T-Bones named league’s ‘Organization of the Year’

The American Association announced Wednesday that the Kansas City T-Bones have been selected as the league’s “Organization of the Year” for the 2014 season.

The T-Bones have received the honor, which is awarded by the commissioner’s office, four times since moving to Kansas City, Kan., prior to the 2003 season.

“It’s our privilege to give Kansas City this award,” said American Association commissioner Miles Wolff. “From (owner) John Ehlert down, the T-Bones have always been a first-class organization, and one of the best-run clubs in our league.”

“It’s a tremendous honor to receive this award,” said John Ehlert. “It’s a testament to the hard work that president Adam Ehlert, vice president and general manager Chris Browne, our entire front office staff and baseball staff put into each and every season. Of course, we’re grateful to our wonderful sponsors and fans who make all of this possible.”

The award is coming on the heels of the T-Bones finishing in the top five in average attendance among independent teams for the seventh consecutive season, and in the top 50 among more than 350 teams from the affiliated minor leagues, independent leagues and summer-collegiate leagues. In late July, the club welcomed its 3 millionth fan to CommunityAmerica Ballpark in Kansas City, Kan.

On the field in 2014 under manager John Massarelli, who was in his first year with Kansas City, the T-Bones finished 48-52, which was an eight-game improvement from 2013. The team finished in third place in the Central Division, 6 games behind division winner Lincoln. Along the way, reliever Kris Regas set the T-Bones single-season club record for saves with 22, and T.J. Mittelstaedt set a club record by reaching base in all 51 games at CommunityAmerica Ballpark.

The T-Bones continue to be active in the community, too. In addition to its popular youth reading program, the club has provided more than $700,000 to various Wyandotte County Parks and Recreation projects through the T-Bones Uncommitted Recreation Fund (TURF), which was created in partnership with the Unified Government when the T-Bones began play in Wyandotte County in 2003.

The T-Bones were awarded the “Organization of the Year” three times while in the Northern League (2004, ’07, ’10). This is the first time they’ve received the award since joining the American Association in 2011.

- Story from T-Bones

T-Bones rank fifth in independent baseball in 2014 attendance

For the seventh straight year, the Kansas City T-Bones were in the top five for average attendance in independent baseball, according to Ballpark Digest’s annual ranking, released earlier this week.

Ballpark Digest’s list lumps together 353 teams from the affiliated minor leagues, independent leagues and summer-collegiate leagues.

The T-Bones, who play at CommunityAmerica Ballpark in Kansas City, Kan., finished 44th overall and fifth among independent teams on Ballpark Digest’s 2014 list with an average of 5,187 fans per game. Only two teams from the American Association — Winnipeg and St. Paul — and two from the Atlantic League — Sugar Land and Somerset — finished ahead of the T-Bones.

By comparison to the T-Bones’ overall ranking of 44, the Omaha Storm Chasers (triple-A affiliate for the Kansas City Royals) were 31st (5,628) and the Northwest Arkansas Naturals (the Royals’ double-A affiliate) were 60th (4,625). The Springfield Cardinals, St. Louis’ double-A affiliate, were three places behind the T-Bones at 47th with 5,134 fans per game.

After welcoming 248,989 fans to CommunityAmerica Ballpark in 2014, the T-Bones have totaled more than 200,000 fans during each of their 12 seasons in Kansas City, Kan. In late July, the club eclipsed the 3 million mark for total attendance in the club’s history.

“I’m proud again to be in the top five in independent team attendance, and especially appreciative of Kansas City baseball fans for their support,” said T-Bones president Adam Ehlert. “It’s really fun to see that in our brief 12-year history, we hit the 3-million fan milestone by averaging a quarter-million fans a year.”

The American Association and the T-Bones are expected to release their 2015 schedule in October.

“Our staff works awfully hard year to year and on a nightly basis, on and off the field, to keep the ‘Fun…Well Done’ atmosphere going, and the support from our fans shows,” said T-Bones vice president and general manager Chris Browne. “I can’t wait for 2015 to start.”
– Story from T-Bones

T-Bones name 2014 award winners

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