Roster Gets A Little Clearer, Saints Sign Four Prior To Camp Opening SaturdayST. PAUL, MN May 6, 2016
Two pitchers, a catcher and an infielder walk into CHS Field…It’s not the start of a joke for the St. Paul Saints, rather a serious move in which they hope adds to the depth of their 2016 team. The Saints re-signed right-handed relief pitcher Chris Peacock, signed right-handed relief pitcher Alec Crawford, catcher Aaron Gretz and infielder, and son of Minnesota Twins bench Joe Vavra, Tanner Vavra.
The 27-year-old Peacock had a solid season on the 74 win Saints last year. He had a career year going 2-2 with a 3.29 ERA in 30 games (one start). In 41.0 innings pitched he walked 22 and struck out 19 while opponents hit .259 against him. He had two separate stints where he went at least five straight appearances without allowing a run.
Peacock was sent to the Saints in a trade with the Wichita Wingnuts prior to the 2015 season. The trade completed an earlier trade between the two clubs towards the end of 2014 in which the Saints sent closer Dan Sattler to the Wingnuts. While with the Wingnuts, Peacock played for a 73 win team that eventually won the American Association Championship. On August 21 of that season he was traded from the Rio Grand Valley WhiteWings (United Baseball League) to the Wingnuts in exchange for cash. He was 2-0 with a 7.50 ERA with the Wingnuts in just six games.
In 2012 Peacock began his professional career, after his time at the University of Mobile, and played for the Abilene Prairie Dogs (North American Baseball League), San Angelo Colts (North American Baseball League) and Las Cruces Vaqueros (Pecos League). He went 4-4 with a 5.14 ERA in 14 games between the three teams.
In 2013 he spent the entire season with White Sands of the Pecos League and went 4-2 with a 7.65 ERA.
The rookie right-handed Crawford is 24-years-old and spent two seasons in the Colorado Rockies organization. Last season he started at Single-A Asheville and pitched five games out of relief before pitching the final 21 games at the Rookie Level with Grand Junction. Overall he was 3-0 with a 6.15 ERA in 26 relief appearances. In 41.0 innings pitched he walked just 11 and struck out 25 while opponents hit .310 against him. In the second half of the season with Grand Junction he was an impressive 2-0 with a 3.12 ERA and finished 5th in the Pioneer League in lowest BB/9 IP (2.83).
Crawford was a 25th round pick in the First Year Player Draft in 2014 by the Rockies out of the University of Minnesota. In his first professional season at Grand Junction he went 0-5 with a 5.18 ERA and nine saves in 24 relief appearances. He started off his career by not allowing a run in his first nine relief appearances (11.0 IP) and had a 1.35 ERA in his first 12 games. He finished 1st in the Pioneer League in games finished (22), 3rd in saves and 4th in games (24).
The 23-year-old Gretz is a rookie and played in three games last season with the New Jersey Jackals (Can-Am League) and Saints. He went 0-3 in his three games.
Gretz had a solid career at Ohio State and was named to the Johnny Bench Award Watch List in his senior season. He also played for the Alexandria Aces in the Northwoods League in 2013 and was named the Finest In The Field, awarded to the top fielder at each position. Gretz had a .996 fielding percentage behind the plate.
Gretz is the brother of Nick Gretz, who played for the Saints from 2002-04, and was a goalie at Apple Valley High School, reaching the state tournament at the Xcel Energy Center as a junior.
The 26-year-old Vavra spent his three professional seasons with the Minnesota Twins organization and was at High-A Fort Myers in 2015. Last year he hit .258 with no home runs and 19 RBI in 87 games. In 240 at bats he scored 33 runs, had eight doubles, one triple, a .346 on base percentage and a .300 slugging percentage.
Vavra was a 30th round selection in the First Year Player Draft by the Twins in 2013 out of Valparaiso University. In his first season with the Twins organization, Vavra spent the entire year with the Elizabethton Twins in the Rookie Appalachian League. He hit .246 with no home runs and eight RBI in 42 games. Perhaps his best season came in 2014 with Single-A Cedar Rapids where he hit .258 with a home run and 22 RBI in 81 games. He has a career .971 fielding percentage while playing primarily second base.
The Saints have signed 19 players this off-season, 11 position players and eight pitchers.
The 2016 season begins on Thursday, May 19 at CHS Field with a 7:05 p.m. game against the Gary SouthShore Railcats.