The Florence Freedom, presented by Titan Mechanical Solutions, have begun assembling the team roster in preparation for the 2018 Frontier League season.
As the team looks to build on its 2017 success, which culminated in a trip to the Frontier League Championship Series, manager Dennis Pelfrey offered the following thoughts on returning players who have re-signed with the Freedom, as well as several new additions to the club.
The Florence Freedom, and manager Dennis Pelfrey have announced another slew of player signings, as well as two major trades.
Traded for C Craig Lepre. In a blockbuster trade with the Freedom sending All Star OF Andrew Godbold to the Normal Cornbelters for All Star Catcher Craig Lepre.
“We hate to lose a guy like Godbold, but we feel that Craig Lepre is a guy that fits our club nicely as a guy who is going to get on base and really give guys around him a chance to drive in a lot of runs. His leadership behind the plate will be great and its going to be a great battle for our catching job this season.”
Traded for OF Connor Crane – “We traded a player to be named later to the Trois-Rivieres team in the Can-Am league. He is a very talented OF and brings a big bat with him to our lineup in 2018. We look for Connor to make a huge impact this season.”
RHP Cody Gray – Cody and fellow staff member Jordan Kraus had incredible seasons in 2017. More incredibly, their numbers were nearly identical.
RHP Jordan Kraus – “Coming off one of his best seasons, Jordan has made a statement that he is in the top tier of Frontier League pitchers. He will build off that and we are hoping a MLB club takes as much interest as we do. While he is with us, we expect him to anchor our staff and lead us to another Division Title.”
RHP Jamal Wilson – “Jamal immediately made an impact in the back end of our bullpen once we signed him mid-season. A very good player in college with electric stuff, we are excited to see him in a role for us from day. He will push to be the Freedom Closer in 2018.”
RHP Zach Kirby – “After acquiring Zach to replace a couple starting pitchers taken by MLB clubs, he had 2 quality starts for the Freedom before being injured for the remainder of the season. He will look to make our 2018 rotation.”
LHP Patrick McGrath – “Finding the right role for him as a reliever in 2016, Patrick was on the verge of being one of the best relievers in the league before getting injured in 2017. We are looking forward to a break out year for the young lefty in 2018.”
RHP Steve Hagen – “A proven starting pitcher in our league, we acquired him from Lake Erie last year to help in getting the Division Title. He was no doubt an important piece to our success last season. We expect him to be in the league leaders in pitching this year as well.”
RHP Enrique Zamora – “After a dominant college senior season, Enrique fill a number of roles for the Freedom in 2017. He had some ups and downs, but settled in nicely with his versatility. He will also push for the Closer role in 2018.”
RHP Mike Anthony – “We found Mike in a Freedom Tryout, and he was very consistent and did a very good job for us in 2017. He was used as a stopper for us and we are going to take a look at him in the starting rotation this season.”
LHP Jack Fowler – “Jack had a very productive 2017 in a short stint with us last season and had an important role in securing the 2017 West Division championship.”
OF Keivan Berges — “Keivan was originally signed as a pitcher, but after one of our starters was signed by an MLB team, he slid right into a spot in the lineup. He’s a two-time All-American hitter and shows major league power. He’s going to be fun to watch in 2018.”
1B Jordan Brower — “Coming off a stellar 2017 breakout campaign, our expectations are very high for our 2017 all-star first baseman.”
C Ryan Rinsky — “Ryan served as a very good backup catcher last year and has earned the top spot coming into our 2018 spring training. He is very good defensively, and really had a productive year last year, learning a lot.”
SS Austin Wobrock — “Austin didn’t disappoint in showing his defensive skills as arguably the best defensive shortstop in our league. His hitting approach is coming into play, and we look for Austin to have an all-star type of season in 2018.”
OF Mike Morris – “A local product from last season and has a presence on and off the field that elevates everyone’s game. Mike is the definition of hard work and will push to be in the starting lineup this season with the ability to play every position on the field.”
OF Andre Mercurio – “After a stellar 2017 campaign, Andre will come in as the favorite to be our CF again. He is a very dynamic player with the ability to do a lot of different things offensively and make spectacular plays defensively. He will contend for the Frontier League MVP this season.”
LHP Marty Anderson — “Marty comes back to us after a stint with the Mets in 2017. He was a big piece to our success early in 2017, and has the determination to get better and really be a difference-maker in 2018.”
OF Jimmy Heck — “Jimmy has been a very good player everywhere he has been. He spent most of 2017 in the American Association and put up quality numbers. Jimmy fits our club nicely with the way he plays the game and his athleticism.
OF Cutter McDowell — “We are very excited about seeing Cutter compete for a job this spring. He is very dynamic, with the ability to be a very productive piece to the 2018 Freedom.”
INF Kam Stewart — “We have been following Kam since our spring training camp in 2015. He was on the verge of being our starting shortstop that year. We are excited to have Kam in camp this year competing for a starting job at third base. He is an electric player with a very good skillset.”
OF Casey Soltis – “Former 5th round pick by the Marlins, he brings not only his baseball ability, but a leadership quality that is second to none. Casey will impress from day one and look to be our starting LF and leading off for the Freedom in 2018.”
LHP Jonny Reid – “He also had a couple starts for us in 2017. He has the ability to be a very good starting pitcher in our league and with an understanding of how good the Frontier League is, he will come back with a very good opportunity to be in our rotation in 2018.”
RHP Eric Gleese – “He had a couple starts for us last season, but with arms returning from injury we parted ways. He showed us enough to be invited to spring training to earn a job in our bull pen. He has a very high upside with a bull dog mentality.”
The Freedom will open the 2018 season at home on Thursday, May 10 against the Joliet Slammers.
The Florence Freedom are members of the professional independent Frontier League and play all home games at UC Health Stadium, located at 7950 Freedom Way in Florence, KY. The Freedom can be reached for holiday packs, season tickets and group tickets by calling 859-594-4487.