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Goldeyes Add Pair of Promising Right-Handers

February 11, 2021 - American Association (AA) - Winnipeg Goldeyes News Release

WINNIPEG, MB - The Winnipeg Goldeyes signed right-handed pitchers Christian James and Justin Watland on Thursday.

James last pitched in 2019 where he posted a 5.07 ERA in 21 starts and three relief appearances for the Low-A South Atlantic League's Columbia Fireflies (New York Mets). The Tampa, Florida native struck out 76, walked 46, and allowed just six home runs over 113.2 innings pitched. James allowed three or fewer earned runs in 17 of his 21 starts, and averaged 1.44 groundouts for every airout (the 2020 Major League average was 1.02). James also induced 15 groundball double plays, which ranked first in the South Atlantic League and 14th overall across all levels of the affiliated minors.

"Christian is a sinker-baller who pounds the zone and lets the defence play behind him," said Goldeyes' manager Rick Forney. "At one point, he was one of the top-30 prospects in the Mets' organization. We're going to bring him in and give him a chance to hold down a spot at the back-end of our starting rotation. The velocity is good, the sink is good, and we're hoping he can give us 20 starts and 120 innings. He throws the ball over the plate and did really well in a short audition at Double-A, so I'm excited to add a young prospect like Christian."

James is entering his fifth season of professional baseball, and was drafted by the Mets in the 14th round in 2016 out of East Lake High School in Tarpon Springs, Florida. The 22-year-old right-hander owns a career 3.62 ERA and a 1.65 groundout-to-airout ratio in 64 career appearances, 47 of them as a starting pitcher. In 263.1career innings, James has averaged 3.0 walks and 0.4 home runs per nine. Prior to the 2018 season, the 6-foot-3, 210-pound James was ranked among the Mets' top-30 prospects by both Baseball America and MLB Pipeline.

Watland signed with the Lincoln Saltdogs in 2020, but did not play as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2019, Watland was 3-0 with a 4.46 ERA in six starts and one relief appearance for the Pacific Association's San Rafael Pacifics (the Pacific Association's league average ERA in 2019 was 5.72). A native of Stockton, California, Watland struck out 43 and walked 18 in 34.1 innings. The 25-year-old allowed three or fewer earned runs in all six of his starts, and helped San Rafael win the Pacific Association championship.

"Justin is a young rookie pitcher with a good change-up who pounds the zone," said Forney. "He did well in the Pacific Association a couple of years ago. I trust his agent who I've done business with over the years, and he had good things to say about Justin. I think he's one of those guys who could be a nice bridge and give us a couple of innings out of the bullpen."

Watland enters his second season of professional baseball and retains rookie classification in the American Association. The 6-foot-4, 205-pound right-hander pitched two seasons at San Jose State University (San Jose, California), combining for a 2.92 ERA in 49.1 innings from 2018-19. Prior to his time with the Spartans, Watland spent two seasons at Feather River College in Quincy, California.

The Goldeyes now have 15 players under contract for the 2021 season. American Association clubs may carry up to 28 players during spring training, which is scheduled to begin in May.

2021 Winnipeg Goldeyes Signings

RHP Nate Antone

RHP Ryan Dull

LHP Ken Frosch

OF Jay Gonzalez

C Lucas Herbert

OF Logan Hill

OF Tyler Hill

RHP Christian James

LHP Mitchell Lambson

RHP Josh Lucas

1B Kyle Martin

OF Max Murphy

RHP Eduard Reyes

OF Liam Scafariello

RHP Justin Watland

The Winnipeg Goldeyes open the 2021 season on May 18th on the road against the Sioux Falls Canaries. The Goldeyes' 2021 home opener is Friday, May 21st against the Chicago Dogs at Shaw Park.

For information on 2021 Goldeyes season tickets, 10-game mini packs, and group tickets, call the Goldeyes' office at (204) 982-BASE, or visit the Goldeyes' official website at

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The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.

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