Saints Get Help Behind the Dish, Sign Catcher Aaron Gretz, Activate Catcher Justin O'Conner
ST. PAUL, MN - The St. Paul Saints got good news on two different fronts. Their starting catcher, Justin O'Conner, was activated from the disabled list and they signed another solid catcher to help out behind the dish. They turned to a familiar face signing a guy that helped the 2016 team reach the playoffs, catcher Aaron Gretz.
The 25-year-old Gretz began this season with the Sioux Falls Canaries and was hitting .169 with three RBI in 21 games. In 59 at bats he scored four runs, had two doubles, a .258 on base percentage and a .203 slugging percentage.
Gretz made his professional debut in 2015 playing one game for the New Jersey Jackals, in the Can-Am League, and then joining with the Saints as their bullpen catcher. He was signed and got into one game and got one at bat.
In 2016 Gretz signed before the season and had a very solid season hitting .277 with three home runs and 25 RBI in 59 games. In 191 at bats he scored 21 runs, eight doubles, a .332 on base percentage, and a .366 slugging percentage. Gretz threw out 11 of 54 base stealers (20.1%). He collected his first professional hit on May 27 vs. Kansas City and the very next day collected his first RBI. That first professional hit started a string of nine consecutive games with a hit. He had a career high four hits with three RBI on June 11 at Sioux Falls.
In 2017 Gretz signed as a free agent with the Canaries and hit .244 with three home runs and 22 RBI in 65 games. In 221 at bats he scored 27 runs, roped 11 doubles, two triples, a .346 on base percentage, and a .353 slugging percentage. He doubled in three straight games from June 18-20 and for the first time in his career homered in back-to-back games on June 24 and 25. Gretz collected a career high five RBI on June 24 vs. Salina and came back the next day and added three RBI.
Gretz played his college career at Ohio State and was named to the Johnny Bench Award Watch List in his senior season. He also played for the Alexandria Aces in the Northwoods League in 2013 and was named the Finest In The Field, awarded to the top fielder at each position. Gretz had a .996 fielding percentage behind the plate.
Gretz is the brother of Nick Gretz, who played for the Saints from 2002-04, and was a goalie at Apple Valley High School, reaching the state tournament at the Xcel Energy Center as a junior.
O'Conner, who dislocated his thumb on June 15, was eligible to come off the disable list on Saturday and was healthy enough to do so.
In order to make room for Gretz and O'Conner, the Saints placed outfielder Kyle Barrett on the disabled list with an injured hamstring. They also released catcher Connor Olson. He was 3-11 in three games.
The Saints roster stands at the league maximum 23, 11 pitchers and 12 position players.
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