EVANSVILLE, Ind. – The Evansville Otters have signed outfielder Jeff Gardner to a contract extension.
Gardner, a Louisville, Ky. native, joined the Otters midway through the 2016 season after spending time in the Washington Nationals’ organization.
“Jeff’s emergence as the top power hitter in the Frontier League was vital to our success last year,” Otters manager Andy McCauley said. “He made some big adjustments to his swing in the off-season and the hard work really paid off.”
In 91 games with Evansville last season, Gardner hit .278 with 23 home runs and 86 RBIs. His 23 homers tied Shayne Houck’s mark set in 2014 for the Otters’ single-season franchise record.
“He will be a big part of the success we have this season,” McCauley said. “His strong work ethic and professionalism should be an example for newcomers and young returners.
“I look forward to seeing Jeff again in right field at Bosse.”
A 2017 Frontier League All-Star selection, Gardner won the Home Run Derby presented by MK Orthopedics in Joliet, Ill. with 14 home runs in the final round. He finished with 41 total homers that night, the highest total among the 12 competitors in the event.
Gardner played collegiately at the University of Louisville and he was named to the 2014 Louisville Slugger and NCBWA All-America second teams after his senior season, in which he hit .313 with nine home runs and 68 RBIs.
He was drafted in the eighth round of the 2014 MLB Amateur Draft by the Nationals and split time between Auburn and Hagerstown from 2014-16.
In 45 games with the Otters in 2016, Gardner hit .242 with six home runs and 24 RBIs.