The 2018 season was one to remember for the Sugar Land Skeeters, in so many ways. Not only did the team win its second Atlantic League Championship in franchise history -- and in the last three seasons -- but it did so while navigating around the loss of 14 players, due to contracts being purchased. The Skeeters have had six players reach the Majors after playing in Sugar Land and that number is surely to grow after the bevy of contracts purchased last season. Check in on how former Skeeters did at the affiliated level last season and we’ll make sure to keep fans updated on their progress for seasons to come!
RHP Jeff Johnson (Contract Purchased by Acereros de Monclova on April 27)
Johnson was the first member in a long line of Skeeters to have his contract purchased in 2018, as he left Sugar Land for the Mexican League in Spring Training. The 28-year-old made the bulk of his outings in 2018 with the Pericos de Puebla of the Mexican League and went a combined 2-2 with a 1.47 ERA in 39 appearances — all coming in relief. Johnson served as the primary closer for the Pericos de Puebla and locked down 14 saves on the year, striking 19 batters to 13 walks over 25 ⅔ innings pitched. Johnson’s 14 saves were the most since he notched a career-high 27 saves in 2015 with Double-A Akron (CLE).
LHP Paco Rodriguez (Contract Purchased by Minnesota Twins on May 2)
Rodriguez entered the 2018 season with one of the most established Major League pedigrees in the Atlantic League and it didn’t take him long to find his way back to the affiliated level. The former Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander made just two appearances with the Skeeters before being picked up by the the Minnesota Twins organization. He made the bulk of his appearances with Double-A Chattanooga, going 3-1 with a 4.26 ERA in 19 games (25.1 IP) at the Double-A level. He also threw three scoreless innings for High-A Fort Myers before joining Double-A Chattanooga. Rodriguez, 27, re-signed with the Skeeters on Aug. 10 and made one relief appearance before being placed on the inactive list for the rest of the season.
IF Rey Navarro (Contract Purchased by New York Yankees on May 11)
Navarro’s Skeeters tenure was brief, but memorable. The former Baltimore Orioles infielder signed with the Skeeters on May 8 and homered in his first two at-bats with the team that same day in a game at Lancaster. The 28-year-old went 6-for-11 with two doubles, two home runs and three RBIs in three games for the Skeeters before being picked up by the New York Yankees. Navarro appeared in 62 games with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and hit .242/.285/.409 with 10 home runs and 28 RBIs.
RHP Logan Bawcom (Contract Purchased by Los Angeles Dodgers on May 14)
Bawcom was appearing in his first season with the Skeeters and was 1-1 with a 6.75 ERA in three starts before having his contract purchased by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Bawcom returned back to the organization that drafted him in the 17th round of the 2010 MLB Draft out of UT-Arlington. He made 12 starts with Double-A Tulsa and eight starts with Triple-A Oklahoma City, combining to go 6-10 with a 5.24 ERA over 99 ⅔ innings pitched. The 29-year-old made one start in the Pacific Coast League playoffs with Triple-A Oklahoma City, allowing a run and striking out five over 4 ⅓ innings in the semifinal against the Memphis Redbirds.
RHP Alejandro Chacin (Contract Purchased by Cincinnati Reds on May 23)
Chacin was one of three Skeeters on the 2018 Opening Day roster that had appeared in the Majors in 2017 and it didn’t take him long to make it back to the affiliated level. Chacin was one of the team’s most effective relievers in the opening month of the season, allowing two runs over 11 innings pitched (1.63 ERA). Chacin returned to the Cincinnati Reds, who signed him as an amateuer free agent from Venezuela in 2010 and who he made his Major League debut with in 2017. Chacin spent his entire 2018 season with the Reds organization at Double-A Pensacola, going 1-2 with a 5.50 ERA and six saves in 27 relief outings (36 IP), striking out 50 batters to 21 walks.
RHP Mitch Talbot (Contract Purchased by Cleveland Indians on May 23)
Talbot was appearing in his second straight season with the Skeeters and was establishing himself as one of the Atlantic League’s premiere pitchers, going 3-1 with a 1.93 ERA in five starts before having his contract purchased by the Cleveland Indians. Talbot previously had experience with the Indians, appearing with them at the Major League level in 2010 and ‘11. Talbot experienced some of the most success at the affiliated level in 2018 amongst Skeeters alumni, going 4-5 with a 2.52 ERA in 18 games (17 starts) with Triple-A Columbus. The 35-year-old logged 103 ⅔ innings with Triple-A Columbus in 2018, allowing just 22 walks compared to 64 strikeouts.
RHP Danny Reynolds (Contract Purchased by Milwaukee Brewers on June 1)
The flame-throwing reliever threw 15 scoreless innings for the Skeeters, striking out 21 batters in the process, before joining the Milwaukee Brewers organization. The 27-year-old was assigned to Double-A Biloxi and went 2-1 with a 3.56 ERA in 21 relief appearances for the Shuckers, also picking up a pair of saves. Reynolds was called up to Triple-A Colorado Springs for the Pacific Coast League playoffs and allowed three runs over two relief outings (2 IP).
LHP Hunter Cervenka (Contract Purchased by Detroit Tigers on June 3)
Cervenka, one of six players in Skeeters history to reach the Majors after playing for Sugar Land, nearly found himself in the big leagues once again in 2018. He opened the season with the Skeeters and went 3-1 with a 1.53 ERA in 19 relief appearances as the Skeeters setup man before being picked up by the Detroit Tigers. The success didn’t stop for Cervenka once back at the affiliated level, going 3-2 with a 2.36 ERA in 29 appearances (26.2 IP) with Triple-A Toledo. He also tossed 5 ⅔ scoreless innings with Double-A Erie and 3 ⅓ scoreless innings with High-A Lakeland before reaching Triple-A.
RHP Casey Coleman (Contract Purchased by Chicago Cubs on July 3)
Coleman was a key member of a superb Skeeters rotation that helped clinch the First-Half Freedom Division title in 2018, going 3-0 with a 0.96 ERA in seven outings (six starts), spanning 37 ⅓ innings pitched. Coleman returned to the Chicago Cubs, who selected him in the 15th round of the 2008 MLB Draft out of Florida Gulf Coast University. He also made his MLB debut with the Cubs in 2010 and appeared with them at the Major League level in 2011 and ‘12 as well. The 31-year-old was assigned to Triple-A Iowa and went 2-4 with a 6.91 ERA (28.2 IP) in 10 games (five starts).
LHP Ben Griset (Contract Purchased by Acereros Del Norte on July 25)
Griset battled injuries through the early portion of the 2018 season but proved to be a reliable contributor to the back-end of the rotation, as well as an occasional lefty relief specialist, going 2-3 with a 4.35 ERA in 12 games (nine starts). The 26-year-old went on to have a fine conclusion to his season as a reliever in the Mexican League. Griset carried a 2.53 ERA over 11 relief appearances (10.2 IP), striking out 10 batters over that span, with the Acereros Del Norte.
LHP Matt Gage (Contract Purchased by New York Mets on August 3)
In terms of games played, Gage’s stint of the Skeeters was the briefest of any player who had their contract purchased in 2018. Gage made just one start with the Skeeters, picking up the win after allowing two runs and striking out seven over five innings pitched to pick up the win on July 28 against the York Revolution. The New York Mets then picked up the southpaw and he went 2-1 with a 3.12 ERA in three starts with Double-A Binghamton. The 25-year-old struck out 17 batters to just four walks in his time with the Rumble Ponies.
OF Courtney Hawkins (Contract Purchased by Cincinnati Reds on August 10)
The Skeeters lost a key bat -- and arguably the greatest power threat in the Atlantic League -- when the Cincinnati Reds picked up Hawkins. The former No. 13 overall pick of the 2012 MLB Draft terrorized Atlantic League pitching, slashing .285/.342/.505 with 18 home runs and 72 RBIs in 88 games with the Skeeters. He was also selected to the 2018 Atlantic League All-Star Game. At the time his contract was purchased, Hawkins led the league in RBIs, was second in home runs and was third in slugging percentage. Hawkins was assigned to High-A Daytona and hit .246 with two homers and four RBIs in 17 games with the Tortugas, who reached the Florida State League Finals.
RHP Austin Adams (Contract Purchased by Minnesota Twins on August 19)
The purchase of Adams’ contract rounded out a historical crop of Skeeters to make it back to the affiliated level. The former Major Leaguer was a mainstay in middle relief for the Skeeters, going 3-0 with a 2.22 ERA and a save in 30 relief appearances (28.1 IP). Adams struck out 33 batters to just eight walks in his time with the Skeeters as well. The Minnesota Twins assigned Adams to Double-A Chattanooga and he made five appearances (three starts), going 1-0 with a 1.00 ERA over nine innings pitched.