04/08/2004 9:29 AM - The Kansas City T-Bones are pleased to announce they have inked four players to 2004 pacts: three new pitchers and an old friend to back them up on defense, Rick Prieto.
Rick Prieto is back for a second season with the T-Bones after a stellar 2003 campaign in which he hit .340 with six home runs and 45 RBI. Prietos .340 average placed him third in the Northern League, and his on-base percentage of .410 ranked him fifth in the circuit.
Prieto, 31, is entering his twelfth season of minor league baseball. Originally a 28th round draft pick of the Cleveland Indians in 1993, Prieto has advanced as high as Class AAA in 1996 and 2001, with the Las Vegas Stars of the Pacific Coast League and Charlotte Knights of the International League, respectively.
Rick Prieto is a hard-nosed player who has a tremendous ability to make things happen, remarked T-Bones skipper Al Gallagher. Were extremely happy to have a player of his caliber back in 2004.
The T-Bones also signed former Royals farmhand Dusty Wrightsman to a 2004 contract, the team announced. Wrightsman, a 64 right-handed pitcher, was originally a 26th round pick of the Royals back in 2000. His best season was in 2002 with the Wilmington Blue Rocks of the Carolina League (A), where he went 9-4 with a 2.38 ERA. Wrightsman split the 2003 season with the Wichita Wranglers (AA) and Wilmington, posting a 7-5 mark in 30 contests.
Also strengthening the Kansas City T-Bones pitching staff in 2004 will be a couple of rookies, LHP Clint Marcus of Los Angeles, CA, and RHP John Howerton of Tempe, AZ. Marcus comes to the T-Bones after a collegiate career at University of Nevada-Reno, and holds a B.S. in pre-physical therapy. Howerton spent his college career at Division III Clarke College in Dubuque, IA. His 2003 senior season, in which he went 6-4 with a 4.35 ERA while holding opponents to a .265 average, is one of the best in Clarke history.
These are three pitchers who we feel will be big help for our pitching staff in 2004, said Gallagher. With Danny Jackson on board to help with the learning process, we should see great things.