Sioux City Again Building An Elite Bullpen
Sioux City, IA - The Sioux City Explorers have announced the signings of LHP Jose Velez Jr and RHP Kent Hasler.
Velez will be entering his ninth season of professional baseball and his second with the Sioux City Explorers.
In his inaugural season Velez was exceptional for the X's. Over 32 total games he held an impressive 1.65 ERA, through 32.2 innings. He walked only eleven batters for a BB/9 of 3.0 and struck out 47 equaling a K/9 of 12.9. In an eleven game stretch from May 26th to June 22nd Velez did not surrender a single run over 12.1 innings, walking just two and fanning 16.
Last season after the Explorers cancelled their 2020 campaign, Velez was selected by the St. Paul Saints, with the 24th overall pick of the American Association supplemental draft. Appearing in 23 games for the Saints, the hard throwing lefty held an ERA of 3.63, striking out 35 batters in a span of 22.1 innings.
Velez had already been all over the country even before getting his start in pro baseball. Born in New York, he played his high school ball at South Fort Myers High School before taking his talents north to Alma College in Michigan. In one season there he appeared in 10 games, 6 of those being starts, and struck out an incredible 78 batters in 44 innings with an ERA of 2.62 earning him 2013 Second-Team All-MIAA honors. Not only was Velez a force on the mound but he was incredible at swinging the bat as well. At Alma he batted .302 while leading the team with 5 home runs and 21 RBI's.
Despite the excellent numbers Velez went undrafted, from which he found his way to the Evansville Otters of the Frontier League. He spent a shortened 2013 season there while putting in a full season of work in 2014. In that 2014 season the southpaw made 31 trips to the mound with 5 of those coming as starts. In 57 innings of work Velez would strike out 82 batters good for a K/9 of 12.9 while keeping an ERA of 2.53.
Those numbers did not go unnoticed as the Tampa native earned his chance with a major league organization when the Twins signed him after the season. He began the 2015 season in the Twins organization but his time there would not be long. After bouncing between High A and A ball for the Twins he was traded to the Miami Marlins in June of that year. He finished out the season with their Class-A club, Greensboro Grasshoppers. The 2015 season saw Velez bounce between two levels, three different teams and two different major league organizations. Between it all he pitched in 34 games, collecting 4 saves, in 50.1 innings with an ERA of 4.29 and 69 strikeouts.
Miami started Velez in High-A Jupiter in 2016, he would appear in 14 games and 19 innings with 2 saves and an ERA of 3.79 ERA and 22 punch outs. Although 2016 was the last season Velez appeared in affiliated ball. 2017 saw Velez make a quick stop with Long Island of the Atlantic league appearing in only 6 games.
Velez made another appearance in the independent ranks in 2018 with the New Jersey Jackals then of the Can-Am League. The southpaw dominated out of the bullpen as he appeared in 40 games and held a masterful 1.67 ERA. He went 5-1 and tossed 54 innings while striking out 68 for the Jackals.
The 2021 season will be Hasler's fourth in professional baseball and first with the Explorers.
The right hander was originally slated to be an Explorer last season before the X's season was cancelled due to the pandemic. However this did not leave Hasler without a place to play. He was taken with the 33rd overall pick in the American Association supplemental draft by the Winnipeg Goldeyes.
The Arizona native quickly proved that he not only belonged but could thrive in the American Association. Over his first six appearances for the Goldeyes, he did not allow a single run. In that span of 8.2 innings he allowed only a pair of hits and walks while striking out a whopping 15 batters. In the 22 total appearances he made for Winnipeg he held opponents off the scoreboard in 17 of those, leading to a 1.84 ERA. He also proved to be a very versatile weapon out of the bullpen tossing multiple innings in half of his appearances. He racked up 41 strikeouts over 29.1 innings while issuing only eight free passes.
Hasler has spent the first two seasons of his professional career in the Frontier League with the Lake Erie Crushers. In 2019, Hasler appeared in 38 games, holding down an ERA of 2.01 over 67 innings of work as he was asked to pitch multiple innings in 22 games. He showcased an electric arm pacing his own bullpen in strikeouts with 89 leading all of the Frontier League relievers in strikeouts.
In Hasler's first professional season with Lake Erie, he compiled a 3.08 ERA over 32 games and 38 innings. He struck out 44 batters for a K/9 clip of 10.4.
Over his two seasons in the Frontier League, Hasler has appeared in 70 total games and 105 innings, compiling an ERA of 2.40 and ten saves. In that time he has struck out 133 batters for a K/9 of 11.4.
His accomplishments with the Crushers made Hasler a target for the Arizona Diamondbacks who signed the six foot, 190 pound right hander this past March after he had been working as a graduate manager for his alma mater, Louisiana Tech.
Hasler transferred to Louisiana Tech after a successful NJCAA All-American career at Mesa CC. Where in only his sophomore season posted a 9-1 record and a 1.93 ERA over 102.1 innings of work. Over his two seasons with the Bulldogs, Hasler appeared in 36 games, seven starts and held together a 3.63 ERA. With an 8-5 record and 11 saves to his name he also racked up 82 strikeouts to just 57 walks.
Pitching primarily as the closer during his senior season in Rustin, he led Louisiana Tech with seven saves, third most in Conference USA. Allowing only three of his thirteen inherited runners to score and was named to the 2018 Conference USA All Academic team.
Hasler has always put his education first earning a membership in the National Honor Society and graduating from Hamilton High School as a Distinguished Scholar. At Hamilton High School, he twice broke the school ERA record, first setting it his junior year with a sparkling 1.94 mark before besting his own mark with a 1.48 ERA his senior season.
With the signing of LHP Jose Velez Jr and RHP Kent Hasler the Explorers have now signed 21 players to a 2021 contract (15 pitchers, 6 position players)
LHP Brett Adcock
RHP Tyler Beardsley
RHP Nick Belzer
RHP Brandon Brosher
RHP Nate Gercken
RHP Kent Hasler
RHP Dylan Hecht
RHP Danny Hrbek
RHP Max Kuhns
LHP Jairo Labourt
LHP Patrick Ledet
RHP Matt Quintana
RHP Joe Riley
RHP Carlos Sierra
LHP Jose Velez Jr
C Justin Felix
INF Nate Samson
INF Jared Walker
OF Chase Harris
OF Eury Perez
OF Sebastian Zawada
The Sioux City Explorers 29th year in Siouxland will begin at MercyOne Field at Lewis and Clark Park on May 18th versus the Houston Apollos. There will be an open house for our brand new box office and team shop on April 23rd beginning at noon. Tickets purchased that day at the box office will be 50% off and new team merchandise purchased at the team store that day will be 25% off.
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Sioux City Explorers pitcher Jose Velez, Jr.
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