March is typically a quiet time in the Frontier League as teams await roster cuts from minor-league spring training camps at the end of the month. These cuts flood the market in April with players looking for jobs in independent leagues.
The Wild Things, however, were busy Wednesday opening room on their roster for some of those future signings. Washington made two moves, trading pitcher Jhonny Montoya and placing outfielder Mario Yepez on the 60-day disabled list.
Montoya, who was used as both a starter and reliever in two seasons with the Wild Things, was dealt to the Lancaster Barnstormers of the Atlantic League, which is considered the highest level of the independent leagues. Washington will receive a player to be named later in exchange for Montoya, a right-hander who had a 7-10 career record.
Montoya made 20 starts in 2011 and had a 4-7 record with a 3.76 ERA. Last year, Montoya was slowed by an injury early in the season and spent time on the disabled list. He returned to pitch in 23 games (six starts) and post a 3-3 record with a 3.91 ERA. A hard thrower, Montoya struck out 149 batters in 179 innings over the two seasons.
“I am excited to see Jhonny Montoya get an opportunity on a higher level,” said Wild Things manager Chris Bando. “He has a power arm that has earned the opportunity before him.”
Yepez, 24, was signed by Washington this offseason after playing six seasons in the Seattle Mariners’ organization. He played five games at Class AA and six in Class AAA last year. Yepez, however, recently fractured his ankle and is expected to be sidelined for four or five months.
Though it has not yet been reported by the team or Frontier League office, the Wild Things apparently lost another outfielder as Darian Sandford had his contract purchased by the Chicago White Sox. Sandford was to report to minor league spring training Wednesday. A speedy center fielder, Sandford was acquired by Washington late last season in a trade with Southern Illinois. He set the league record with 71 stolen bases and batted .249.
With Montoya, Yepez and Sandford off the active roster, Washington has 11 players classified as Experienced – the equivalent of more than one full season of professional experience – which is two under the Frontier League limit. The Wild Things will likely be looking to add experienced outfielders next month.