HILLARY SMITH: RailCats have opportunities for late-spring signees

2014-04-20T21:00:00Z 2014-04-20T21:20:13Z HILLARY SMITH: RailCats have opportunities for late-spring signeesHillary Smith Times Columnist nwitimes.com
April 20, 2014 9:00 pm  • 

WANTED: Left-handed pitching.

The RailCats are 10 days away from opening 2014 spring training and with it the hopes and dreams of a new season.

There's just something missing.

The signings of right-handed pitchers was swift. By the first of the year, the team had already secured the rights to three with more quickly on the way.

But with the release of last year's opening day starter Alain Quijano and reliever Estevan Uriegas, holes quickly formed in the RailCats pitching corps.

They were filled by former RailCats Carlos Rivas (a 2011 starter) and Edwin Walker, a 2009 reliever who was picked up mid-season by the New York Yankees. The catch is that Rivas hasn't played since 2011 and Walker pitched in only 12 games last season in Laredo.

"We want another pitcher in there, someone with a little more experience, especially in the bullpen," manager Greg Tagert said. "If he's left-handed, that's a plus."

The RailCats could put up another wanted poster, if they'd like.

WANTED: infielder to take over third base with aplomb.

With Brian Kolb enjoying retirement after a Tanner Townsend-like season at third base, the RailCats have a need for success in the hot corner.

Replete with rookies, the infield also needs its captain. Wally Backman has signed on and could provide the stability, but he's new to the RailCats locker room.

The RailCats reacquired, then traded Chase Tucker, a rookie last season. There's Danny Pulfer, who could make the move easily, but his natural position is in the middle. Ryan Brockett is a perfect shortstop, but Zac Mitchell made some pretty impressive plays at the spot last season.

Here's the thing, Kolb was a great second baseman, until he had the chance to shine at third. Any one of last year's infield rookies has the chance to become this year's third base star.

The RailCats aren't easing up on the signing period in the next 10 days. There are too many opportunities still out there.

The rocks aren't done being looked under and there are players still out there. Recall, dear fans, Christian Vitters, the actor-student turned infielder who emailed the RailCats for a job last June and returned to school in late August hitting .306 over 51 games. 

"This is a great time to sign," Tagert said, "because the opportunities are abundant."

This column is solely the opinion of the writer. Reach her at hillary.smith@nwi.com.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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