EVANSVILLE, Ind. – The Evansville Otters have signed infielders Wes Jones and J.C. Rodriguez and pitchers Denver McQuary and Matt Cronin to contracts for the 2020 season.
Jones and Rodriguez are both experienced infielders, bringing with them previous affiliated baseball experience.
Jones, from Lithonia, Ga., joins the Otters in 2020 for his second stop in the Frontier League. Jones spent part of 2019 with the Gateway Grizzlies, batting .343 with six RBIs in 19 games and 67 at-bats.
“Watching Jones with Gateway last year, I liked his actions, attitude and swing at the plate,” Otters manager Andy McCauley said.
“I’m grateful for getting another opportunity to play the game I love and cherish with the Evansville Otters,” Jones said. “I thank Mr. McCauley and the Evansville Otters, and I’m looking forward to a great year.”
Jones was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the 31st round of the 2013 MLB June Amateur Draft out of high school. From 2013 to 2018, Jones played for the Grand Junction Rockies of the Pioneer League and the Boise Hawks of the Northwest League.
“Jones will compete for a job in the infield, giving us some depth in that area,” McCauley said. “He is very athletic and could find himself at any of those spots.”
“My style of play will be the same as always, giving 100 percent between the lines,” Jones said. “As a professional baseball player, one of my best attributes is self-awareness that is required beforehand to change, adjust, grow, and learn. I have a good work ethic, and I’m constantly working outside of my comfort zone on and off the field.”
Overall with the Rockies organization, Jones batted .250 with 55 RBIs, 55 runs, 21 doubles, and 11 stolen bases.
Rodriguez, from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, joins the Otters in 2020 after considerable time with the New York Mets organization and with the Rockland Boulders in 2018. Rodriguez also spent time previously playing in Japan.
“Rodriguez is close with recent signee Andy DeJesus, who recommended him as well as a good report from the Mets organization,” McCauley said.
“I’m ready for the season to get here, so I can go out there and give it my best and prove my abilities out in the field with the Otters,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez started playing for the Mets organization in 2011 in the Dominican Summer League. In 2013, he spent time with the Gulf Coast Mets before moving on to play for the Brooklyn Cyclones, Kingsport Mets, Savannah Sand Gnats, Columbia FireFlies, Binghamton Rumble Ponies, and the St. Lucie Mets in his time with the Mets organization. Overall in his time with the Mets, Rodriguez batted .242 with 259 runs, 81 doubles, 24 triples, 19 home runs, 197 RBIs, and 74 stolen bases.
“Rodriguez had very good power numbers in his time in the Can-Am League, and he played in Japan last year which is a very high level of baseball,” McCauley said.
“The fans can expect to see everyday hustle from me and a guy who is a winner during the season,” Rodriguez said.
In 2018, Rodridguez played for the Rockland Boulders of the former Can-Am League. With the Boulders, the infielder posted a .244 batting average with 57 runs, 13 doubles, 14 home runs, and 39 RBIs, while stealing 13 bases.
Both McQuary and Cronin will be rookie pitchers in the Frontier League, as McQuary will be making his first professional stop and Cronin will carry limited pro experience with the United Shore Professional Baseball League with him.
McQuary, from Maben, Miss., joins the Otters in 2020 as his first professional stop in baseball. McQuary played collegiately at Mississippi State alongside Otter Elijah MacNamee.
“Every report I received through different people have all been really good and dynamic about Denver’s abilities,” Otters pitching coach Max Peterson said.
“I’m excited to just be able to play the game, being able to wake up every day and know my agenda all day is baseball,” McQuary said. “I couldn’t be more excited about it.”
In his career with the Bulldogs, McQuary had a 5.34 ERA in 94.1 innings pitched and 40 appearances, while striking out 71 batters.
“We could see him vying for a back end of the starting rotation spot or being a big piece in our bullpen,” Peterson said.
“I’m aggressive on the mound, and I show my emotions and passion for the game without getting overwhelmed, of course,” McQuary said.
“When you get in that box and I’m on the mound, you’re not beating me and can’t hit my best stuff. That’s the mindset I have pitching.”
McQuary is a talented athlete, holding the Mississippi high school record for interceptions (33) for all classifications in football.
Cronin, a Framingham, Mass. native, joins the Otters for the 2020 season. Cronin spent 2019 with the Westside Woolly Mammoths of the United Shore Professional Baseball League, earning the league’s Pitcher of the Year honor. In 2019, Cronin recorded a 2.47 ERA with a 7-0 record in 12 starts. He also struck out 66 batters in 73 innings pitched.
“Matt came onto our radar from the same person who told us about Randy Wynne, and we know that worked out really well,” Peterson said.
“I’m really excited to get back out on the field and compete again,” Cronin said.
“Playing for the Otters will be a new experience coming from the USPBL, and I’m looking forward to doing whatever I can to help the club be successful this year, hopefully bringing home a championship to Evansville.”
Cronin played his college baseball at Massachusetts-Dartmouth, sporting a 1.83 ERA with 12 wins, 12 saves, and two complete games in his college career. He started 21 games, made 62 total appearances, and pitched in 176.2 innings in four seasons. Cronin also struck out 182 in his collegiate career, posting 9.27 strikeouts per nine innings pitched.
“The reports on Matt have been good, and he put up good numbers in the USPBL, so hopefully he can come in and make an impact in the starting rotation,” Peterson said.
“When on the mound, I just try to control the pace of the game and get ahead early in the count,” Cronin said.
“I’ve heard so many great things about the team and organization over the last few months. I’m thankful and excited for the opportunity to be an Evansville Otter.”
Evansville will host Opening Night from Bosse Field against the Gateway Grizzlies May 15 at 6:35 p.m. Preseason exhibitions will begin May 2 for the Otters. The annual Education Day games will be May 6 and May 13 at 10 a.m.
You won’t want to miss what’s new in 2020 at Bosse Field with the Evansville Otters, featuring some new Frontier League competition as part of the largest, independent professional league in North America!
The Evansville Otters are the 2006 and 2016 Frontier League champions.
The Otters play all home games at historic Bosse Field, located at 23 Don Mattingly Way in Evansville, Ind. Stay up-to-date with the Evansville Otters by visiting evansvilleotters.com, or follow the Otters on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
For more information, visit evansvilleotters.com or call (812) 435-8686.