The Sugar Land Skeeters last week signed a pair of championship players.
Outfielder Anthony Giansanti, the team’s 2018 Most Valuable Player, has been re-signed, along with left-handed pitcher Roy Merritt, who helped the Skeeters win the Atlantic League championship in 2016.
Giansanti, 30, was selected as the MVP after hitting .297/.357/.456 with 17 home runs, 58 RBIs and 35 stolen bases. He was also selected to the Atlantic League’s Post-Season All-Star Team as well as the league’s Red White & Blue All-Defensive Team.
The Connecticut native hit .310 with a home run and four RBIs in 10 postseason games last season as the Skeeters went on to win the 2018 Atlantic League championship. Giansanti ranked fifth in the Atlantic League last season in stolen bases, sixth in runs (79), seventh in home runs and was tied for 10th in slugging percentage (.456). He made 40 appearances in the outfield and infield last season and was just one of two players in the league to accomplish the feat.
“I’m really excited to be back with the Skeeters organization and to be able to play in front of this fan base once again,” Giansanti said. “Last season was amazing and I can’t wait to get back with the guys and bring another championship to Sugar Land.”
Giansanti ranks fifth in Skeeters history in games played (243), fifth in runs scored (128), tied for fourth in hits (264), fifth in doubles (64), fifth in home runs (26), eighth in RBIs (110) and second in stolen bases (66). His 35 stolen bases in 2018 were the fourth-most in a single season in Skeeters history and his 17 home runs were tied for fifth-most.
The 2017 Atlantic League All-Star also holds the Skeeters franchise record with a 26-game hitting streak, which he accomplished in 2017. Giansanti first appeared in the Atlantic League in 2016 with the Bridgeport Bluefish.
The Oakland A’s took Giansanti in the 49th round of the 2009 MLB Draft out of Sienna College. He first appeared at the professional level in 2010 with the Chicago Cubs and played within the Cubs farm system from 2010-16, peaking at Triple-A.
Through nine professional seasons, totaling 826 games, Giansanti has hit .265/.320/.381 with 53 home runs, 343 RBIs and 100 stolen bases.
Merritt has been signed as a player-coach. Merritt will work in the Skeeters pitching staff as well as serving as the team’s pitching coach.
Merritt, 33, went 8-2 with a 2.99 ERA and one save in 25 regular-season outings in 2016 (18 starts), as well as making five appearances in the postseason. The Houston native spent the 2018 regular-season campaign with the Olmecas de Tabasco and the Rieleros de Aguascalientes, going a combined 6-7 with a 4.03 ERA in 21 starts.
The New York Mets took Merritt in the 29th round of the 2007 MLB Draft out of Southern University. The St. Louis Cardinals also took Merritt in the 42nd round of the 2003 MLB Draft out of Nimitz High School (Houston, Texas).
Merritt pitched five seasons in the New York Mets Minor League system, peaking at Triple-A. He last pitched at the affiliated level in 2016 with Triple-A Oklahoma City (Los Angeles Dodgers). Merritt was selected as an Eastern League Mid-Season All-Star in 2009 with Double-A Binghamton.
Merritt first joined the Atlantic League in 2012 with the Somerset Patriots and appeared with Somerset from 2012-15. He is 21-13 with a 2.89 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in 93 career Atlantic League appearances (350.0 IP). Through 12 seasons at the professional level, Merritt has gone 79-72 with a 3.69 ERA and 35 saves in 522 games (199 starts).
Merritt takes over for Cory Domel as the Skeeters pitching coach. In his first season with the Skeeters, Domel helped guide the pitching staff to a 3.14 ERA, which led the Atlantic League and was the lowest team single-season ERA in Skeeters history.