The York Revolution announced two more player signings Friday.
Neither are big-name guys, though. Nor do they have major league experience. Heck, of the nine guys signed thus far, only starting pitcher Corey Thurman has big league time. It's a change from last year, when five of the first nine players signed were former major leaguers.
As a result, some fans might look at the construction of the first third of York's 2014 roster and come away unimpressed. Revs' manager Mark Mason, though, sees plenty to be happy about.
"I really like the roster. Right now we have depth. We have versatility. One thing that was a priority for me this year was I wanted to work on defense. I thought last year our defense was ragged at times. I know that was part of guys playing out of position a lot. Six or seven guys playing shortstop and all the different changes didn't help," Mason said. "I'm trying to button up the defense as well as I can. When you play good defense, pitchers will be better because they're not trying to be so perfect. It's a domino effect."
Of course, part of Mason's job is to promote the club as best he can. But the second-year York skipper has a point. In Mason's debut season as the Revs' manager a year ago, York led the league in total hits and was third in runs scored, yet missed the playoffs for the first time in four years and finished with a 65-75 overall record. The independent Atlantic League doesn't keep stats on errors, but York was likely near the top of the league in that category in 2013. The pitchers, meanwhile, led the Freedom Division in strikeouts (935), but posted a 4.32 ERA, the fifth-best in the league.
"Hitting is overrated," Mason said. "The difference between the top and bottom in average hits is maybe two hits a game. It's more about when you get your hits. Our ERA was right in there. Hitting was (first) in the league, even with all the changes we made. It's just a question of defense."
Smith: One of the two most recent additions will aid in that effort. Outfielder Sean Smith comes to York in a trade from Southern Maryland, with the Revs sending the rights of pitcher Anthony Slama to the Blue Crabs. Smith, 31, is a former Pittsburgh Pirates' and Chicago White Sox prospect who reached the Class AA level in 2007. A 5-foot, 10-inch right-handed batter, Smith compiled a .253 average with 13 homers, 50 RBIs and 73 runs scored in 122 games last season with Southern Maryland.
"He's a really good outfielder. He was with Somerset a couple years ago as well. He played a good center field for them," Mason said. "He's been around. He can run. Brings speed to the team. Last year he hit 13 homers. He has some power."
Smith doesn't hit for average, though. York's other outfielder signed at this point, Ruddy Yan, doesn't either. But Mason still has up to 18 more roster spots left to fill before Opening Day on April 24. He currently has four contracts out to players he expects to be signed soon. Will one of those be a big-name player? Possibly a power-hitting outfielder?
Mason basically answered 'Yes' without saying 'Yes.'
"Stay tuned," he said.
Vaughan: The other player signed Friday is relief pitcher Beau Vaughan, a former Boston Red Sox, Texas Rangers and Oakland Athletics prospect who has compiled a 7-2 record with a 3.54 ERA in 95 Atlantic League games the last two seasons, including eight games with York in 2013.
The Revs now have two starting pitchers, three relievers, two outfielders, an infielder and a catcher signed.
- Reach John Walk at firstname.lastname@example.org.