Busy Day, Saints Sign a Catcher and Two Infielders as Roster Takes Shape
ST. PAUL, MN - The signings will be fast and furious over the next week as Spring Summer Training gets under way on June 25 with the season starting on July 3. St. Paul Saints manager George Tsamis filled part of his roster before things shutdown, grabbed a few more during the dispersal draft, and now is filling in the missing pieces. Three players signed on Friday with catcher Mitch Ghelfi, infielder Connor Justus and utilityman JC Millan.
The 27-year-old switch-hitting Ghelfi spent last year in the New York Mets organization primarily at High-A St. Lucie. He battled injuries throughout the season and hit .240 with one home run and 21 RBI in 57 games. In 183 at bats he scored 24 runs, had three doubles, two triples, a .307 on base percentage and a .295 slugging percentage. Ghelfi also spent a three-game rehab stint in the Gulf Coast League. He threw out 24 of 45 base runners (53.3%).
Ghelfi was a 28th round pick by the Milwaukee Brewers organization in 2015 out of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Between the Arizona League Brewers (13 games) and Rookie level Helena Brewers (20 games), he hit .266 with 12 RBI in 33 games. In 109 at bats he scored 15 runs, had five doubles, one triple, a .350 on base percentage and a .330 slugging percentage. He threw out 13 of 35 base stealers (37.1%). While in Helena, Ghelfi reached base safely in 16 consecutive games from July 31-September 4.
In 2016, Ghelfi had an All-Star caliber season with the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, Single-A in the Midwest League. He hit .326 with five home runs and 32 RBI in 73 games. In 285 at bats he scored 44 runs, smashed 15 doubles, one triple, a .387 on base percentage and a .439 slugging percentage for an .826 OPS. He threw out 12 of 40 base runners (30%). He was selected to the Midwest League All-Star Game in Cedar Rapids. Ghelfi once again proved he could get on, reaching base safely in 22 consecutive games from April 27-May 29. He finished his time with the Timber Rattlers on a tear with a 14-game hitting streak from July 8-24 which included seven straight multi-hit games from July 10-17. Overall, he had nine multi-hit games during the hitting streak, including two, four-hit games. He raised his batting average 40 points during the streak. On July 26 Ghelfi was promoted to High-A Brevard County where he hit .248 with 12 RBI in 30 games.
Ghelfi had an injury plagued 2017 season playing in just 36 games between High-A Carolina (17 games), a two game rehab assignment with the AZL Brewers, and finishing the year playing 17 games at Single-A Wisconsin. Overall, Ghelfi hit .254 with one home run and 14 RBI in 36 games. Between the three stops he threw out 3 of 21 base runners (14.3%).
In 2018, Ghelfi played seven games for Carolina and was then promoted to Double-A Biloxi where he hit .220 with one RBI. The Brewers released him on June 18 and four days later he signed with the Angels organization. Ghelfi spent the rest of the season at Double-A Mobile where he hit .272 with three home runs and 17 RBI in 24 games. His hottest stretch was 10 RBI over three games from August 10-12.
While in college, Ghelfi earned accolades during his redshirt freshman season in 2013 being named Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American and Perfect Game College Freshman All-American First-Team, and earning Horizon League Newcomer of the Year. In 2014, Ghelfi was on the Johnny Bench Award Watch List, an award given to the top DI collegiate catcher.
Baseball runs in Ghelfi's family as his uncle, Tony, was a first round pick by the Philadelphia Phillies in 1980 making it to the Major Leagues in 1983. His Dad, Andy, was a second-round pick by the Cleveland Indians in 1985, and his brother Drew was a pitcher at the University of Minnesota and was drafted in the 25th round by the Brewers in 2013.
The 25-year-old Justus spent all last season at Double-A Mobile (Angles) hitting .184 with two home runs and 23 RBI in 115 games. In 347 at bats he scored 40 runs, crushed 17 doubles, had a .286 on base percentage and a .251 slugging percentage. He finished tied for sixth in the Southern League in being hit by a pitch, with 11.
Justus was a fifth-round pick by the Angels out of Georgia Tech in 2016. He began his professional career at the Rookie level with Orem. Justus hit an impressive .344 with 23 RBI in 26 games. In 93 at bats he scored 19 runs, had six doubles, one triple, a .465 on base percentage, and a .430 slugging percentage for a .895 OPS. He hit safely in 22 of his 26 games and was promoted to Single-A Burlington on July 20. While with the Bees he hit .230 with two home runs and nine RBI in 42 games. Despite playing just a third of the Midwest League season, Justus finished tied for sixth in the league in being hit by a pitch with 11.
In 2017, Justus spent the entire season at High-A Inland Empire where he hit .202 with five home runs and 34 RBI in 116 games. In 411 at bats he roped 19 doubles, three triples, walked 61 times, stole 15 bases in 21 attempts, had a .319 on base percentage, and a .299 slugging percentage. Justus finished fourth in the league in walks and tied for seventh in being hit by a pitch (11).
Justus split 2018 between Mobile and Inland Empire hitting a combined .220 with six home runs and 47 RBI in 124 games. In 423 at bats he scored 60 runs, smoked 17 doubles, had two triples, walked 64 times, swiped seven bases, had a .339 on base percentage, and a .312 slugging percentage.
The 24-year-old Millan spent most of last season at Double-A Jacksonville (Miami Marlins) where he hit .268 with five home runs and 34 RBI in 84 games. In 269 at bats he scored 27 runs, ripped 13 doubles, had a .322 on base percentage, and a .372 slugging percentage. On August 5 he earned a promotion to Triple-A New Orleans and played seven games going 4-10 with two doubles.
Millan was a free agent signee by the Miami Marlins in 2016 out of Broward (FL) Junior College. He spent all of that season in the Gulf Coast League and hit .188 with eight RBI in 24 games.
In 2017, Millan began the season at Low-A Batavia and hit .273 with one home run and five RBI in 12 games. He was promoted to Single-A Greensboro on July 19 and hit .231 with one home run and six RBI in 27 games.
Millan's 2018 season took him on a journey to four different stops in the Marlins organization spending 25 games in Greensboro, seven games at High-A Jupiter, 11 games at Jacksonville, and three games in New Orleans. Between the four levels he hit .233 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 46 games.
These are the 12th, 13th and 14th off-season signing for the Saints.
RHP Tanner Kiest
RHP Eddie Medina
RHP Matt Quintana
RHP Matt Solter
RHP Ryan Zimmerman
C Chris Chinea
C Mitch Ghelfi
INF Josh Allen
INF Connor Justus
INF JC Millan
INF Telvin Nash*
INF John Silviano
INF Chesny Young
OF Max Murphy
*Telvin Nash was signed by the Saints, but is currently playing in Japan.
The St. Paul Saints will begin the defense of their title on July 3 in Sioux Falls against the Sioux Falls Canaries. The Saints will play out of the Sioux Falls hub for their home games until outdoor events are able to open to larger crowds in Minnesota. For more information and the 2020 schedule visit saintsbaseball.com.
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