WINNIPEG, MB – The Winnipeg Goldeyes announced Friday that outfielders Adam Heisler and Willie Cabrera, as well as left-handed pitcher Eric Eadington and catcher Carlton Tanabe have cleared waivers. All four players have elected to retire from professional baseball.
Heisler spent the past two seasons in Winnipeg, hitting a combined .315 with a .386 on-base percentage in 176 games. The Mobile, Alabama native stole 71 bases in just 86 attempts, and currently ranks sixth in career steals in Goldeyes’ history. During the playoffs, Heisler scored eight runs in 10 games, and collected four hits in the decisive Game Five of the American Association Championship Series at Wichita. Heisler originally signed with the Chicago White Sox as a non-drafted free agent in 2011 and reached the Triple-A level in 2013.
“Adam is starting a baseball school at home,” said Goldeyes’ manager Rick Forney earlier this week on The Inside Pitch. “He’s liking the work that he’s doing, and he’s decided he’s going to try and grow that business. We got two really good years out of him, and he really came alive for us in the postseason. I’m glad we were able to get a ring together.”
Cabrera was acquired from the Joplin Blasters in early-July, and made an immediate impact on a Goldeyes’ offence that ultimately led the American Association in runs scored. Cabrera combined for a .318 batting average with 17 home runs and 77 RBI. Cabrera then hit .375 in 10 postseason games for the Goldeyes, and like Heisler, the Los Angeles, California native had four hits in Game Five of the Championship Series. A former 14th-round draft pick of the Atlanta Braves in 2005, Cabrera wraps up an 11-year career with a .292 average, 101 home runs, 591 RBI, and more total base hits (1,140) than games played (1,026).
“Willie was a big contributor, and made a big difference in our season,” said Forney. “He’s finishing school and starting his own baseball academy in California. Unfortunately, you can’t play independent baseball forever, and often times you’re going to lose some guys you grow attached to.”
Eadington was arguably the most dominant left-handed reliever in the American Association in 2016. The Goldeyes signed Eadington during their season-opening road trip, and the former Los Angeles Dodgers’ farmhand picked up nine saves while posting a 3.00 ERA in 42 relief outings. Eadington fanned 63 batters in just 45.0 innings pitched, and finishes a six-year playing career with an average of 11.4 strikeouts per nine frames. Eadington yielded just one earned run and struck out 10 in eight and one-third postseason innings. Eadington signed with the Dodgers as a non-drafted free agent out of Harvard University in 2011.
“My heart’s broken for Eric,” said Forney. “He should be pitching in an organiztion somewhere at a high level. You don’t see many left-handed arms that produce that kind of velocity. He’s as good a left-handed pitcher that’s come through this league. Unfortunately, no team was willing to take a chance on him because he’s had two Tommy John Surgeries, but he proved to be very healthy and durable last year. He could handle the workload and took the ball whenever we needed him to. He did a great job for us, and I’m glad he decided to join the team when he did.”
Tanabe hit .250 with three home runs and 38 RBI in 84 games played, while throwing out 24 percent of opposing base stealers. Tanabe’s 82 games behind the plate were the most of any catcher in the American Association. Sioux City’s Ralph Henriquez was the only other catcher in the league to play even 70 games at the position. At the end of the year, Tanabe put an exclamation point on his durability by catching every inning of the playoffs. Tanabe was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the 24th round in 2009 out of Pearl City High School in his home state of Hawaii. Tanabe concludes an eight-year career in which he threw out 38 percent of opposing base runners and reached the Double-A level four times.
“Carlton had big shoes to step into last year,” said Forney. “To bring a new catcher in, the expectations were high. Carlton came in, worked his tail off, and got better as the season went on. I thought he did a fantastic job, and he’s another guy who is young enough where I think he could still play in affiliated ball.”
The Goldeyes currently have 19 players under contract for the 2017 season. American Association clubs may carry up to 28 players during spring training, which begins May 6th.
The Winnipeg Goldeyes open the 2017 season on May 18th on the road against the expansion Cleburne Railroaders. The Goldeyes’ 2017 home opener is Monday, May 29th versus the Sioux Falls Canaries at Shaw Park. Season tickets, 10-game mini packs, and group outings for the 2017 season are on sale now. For more information, call the Goldeyes’ office at (204) 982-BASE, or visit the Goldeyes’ official website at www.goldeyes.com