Wednesday, January 22, 2014

T-Bones sign veteran infielder, acquire catcher

KANSAS CITY, KAN. – The Kansas City T-Bones announced they have signed former Cincinnati first-round draft pick David Espinosa, and acquired catcher Brian Erie in a trade with Evansville of the Frontier League.

Espinosa, 32, who’s a 6-foot-1 and 170-pound switch-hitting infielder from Coral Gables, Fla., played all 100 games in 2013 with the Lincoln Saltdogs, where he batted .297 with 110 hits, 12 home runs and 50 RBIs. The Reds selected Espinosa with the 23rd overall pick of the 2000 MLB Amateur Draft out of Gulliver Prep High School in Florida.

During his 13-year professional career, Espinosa has played in the Cincinnati, Detroit and Seattle organizations, reaching triple-A with the Tigers during 2005-07. He’s a career .275 hitter with 1,429 hits, 939 runs, 109 homers and 616 RBIs.

“He’s going to be our super-bat and super-utility guy,” said T-Bones manager John Massarelli, who managed against Espinosa during Espinosa’s rookie season of 2001, when Espinosa was at Dayton and Massarelli was with the Michigan Battle Cats. “He has a lot of versatility, offensively and defensively. He’s a great offensive player near the top of the lineup, and then he can be an outfielder, middle infielder and back up Matt Padgett at first. Instead of a young utility guy, we’ll have a veteran, who, I hope, plays 100 games again this season.”

The T-Bones acquired Espinosa’s rights from Lincoln after the 2013 season, completing an earlier trade between the two teams.

In addition to signing Espinosa, the T-Bones acquired Erie from Evansville in exchange for pitcher Chad Robinson. Playing for former T-Bones manager Andy McCauley at Evansville in 2013, Erie batted .294 with 32 hits in 32 games. He spent the previous two seasons with Massarelli at Lake Erie. Overall in three professional seasons, Erie, 24, who’s 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds from Louisville, Ky., is a .276 hitter with 121 hits and 54 driven in.

“I originally signed Brian out of college when we needed a catcher at Lake Erie,” Massarelli said. “He came in as a backup and worked his tail off, learning the differences between college and pro catching. He came back his second year, won the starting job, and continued to improve. Talking with Andy, Brian kept that up in Evansville last year.”

The T-Bones open the 2014 regular season at home on May 15 against Lincoln.