1. The franchise is in it’s 10th season as the T-Bones, after originally playing in Minnesota as the Duluth-Superior Dukes. Up until 2011, the T-Bones played in the Northern League where they won the championship in 2008.
2. Kansas City is in it’s second season in the American Association and right in the thick of the playoff race. The T-Bones sit just 3.5 games behind the Central Division leading Wichita Wignuts and four games out of the Wildcard. With only four playoff spots available, the T-Bones are trying to make the playoffs a year after finishing in fifth in their division.
3. Pitching has been the key to Kansas City’s success this season with four of their starters in the top 13 in ERA on the American Association leaderboard. As a team Kansas City leads the league in ERA at 4.02 and sit near the top of the league in strikeouts, walks allowed and hits allowed. The staff’s biggest flaw has been giving up home runs, as they’ve given up the second most home runs of any team in the American Association with 64.
4. This weekend the Tornadoes will have to deal with a trio of righties who all own sub 4.4 ERAs. Thursday night Brian Grening, a former Cleveland Indians AAA prospect (2009), will take the mound. Grening is fifth in the American Association with 81 strikeouts in his first season as a starting pitcher. Friday night the T-Bones will throw Shaun Garceau and his 2.93 ERA-third best in the American Association. Garceau began the season with the York Freedom of the Atlantic League before putting together a 7-3 record in 11 starts with the T-Bones. Last but not least, Josh Rainwater a former fourth round pick of the Detroit Tigers will pitch Saturday. The big righty is in his 10th professional season which includes two stops with the Toledo Mud Hens, the Tigers AAA affiliate.
5. Hitting isn’t exactly a problem for the T-Bones either, as Kansas City sits third in the league in runs and leads the entire American Association with 80 home runs. On the flipside, the T-Bones rely on the long ball as they lead the league with 524 strikeouts (6.72 per game) and are second to last with with 15 sacrifices.
6. Former Braves number four prospect Brandon Jones is the team’s leading hitter at .330 with 59 RBI. The leftfielder played in 51 games over three seasons (2007-09) for the Braves amassing 38 hits, 22 RBI and a .257 average before bouncing around the minors with the Pirates, Tigers and Brewers organization.
7. Kansas City’s other big basher is Ray Sadler a 13-year perennial minor-leaguer who has feasted on American Association pitching the past two years. After hitting .315 with 22 home runs and 100 RBI last year, Sadler is hitting .274 with a team-high 14 home runs and 50 RBI this year. Sadler briefly made a major league appearance with the Pirates in 2005, with eight plate appearances and two hits, including a home run. But since then, he’s bounced around AA and AAA within the Houston Astros and Tampa Bay Rays organizations before settling with the T-Bones in 2010.