Farm system moves bring new players to Cougars
Just over a week after fielding four players in the Midwest League All-Star Game, the Kane County Cougars all-stars dwindled to two.
Outfielder Lane Adams, pitcher Matt Ridings and infielder Orlando Calixte were all promoted through the Kansas City Royals farm system to High-A Wilmington Blue Rocks this week. Adams was a starter for the Western Division squad and Ridings was a late addition to the team to replace Cougars pitcher Nick Graffeo, who was promoted before the all-star contest.
"It's minor league baseball; guys are getting called up, sent down," said catcher Kenny Swab. "I think we've done a pretty good job making adjustments here and there with different guys."
Ridings had a 2.43 era in 21 appearances for the Cougars. Calixte led the Cougars with 10 home runs in the first half of the season. Adams was fifth in the MWL in hits with 78.
While the Cougars will miss the talents of Ridings, Adams and Calixte, their departures weren't the club's only recent roster moves. Infielder Jack Lopez, outfielder Julio Aparacio and a pair of high-round draft picks in pitchers Bryan Brickhouse and Matt Smith were added to Kane County's roster.
"The whole point in playing in the minor leagues is to move guys up," said Cougars manager Brian Buchanan. "Would I like to have those guys here? Absolutely, but these guys that we got from Arizona are going to do well."
The Royals selected Brickhouse and Smith out of high school in 2011 in the third and fourth rounds, respectively, and each pitched one game for the Idaho Falls Chukers before joining the Cougars. After striking out 11 batters in five innings last week with the Chukers, Smith had a strong debut for the Cougars as he pitched six hitless innings Sunday against the Clinton LumberKings, recording 6 strikeouts and 1 walk.
"I was a little nervous to get in the game, and it kind of went away as the game went on," Smith said. "I had the support of the team the whole time, which made the transition easier."
Smith received pitcher of the week honors in both the Pioneer League and the Midwest League on Monday for the performances.
"I didn't even know they gave out that award, but to be named pitcher of the week for two leagues in the same week is unreal," Smith said. "It gives you more confidence, a little bit more belief that you can do it. … It makes you want to work that much harder to keep this going."
Smith is scheduled to pitch Friday night in game two of the Cougars' series against the Burlington Bees at Fifth Third Ballpark.
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