Coming off an eight-game improvement from a year ago, the Kansas City T-Bones and manager John Massarelli announced the club’s top performers for 2014.
The award winners include Kris Regas, most valuable player; Vladimir Frias, defensive player of the year; T.J. Mittelstaedt, newcomer of the new; Robby Kuzdale, most improved player of the year; and Danny Richar, comeback player of the year.
T-Bones officials said they were key components to the T-Bones finishing the season with a 48-52 record, including a season-ending six-game winning streak.
As a reliever, Regas set the T-Bones single-season club record for saves with 22, which was tied for third in the American Association this season. He led the T-Bones with a 2.70 ERA and tied for the most wins (7). Regas was the lone T-Bones representative at the American Association All-Star Game in late July.
“Regas easily was our most consistent pitcher all season,” Massarelli said. “With 22 saves and seven wins he accounted for 29 of our 48 wins this summer.”
Frias gave Kansas City consistency at shortstop, playing 91 games (90 starts). Besides finishing fourth on the club with a .273 batting average, Frias had a .954 fielding percentage with 23 errors and 497 chances. He had a team-high 301 assists and turned a team-best 68 double plays.
“Vladdy is a very athletic and exciting defender who has the potential to become one of the top players in the American Association,” said Massarelli.
After joining Kansas City from the Milwaukee Brewers organization, Mittelstaedt was projected as a utility player this season for the T-Bones. He ended up being the only Kansas City player this season to play in all 100 games, 75 of which were at third base. Leading off most of the year, Mittelstaedt reached base in 94 of the club’s 100 games, including all 51 games at CommunityAmerica Ballpark. He finished the season with 94 hits, including a club-best 16 home runs, and led the American Association with 92 walks.
“Mittelstaedt was a great lead-off hitter for us, which is evident from his 92 walks,” Massarelli said. “It’s incredible to reach base in all but six games, but even more impressive is getting on base in all 51 home games. He was our most valuable player on offense.”
Kuzdale, who was in centerfield for 96 games, finished the season with Kansas City’s third-highest batting average at .275. That alone may not seem impressive, but that’s a .095 swing from where he sat in late June when his average was a season-low .180 on the 22nd. Kuzdale’s surge included a 14-game hitting streak that started on July 10 and ended on July 26.
“Kooz is one of the hardest workers on the ball club who showed solid improvement over 100 games,” said Massarelli. “Look for bigger and better things to come from this young player.”
Originally signed as an amateur free agent by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2001, Richar played in 56 games for the Chicago White Sox in 2007, and 23 games for the Cincinnati Reds during the ’08 and ’09 seasons. Richar missed the 2012 and ’13 seasons because of a knee injury. In 83 games with the T-Bones this year, he batted .272 with 90 hits, and led the club with eight triples (third in the American Association) and 61 RBIs. Richar solidified second base for Kansas City, committing only six errors in 79 games en route to a .984 fielding percentage.
“Richar was a great leader-by-example for us,” Massarelli said. “He was consistent defensively and, as someone near the top of the lineup for most of the season, he was a solid bat that would do whatever he needed to score guys or get them in scoring position.”
– Story from T-Bones