Otters sign four players to 2020 contracts

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.

FLORENCE’S PROFESSIONAL TEAM REBRANDS AS THE Y’ALLS

FLORENCE, KY – Florence’s professional baseball team will start the 2020 baseball season with a new name – the Florence Freedom are now the Florence Y’Alls!

After two rounds of fan voting, the name Y’Alls blew away the competition in both a blind entry submission, and in a final 5 competition to become the new identity of Northern Kentucky’s team.

“It’s a very exciting time in our organizations’ history,” Y’Alls Vice President and General Manager Josh Anderson said. “We have a name that is uniquely Florence, and on a larger scale uniquely Kentucky. We look forward to creating ‘Y’Alls Culture’ on a nightly basis.”

Fans can expect unapologetic southern fun as the Y’Alls embrace the mantra of being the first professional sports franchise going south, and the last sports team when going north.

“Welcome to Y’Alls Country!” Y’Alls President and CEO David DelBello enthusiastically exclaimed. “It’s great to have our own version of a ‘Hollywood’ sign in the iconic Florence Y’all watertower. But the name Y’Alls is so much deeper rooted than that. It embodies Northern Kentucky, and every night we are going to show off the best of Northern Kentucky, and the state of Kentucky.”

As the organization worked through the name opportunities presented to it by the fans, they realized just how important and unique our Northern Kentucky culture and values are. They

came to the conclusion that the best choice was to bring in a local firm that truly understands Florence and Northern KY. In November, the organization partnered with the creative geniuses at Covington based BLDG.

“We are a group that lives and breathes Northern Kentucky every day,” BLDG president and owner Jay Becker said. “Our firm of 23 individuals are largely all from here. So when we heard Northern Kentucky’s team was rebranding, the project become a source of deep pride for us.”

The team name was selected after more than 2,200 name suggestions were submitted by fans. About 40% of the blind submission round were “Y’Alls” or included “Y’All” in the name. The roughly 40% blew away all other categories of blind submissions. Y’Alls then crushed the competition in the final five with more than 70 percent of the vote.

“The brand, logo and culture the Y’Alls create will pay homage to baseball during a more simple time,” Anderson continued. “Kick back, relax and get ready for 9 innings of good ol’ affordable family fun.”

New merchandise with the Y’Alls brand is on sale now at FlorenceYAlls.com.

The Florence Y’Alls will take the field on May 14 for its inaugural season with its new identity when the team hosts the New Jersey Jackals on opening day. Season ticket plans are on sale now. Individual tickets go on sale April 1. Fans can keep up to date on all things Florence Y’Alls at FlorenceYalls.com.

Crushers Manager Roth to Join Detroit Tigers Organization

Avon, OH, Lake Erie Crushers Manager Cameron Roth is leaving the organization to assume a managerial position in the Detroit Tigers Minor League system. Roth, who was the 2019 Frontier League Manager of the Year, will join the Tigers organization immediately and the Crushers, who are presented by Mercy Health, have started a search for a
new Manager.

“Cam Roth has done an outstanding job since joining the Crushers back in 2016”, stated Crushers Co-Owner Tom Kramig. “This is a great opportunity for Cam and we want to thank him, and wish him the very best of success going forward.”

Roth joined the Crushers midway through the 2016 season and has posted a 197 and 187 record during his three and a half seasons at the helm. The Crushers captured the 2019 Frontier League Eastern Division title, which was their first playoff appearance since Roth’s arrival. “I have nothing but fond memories of my time in Lake Erie”, said Roth. “The fans, players and front office have been tremendous, and I see nothing but good things ahead for the Crushers organization.” Roth previously served as a coach in the Schaumburg Boomers organization. He was drafted and pitched in the Baltimore Orioles farm system prior to joining Schaumburg.

The Lake Erie Crushers are located in Avon, Ohio and play in the Frontier League of Independent Professional Baseball, the largest Independent League in North America (www.frontierleague.com). For more information, you can contact the Crushers at 440-934-3636, visit our website at www.lakeeriecrushers.com, or email info@lakeeriecrushers.com

 

Photo Credit: Lake Erie Crushers

Sussex County Miners Make Four-Player Swap With Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks

Augusta, NJ – The 2019 Can-Am League Regular Season Champion Sussex County Miners announce the acquisition of right-handed pitcher and outfielder Michael Hope, left-handed pitcher Aaron Ford and infielder Jake Vieth from the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks (American Association) in exchange for infielder Trey Hair.

“We received a good haul including a couple of pitchers I’ve eyed over the last year or so and a good power bat to the lineup,” Sussex County manager Bobby Jones said. “Hope is a very competitive kid who throws lots of strikes, has a really good breaking ball and someone I see being a setup man. Jake is a sure-handed guy around the bag at first who has power. And Aaron Ford is a talented guy coming out of the Mets system who’s got pretty good numbers and really good stuff. He can get to the mid-90s from the left side and I look forward to seeing what he brings to the table.”

Hope played his first professional season last year with Fargo-Moorhead, where he posted good numbers. Michael went 8-0 in 31 relief appearances for the RedHawks, posting a 3.47 ERA in the process. Curiously, Hope also went 3 for 7 at the plate for Fargo-Moorhead, with 1 HR and 4 RBI. The 23-year-old righty played for four years at Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania before joining the RedHawks, where he put up a 6-4 record with a 3.86 ERA and an impressive 74 strikeouts in 58 1/3 innings, for an eye-catching 11.4 strikeouts per 9 innings (K/9) ratio. Prior to his senior season at the Ship, the Camp Hill, PA native had played in the summer of 2018 for the Fond du Lac Dock Spiders in the collegiate wood-bat Northwoods League, where he had a 4-1 record and a 2.45 ERA in 19 appearances, with an equally impressive 9.5 K/9 ratio. Hope posted a K/9 ratio of 9 or above through his collegiate career.

Ford comes to Sussex County from the New York Mets organization, where he went 2-2 with a 2.02 ERA for the Columbia Fireflies of the South Atlantic League (Single-A) in 2018. Originally from Houston, TX, the 25-year old left-handed reliever made 19 appearances for the Fireflies in 2018, and in the 26 2/3 innings he pitched, Aaron struck out 32 batters while walking just 2, and posted a 1.088 WHIP. In his career, Ford has not had a K/9 ratio that dipped into single digits, averaging 12.3 strikeouts per 9 innings as a professional. The Mets drafted Ford in the 21st round of the 2017 First Year Player Draft out of Tennessee Wesleyan University.

Vieth comes to Sussex County from Fargo-Moorhead by way of Lake Erie last season. The 24-year old first baseman had a slash line of .254/.365/.486 in 87 games with the Crushers last season, pounding out 18 HRs and knocking in 57 RBIs. Along with tying for first in homers, Vieth also ranked second in the Frontier League in hit by pitches (19). A product of Stadium HS in Tacoma, WA, Jake played his final two years of collegiate ball at Gonzaga University, where he was 3rd on the team in batting with a .302 average, led the squad with 10 HRs, as well as slugging percentage at .505 and on-base percentage at .429 in his senior season of 2018.

“Trey was a blessing. We wouldn’t have gotten to where we did last year without him. He’s a dirty uniform, play hard kind of guy,” Jones said. “He gave good at-bats and showed up every day. It’s tough to lose a guy like that and he’s a big part of what we did [last year].”

Hair was one of Sussex County’s most electric players in 2019. Batting .324 with eight homers and 62 RBIs, the 24-year old Hickman, Nebraska native ranked in the Can-Am League’s Top 5 in 10 different offensive categories including games played (T-2nd, 94), batting average (3rd), extra-base hits (3rd, 39), doubles (3rd, 27), triples (T-3rd, 4), walks (4th, 60), on-base percentage (4th, .427) and stolen bases (5th, 27). Plus he posted the league’s highest number of walks in a game (4) against the Rockland Boulders on August 18th and highest number of sacrifice flies (2) against the Shikoku Island League on June 16th. Hair also was named Can-Am League Batter of the Week (May 16-27) and Batter of the Month for May. The left-handed-hitting infielder was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays out of the University of Evansville in the 34th round of the 2017 MLB June Amateur Draft. Spending two years in the Rays organization, Hair posted a .295/380/497 slash line with 14 home runs, 74 RBIs, 37 doubles, six triples, 78 runs scored, and 11 stolen bases.

About the Sussex County Miners

The 2019 Can-Am League Regular Season Champion Sussex County Miners are New Jersey’s newest professional baseball team. The Miners play a 96-game season in the newly formed Frontier League from May through September. Their home games are played at Skylands Stadium, one of the premier sports and entertainment venues in North Jersey. Conveniently located in the heart of Sussex County, the Skylands Stadium Sports Complex includes a 4,200-seat stadium, the all-new 17,000-square foot indoor climate-controlled Champions Way Sports Academy, a 3-acre play and party area, an 80-seat full-service restaurant – the only of its kind in all minor league baseball — and a spacious parking lot. Along with baseball, Skylands Stadium hosts numerous events including food truck festivals, beer festivals, comedy nights, concerts, stunt spectaculars, boat shows, light shows, and holiday extravaganzas, as well as private and corporate functions. For more information or tickets, please click here or call 973.383.7644.

CRAIG MASSEY RETURNS TO MINERS IN 2020

Marion, IL (January 21, 2020) – The Southern Illinois Miners announce that three-time Frontier League all-star utility player Craig Massey has returned to the club as a player-coach, adding to a strong core of hitters for the 2020 season.

Massey will be entering his third full season with Southern Illinois and his fourth overall after spending the last two years with the Somerset Patriots in the Atlantic League. This past season, the 30-year old batted .242 in 99 games with 18 doubles, three homers, 36 RBIs, 83 hits, and 28 stolen bases in 33 attempts. He was also named the second baseman on the league’s annual Red, White, and Blue All-Defensive Team, putting up a fielding percentage of .977 at the position.

In 2018, his first season with Somerset, the Bells, Tennessee native won the Atlantic League batting title, hitting .338 in 87 games with 16 doubles, three homers, 40 RBIs, 111 hits, 56 runs scored, and 24 stolen bases in 32 attempts. He also paced the league with a .418 on-base percentage, the only qualified hitter with a mark of .400 or greater in that category.

Previously, Massey was a mid-season all-star for three straight years with Southern Illinois (2016-17) and Schaumburg (2015) in the Frontier League, as well as the postseason all-star designated hitter in 2016 with the Miners. For his time with Southern Illinois after he was acquired in a trade from the Boomers in 2015, Massey has hit .290 in 197 games with 30 doubles, 12 triples, 10 home runs, 95 RBIs, 214 hits, 124 runs scored, and 38 stolen bases in 47 attempts. Ever patient at the plate, he has also drawn 105 walks against just 93 strikeouts for a .382 on-base percentage.

“I could not be more excited about coming back to the Miners,” Massey said. “Playing in Southern Illinois was like playing at home for me- I have so many great memories there, and I feel blessed to be able to make several more. All the signs were showing me that it was time to come back home.”

For his career, the veteran has posted a .309 batting average and a .387 on-base percentage in 554 games, with 642 hits, 348 runs scored, 104 doubles, 20 triples, 28 home runs, 302 RBIs and 124 stolen bases. Defensively, he has also played every single position on the diamond at some point in his professional career, which began in 2014 in the Pecos League when he won the batting title by hitting an astounding .465 in 60 games with the Santa Fe Fuego. He also played in two games that year with Trois-Rivières, which is now a member of the Frontier League.

“I am so happy to have Craig coming back to the Miners,” Miners manager Mike Pinto said. “He has had a couple of tremendous years since he was last with us, with a batting championship and the equivalent of a Gold Glove award. Craig’s defensive ability to handle so many positions makes him so valuable on a day-to-day basis when it comes to winning games. His experience as a Miner and as a successful player in multiple leagues will add a new dimension to the coaching staff as well.”

The Southern Illinois Miners are the Frontier League’s most-successful franchise since debuting in 2007, winning the 2012 Frontier League Championship as well as division titles in 2010, 2014, 2015 and 2016. They have been awarded the Frontier League Organization of the Year award three times since their inception, and also set a new Frontier League attendance record in their inaugural season. For ticket information, contact the box office at (618) 998-8499. For additional information, visit our website at www.southernillinoisminers.com.

 

NEW JERSEY JACKALS SIGN RIGHT-HANDED PITCHERS BRENDAN BUTLER AND REECE KARALUS TO CONTRACT EXTENSIONS

Little Falls, NJ – The 2019 Can-Am League Champion New Jersey Jackals announce signing right-handed pitchers Brendan Butler and Reece Karalus to contract extensions. Both pitchers were key contributors to the Jackals’ starting rotation and bullpen, respectively.

“The signing of Brendan and Reece were a definite priority. They are both a huge piece of the puzzle we are trying to put together. There is no way we could have won the Can-Am League Championship last year without them,” Jackals manager Brooks Carey said. “Brendan’s strong finish down the stretch was crucial and his two Game 1 starts in the playoffs set the tone for the rest of the series. Reece was obviously one of our go-to guys in the bullpen and his Game 5 performance in the Can-Am League Semi-Finals [against the Trois Rivieres Aigles] was as good as you’ll ever see.”

Butler epitomized reliability and durability for the Jackals’ starting rotation. Ranking second on the team with 101.1 innings pitched, he logged a 6-3 record and a 3.55 ERA while posting 41 walks and 93 strikeouts. Not only did the Jackals go 9-7 in his starts, but he also pitched six or more innings 12-times and seven or more innings six times. Plus the 26-year old Queens, New York native tied for second in the league for the longest winning streak (August 2-20: 3-0, 0.93 ERA, 29IP, 10 BB, 27 SO). This sizzling stretch helped him garner Can-Am League Pitcher of the Month honors for August. Overall, he went 3-1 with a 1.52 ERA including hurling two seven-inning shutouts (T-2nd in the circuit). Butler was the club’s top starting pitcher during the playoffs as he went 1-0 with a 0.63 ERA including a masterful 3-0 outing against the Trois Rivieres Aigles where he tossed seven scoreless innings and posted seven strikeouts. The seven-year veteran was drafted by the Oakland A’s out of Dowling College (Long Island, NY) in the 30th round of the 2015 First-Year Player Draft. Butler spent three seasons in the A’s system and went 12-18 with a 4.25 ERA and 268 strikeouts in 292.1 innings.

Karalus was the Jackals’ busiest reliever. Leading the club with 35 appearances, he posted a 6-4 record with four saves and a 3.25 ERA while logging 22 walks and 56 strikeouts over 55.1 innings. Karalus was also one of the team’s steadiest relief pitchers. In June, he only allowed one earned run (four overall) and nine hits over 11 appearances while going 1-0 with one save and a 0.56 ERA over 16 innings while posting eight walks and 14 strikeouts. The 25-year old North Bend, Washington native finished the regular season on fire by authoring a 10 scoreless inning streak over six appearances. During this scorching stretch (August 12-31), he went 2-0 with one save and tallied eight strikeouts while only yielding two walks. Little did anyone know, this streak signaled his being locked in for the Can-Am League Playoffs. Over six outings, Karalus went 3-0 and only allowed three runs over 13.1 innings while posting six walks and 21 strikeouts. His best performance came in Game 5 of the Can-Am League Semi-Finals when he hurled four scoreless innings against the Trois Rivieres Aigles and struck out nine while not allowing a walk or a hit. Karalus was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in the eighth round of the 2015 First Year Player Draft out of Santa Clara University where he was named Second Team All-West Coast Conference. Spending three seasons in the Rays organization, Karalus made it as high as Double-A Montgomery (Southern League) in 2018. Overall, he amassed a career record of 12-8 with a 3.70 ERA and nine saves over 93 appearances with 173 strikeouts and 65 walks in 189.2 innings pitched.

About The New Jersey Jackals

2019 Can-Am League New Jersey Jackals professional baseball team plays at Yogi Berra Stadium in Little Falls, NJ on Montclair State University’s campus. The Jackals play a 96-game schedule in the newly formed Frontier League from May through September. Yogi Berra Stadium is centrally located near the intersection of Route 3 and Route 46 and is easily accessible by car or via local commuter trains, which offer stops on the university’s campus. The Jackals have a wealth of fan-friendly amenities to enhance everybody’s experience when visiting “The House That Yogi Built”. Everyone can enjoy watching exciting highlights and engaging videos on Yogi Berra Stadium’s first-ever HD video scoreboard. Fans can kick back enjoy tasty food and drinks in the Fork in the Road craft beer pub and children can enjoy the fun-filled kid zone. Open since 1998, Yogi Berra Stadium’s seating capacity exceeds 5,000, including fixed seats, lawn seating, an open-air picnic area for birthday parties and special events, and, a general admission lawn seating section. For group and season tickets, call 973-746-7434 or email contact@jackals.com.

 

Photo Credit: Phil Hoops

2nd edition of the Grand Slam Classic!

The only snowball tournament in Quebec taking place in a professional baseball stadium … IT IS WITH US that it happens. (And it might be funny)

It is with great pleasure that the Trois-Rivières Aigles invites you to the second edition of the Grand Slam Winter Classic on February 22 at the Quillorama Stadium. The friendly tournament, a presentation by Nathalie St-Jean, real estate broker, will bring together fifteen teams this year. This big day of festivities is a great opportunity to get together with friends, family or work colleagues and play baseball for fun … and in the snow! Form your team, bring your family and come and have fun at the stadium!

Restaurant Le Grec and Y Pizza on site. Bar | consumption at low prices. Music, outdoor lights, Slide and games for children (free) The registration fee for a team of 10 is $ 300 and it must include a minimum of three women / girls or children 14 and under and / or an elder. Rules adapted for the Classic will be sent to you when you register. It is a day of pure pleasure to which young and old are invited. The development of a nearby slide and the presence of Grand Slam itself give a family side to this friendly meeting of lovers of the ball.

For more information or to participate in the activity, contact David Guilbert at dguilbert@leprixdugros.com or 819 244-2981 or go to the event page: http://bit.ly/37c61kF

Frontier League HR Leader Re-Signs

WASHINGTON, Pa. – The Wild Things continue with their roster construction with the announcement of re-signing 2019 Frontier League All-Star outfielder Hector Roa.

In his first season being selected as both a Mid and Post Season All-Star, Roa showed the consistency of being one of the most feared hitters in the league. His 70 RBI, 21 doubles, 18 HR and 8 stolen bases were career highs for the eight year pro. His longball totals tied for the league lead and his power was on display as the Frontier League’s HR Derby representative in the 2019 Finals. Roa is the first Wild Thing in franchise history to total 60+ RBI in three consecutive seasons and he is just 56 RBI away from breaking the franchise record for runs driven in for a career.

“Roa has grown to become one of the most dynamic players in our league. He has learned so much over the years from the players around him and I believe that has truly helped elevate his game,” said General Manager Tony Buccilli. “Beyond hitting homeruns and flashing his defensive skills in right field, he genuinely enjoys putting smiles on our fan’s faces and building those relationships with them personally. He has grown to call Washington home and has embraced becoming a leader and a face synonymous with the Wild Things. Bringing back Roa was a priority and we are happy to get a deal done,” Buccilli stated.

The Wild Things open the year on the road Friday, May 15 to take on the New York Boulders, with the home opener slated for Tuesday, May 19 vs the Quebec Capitales at Wild Things Park.

Gateway Announces Steve Brook as Pitching Coach

SAUGET, Ill – The Gateway Grizzlies have hired former River City Rascals manager Steve Brook as their next pitching coach.  Brook has spent the last ten seasons as the manager of the River City Rascals in the Frontier League.

During his tenure, Brook lead River City to a record of 542-415 (.566).  The Rascals brought home the Frontier League title twice over the course of Brook’s regime (2010, 2019).  Under Brook, the Rascals finished with a record under .500 only once.  River City appeared in the Frontier League championship six times during that span.

“Steve Brook and I have competed against each other for many years as both players and managers in the Frontier League. We are two of the most tenured people in the Frontier League and have been a part of the growth of the Frontier League almost since its inception. Ironically, this growth has now allowed us to work together towards the same goal, a Frontier League Championship. He’s very accomplished and I look forward to working alongside him this season. His experience as a manager, pitching coach, and Frontier League recruiter will help our club immensely.”

Before his managerial career Brook spent four seasons as a starting pitcher in the Frontier League with River City (2004-2007).  He racked up an impressive 33 wins during his tenure and posted a career 4.14 ERA.  Brook was named an all-star in 2005 and 2006.

Brook had this to say, “I am beyond excited to begin this new chapter of my career with the Gateway Grizzlies. I’m so thankful for the opportunity to work alongside Phil Warren and the entire Gateway family. The St. Louis community has become my home, and I look forward to helping the Grizzlies reach a new pinnacle of success both on and off the field.”

Brook will make his Grizzlies debut on May 14th when the Grizzlies host the Evansville Otters for their season opener.

Otters record-holder Schultz coming back to Evansville

EVANSVILLE, Ind. – The Evansville Otters announced that franchise record-holder and three-time All-Star John Schultz has signed to come out of retirement and play for Evansville in 2020.

Schultz, an outfielder and West Lawn, Pa. native, is one of the Otters’ most productive players in franchise history, originally coming to Evansville in 2013.

Schultz holds career franchise records in games played (420), RBIs (207), at-bats (1,560), hits (458), runs (280), doubles (90), total bases (710), and walks (219).

“We’re excited to have John come back to Evansville and help us get back to that championship level like when he was here in 2016,” Otters manager Andy McCauley said.

“He loves the game and wanted to get back out there. John plays the right way, he’s a very good hitter, and brings a lot of leadership and experience with him.”

“I’m really excited to come back, and to get that phone call and have the opportunity not just to play but to come back to Evansville, where it all really began for me, was really special,” Schultz said.

In five seasons with the Otters, Schultz had batted .294 with 458 hits and 207 RBIs. He also had 90 doubles, 18 triples and 42 home runs through the 2017 season.

Schultz was a Frontier League All-Star in 2013, 2015, and 2017, and has also been instrumental in leading the Otters to the playoffs in three of his last four seasons with Evansville—including a Frontier League title in 2016.

“Winning the championship in 2016 was an amazing feeling, a feeling I had never experienced before in professional baseball,” Schultz said.

“In 2017, we had a good team that we thought could make a run but had an early exit to the eventual champion Schaumburg Boomers, but having that feeling of winning a championship is something I’m really looking to get again.”

At the end of the 2017 season, the Otters retired Schultz’ number four jersey, the second number to be retired in franchise history next to the late Otters manager Greg Jelks’ number 44 jersey.

Schultz could not return to the Otters in 2018, as the Frontier League eliminated the veteran status for its roster eligibility rules that year. After league expansion and some rule changes this past fall, the Frontier League brought back a tweaked version of the veteran status, allowing Schultz to sign another player contract with the Otters for 2020.

“When the rule changes became official, I got together with our coaching staff and we talked about how that would affect us and looked at our options,” McCauley said. “Of course, we all thought of John Schultz as a possibility.”

During a phone call with Schultz, McCauley said there was a mutual interest between him and Schultz in making this reunion happen in 2020.

“After 2018, I kind of thought I would be done, but I always missed playing deep down and never really got rid of that itch to play,” Schultz said. “The phone call confirmed it for me that I still have time left in this game and really some unfinished business.”

Schultz will also return as a high-level leader in the clubhouse next to pitcher Tyler Vail, serving as a voice among the position players just like Vail among the pitchers.

“John has a good feel of what’s going on in the clubhouse, and because he’s been around our staff for so long, he knows what we’re thinking ahead of time,” McCauley said. “He’s bought in to what we’re trying to build and do in Evansville.”

It’s been a year removed since Schultz last played, as he appeared in 13 games with the Sussex County Miners at the beginning of the 2018 season.

Even though the amount of time since he last played presents its challenges, Schultz has still been around the game of baseball by working in training academies, coaching, giving lessons, and doing some hitting.

“I’ve committed myself full-time to training, and I’m working harder than I’ve ever worked,” Schultz said. “I’ll be ready to do whatever the team needs me to come May.”

McCauley said he envisions Schultz being in the Otters’ lineup one way or another, splitting time between left field, first base and as the designated hitter.

After playing collegiately at the University of Pittsburgh, Schultz was drafted in the 34th round of the 2011 MLB Amateur Draft by the Florida Marlins. He spent the 2011 and 2012 seasons with the Marlins.

Schultz attributes his loyalty with the Otters to the fact McCauley gave him the only phone call and offer to play in 2013 following his release by the Marlins after 2012.

“The game had soured on me at that time in affiliated baseball, but Evansville helped me find that love for the game again,” Schultz said.

“I owe everything to Evansville, as Andy and owner Mr. Bill Bussing took me in and gave me a chance when no one else would. They’ve been so loyal to me through it all.”

Schultz also said the decision to come back to Evansville was easy for him and no way he could pass up the opportunity.

“This opportunity is especially exciting with the league’s expansion,” Schultz said. “There are some really cool places we’ll travel to, there are really good teams and coaches, and the future is very bright for the Frontier League with the continued growth.”

Overall in his professional career, Schultz has recorded a .292 batting average, while posting 365 runs, 594 hits, 110 doubles, 23 triples, 48 home runs, and 263 RBIs.

“John loves Evansville, Bosse Field, and the Bussing Family,” McCauley said. “He’s an Otter all the way through, having proved that on the field. He’s all in to help us get back to winning the Frontier League championship.”

“Last year, the Otters had a really good team, coming up just short of their goals,” Schultz said. “With the possibility of a good number of those guys coming back, it’s a good opportunity for me to come back and join a team with all the pieces that are there and help the team get another championship ring for Evansville.”

Spring Training and the exhibition season will begin in early May for the Otters. Evansville will open the regular season May 14 at the Gateway Grizzlies before their home-opening weekend series at Bosse Field against the Grizzlies May 15-17.

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.

TAMPA BAY RAYS ORGANIZATION PURCHASES CONTRACT OF NEW JERSEY JACKALS ALL-STAR INFIELDER CONRAD GREGOR

Little Falls, NJ – The 2019 Can-Am League Champion New Jersey Jackals announce that the Tampa Bay Rays have purchased the contract of infielder Conrad Gregor. While playing in the Can-Am League, the New Jersey Jackals have sold 37 player contracts – including Gregor — to Major League Baseball organizations. Right-handed pitcher Robert Stock was the last Jackal to be signed by an MLB organization when his contract was purchased by the Cincinnati Reds on February 19, 2017.

“We couldn’t be any happier for Conrad than we are right now. He’s a perfect example of what hard work, perseverance and focus can accomplish,” Jackals manager Brooks Carey said. “On behalf of the Jackals organization, the fans and myself, we thank you Conrad for all you have done for us both on and off the field.”

A 27-year old left-handed hitter, Gregor was a lightning rod for the Jackals offense as evidenced by his .322/.460/.515 slash line along with amassing 12 homers and 67 RBIs. Plus the Carmel, Indiana native broke the Jackals’ single-season stolen base record – previously held by Chris Curran (45, 2013) — by swiping 49 bags which ranked second in the Can-Am League. Along with his record-setting thievery, he finished in the circuit’s Top 5 in 12 additional offensive categories including runs scored (85, 1st), walks (82, 1st), triples (5, 2nd), RBIs (67, 3rd), on-base percentage (.460, 3rd), hits (105, 4th), total bases (168, 4th), batting average (.322, T-4th), slugging percentage (.515, T-5th) and more. Gregor also logged a 15- game-hitting streak (.411 AVG, 2 HR, 8 RBI) that tied for second in the league. A member of the Can-Am League All-Star Team, the most memorable highlight of Gregor’s season was his thunderous three-run homer in Game 4 of the Can-Am League Championship Series. The homer capped a five-run fourth inning that helped propel the Jackals to an eventual title clinching 8-7 victory over the 2018 defending champion Sussex County Miners.

Gregor was drafted by the Houston Astros in the fourth round of the 2013 MLB Amateur Draft out of Vanderbilt University where he enjoyed a highly-decorated collegiate career including his making the SEC Academic Honor Roll (2012 and 2013) as well as being named Second Team All-SEC (2011) and 2013 Louisville Slugger Preseason All-American Team. Spending four years in the Astros system, his best season was in 2014 when he was named by MILB.com’s Organization All-Star. While splitting time between the Single-A Quad City River Bandits (Midwest League), Lancaster Jethawks (California League) and the Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks (Texas League) he hit .304 with 16 homers, 86 RBI and sported a .404 on-base percentage and a .509 slugging percentage. His most memorable moment of the season came while he was playing with the River Bandits. On May 24, Gregor blasted a three-run homer off of against Cedar Rapids Kernels (Midwest League, Minnesota Twins) starting pitcher Ethan Mildren and his dad, Marty, caught it in the right-center field stands. His first homer of the season powered the River Bandits to a 4-2 lead and not only did they win the game 5-2, remarkably, this Field of Dreams moment happened in Iowa.

Following his release from the Houston Astros organization in 2017, Gregor signed with the New Jersey Jackals and had a stellar year. Over 69 games played, he batted .303 while belting 12 home runs and logging 74 RBI which ranked fourth in the Can-Am League. The Boston Red Sox signed him to a minor league contract on August 3, 2017 and assigned him to the Single-A Salem Red Sox (Carolina League) where he finished the season hitting .302 with 4 home runs and 19 runs batted in. After electing free agency at the end of the season, he returned to the Sox on a minor league deal and began the 2018 season with the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs.

After being released by the Red Sox on May 13, 2018, he returned to the Can-Am League and signed with the Rockland Boulders where he authored a solid season with a .300 batting average, 10 homers and 53 RBI. He finished the year with the Lancaster Barnstormers where over five games he hit .421 with two home runs and four RBI.

About The New Jersey Jackals: 2019 Can-Am League New Jersey Jackals professional baseball team plays at Yogi Berra Stadium in Little Falls, NJ on Montclair State University’s campus. The Jackals play a 96-game schedule in the newly formed Frontier League from May through September. Yogi Berra Stadium is centrally located near the intersection of Route 3 and Route 46 and is easily accessible by car or via local commuter trains, which offer stops on the university’s campus. The Jackals have a wealth of fan-friendly amenities to enhance everybody’s experience when visiting “The House That Yogi Built”. Everyone can enjoy watching exciting highlights and engaging videos on Yogi Berra Stadium’s first-ever HD video scoreboard. Fans can kick back enjoy tasty food and drinks in the Fork in the Road craft beer pub and children can enjoy the fun- filled kid zone. Open since 1998, Yogi Berra Stadium’s seating capacity exceeds 5,000, including fixed seats, lawn seating, an open-air picnic area for birthday parties and special events, and, a general admission lawn seating section. For group and season tickets, call 973-746-7434 or email contact@jackals.com.

WILD THINGS ADD FORMER DOUBLE-A ALL STAR

WASHINGTON, Pa. -The Wild Things continue with their roster building as they today sign experienced INF Randy Cesar.

The Santo Domingo native signed with the Houston Astros back in 2012 as a 17 year old. Cesar has annually showcased an impactful bat, posting a career .269 batting average but 2018 was his breakout season. While playing for the Corpus Christ Hooks in the Texas League Cesar went on to make history and broke a 49 year record, hitting in 42 consecutive games. His hitting streak ranks as one of the longest in Minor League Baseball’s 120+ year history and he is the most recent player to hit in 40+ straight games professionally.

After a historic 2018 campaign, Cesar went on to sign with the Minnesota Twins where he appeared in 45 games with the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings. Despite some nagging injuries he went on to hit .262 and drove in 31 runs.

“Randy is a corner defender who has shown great development as a hitter. We greatly value his consistent run production and the level of competition he has faced,” said General Manager Tony Buccilli. “We expect Randy to provide that daily threat in the middle of our lineup. He is eager to approach this opportunity and be an dynamic player in Washington,” Buccilli stated.

The Wild Things take to the field as they open the season Friday, May 15 vs. the New York Boulders, with the home opener slated for Tuesday, May 19 to take on the Quebec Capitales at Wild Things Park.

Sabol’s Return Bolsters Washington’s Bullpen

WASHINGTON, Pa. (Jan. 10)-
The Wild Things continue with their roster construction with the announcement of re-signing left handed reliever BJ Sabol.
After a shortened season in 2018, Sabol returned to Washington for his first full pro campaign and he certainly did not disappoint. He appeared in 44 games for the Wild Things, which tied for the team lead alongside RHP Zach Strecker. In his 41+ innings pitched he only allowed 36 hits and struck out 56 of those he faced. He ranked among the league’s best in K/9, posting a club leading 12.1 strikeouts per 9 innings and dominating left handed hitters to a clip of .143 BAA. Sabol went on to impressively striking out 35 of the 77 left handed hitters he faced last season.
“Having back one of the best matchup relievers in the league is very exciting for us. BJ approached last year like a true professional and came into camp with a purpose,” said General Manager Tony Buccilli. “Late in ballgames, he is a real weapon. He works very hard to make sure he is available every day for the team and takes great pride in his role. Like BJ, we still see room for his game to grow and I know the collective group in the bullpen will continue to push him to be better,” Buccilli stated.
The Wild Things open the year on the road Friday, May 15 to take on the New York Boulders, with the home opener slated for Tuesday, May 19 vs the Quebec Capitales at Wild Things Park.

FREEDOM HIRE WITHIN; WHITE PROMOTED TO FIELD MANAGER

FLORENCE, KY – The Florence Freedom are proud to announce Pitching and Catching Coach Brian White has been promoted to Field Manager for the Florence Freedom.

White has coached our pitchers and catchers for five seasons and contributed to four winning seasons under previous Field Manager Dennis Pelfrey.

“He’s been with me since I started in Florence and is more than ready to take over the Florence team.” said Pelfrey “We’ve been the best team in the league over the last three seasons and he will continue the winning tradition.”

In his five seasons, White’s pitching expertise has led to ten pitchers being signed by MLB clubs.

White is looking forward to moving up within the organization and continuing what Pelfrey has built in Florence.

“The goal is to always win a championship every year.” said White “However, we’ll take things one day at a time and work to get better each day.”

The Florence Freedom open the season and play their first regular season game with White as field manager on May 14, against the New Jersey Jackals.

Arturo Nieto Comes Back To Miners

The Southern Illinois Miners announce that they have re-signed catcher Arturo Nieto for the upcoming 2020 season.

Returning as a professional player in 2019 after a season in the major leagues as a bullpen catcher with the San Diego Padres, Nieto established himself as a veteran presence behind the plate for the Miners this past year. He finished with a .256 average in 56 games for Southern Illinois, adding nine doubles, three homers and 21 RBIs. He finished the year strong at the plate, batting .400 in his last 12 games (six of which were multi-hit contests) while adding five doubles.

Nieto was also outstanding in the field, as he committed just five errors, and posted a .988 fielding percentage at the catcher position. He has an identical fielding percentage for his career as well over 328 games, while Nieto has nabbed opposing baserunners at a 42% clip.

Like fellow Miner Gianfranco Wawoe, the Maracay, Venezuela native spent seven years in the Seattle Mariners organization from 2011-17, signing with them at the age of 18. He will enter his ninth year of professional baseball this summer with nearly 300 career hits in 377 games.

“Arturo did an outstanding job for us last year,” said Miners manager Mike Pinto. “He was a leader on the field and in the clubhouse with great experience in the game. He will be an impact guy again this year in helping our pitching staff to perform at their best this season. I am very excited to have him back with us.”

The Southern Illinois Miners are the Frontier League’s most-successful franchise since debuting in 2007, winning the 2012 Frontier League Championship as well as division titles in 2010, 2014, 2015 and 2016. They have been awarded the Frontier League Organization of the Year award three times since their inception, and also set a new Frontier League attendance record in their inaugural season. For ticket information, contact the box office at (618) 998-8499. For additional information, visit our website at www.southernillinoisminers.com.

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