January 11, 2018 - American Association (AA) - Gary SouthShore Railcats
GARY, Ind. - Starting pitcher Alex Gunn, first baseman Alex Crosby and reigning American Association Rookie of the Year Colin Willis highlight seven returning Gary SouthShore RailCats for the 2018 campaign. Also returning from last season are catcher Wilfredo Gimenez, all-star shortstop Ryan Fitzgerald, third baseman Randy Santiesteban, relief pitcher Sam Myers and starter Jeff McKenzie.
The RailCats also acquired five players via trades during the offseason, including infielder/outfielder Mitch Glasser, outfielder Jimmy Heck, infielder Luis Diaz and left-handed pitchers Jack Fowler and Onas Farfan. New signings for the 2018 season feature catcher Jeff Sneed, outfielder John Price Jr., and right-handed pitcher Chandler Jagodzinski.
Gunn went 8-5 with a 3.48 ERA in an American Association record 25 starts last season for Gary. The southpaw logged a team-best 152.2 innings, the fourth most in American Association single-season history, and was third in the league with three complete games. Gunn also led the RailCats with 100 strikeouts and 14 quality starts in his third season as a member of the franchise.
Crosby, the longest tenured RailCat on the roster, was second on the team in 2017 with a .291 average and .723 OPS. The first baseman also finished with 12 extra-base hits, 24 RBIs and six stolen bases in 70 games.
Willis, the second League Rookie of the Year in franchise history, led all rookies last year with a .319 batting average (seventh in the league) and led Gary with eight home runs, 54 runs, 145 total bases, a .407 on-base percentage, a .482 slugging percentage and .889 OPS.
"The return of key players like Crosby, Gunn, and Willis ensures that we can keep our exciting core together while taking the next step towards an American Association championship." said RailCats GM Brian Lyter
Gimenez hit .226 with two home runs and 25 RBIs in his first season of Independent Professional Baseball while Santiesteban batted .257 with two home runs, 16 doubles, 25 RBIs and four stolen bases in 67 games. Fitzgerald hit .239 with seven home runs, a team-high six triples, 25 extra-base hits, 20 RBIs and eight stolen bases in his first season of professional baseball. Myers went 2-0 with a 1.65 ERA, one save and one hold in 11 appearances after signing his first professional baseball contract with Gary on August 7. McKenzie went 4-4 with a 3.72 ERA in 14 games (11 starts) in his first season with the RailCats.
The RailCats acquired Farfan and Glasser on October 24 to partially complete a trade that sent right-handed pitcher Charle Rosario to the Winnipeg Goldeyes on August 10 for right-handed pitcher Daniel Minor, four players to be named later and cash considerations. Glasser and Farfan, who spent the entire 2017 season with the Cleburne Railroaders, were sent to Winnipeg to complete a previous trade between the two teams, and were then sent to Gary from Winnipeg.
Glasser hit .282 with three home runs, 33 RBIs, 18 stolen bases and scored a team-best 70 runs in 90 games. Glasser was also hit by a pitch a team-high 14 times and was second on the Railroaders with a .380 on-base percentage, 41 walks and 98 hits. Farfan went 3-4 with a 5.83 ERA in 26 games (one start) last year. In 41.2 innings, Farfan allowed 27 earned runs on 47 hits and 25 walks while striking out 28.
Diaz was acquired by Winnipeg from the Joliet Slammers of the Frontier League on December 15, and then traded to Gary to complete the trade that sent Rosario to the Goldeyes. Diaz hit .235 for Joliet with 12 extra-base hits, 15 RBIs and two stolen bases in his first season of professional baseball. The rookie infielder also scored 19 runs, drew 13 walks and finished with a .318 on-base percentage.
Fowler and Heck were acquired from the Florence Freedom of the Frontier League on December 20 to complete an earlier trade between the two teams. Before pitching for the Freedom in 2017, Fowler went 0-1 with a 4.76 ERA in five relief appearances for Gary. In 28.1 innings last season for Gary, the southpaw struck out 24 batters and walked just eight. Fowler finished with one save and a 1.42 ERA in 13 games for Florence last season. Heck batted .258 with a home run, 24 RBIs, 36 runs and 10 stolen bases in 89 games for the Salina Stockade last season.
Sneed signed with Gary in the offseason after hitting .200 with a run scored in three games last season for the RailCats while Price Jr. has yet to make his professional baseball debut. Jagodzinski was signed by Gary on December 20 after going 3-5 with a 4.47 ERA in 2017 for the Lake Erie Crushers of the Frontier League. The right-hander finished fifth in the Frontier League with 18 saves in 34 relief outings and struck out 31 hitters in 34.1 innings.
The Gary SouthShore RailCats open the 2018 season at U.S. Steel Yard on Friday, May 18th vs. the St. Paul Saints. Ticket packages for the 2018 Gary SouthShore RailCats season are available online at railcatsbaseball.com and can also be purchased by calling the RailCats ticket line at (219) 882-BALL. The RailCats box office is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.