Saints Re-Sign 13 Game Winner Shields, Acquire Catcher Tony CaldwellST. PAUL, MN April 29, 2016
The starting rotation for the St. Paul Saints is coming into form as they re-signed 13-game winner Jeff Shields, coming off of one of his best professional seasons in his six year career. The Saints also acquired catcher Tony Caldwell from the New Jersey Jackals (Can-Am League) for a player to be named later.
The 26-year-old Shields shot out of the gate last year with an unblemished 9-0 record and finished the year 13-2 with a 3.11 ERA in 19 starts. In 127.1 innings pitched he walked just 31 and struck out 57 while opponents hit .259 against him. Shields had the fourth best winning percentage in the American Association (.867), was fifth in wins and seventh in ERA. He went at least 6.0 innings in 18 of 19 starts and at least 7.0 innings in 12 of 19 starts. He allowed two runs or less in 11 of 19 starts and did not allow a long ball over his final 14 starts.
Shields was a seventh round selection by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the First-Year Player Draft in 2010 out of Chattahoochee Valley Community College. He began his career in the Pioneer League with Missoula that same season. After posting a 3.78 ERA, Shields was promoted to Single-A South Bend in 2011 where he started 23 games in 27 appearances and finished with a 4.63 ERA.
After beginning the 2012 season in South Bend Shields was promoted to High-A Visalia.
Shields signed with the Trois Rivieres Aigles of the Can-Am League in 2013 after being released by the Diamondbacks. He had one of his best seasons going 9-9 with a 2.44 ERA in 20 starts with four complete games and a shutout for les Aigles. In 136.2 innings he walked 44 and struck out 68 while opponents hit a microscopic .227 against him. Following the season he was rated the fourth best prospect in Independent Baseball by Baseball America. Along with being tops in the league in ERA he finished tied for first in shutouts, second in wins, tied for second in complete games and games started and third in innings pitched. His complete game shutout came on June 29 against the New Jersey Jackals and he dominated them again on August 31 allowing one run on two hits in a complete game.
The Saints traded for Shields in May of 2014 and he went 6-8 with a 4.81 ERA in 19 games (17 starts) with two complete games and a shutout. In 104.1 innings he walked 30 and struck out 61.
The 27-year-old Caldwell spent the last two seasons with the Jackals and last year he hit .282 with three home runs and a career high 42 RBI in 80 games. In 238 at bats he slugged 12 doubles, two triples, had a .395 on base percentage and a .387 slugging percentage. He finished second in the Can-Am League hit by pitches (19) and tied for third in sacrifice flies (7). Among catchers he was first in total chances (659) and put outs (630), the second consecutive season he led the league in both categories.
Caldwell was a 24th round draft pick by the Florida Marlins in 2011 out of Auburn University. In his first season of professional ball, in the Gulf Coast League, he hit .306 with a home run and 10 RBI in 32 games. He led all catchers in fielding percentage (.993) and was third best in throwing out baserunners (14-47, .298). Offensively he reached base in 22 consecutive games from June 20-August 7.
Caldwell spent the majority of 2012 and 2013 at Single-A Greensboro (with the exception of a minor rehab stint in the Gulf Coast League in 2013). He hit .238 and .209 respectively and threw out nearly 30% of base stealers in 2012 and nearly 25% in 2013.
After being released by the Marlins he signed with the Jackals for the 2014 season and hit .257 with four homers and 32 RBI while throwing out the third most base stealers (14-64, .219).
The Saints have signed 15 players this off-season, nine position players and six pitchers.
The 2016 season begins on Thursday, May 19 at CHS Field with a 7:05 p.m. game against the Gary SouthShore Railcats.