Monarchs Ink ‘Competitive’ Righty Keys

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — A competitive right-hander with a great curveball has joined the Kansas City Monarchs’ pitching staff.

Right-hander JC Keys has signed with the reigning American Association champions for the 2024 season, the Monarchs announced Monday.

Keys, a 27-year-old former Reds prospect, is the third player Monarchs manager Joe Calfapietra has signed for the 2024 season. He joins returning infielder Cameron Cannon and pitcher Juan Mejia.

“JC’s a highly competitive guy. He has a plus curveball and an above-average fastball that goes with it,” Calfapietra said. “He was a highly-regarded player in the Reds system and we’re excited to welcome him to our organization.”

A 27-year-old with three seasons of professional experience, Keys has struck out 10.3 batters per nine innings in his professional career.

The Monarchs open their season on May 10 in Sioux City. The club’s home opener is set for Thursday, May 16 at Legends Field in Kansas City, Kansas. Find the Monarchs’ full schedule at MonarchsBaseball.com/Schedule.

A native of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Keys played four years of college ball at Southern Miss, his hometown school.

He became one of the Eagles’ top relief arms, striking out 14.2 batters per nine innings his senior year in 2019. He held opponents to a .189 batting average that season.

Keys earned a 9.4 K/9 over his 63 career appearances (13 starts) at Southern Miss.

The Reds drafted Keys in the 23rd round in 2019; he’d make his pro debut in the Appalachian League that season.

After missing 2020 due to the pandemic, Keys spent 2021 between High-A Dayton and Double-A Chattanooga.

His last season of pro baseball came in 2022, where he spent the entire season in Chattanooga’s bullpen. All but nine of Keys’ 62 career Minor League appearances have come in relief.

Monarchs ticket packages are available now at MonarchsBaseball.com/Tickets.

Monarchs Sign First Two Players To 2024 Roster

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The Kansas City Monarchs have completed the first step of their title defense. Manager Joe Calfapietra has signed his first two players to join the reigning champions of the American Association for 2024.

Infielder Cameron Cannon rejoins the Monarchs after suiting up for the club toward the end of the 2023 regular season. Pitcher Juan Mejia, a former Rangers prospect, will make his AAPB debut in 2024.

The Monarchs’ home opener is set for Thursday, May 16 at Legends Field. Fans can learn more about 2024 ticket packages at MonarchsBaseball.com/Tickets.

CANNON CAN BALL

A second-round draft pick by the Boston Red Sox in 2019, Cannon was an All-American at the University of Arizona.

The Arizona native played eight games with the Monarchs in August 2023 before missing the end of the season and playoffs with injury.

“We feel Cameron’s going to be an impactful player for us,” Calfapietra said. “He’s a guy who can play well and show he can play at the next level, and we’re excited to give him that opportunity.”

Cannon, 26, made it as high as Triple-A in his affiliated career, with Boston’s organization in 2022. He began 2023 at the Double-A level in the Phillies system.

The righty hitter owns a .244 batting average, 22 home runs, and 15 steals over 243 Minor League games.

MEJIA THE MONARCH

Mejia, 25, is entering his seventh year of professional baseball and fourth in the United States, all with the Rangers organization.

The Dominican Republic native has made it as high as Triple-A in his affiliated career, though he spent most of 2023 at the High-A and Double-A levels. He posted a 4.94 ERA and 1.42 WHIP over 25 games (five starts) across four MiLB levels in 2023.

“Juan’s a good young arm; he’s a strike thrower; he has some versatility,” Calfapietra said. “He’s a solid pitcher who we feel can help the ball club in a lot of different ways.”

Mejia was a starter in his two years with the Rangers’ Dominican Summer League affiliate, earning a 2.15 ERA over 12 starts in 2018. Most of his appearances in the U.S. have been out of the bullpen.

Mejia’s best season in the U.S. came in 2021, when he earned a 2.08 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and 10.8 K/9 in 11 relief appearances between Rookie, High-A and Double-A ball.

Find the Monarchs’ full schedule at MonarchsBaseball.com/Schedule.

 

 

 

 

TicketSmarter Offers Ticket Discounts

Kansas City Event Guide

As a proud partner of the KC Monarchs, TicketSmarter is excited to offer a 5% discount on tickets to the hottest live events in the metro. Click any link below to receive the discount applied at checkout.

Whether you are looking for Kansas City Chiefs tickets or trying to grab T-Mobile Center tickets to a concert, TicketSmarter has your key to unlocking savings.

KC Concerts

Located a short drive from downtown KCMO, you are in a great position to enjoy some of the world’s most talented musicians with The Midland, Azura Amphitheater or Uptown Theater tickets. T-Mobile Center is perhaps the most high-profile venue in Kansas City, hosting artists like AJR, Olivia Rodrigo and Zach Bryan throughout the year.

Professional Sports in KC

In addition to the Monarchs of the American Association, Kansas City is also home to several professional sports teams including our neighbors, Sporting KC. For a real adrenaline rush, the Kansas Speedway attracts NASCAR Cup Series, Xfinity Series and Truck Series races throughout the year, bringing the world’s top drivers to KCK.

On the other side of the state line, you can find the MLB’s Kansas City Royals, and NFL’s Chiefs as well as the NWSL’s Kansas City Current. The Current, who used to play at Children’s Mercy Park, just built a new stadium in downtown KC that overlooks the Missouri River.

Additional Teams:

  • Missouri Mavericks – Central Hockey League
  • Kansas City Comets – Major Indoor Soccer League

Theatre in Kansas City

If you are looking for Broadway in Kansas City, then the Music Hall in downtown KC or Starlight Theatre in Swope Park are the places to be. For a symphony show or ballet, you will not want to miss an opportunity to enjoy the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. This stunning building, which is inspired by the Sydney Opera House, is home to the Kansas City Ballet, Kansas City Symphony and Lyric Opera of Kansas City.

Start exploring these events and more that Kansas City has to offer today with TicketSmarter!

Monarchs All-Star Collins Signs With Cardinals

KANSAS CITY Kan. — Gavin Collins wowed Kansas City Monarchs fans with All-Star-level play in 2023. Next year, he’ll take another step in his baseball career.

Collins, part of the Monarchs’ 2023 squad that won the American Association title, has signed a contract with the Cardinals organization for 2024.

“This is the best Christmas gift I could’ve asked for!” Collins said. “The Monarchs welcomed me with open arms and let me compete every day with complete confidence in me. Without that and the incredible teammates I had I don’t think this opportunity would’ve been possible. Stoked for this chapter!”

“We’re super excited that another monarch got an opportunity with a big-league organization,” Monarchs manager Joe Calfapietra said. “Gavin is a great teammate, and his work ethic is second to none. The will to win, the passion to compete is off the charts with him. His special journey hopefully completes with an opportunity to play in the major leagues.”

Since January 1, 2017 (the year Calfapietra arrived) 41 Kansas City players have been signed by MLB organizations, the most in the American Association. 18 different MLB teams have signed Monarchs/T-Bones players over that span.

The Monarchs will defend the Miles Wolff Cup in 2024. The team’s first game is Friday, May 10 on the road with the home opener set for Thursday, May 16. See the full schedule here.

Collins posted a .314 batting average over 62 games in 2023. That mark ranked second on the Monarchs, trailing only league Player of the Year Chris Herrmann. Collins earned a .382 on-base percentage and .515 slugging percentage, good for an .897 OPS that ranked third on the team.

He also showcased his versatility in the field, suiting up at catcher, third base and first base.

Collins was a 13th-round draft choice by Cleveland in 2016 after an impressive college career at Mississippi State. He hit .302 with a .922 OPS in his final year with the Bulldogs in 2016.

The California native has reached as high as Triple-A, suiting up for Columbus in 2021 and 2022 while with the Guardians. He played 16 MLB spring training games with the Tampa Bay Rays before the 2023 season, hitting one home run.

Monarchs season ticket packages, including six-game and 12-game flex plans, are available now at MonarchsBaseball.com/tickets.