December 15, 2017 - American Association (AA) - Sioux City Explorers
SIOUX CITY, IA - The Sioux City Explorers announced that the club has signed RHPs Eric Karch and Justin Vernia to 2018 American Association contracts. The 2018 season will mark Karch's 5th season in professional baseball and Vernia's 2nd season in professional baseball and 2nd as a member of the X's.
Karch was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 22nd round of the 2014 MLB Draft from Pepperdine University. Karch began his professional career in 2014 pitching for the Pirates' Class A-Short Season Jamestown Jammers and spent two seasons in the Pirates organization before being signed by the Los Angeles Angels in 2016. Karch would pitch the 2016 and 2017 seasons in the Angels organization, reaching as high as Double-A last season. The Fresno, CA native appeared in 19 games for the Double-A Mobile BayBears in 2017, posting a 2-2 record with an impressive 2.06 ERA. In his first four professional seasons in affiliated ball, Karch has accumulated 127 strikeouts to just 35 walks.
Prior to being drafted, Karch enjoyed a stellar collegiate career at Pepperdine University. As a senior in 2014, Karch made 30 relief appearances as the Waves' closer, going 4-2 with 16 saves and a 2.12 ERA, while holding opponents to a .185 batting average. The 16 saves on the season rank as the third most in Pepperdine single season program history. For his efforts, Karch was named to the All-WCC First Team and to the All-WCC Tournament Team. Karch also won a 2013 Cape Cod Collegiate Baseball Summer League championship, pitching for the Cotuit Kettleers, posting a 3-0 record in 10 appearances. Vernia signed with the Explorers late last season on August 5th and made his professional debut a day later, tossing 6 innings vs the Wichita Wingnuts, allowing just 5 hits and picking up his first professional win. Vernia would finish the season with the Explorers in 2017 owning a 3-2 record in 6 starts.
Prior to joining the Explorers, Vernia spent his first two collegiate seasons pitching for Tacoma Community College where he went a perfect 22-0, earning NWAC West Division MVP, while also being named First Team All-NWAC both seasons. The Spokane, WA native finished his collegiate career at Gonzaga University, earning WCC All-Academic Honorable Mention accolades as a senior, going 7-3 in 14 starts with a 3.11 ERA. In his 4 collegiate seasons, Vernia owns an impressive 30-5 record, including 9 complete games and 5 shutouts, to go along with his 2.72 career ERA.
The Explorers 2018 home opener will be Friday, May 25th versus the Cleburne Railroaders in a 7:05pm contest.