KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Mallex Smith’s resume speaks for itself: a former MLB stolen-base leader who spent parts of 5 seasons at the game’s highest level. But according to Kansas City Monarchs manager Joe Calfapietra, Smith’s skill on the diamond goes beyond the numbers. 

“He’s fearless. The wall is never there for him,” Calfapietra said. “You have the speed, you have the instincts, but then you have the fearlessness when the ball goes up in the air. He has that little daredevil in him.”

Smith is set to return to the Monarchs in 2023, the club announced Tuesday. He joined the Monarchs on August 5 of last year, boosting a club in the middle of a tight race for the American Association West Division title. He wasted no time getting involved, leading off and stealing two bases in his Monarchs debut.

“Mallex was a big part of the push that we made at the end of last season,” Calfapietra said. “There was no doubt that he was a big contributor, offensively and defensively.”

The 29-year-old served as the Monarchs’ leadoff hitter during the 2022 stretch run, posting a .281 batting average and .374 on-base percentage with 11 steals in 27 games. He came up big in the team’s Labor Day regular-season finale, drawing a bases-loaded walk that would hold up as the game-winning RBI in a division-clinching victory over the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks.

Smith played parts of five seasons in the major leagues with the Braves, Rays and Mariners. The Tallahassee, Florida native had a breakout season in 2018 with Tampa Bay, batting .296 with a league-leading 10 triples and 40 steals. After a trade, Smith suited up for Seattle in 2019 and led all MLB players with 46 stolen bases. He owns 120 major-league stolen bases in 442 games.

Smith has a .272 batting average and 419 stolen bases over his 11-year professional career. He most recently took the field for Toros del Este in the 2022-23 Dominican Winter League season.

Smith is the second player signing the Monarchs have announced in 2023. Right-hander Alex Valdez, who served as the club’s closer down the stretch last season, officially returned to the Monarchs on January 18.

Champions of the American Association in 2021, the Monarchs again finished with the league’s top regular-season record in 2022, though they lost to Fargo-Moorhead in a tight semifinal series. They open up their 2023 season on Friday, May 12, with their home opener set for Friday, May 19.

Fans can buy tickets, check out upcoming promotions and learn more about the team at Follow the Monarchs on Twitter @KSCityMonarchs, on Instagram @KC_Monarchs, and at


The Kansas City Monarchs (52-31) completed the three-game sweep of the Winnipeg Goldeyes (46-37) by a score of 7-2 Thursday night at Shaw Park. Some injuries in the rotation and awkward timing of starts required Kansas City’s Jordan Martinson to make his first start of the season, and Martinson took the opportunity by storm as he went six innings of one-run ball, only allowing two hits in the process.

Kansas City’s usual back-end bullpen arm Jordan Martinson would begin the game on the mound for the first time this season, and his phenomenal showing played a large part in keeping the matchup a low-scoring one. The affair started out quiet, with the first two innings coming and going with only seven batters seeing the plate each inning.

It wasn’t until the third inning that the first run would be scored as, after a 1-2-3 top half, Winnipeg second baseman Kevin Lachance would belt a leadoff home run, spoiling Martinson’s perfect start. Eric Rivera would later smack a two-out double to center field, but Martinson would retire the next batter, only allowing the one run through three.

As per usual for the 2022 Monarchs offense, this opposing score would soon be met by the Monarchs scoring a run of their own. Darnell Sweeney reached on a single and Jan Hernandez was hit by a pitch by Alex Manasa. Casey Gillaspie would then deliver like he’s done on the road all season with a double to right field, scoring Sweeney and evening the game at one. In the bottom half, Martinson would settle back into his groove and retire the side in order.

In the fifth, Kansas City would once again put a run on the board with two outs when Ryan Grotjohn would step up to the plate after the first two batters of the inning were sat down. Grotjohn extended the inning and the Monarchs’ run total with a solo home run to right field, giving Kansas City its first lead of the game, 2-1. In the bottom half, Martinson would make it seven straight outs when he retired the side in order.

The Monarchs would lead the top of the sixth off with back-to-back singles, which would chase Goldeyes starter Alex Manasa from the game. After relief pitcher Travis Seabrooke got Gillaspie to fly out for the second out of the inning, J.C. Escarra would double to right field and move Jan Hernandez to third base. Pete Kozma would then step up and hit a single that would score Hernandez and lengthen the KC lead to 3-1, but Escarra would get thrown out on a close play at the plate to end the half-inning. In the bottom half, Jordan Martinson would remind us that he is in fact human, and allow back-to-back walks after retiring the first batter of the inning. It all ended up being part of the plan, however, as he would then induce a 1-4-3 double play, ending the inning.

In the top of the seventh, Ryan Grotjohn would lurk in the on-deck circle, fresh off of his go-ahead homer in his last at-bat. Grotjohn decided one wasn’t enough, and promptly blasted another solo homer, extending the Monarchs lead to 4-1. In the bottom half, Jeremy Rhoades would enter on to begin the inning, ending the stellar night for Martinson. Rhoades would strike out two of the four batters he would face, keeping the score 4-1 Monarchs.

Bryan Blanton would come in for the top of the eighth and limit the Monarchs to nothing but a Jan Hernandez walk and stolen base. Rhoades would remain on for the Monarchs in the eighth and record a 1-2-3 inning.

Pete Kozma stepped up to the plate in the top of the ninth as the beginning of the Monarchs’ last chance to add on to their lead. Kozma then delivered with a leadoff single. Two batters later, Ryan Grotjohn would hit a single of his own, putting runners at first and second. With two outs on the board, Matt Adams made sure to drive the nail deep into the heart of Winnipeg with a three-run bomb, giving the Monarchs a late 7-1 lead. After a pitching change and a pair of free bags, a Casey Gillaspie strikeout would end the half-inning.

Jacob Lindgren would relieve Rhoades in the ninth and walk the first batter, which would then be followed by an infield single, and then another walk, loading the bases with no outs. Frank Rubio would then come on for the Monarchs and strike out the first batter he saw. The next batter, Logan Hill, would hit a sac fly out to left, leaving the Goldeyes with one last chance to make up the now five-run deficit. A ground ball from Kevin Lachance would end those hopes, making the final score 7-2 Monarchs for the final game of the three-game sweep.

The Monarchs begin a three-game weekend series tomorrow night (8/19) against the Lincoln Saltdogs at 7:05 p.m at Haymarket Park in Lincoln, Nebraska. The game can be heard on the Monarchs Broadcast Network with the pre-game beginning at 6:30 p.m. and the video stream airing on aa

Tickets to all Monarchs games can be purchased by calling 913-328-5618 or by visiting For additional information or interview requests, members of the media may contact the Monarchs Media Relations Department at (817) 739-3693. Stay tuned to monarchs and the Monarchs Facebook and Twitter pages for updates throughout the season.

WP: Jordan Martinson (5-1)

LP: Alex Manasa (3-5)

S: N/A


BY: Adam Cook