning stint of shutout relief on August 3 at Newman Outdoor Field.
The Saints signed him on June 4, 2016 and Waite pitched primarily out of the bullpen going 2-2 with a 3.52 ERA in 27 games (one start). In 46.0 innings he walked 20 and struck out 42 while opponents hit .243 against him.
Waite began the 2017 season with the Saints and went 4-5 with a 3.61 ERA and one complete game shutout in 17 games (14 starts). In 77.1 innings pitched he walked 46 and struck out 51 while opponents hit .263 against him. He threw his first ever complete game shutout on June 30 vs. Gary SouthShore RailCats allowing seven hits in a 9.0 inning gem. That start was the beginning of three straight outings without allowing an earned run over 21.0 innings. Waite was claimed off waivers by the RedHawks on August 21 and went 0-2 with an 8.71 ERA in three games (two starts) for them.
Waite went to Madison Academy High School in Alabama and was the Number 10 prospect by Baseball America coming out of Alabama. He began his college career at Samford.
In order to make room for Romanski and Waite the Saints placed infielder Devon Rodriguez on the disabled list retroactive to July 13 and released pitcher Dustin Crenshaw.
The Saints roster stands at 22, one shy of the league maximum, with 10 pitchers and 12 position players.
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