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Recent Player Signings From the Atlantic League, March 29, 2022

Blue Crabs Re-Sign Brammer, Add Former Top MLB Draft Pick to Roster

 

(Waldorf, MD, March 25th, 2022) The Southern Maryland Blue Crabs added two members to their 2022 roster on Friday afternoon. Relief pitcher Dylan Brammer will be returning for his second season in Southern Maryland and catcher Austin Rei will be added to the Blue Crabs roster to start the 2022 season.

 

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Dylan Brammer will be back in a Blue Crabs uniform after being added late last season to bolster the Crabs’ bullpen for the 2021 Atlantic League playoffs. The right-hander from Mishawaka, Indiana pitched 14 innings in relief, striking out 16 batters while only giving up three runs. In 2019, while playing for the New Jersey Jackals, Brammer only allowed six runs in 42 innings pitched for an outstanding 1.29 ERA. The 32-year-old has bounced around the MLB Partner Leagues, playing with four other teams before landing in his first stint in the ALPB with Southern Maryland. 

 

Austin Rei was selected 81st overall in the 2015 MLB Draft by the Boston Red Sox. The Moraga, California native played five seasons in the Red Sox organization, reaching as high as Double-A in 2018 and 2019. Rei was able to record 40 RBIs for Double-A Portland, and in his most recent season with Winnipeg, posted the best on-base percentage of his career at .374. The University of Washington product begins his first season in the Atlantic League after playing for the Winnipeg Goldeyes of the American Association in 2021.

 

“I am ecstatic to have Brammer back on the team after his performance last season,” said Blue Crabs General Manager, Courtney Knichel, “I think him paired with Rei’s experience at catcher will be a good combination this season.”

FerryHawks Announce the Signing of Nelson Figueroa 

 

Staten Island, New York- On Tuesday, the Staten Island FerryHawks announced their new pitching coach with the signing of Youth Service Baseball legend, Nelson “Figgie” Figueroa!

Nelson is a nine-year Major League Baseball veteran who exemplified one of the best comebacks to the bigs in recent history. After being released by the Miami Marlins in 2006, Figueroa turned to the foreign leagues to prove he was still worthy of a chance to pitch at the highest level of baseball. Pitching with the Taiwan Uni-President Lions for two seasons, Nelson picked up numerous accolades, including a Taiwan Series MVP, a championship ring, and more importantly, proving that he is MLB worthy.

Figueroa completed his inspirational comeback from Independent Baseball on April 11th, 2008, when the New York Mets selected him to start at home against the Milwaukee Brewers. Triumphantly, Nelson earned the win in front of his family and hometown fans, a memory he will surely never forget. Figueroa went on to pitch for three more seasons in the majors with the Mets, Phillies, and the Astros, proving that the road back to the MLB is most certainly possible!

“I am very excited to join the Staten Island FerryHawks family. Being added to a group of professionals led by Edgardo Alfonso and Gary Perone is a recipe for success. I’m ready for the challenges, and look forward to bringing championship professional baseball back to Staten Island!”- Nelson Figueroa, Pitching Coach

“Nelson is the pinnacle example of a New Yorker, working his way from Youth Service in Brooklyn all the way to playing on one of the biggest stages in New York City. Throughout his journey in the minors, majors, and even the Atlantic League, Nelson is the perfect teacher and an asset to our players trying to get back to affiliated baseball. Staten Island will love Nelson's presence and the charisma that he will bring every single night.”- Gary Perone, General Manager

“Nelson Figueroa is a proven major leaguer with a lifetime of baseball experience across the globe. Another proven winner for the FerryHawks that will attract and develop pitching talent and engage in the community.”- Eric Shuffler, President

“Nelson is a baseball lifer and we are extremely lucky to have him. His story and his road back to the big leagues is everything we want to represent in Staten Island”- Eddie Medina, Baseball Operations

 

BARNSTORMERS RE-SIGN GANN, TORRANCE

 

Lancaster, PA --- The Lancaster Barnstormers have signed right-handed pitcher Cameron Gann and outfielder Devon Torrence for the 2022 season, it was announced today by manager Ross Peeples.

Both return from last season.  Their signings bring the roster to 21 players for the upcoming 2022 season.

Gann, 29, joined the Barnstormers in August of last season, following his release from the Arizona Diamondbacks organization.  He appeared four times in relief for the Barnstormers before joining the starting rotation on August 29.  The right-hander from Texas notched wins in his first two starts, yielding only 10 hits and two runs in 10 innings.  He tied a club high for the season with 11 strikeouts in five innings against West Virginia in his first start.  Overall, he was 2-1 with a 4.07 ERA, striking out 34 opposing batters in 24.1 innings of work.

The product of Stephen F. Austin signed with Arizona out of the 2015 draft.  He pitched exclusively in relief in the Diamondbacks system, making 151 total appearances.  He had recorded 23 saves, including 15 at the Class A level in 2017.

Gann reached Class AAA Reno last season and was 2-1 with an 8.75 ERA in 20 appearances.

“Cam is a guy with a great arm who will give us a quality starter,” said Peeples.  “I love the way he goes out there and competes on the mound.”

Torrence, 32, is with the Barnstormers for a third season.  The former Ohio State University cornerback has become a valuable role player over the past two campaigns, appearing in over 200 total games.  He has hit a combined .241 with 61 runs scored and 42 stolen bases during his time with Lancaster.

The Ohio native was drafted by the Houston Astros in 2007 and spent two seasons in their organization before dedicating himself full-time to football.  He played four seasons for the Buckeyes, logging four interceptions and one sack.  He participated in 99 tackles.

Following his collegiate career, he spent time with the Cincinnati Bengals, New York Jets and Minnesota Vikings but never appeared in a regular season NFL game.  Torrence also had one pre-season in the Canadian Football League with the Montreal Alouettes.

He returned to baseball in 2014, playing briefly with in the Kansas City organization and Florence (KY) of the Frontier League.  The switch-hitting outfielder did not play again until joining the Barnstormers in 2019.

“Devon is a guy who will be a fourth outfielder for us,” said Peeples.  “With some the these (experimental Atlantic League) rules, he will bring value off the bench.”

Lancaster will open the 2022 season at Gastonia on Thursday, April 21.  Eight days later, the club will host York in the opener at Clipper Magazine Stadium at 6:30.

 

BARNSTORMERS TAKE LEFTY JOSH SMITH FROM TRYOUT CAMP

 

Lancaster, PA --- The Lancaster Barnstormers have signed left-handed pitcher Josh Smith from the recent Florida Atlantic League Pro Showcase conducted by Prospect Dugout as the result of a draft held today by the league’s 10 clubs.

Smith, 25, pitched for Roswell (New Mexico) of the Pecos League in 2021, going 3-3 with a 9.00 ERA in 10 starts, that included one complete game.  He struck out 64 batters in 54 innings of work.

Prior to heading to Roswell, Smith pitched five seasons at Ashland (OH) University, an NCAA D-II school in the Great Lakes Conference. 

“Josh is a lefty that has a good arm and was around the plate,” said Lancaster manager Ross Peeples.  “We are excited to bring him into camp and give him an opportunity to see what he can do.”

The showcase was held March 21-23 with representatives of all 10 clubs plus league officials on hand.  Drafting was held on Wednesday afternoon with the two new clubs, the Staten Island Ferryhawks and the Wild Health Genomes, splitting the first 12 picks before the other eight clubs took their opportunities.  Among those drafted was Alexis “Scrappy” Hopkins, the first female baseball player drafted at any professional level.  Hopkins was the eighth pick in the draft, taken by the Genomes.

In addition, the Barnstormers have signed right-handed pitcher Oscar De La Cruz.  De La Cruz, 27, signed with the Chicago Cubs in 2013.  After two seasons in the Dominican Summer League, the second of which he dominated (8-1, 1.80), the right-hander would eventually climb to Class AA Tennessee in the 2018 and 2019 seasons.

De La Cruz was picked up by the New York Mets for the 2021 season.  He opened the campaign at Class AAA Syracuse, appearing four times, before spending the remainder of the season at Class AA Binghamton.  He went 1-5 with a 7.24 ERA in 16 appearances, of which 13 were starts.

“Oscar is a big guy who has both started and worked in the pen,” said Peeples.  “He is a mid-90’s guy that will start out in the bullpen for us and be one of our back-end guys.  He has a lot of upside, and we look forward to having him on the club.”

Lancaster now has 19 players under contract for the 2022 season, which opens at Gastonia on April 21.  The home opener is eight days later, Friday, April 29, against the York Revolution with a 6:30 PM first pitch.

 

RIGHT-HANDER SCOTT HARKIN REJOINS LONG ISLAND

 

(Central Islip, N.Y., March 24, 2022) – The Long Island Ducks today announced the signing of right-handed pitcher Scott Harkin. He begins his second season with the Ducks and sixth in professional baseball.

“Scott performed very well for us in both the regular season and playoffs last year,” said Ducks President/GM Michael Pfaff. “We are excited to have him rejoin our pitching staff.”

Harkin first joined the Ducks in July of 2021 following five starts with the Kane County Cougars of the American Association. After winning his first three starts with the Flock, his contract was purchased by Toros de Tijuana of the Mexican League. He then returned to the Ducks in September to make seven more regular season starts. Overall, the California native went 5-0 with a 3.42 ERA, 33 strikeouts and 14 walks in 10 starts with the Ducks. Harkin then started twice in the playoffs, posting a 2.08 ERA and 12 strikeouts over 13 innings. His best performance came in Game Two of the North Division Championship Series at Southern Maryland when he tossed seven innings of four-hit shutout baseball to earn the win and keep the Ducks season alive.

The 30-year-old began his career in 2013 in the Milwaukee Brewers organization. He made 13 appearances for the team’s Arizona League affiliate, going 2-0 with a 1.08 ERA and four saves. The righty then made 34 appearances in the Frontier League in 2015, combined between the Gateway Grizzlies and Southern Illinois Miners. He returned to action in 2018 with the Napa Silverados of the Pacific Association, making 16 starts, and then pitched in 17 games (14 starts) with Pericos de Puebla of the Mexican League in 2019, going 4-0 with a 3.67 ERA. Harkin was originally signed by the Brewers as an amateur free agent in 2013.

“I am pumped to be back with the Ducks and to play for Wally and Rick, for my teammates and for the fans of Long Island,” said Harkin. “I have most enjoyed playing for Wally. He has made baseball fun for me again, and the Ducks organization has made it feel like family. I hope to continue to get better and contribute to the team in any way possible.”

The Long Island Ducks are members of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball, a Professional Partner League of Major League Baseball. Over 8 million fans have enjoyed the Ducks brand of affordable, fun entertainment at Fairfield Properties Ballpark since inception in 2000. For further information, visit LIDucks.com or call 631-940-DUCK (3825).

 

2019 ATLANTIC LEAGUE CHAMPION VLADIMIR FRIAS RETURNS

 

(Central Islip, N.Y., March 22, 2022) – The Long Island Ducks today announced the signing of infielder Vladimir Frias. The 2019 Atlantic League champion begins his third season with the Ducks, fifth in the Atlantic League and 14th in professional baseball.

“Vladimir has been an important part of our infield over the past two seasons,” said Ducks President/GM Michael Pfaff. “He is a good hitter, covers a lot of ground and shortstop and wants to win another championship with the Ducks.”

Frias played 86 games with the Ducks in 2021 after rejoining the team in July. He posted career-high totals in home runs (10), RBIs (60), runs scored (72), hits (102), doubles (21) and total bases (159). The switch-hitter finished the year with a .286/.360/.445 slash line and added 19 stolen bases in 23 attempts. He then played all seven of Long Island’s postseason games, leading the team in hits (11) and doubles (3) while batting .333 with one RBI and two runs.

The 35-year-old first joined the Ducks in 2019. He played a career-high 128 games and stole a career-best 28 bases while totaling eight homers, 34 RBIs, 53 runs, 99 hits, 16 doubles and four triples. He then hit .267 and scored six runs in eight playoff games, helping the Ducks win the Atlantic League championship.

Prior to joining the Flock, the Dominican Republic native earned back-to-back ALPB All-Star Game selections with the Lancaster Barnstormers (2017-18). He has previous experience in the San Francisco Giants, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs and Arizona Diamondbacks organizations, reaching Triple-A with the Giants and Diamondbacks. He also spent two seasons with the Gateway Grizzlies of the Frontier League (2012-13) and three with the Kansas City T-Bones of the American Association (2014-16). Frias was originally selected by the Giants in the 30th round of the 2008 amateur draft.

“I’m beyond excited to return to the Ducks for another season,” said Frias. “I love playing for this organization and this city and am looking forward to winning another championship.”

The Long Island Ducks are members of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball, a Professional Partner League of Major League Baseball. Over 8 million fans have enjoyed the Ducks brand of affordable, fun entertainment at Fairfield Properties Ballpark since inception in 2000. For further information, visit LIDucks.com or call 631-940-DUCK (3825).

 

MARK JOHNSON JOINS BARNSTORMERS AS PITCHING COACH

 

Lancaster, PA --- The Lancaster Barnstormers have added former Detroit Tigers minor league coach and one-time big league hurler Mark Johnson to their staff for the 2022 season.

Johnson, 46, will become Lancaster’s first full-time pitching coach since Scott Patterson in 2017.

He will join manager Ross Peeples, hitting coach Jeff Bianchi and first base coach/director of baseball operations Troy Steffy in the dugout for the upcoming season.

Following a nine-year playing career (1997-2005) during which the former Houston first round draft choice reached the big leagues with the Tigers in 2000, Johnson spent 15 seasons coaching at various levels of the Detroit system.  The Ohio native served as the pitching coach at Class AA Erie since 2019, but his contract was not renewed for 2022 following a regime change at Comerica Park.

Johnson signed with the Astros out of the University of Hawaii for the 1997 season and was subsequently traded to the Miami Marlins as the player to be named later in a deal that sent Moises Alou to Houston.  After one season with Class AA Portland, he was again dealt, this time in a package that brought third baseman Mike Lowell from the New York Yankees to the Marlins.

Detroit selected him in the Rule V Draft in December 1999, and he opened the 2000 season with Detroit.  After going 0-1 with a 7.50 ERA in nine appearances, including three starts, the right-hander was sent to Class AAA Toledo. 

He had later stints in Class AAA with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Los Angeles Dodgers but returned to the Tigers after one season with each.  He retired as a player following the 2005 season and was hired by the Tigers as a coach with their NY-P League affiliate in Oneonta.

“Mark is a veteran coach who has coached in affiliated ball the last 15 years,” said Peeples.  “We have been looking for a pitching coach, and I think he will bring a lot of quality to our staff and be a big value in game situations.”

“I am excited to be a part of the Barnstormers,” said Johnson.  “I am looking forward to the start of the season.”

Bianchi, 35, returns for his second season working with the Barnstormers hitters and fielders.  The Lancaster native oversaw an offense in 2021 that averaged 6.7 runs per game, third best in the Atlantic League.  The team also finished third in extra base hits (394) while pacing the circuit in walks (609).

Drafted by Kansas City in the second round in 2005, the Lampeter-Strasburg alumnus had his best season with the Royals in 2009, batting a combined .308 with nine homers and 70 RBI for Class A Wilmington and Class AA NW Arkansas.  Three years later, he moved to the Milwaukee system and hit .325 between Class AA Huntsville and Class AAA Nashville, leading to his first Major League promotion.

The right-handed batting infielder would play a portion of four seasons in the Major Leagues, batting .215 over 165 games.  Bianchi retired as a player following a Class AAA stint with the Colorado Rockies in 2016.  He served as a scout for the Brewers from 2017-20 before joining the Lancaster staff in 2021.

“JB is my guy,” said Peeples.  “I love the way he goes about his business each and every day.  His approach to learn and focus on details is a great asset to our team on the field and in the locker room.”

“I am thrilled to be back for another season with the Barnstormers,” Bianchi said.  “Last year, I thoroughly enjoyed the relationships I made with the players and watching them grow in their abilities.  Furthermore, working alongside Ross Peeples every day was an honor.  I can’t wait to get rolling to hopefully bring another championship to Lancaster.”

Steffy, an area resident, has been with the Barnstormers since taking on a part-time role in 2017.  The former trainer, scout and agent became a part of the full-time staff in 2019.  He coaches first base at home and in York and runs the baseball operations at the stadium from field and clubhouse maintenance to clinics to amateur tournaments.

 

About the Lancaster Barnstormers

The Lancaster Barnstormers are headed into their 18th year in the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball.  Home games are played at Ballpark Digest’s two-time Best Ballpark in MLB Partner League Baseball - Clipper Magazine Stadium in downtown Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  Please call 717.509.HITS (4487) or visit www.lancasterbarnstormers.com for more information. 

 

About the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball (ALPB)

With teams throughout the Mid-Atlantic, the ALPB is a leader in baseball innovation and a player gateway to Major League Baseball. Through its exclusive partnership with MLB, the Atlantic League tests Major League Baseball rules and equipment initiatives. The Atlantic League has sent over 1,000 players to MLB organizations while drawing more than 44 million fans to its affordable, family-friendly ballparks throughout its 24-year history. For more information, please visit www.AtlanticLeague.com.

 

 

 

 



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