Birds trade for top-ranked indy prospect

Posted: 12/3/2013

SIOUX FALLS  – The Sioux Falls Canaries agreed to a trade on Tuesday that will bring to one of most highly regarded young talents in independent baseball to Sioux Falls Stadium.

Canaries manager Steve Shirley announced the trade of shortstop Cory Morales to the Amarillo Sox in exchange for shortstop KC Serna and left-handed pitcher Matt Wickswat.

Baseball America ranked Serna, 24, the top prospect in all of independent baseball following a standout season with Amarillo in which he provided sparkling defense and hit .304. He rapped 26 doubles and swiped 17 bases while playing all 100 games. The leading baseball publication calls him a “true shortstop” that played the “best defense in the league.”

Several independent players named to the Baseball America list over the years have landed in the big leagues or the higher tiers of the minors. (Daniel Nava, the No. 1 independent prospect in 2008, was a regular with the world champion Boston Red Sox this year.)

“We are excited to have KC join us,” Canaries manager Steve Shirley said. “At the same time, it is tough to lose Cory Morales. But it takes giving up a guy of his caliber in order to bring KC and Matt here.”

Serna played one season in the Cleveland Indians system in 2011, batting .265 in 42 games. The Ventura, Calif., native played collegiately at the University of Oregon.

Wickswat, 27, pitched for five seasons in the Chicago White Sox system, including two stints at the Double-A level. This past season was his first in independent baseball, where he went 7-11 with a 4.82 ERA in 20 starts with the Windy City ThunderBolts of the Frontier League. He racked up 99 strikeouts in 115 2/3 innings pitched.

“Matt brings solid experience with the ability to throw a lot of innings,” Shirley said of the Bellevue, Wash., native. “I expect him to compete for a spot in our starting rotation.”

The Canaries’ 2014 campaign follows their highest attended season ever. It will be their 22nd season and ninth as members of the independent American Association. For more information about business partnerships or season tickets in 2014, call the Canaries at (605) 336-6060.