Armed and Ready, Saints Re-Sign Relievers Waite and Williams, Add Rookie Workhorse FroschST. PAUL, MN February 22, 2017
Two key pieces of the St. Paul Saints bullpen will return in 2017 and they may have struck gold with a rookie left-hander from the Frontier League. Right-hander Benji Waite and left-hander Corey Williams will return for their second season with the club while left-hander Ken Frosch will look to build upon an outstanding rookie campaign with Evansville in 2016.
The 30-year-old Waite is coming off a solid season with the Saints as he went 2-2 with a 3.52 ERA in 27 appearances (one start). In 46.0 innings he walked 20 and struck out 42 while opponents hit .243 against him. He put up a zero in 18 of his 26 relief appearances including 10 of 12 outings from June 10-July 19. He had five separate relief outings in which he put up multiple scoreless innings. Waite’s most impressive outing came in a spot start on the final day of the season when he threw 4.0 no-hit, shutout innings and struck out a season high six. He had the third most appearances on the team behind former Major Leaguer Caleb Thielbar and closer Ryan Rodebaugh.
Prior to joining the Saints Waite spent 2015 with the Winnipeg Goldeyes and went 0-0 with a 2.89 ERA in 10 games. In 9.1 innings pitched he walked seven and struck out four while opponents hit .275 against him. He went his first seven appearances without giving up an earned run. After being released by the Goldeyes on June 19 he was signed by the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks a week later. With the RedHawks he went 1-0 with a 4.11 ERA in 23 games. In 30.2 innings pitched he walked 13 and struck out 21 while opponents hit .243 against him. He had a scoreless outing in 14 of his 23 relief appearances with the RedHawks. He had five appearances against the Saints, one of the best hitting teams in the league in 2015, and allowed just two runs in 9.0 IP including a 3.1 inning stint of shutout relief on August 3 at Newman Outdoor Field.
Waite graduated from the University Alabama-Birmingham in 2010 and did not pitch professionally until 2013 when he was signed by the Trinidad Triggers of the Pecos League. He went 6-4 with a 3.04 ERA in 16 games (seven starts) including a complete game. In 56.1 innings pitched he walked 24 and struck out 47 while opponents hit .255 against him. His complete game came on July 3 when he allowed one run on four hits against the Raton Osos. Waite finished third in the Pecos League in ERA and fourth in reliever points (15) as he helped guide the Triggers to the playoffs.
The next season Waite pitched in the United League for the Rio Grande Valley WhiteWings where he went 6-2 with a 3.35 ERA in 30 relief appearances. In 43.0 innings pitched he walked 16 and struck out 42. Once again Waite was among the league leaders finishing tied for second in wins, tied for fourth in games (30) and seventh in reliever points (8). He did all of that on a WhiteWings team that won the United League Championship.
Waite went to Madison Academy High School in Alabama and was the Number 10 prospect by Baseball America coming out of Alabama. He began his college career at Samford.
The 26-year-old Williams joined the Saints on July 27 of last season after being released by the Minnesota Twins organization. In a split role between the bullpen and starting he went 2-2 with a 5.40 ERA in 10 games (four starts). In 26.2 innings pitched he walked 19 and struck out 20 while opponents hit .260 against him. Williams had one of his finest outings in the playoffs getting the start in Game 3 at CHS Field. He tossed 5.0 innings allowing two runs (one earned) while striking out four. The Saints would go on to win the game on a walk-off homerun by Tony Thomas in the bottom of the ninth. Out of the bullpen, where Williams had pitched his entire career before his four starts, he went 1-0 with a 2.17 ERA. Williams set a career high with eight strikeouts in his first start on August 19 against one of his former teams, the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks.
Williams began 2016 at Double-A Chattanooha and went 2-0 with a 4.14 ERA in 22 relief appearances. In 37.0 innings pitched he walked 26 and struck out 27 while opponents hit just .231 against him.
A third round pick out of Vanderbilt University in 2011 Williams had solid seasons during his first two years with the Twins organization. After beginning his career at Rookie level Elizabethton in 2011, and going 1-1 with one save in seven relief appearances, he spent all of 2012 at Single-A Beloit. While there he was the Snappers closer going 4-4 with a 3.47 ERA and 17 saves in 18 opportunities over 47 relief appearances. In 62.1 innings pitched he struck out 68 while opponents hit .234 against him. He finished fourth in the league in saves and fifth in games finished (36). The impressive season earned him Post-Season All-Star accolades in the Midwest League.
Entering the 2013 season Williams was ranked the number 16 prospect in the Twins organization according to MiLB.com. He used the momentum from 2012 and the MiLB.com accolades to have a great start to 2013 at High-A Fort Myers where he went 0-0 with a 3.70 ERA and nine saves in 20 relief appearances in the first half of the season. Those numbers earned him a spot in the Florida State League All-Star Game. Overall he was 0-2 with a 5.16 ERA and 10 saves in 35 relief appearances. In 45.1 innings pitched he struck out 43 while opponents hit .257 against him.
After missing all of 2014 due to Tommy John Surgery, Williams came back strong in 2015 going 3-0 with a 2.43 ERA in 29 relief appearances at High-A Fort Myers. He had 20 scoreless appearances in the 25 games pitched. Williams was promoted to Double-A Chattanooga on August 14 and in seven relief appearances went 0-0 with a 2.25 ERA including not giving up a run in his first six appearances.
Williams had a standout career at Vanderbilt and came back from a devastating knee injury in 2010 when he had a line drive hit, and break, his kneecap in an April 3 game against Florida. He returned for the 2010-11 season and went 2-0 with a 4.43 ERA and two saves in 29 games (one start). In 38.1 innings pitched he struck out 37 and opponents hit .213 against him.
During his senior year in high school Williams was the 2007-08 All-Metro Pitcher of the Year by the Huntsville Times and All-State 3A Pitcher of the Year at Madison Academy. He also holds the school record for most strikeouts and innings pitched.
The 27-year-old Frosch had a tremendous rookie campaign last year with the Evansville Otters in the Frontier League. He went 5-4 with a miniscule 1.50 ERA in 47 relief appearances. In 48.0 innings pitched he walked just 21 and struck out 37 while opponents hit a minute .144 against him. In his professional debut on May 18 he tossed 2.0 perfect innings of relief against the Normal CornBelters. Overall he tossed 36 scoreless appearances and had a string of eight consecutive appearances without allowing a run from May 28-June 14 and didn’t allow a run in 13 straight appearances from July 16-August 11. He was a workhorse throwing on four consecutive days on two separate occasions and three consecutive days three times. He finished third in the Frontier League in games pitched and helped guide the Otters to the championship allowing one run in 6.0 innings of relief over six appearances. He was traded to the Saints on November 21 for a player to be named later.
Frosch is a graduate of Palm Beach Atlantic University and led the team in appearances during his senior season with 19. He finished 2-4 with a 4.72 ERA in 26.2 innings of work. He walked just eight and struck out 17.
During his first season at Palm Beach Atlantic University Frosch went 5-0 with a 3.45 ERA in 18 relief appearances. In 28.2 innings pitched he walked 10 and struck out 22.
Frosch began his collegiate career at Pasco-Hernando Community College where he was chosen as the Suncoast Conference Fireman of the Year, given to the top reliever in the conference.
The Saints currently have eight players signed this off-season, three position players and five pitchers.
The Saints open the 2017 season on Thursday, May 18 with a 7:05 p.m. game against the Gary SouthShore Railcats. For more information contact the Saints at 651-644-6659 or visit saintsbaseball.com.