THUNDERBOLTS ANNOUNCE FIREWORKS THEME NIGHTS

The Windy City ThunderBolts are proud to announce that more fireworks theme nights have been finalized for the 2019 season! Come see your favorite characters roaming the concourse at our ballpark this summer! In addition to bringing back all of the fan favorites, this season will also feature appearances from the world-famous members of Toy Story on June 7th!  The remaining Friday and Saturday games whose themes have yet to be announced will be released soon!

Fireworks Theme Nights with Character Appearances – 2019 Schedule

Saturday, May 25th at 6:05 pm: Star Wars Night

Friday, June 7th at 7:05 pm: Toy Story Night

Saturday, June 8th at 6:05 pm:  Princess AND Pirate Night

Friday, June 21st at 7:05 pm: Pokémon Night

Friday, June 28th at 7:05 pm:  Harry Potter Night

Friday, July 12th at 7:05 pm: Fright Night

Friday, August 2nd at 7:05pm: Superhero AND Camp Out Night

All games include post-game Fireworks! Specific characters to appear on each date will be announced prior to the season.

The Windy City ThunderBolts will open their 20th anniversary season with Brian Smith at the helm on May 9th in Joliet, where they take on the defending league champion Slammers. Smith will manage his first home game on Tuesday, May 14, when the Bolts host the Evansville Otters.  Group tickets of all kinds including suites, picnics, and our famous Glenmark #WinCity Party Patio are on-sale now! Individual tickets for the 2019 season go on-sale Monday, April 1st at 10 am.  Call us at 708-489-2255 for more information or to make your reservation.  The ThunderBolts play at Standard Bank Stadium in Crestwood, Illinois at 14011 South Kenton Avenue.

BEN MOORE SIGNS WITH DODGERS

The Southern Illinois Miners announce that Ben Moore has signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers, becoming the 55th MLB signee in team history and fifth since the start of the 2018 season.

Moore was the primary backstop for the Miners for the last two seasons, and batted .251 with 11 doubles, three homers and 28 RBIs in 101 games for the black and gold. He hit .287 in 37 games with the club in 2018, ranking among the team leaders in batting average before a knee injury cut his season short. Also a strong defender, he committed just two errors behind the plate with Southern Illinois in over 750 chances.

In addition, the Cullman, Alabama native won the Fran Riordan Award this past season, given annually to a Frontier League player who exhibits outstanding citizenship in the community.

Moore originally joined the Miners from the Boston Red Sox organization, where he played three seasons after being selected in the 8th round of the 2014 MLB Draft. He played collegiately at the University of Alabama, where he was a Second Team All-SEC selection as a junior before turning pro.

“We could not be happier for Ben,” Miners manager Mike Pinto said. “This is a wonderful opportunity for him. He has been such an important part of our organization- not only was he our primary catcher, but more importantly, he was a leader in the dugout and the clubhouse, and was also a leader with his involvement in the community. We wish him great things ahead with the Dodgers, but he will always be part of our Miners Family.”

“I want to thank Mike Pinto for giving me the opportunity to continue my career,” Moore said. “The Southern Illinois Miners organization is second to none. The two seasons I spent playing for Southern Illinois are years I will never forget, and I couldn’t be more proud to have been a Miner.”

“To my coaches who spent countless hours investing their time to help players like myself improve and continue to pursue their dreams, thank you,” Moore added. “To my teammates, who will be lifelong friends, thank you for everything. When it’s all said and done, those relationships with my teammates will be what I cherish the most. I also want to thank the people of Marion for always being kind, and welcoming us into their community each summer. They never hesitated to do whatever they could to make us feel at home.”

Be sure to follow the Miners online at southernillinoisminers.com and on social media as they prepare for the 2019 season!

The Southern Illinois Miners are the Frontier League’s most-successful franchise since debuting in 2007, winning the 2012 Frontier League Championship as well as division titles in 2010, 2014, 2015 and 2016. They have been awarded the Frontier League Organization of the Year award three times since their inception, and also set a new Frontier League attendance record in their inaugural season. For ticket information, contact the box office at (618) 998-8499. For additional information, visit our website at www.southernillinoisminers.com.

BUILDERS’ WEEKEND CONTINUES TO GROW AT FLORENCE FREEDOM THIS SUMMER

In celebration of the release of LEGO Movie 2, the Florence Freedom, presented by Titan Mechanical Solutions, are excited announce that Builders’ Weekend will again return to UC Health Stadium in June for its third consecutive summer.

The Freedom, along with the Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana LEGO User Group (OKILUG) will be bringing out the big guns, and mini figs, with four full days of brick building fun. The dates of Builders’ Weekend are June 21-24.

This year, each night of Builders’ Weekend will have themes with exclusive displays and building stations to complement each night.

Promotional themes include
LEGO:  Star Wars (Friday, June 21)
LEGO: Ninjago (Saturday, June 22)
LEGO: Superheroes (Sunday, June 23), and
LEGO: Circus (Monday, June 24).

“Every year our Builders’ Weekend has grown, this year will be no exception,” Freedom Vice President and General Manager Josh Anderson said. “We’ve invested even more into this weekend for additional displays, building stations and this year, mini-fig trading.”

This season, members of the Florence Freedom Kids Club, presented by Gold Star Chili, will receive a mini-figure when they enter the stadium on each Builders’ Weekend night (while supplies last).

A total of 1,000 common mini-figs will be given Friday through Sunday, with an additional 100 special mini-figs on each individual promotional night of Star Wars, Ninjago and Superhero theme nights. Limit one per Kids Club member per night, on a first come, first serve basis.

“One of the awesome experiences for kids if you visit LEGOLAND is the ability to trade mini-figs throughout the park,” Anderson continued. “My six year old had a blast trading his mini-fig 30+ times when we visited, always being excited about getting something different and new. We’re going to offer that same experience on Builders’ Weekend with our staff and fans.”

Trading, building and interacting with bricks and mini-figs, combined with the Freedom game should make Builders’ Weekend one of the highlights of the 2019 promotional calendar. Fans should look for the full release of the promotions calendar throughout the month of March, where the team will highlight one promotion each day. Individual tickets will go on sale to the general public on April 1.

Fans looking to get their child signed up for the Freedom Kids Club, presented by Gold Star Chili, should visit FlorenceFreedom.com/kids-club to view all the benefits to membership.

The Florence Freedom play all home games at UC Health Stadium, located at 7950 Freedom Way in Florence, KY. The Freedom are members of the professional independent Frontier League, and open the 2019 season at home on Thursday, May 9.

 

OTTERS PROVIDE SNEAK PEAK INTO 25th SEASON PROMOTIONS

Get a sneak peek into some of the promotions for the Evansville Otters’ 25th anniversary season!

The celebratory season will kick off with Fan Fest on Saturday, April 27 from 12 to 3 p.m. at Bosse Field. Fan Fest is open to the public and there is free admission. The Otters want to start the 25th season the right way, but they’ll need you and everyone you know to be at Fan Fest for all the fun and entertainment. It is time to start getting excited for baseball season!

Once the regular season is underway, Saturday, May 18 will be Military Appreciation Night and Boy Scout Night. The Otters want to show their appreciation to those who served, including all veterans and active military personnel. The Otters also invite the Boy Scouts of America for a fun, unforgettable night at Bosse Field. Pre-registered boy scouts will receive a General Admission ticket, hot dog, chips and water, get to meet the Otters and participate in a postgame baseball clinic, receive a commemorative patch, and more! First pitch is 6:35 p.m.

The next day is Bark in the Park! On Sunday, May 19, bring your dog to the ballpark for an afternoon of baseball courtesy of It Takes A Village Canine Rescue. First pitch is at 12:35 p.m. so come enjoy America’s game with your best companion!

The first fireworks night of the season will be Thursday, May 30 at 6:35 p.m. presented by Hoosier Lottery. Come see the best firework show in Evansville and enjoy a bright, colorful firework display following the game.

Saturday, June 15 is a night you will not want to miss! June 15 will be the official celebration night of the 25th anniversary season for the Evansville Otters. Pack the stands as we celebrate 25 seasons since the Otters’ debut season in 1995, helping bring back professional baseball in Evansville for the first time in decade. There will be a free hat giveaway courtesy of Heritage Federal Credit Union, a postgame firework show presented by Slay’s Restoration, and it is also Girl Scout Night. The Otters want girl scouts to come to Bosse Field for a fun, unforgettable night with the Otters. Pre-registered girl scouts will receive a General Admission ticket, hot dog, chips and water, get to meet the Otters and participate in a postgame baseball clinic, receive a commemorative patch, and more! First pitch is 6:35 p.m.

Friday, Aug. 2 is ‘E is for Everyone Night’ with the Otters. The Otters want Evansville to pack the stands for E is for Everyone night, partnering with Evansville’s city-wide campaign. Stay in your seat after the game to watch a dazzling fireworks display. Stay tuned for more information throughout the season on where you will be able to pick up free tickets to the game. First pitch will be 6:35 p.m. Spend Evansville’s night with Evansville’s team!

Stay tuned and keep an eye out in the coming weeks for the full 2019 promotional schedule and other theme nights that will be a part of the fun during the 25th season of Evansville Otters baseball!

OTTERS SIGN SEEBURGER, WOOD; ACQUIRE P.J. BROWNE

The Evansville Otters have signed left-hander pitcher Brett Seeburger and catcher Hunter Wood and acquired left-handed pitcher P.J. Browne from the Winnipeg Goldeyes of the American Association.

Seeburger comes to Evansville after a collegiate career at San Diego State University from 2014-2017 and spending the last two years in the St. Louis Cardinals organization.

“Brett should prove to be a very capable left-handed pitcher for us,” said Otters manager Andy McCauley. “We are really impressed with his strikeout-to-walk ratio.”

In two seasons in the Cardinals’ farm system, Seeburger recorded a 2.83 ERA in 28.2 innings pitched and 14 games played while striking out 29 batters.

For the Aztecs, Seeburger earned 16 wins in 69 games played while accumulating 176 strikeouts in 231.2 innings pitched.

“He had a number of different opportunities, but we are very pleased he chose Evansville,” said McCauley. “We look forward to working with him this spring.”

Wood arrives in Evansville after spending two years with the Birmingham-Bloomfield Beavers of the United Shore Professional Baseball League.

In two years with the Beavers, Wood hit a combined six home runs, had 28 RBIs, and scored 26 runs in 60 games played.

“Hunter was highly recommended by a former player,” said McCauley. “He has had great years in the USPBL and we hope he can continue that success here.

“I’m looking forward to getting this opportunity to play for a first-class organization,” said Wood. “I’m excited to go out there and help win ball games both behind the plate and in the batter’s box.”

Wood played collegiately at Western Kentucky University where he was a 2017 Johnny Bench Award semifinalist, which recognizes the top catcher in NCAA-DI baseball.

During his senior season at WKU, Wood led the team with a .313/.386/.523 slash line, batting .348 with runners on base, and ranked top ten in the nation with 21 runners caught stealing.

“I’m excited to help the team reach its end goal of the 2019 season, bringing another Frontier League championship to Evansville,” said Wood.

Meanwhile, Browne was acquired in a trade with the Winnipeg Goldeyes of the American Association. Winnipeg acquired relief pitcher Mitchell Aker from the Otters to complete the deal.

In his first season of professional baseball with Winnipeg, Browne posted a 3.74 ERA in 33.2 innings pitched, including four starts and a total of 16 appearances. The southpaw also struck out 17 batters.

“P.J. was on our radar last year and at the time, we didn’t have an open roster spot,” said McCauley. “I recommended him to Winnipeg where he threw very well for a rookie in an advanced league.”

“I’m excited to be a part of the organization this season and going after a league championship,” said Browne.

Browne played collegiately at Merrimack College in North Andover, Mass. During his career with the Warriors, Browne was 18-12 with two saves and a 3.37 ERA in 38 starts and five relief appearances at Merrimack from 2015-18.

He finished his college career as Merrimack’s all-time leader in wins, strikeouts (266), and innings pitched (256.1).

“We look forward to seeing him throw this spring,” said McCauley.

The Otters will open the 25th season celebration against the Southern Illinois Miners on May 10 at Bosse Field.

To purchase a season ticket or group outing package, call (812) 435-8686 or visit the Bosse Field front office at 23 Don Mattingly Way, Evansville, Ind. The front office is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Evansville Otters are the 2006 and 2016 Frontier League champions.

The Otters play all home games at historic Bosse Field, located at 23 Don Mattingly Way in Evansville, Ind. Stay up-to-date with the Evansville Otters by visiting evansvilleotters.com, or follow the Otters on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

For more information, visit evansvilleotters.com or call 812-435-8686.

FORMER BOOMER SEAN GODFREY JOINS ASTROS ORGANIZATION

2017-18 Schaumburg outfielder Sean Godfrey has been named hitting coach for the Tri-City ValleyCats, Houston’s affiliate in the Single-A New York-Penn League.  The ValleyCats’ entire coaching staff this summer will consist of former Frontier League players, as former Normal CornBelter Ozney Guillen has been named field manager while former Frontier Greys reliever John Kovalik is the new pitching coach.

Godfrey played outfield two years for the Boomers from 2017 through 2018. In 2017, Godfrey was named to the Frontier League All-Star game and eventually helped lead the Boomers to winning the 2017 Frontier League Championship. Godfrey finished his career top ten in Boomers team history in many hitting categories including hits, RBI’s, and home runs, as well as finishing number one all time with the highest stolen base percentage (.833).

Prior to joining the Boomers in 2017, Godfrey attended Ball State University where he was a NCAA D1 All-American. He was originally drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the 22nd round of the 2014 MLB Draft. That same year he was also named an Organization All-Star for the Braves. The Indiana native played 3 seasons in the minors for Atlanta, where he reached as high as the AA level. Godfrey finished his career in affiliated ball with a .280 batting average, 90 RBI’s, and 11 home runs before joining the Boomers in 2017.

After retiring from playing baseball, Godfrey joined the coaching staff as a hitting coach for Indiana University Southeast, an NAIA school located in his hometown New Albany, IN. After helping shape the roster for IU Southeast’s 2019 baseball team, Godfrey was able to land a job on the coaching staff of the Houston Astros.

Godfrey will join the Astros in West Palm Beach, FL for their spring training and extended spring training. After the 2019 MLB Draft in June, Godfrey will join the Tri-City ValleyCats as a hitting coach. The ValleyCats play in the New York Penn League, a short season rookie ball league, and won the league championship in 2018.

The Boomers 2019 season, presented by Wintrust Community Banks, begins May 10. The Home Opener is Tuesday, May 14 vs. Washington Wild Things.

DIFFERENT BASEBALL JERSEY PROMOTION RAISES OVER $2,000 TO STRIKE OUT HUNGER

This past season, one of the most unique promotional concepts in minor league baseball resulted in $2,376.15 going back to fight hunger in the Northern Kentucky/Greater Cincinnati Area.

In 2018, the Florence Freedom and Thorntons gas stations partners on a season long specialty jersey concept where one player worn a completely different jersey than the rest of his teammates. That piece of game worn memorabilia was bid on nightly with proceeds from the silent auction going back to Master Provisions.

Fans went home with a jersey, bellies were fed by Master Provisions.

“This was a promotion that got fans asking a lot of questions as to why his jersey is different from everybody else, and resulted in a lot of ‘that’s really cool’ responses when they learned what it was about,” Freedom VP/General Manager Josh Anderson said. “Getting to go home with our starting short stop or first basemen’s jersey while supporting the fight on hunger in our community was a win-win.”

Thorntons, the 2018 sponsor of the promotion is committed to helping the fight on hunger in the communities they serve.

“Thorntons cares about the issues that are important to our guests and we strive to make a difference in the communities where our guests and team members live and work,” Thorntons rep Tom Tegenkemp said. “We are proud to partner with Florence Freedom to benefit Master Provisions to help fight hunger in the Northern Kentucky/Greater Cincinnati Area.”

Master Provisions, the beneficiary of the jersey sales, helps feed over 40,000 individuals every month in the Greater Cincinnati area, along with so much more.

“We collect tons of high-quality food to distribute to thousands of hungry people locally each month in cooperation with 130 partner organizations,” said Master Provision’s president Roger Babik. “This collaborative effort is sponsored in part by caring, community-minded businesses like Thorntons.”

The Freedom, Thorntons and Master Provisions will once again partner in 2019 on the specialty jersey campaign. Fans can look for the new 2019 design coming soon.

The Freedom are members of the independent professional Frontier League and play a 96 game schedule starting Thursday, May 9 at UC Health Stadium. For more information on the Freedom and tickets/promotions fans should visit FlorenceFreedom.com.

WILD THINGS, MINERS EXCHANGE PITCHERS

The Washington Wild Things announced today the trade of RHP Chase Cunningham to the Southern Illinois Miners for LHP Nick Durazo and future considerations. Cunningham was seeking this opportunity to play closer to home with respect to his family situation.

Cunningham originally worked out for Washington after his senior season and was acquired by the Wild Things in an off-season trade with the Lincoln Saltdogs. In 3 seasons he earned 24 wins over 59 starts and threw 347 innings for the organization. Both his career starts and innings pitched are franchise records, as the accomplishment was celebrated during the ’18 season.

“I can’t thank the Wild Things’ organization enough for these last 3 seasons together. Everything was top notch and I was taken care of so well. To Banger, you are an amazing manager and an even better man. I feel honored to have been able to spend the time under you. I will miss everything about Washington, but circumstances made it to where I needed to be closer to family and my girl. I have nothing but love for Washington and the fans. I will always be a Wild Thing at heart”, Cunningham explained in a written statement.

The best season for Cunningham was in 2017, when he was named a Frontier League East Division All-Star. During that campaign he posted a 10-3 record and a 3.46 ERA as the Wild Things pushed into the playoffs as a Wild Card winner. After being crowned the 2018 East Division Champions this past year, Cunningham made two playoff starts for Washington in their Championship Series run.

“Chase personally needed this opportunity to play closer to home so he could satisfy the family duties before him. Coming back was his plan, but it was not in the cards” said Assistant GM Tony Buccilli. “Chase was a big part of the culture shift we created here. He brought a great sense of humor to the ballpark daily but he competed tooth and nail when the ball was in his hand. On a personal level, I enjoyed seeing his development into a leader of the pitchers and becoming a driving voice for our Championship aspirations. We acknowledge and applaud Chase for everything he did as a Wild Thing. This will always be his baseball home”, Buccilli stated.

“We are very excited to add Chase to our rotation,” Miners manager Mike Pinto said. “He has been a successful, top-of-the-rotation starter for the last three years, and with his great work ethic is one of the most durable pitchers in the league. His capability of both dominating a game and pitching deep into it is something I am very happy to be adding to our roster.”

The Miners will be sending the Wild Things one of their hallmark relievers, LHP Nick Durazo. In his first season professionally, Durazo made 23 appearances and struck out 24 batters while hoisting a 2.01 ERA. The lefty scattered an impressive 8 hits over 22.1 innings and opponents could only muster a .116 BAA (.160 vs RHH, .091 vs LHH). Durazo played his college ball a great pitching factory, East Carolina University, and struck out 85 batters in 103 innings as a Pirate.

“Nick showed great promise as a rookie with Southern Illinois” Buccilli continued. “You can never have too many late inning options when looking to secure a win. Adding dynamic arms was a focus of ours this off-season. We have had some brief conversations and I like his approach to the opportunity before him. Nick will be working with a great catcher and surrounded by established relievers, so we look for his success to continue”, Buccilli stated.

“Nick did a wonderful job for us last year, and we wish him the best with the Wild Things,” Pinto added. “In order to get an impact player in a trade, you sometimes have to trade someone that did a great job for you and that you liked. That is the case with Nick, and we thank him for all he did for us last year.”

The East Division Champion Wild Things return to the field as they open the season Thursday, May 9 at River City, with the home opener slated for Friday, May 17 at Wild Things Park.

The Washington Wild Things are a professional baseball team in the Frontier League that plays in Washington, PA. In 2018, the team won its first East Division Championship since 2007 and came within two runs of winning the first Frontier League title in franchise history. Fans and media can stay aware of all the happenings in the Wild Things’ organization by following the team’s social media and website, washingtonwildthings.com. Season ticket packages, with new-and-improved benefits are now available by calling the box office at 724-250-9555.

The Southern Illinois Miners are the Frontier League’s most-successful franchise since debuting in 2007, winning the 2012 Frontier League Championship as well as division titles in 2010, 2014, 2015 and 2016. They have been awarded the Frontier League Organization of the Year award three times since their inception, and also set a new Frontier League attendance record in their inaugural season. For ticket information, contact the box office at (618) 998-8499. For additional information, visit our website at www.southernillinoisminers.com.

MINERS SIGN ALL-STAR INFIELDER BRYANT FLETE

The Southern Illinois Miners announce that they have signed infielder Bryant Flete for the upcoming 2019 season, adding strength in the middle of the diamond to their lineup.

Flete joins the Miners from the Chicago White Sox organization, where he played the last year and a half. The left-handed swinger played in 82 games with Double-A Birmingham in 2018, hitting .240 with 10 doubles and 25 RBIs while also batting a robust .346 in eight games at Triple-A Charlotte.

He was traded to the White Sox from the Chicago Cubs organization in the deal that brought Jose Quintana to the North Siders in 2017, and that season at class A-Advanced Myrtle Beach, he was a Carolina League midseason All-Star selection, hitting .305 with 15 doubles, six homers, 37 RBIs and 84 hits in 70 games with the Pelicans before the trade.

Now in his eighth season of pro baseball after signing with the Cubs at age 19 from Cumairebo, Venezuela, Flete owns 490 career hits, 82 doubles, 23 triples, 17 home runs and 194 RBIs in 567 career games. Defensively, he has seen over 1,800 innings of work at both shortstop and second base, while also contributing nearly 500 career innings at third base.

“Bryant comes to us with extensive professional experience, with some good success at a very high level,” Miners manager Mike Pinto said. “My contacts have told me about his strong defensive skills as a middle infielder and his ability to handle the bat. Reports from his MLB organizations have been very good as well, and have told me what a strong asset he can be to us this season.”

Be sure to follow the Miners online at southernillinoisminers.com and on social media as they prepare for the 2019 season!

The Southern Illinois Miners are the Frontier League’s most-successful franchise since debuting in 2007, winning the 2012 Frontier League Championship as well as division titles in 2010, 2014, 2015 and 2016. They have been awarded the Frontier League Organization of the Year award three times since their inception, and also set a new Frontier League attendance record in their inaugural season. For ticket information, contact the box office at (618) 998-8499. For additional information, visit our website at www.southernillinoisminers.com.

MINERS SIGN STEVE LOHR, TYLER HONAHAN FOR 2019

The Southern Illinois Miners announce that they have made two more signings for the upcoming 2019 season, inking all-star infielder Steve Lohr and left-handed pitcher Tyler Honahan.

Lohr is coming off an outstanding season with the Traverse City Beach Bums in 2018 that saw him earn a spot on the Experienced all-star team. Hailing from Buena Park, California, he batted .282 with seven homers, 35 RBIs, 10 doubles and 47 walks for a .403 on-base percentage that ranked inside the top-15 in the circuit over 71 games with Traverse City while seeing time defensively at both first base and third base. He was originally drafted in the 20th round of the 2016 MLB Draft by the Texas Rangers, playing two seasons in their organization. He also has had tremendous overseas success, hiting .376 with six homers, 11 doubles and 23 RBIs in only 40 games with the Adelaide Bite in the Australian Baseball League in 2017.

Lohr was originally claimed off of waivers from the Beach Bums last August, but was ineligible to play for Southern Illinois last season due to the roster move deadline having already passed.

“Steve can be a solid, impact bat for us this season,” Miners manager Mike Pinto said. “I know he is working hard to have his strongest season. He plays all the corner positions on the field, providing us with a lot of day-to-day and in-game flexibility. Coming off a season in which he played in the all-star game, we are excited to add Steve to the lineup.”

Honahan joins up with the Miners after two seasons in the New York Yankees organization and a brief stint with the Atlantic League’s Long Island Ducks in 2018. The 6’2” southpaw from Parker, Colorado saw his best season with the Yankees come in 2016 at rookie-level Pulaski, where he pitched in 13 games with a 2.48 ERA, 30 strikeouts, 12 walks and only 16 hits allowed in 29 innings.

Prior to his time in professional baseball, he was selected in the 36th round of the 2016 MLB Draft out of Stony Brook University in New York, where he was a two-time all-conference selection, including a junior season in 2015 where he went 7-3 with a 4.13 ERA, 65 strikeouts and 35 walks in 76 innings pitched to earn First Team All-America East honors.

“Tyler brings a couple of years of experience in the Yankees organization after coming out of a very good college program,” Pinto said. “He has proven to be a strike-thrower throughout his career, and his experience as both a starter and a reliever gives us additional flexibility as well.”

Be sure to follow the Miners online at southernillinoisminers.com and on social media as they prepare for the 2019 season!

The Southern Illinois Miners are the Frontier League’s most-successful franchise since debuting in 2007, winning the 2012 Frontier League Championship as well as division titles in 2010, 2014, 2015 and 2016. They have been awarded the Frontier League Organization of the Year award three times since their inception, and also set a new Frontier League attendance record in their inaugural season. For ticket information, contact the box office at (618) 998-8499. For additional information, visit our website at www.southernillinoisminers.com.

MINERS’ CHANCE SHEPARD RETIRES FROM BASEBALL

The Southern Illinois Miners announce that catcher/infielder Chance Shepard has chosen to retire from professional baseball.

Shepard joined the Miners last offseason after two years in the Washington Nationals organization, and proved to be one of the most-powerful bats in the Frontier League. In his lone season with Southern Illinois in 2018, he hit .253 with 23 home runs, 59 RBIs and 56 runs scored, leading the team in all three categories while also playing in all 95 games and earning a spot on the Experienced all-star team. He became just the third Miner ever (and first since 2009) to hit 20 home runs in a single season, and his 23 dingers tied for second in the league. The Wilmington, North Carolina native also represented the Miners in the 2018 Frontier League Home Run Derby at the all-star game, advancing to the second round.

“All I can say about my time with the Miners is how thankful I am to have been a part of the organization,” Shepard said. “The coaching staff did everything they could to make me a better player. Brad (Brush) was always there to help me get ready day after day, and the city of Marion was so great to me.”

“I really want to thank my teammates for making last year awesome,” Shepard added. “It’s hard to be successful if you don’t have a strong clubhouse, and the cast of guys we had made it fun to show up every day. I’ll remember that more than anything on the field. I’m so grateful to be able to finish my career as a Miner.”

“Shep leaves as one of the most-prolific power hitters in our history,” Miners manager Mike Pinto said. “In addition to the many impact at-bats he had for us, he did a great job on the field before taking over full-time catching duties mid-season. I will miss his true competitiveness on and off the field. His natural leadership will assure him of success wherever he goes in his future.”

Be sure to follow the Miners online at southernillinoisminers.com and on social media as they prepare for the 2019 season!

The Southern Illinois Miners are the Frontier League’s most-successful franchise since debuting in 2007, winning the 2012 Frontier League Championship as well as division titles in 2010, 2014, 2015 and 2016. They have been awarded the Frontier League Organization of the Year award three times since their inception, and also set a new Frontier League attendance record in their inaugural season. For ticket information, contact the box office at (618) 998-8499. For additional information, visit our website at www.southernillinoisminers.com.

HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE LEE SMITH TO VISIT GATEWAY FOR OPENING DAY

The Gateway Grizzlies are excited to announce that Lee Smith will be at our Opening Night game!

Lee Smith was inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Today’s Game Committee in December and will be formally enshrined in Cooperstown on July 21, 2019.  Smith played 18 seasons of Major League Baseball from 1980-1997, including 1990-1993 with the St. Louis Cardinals.  Smith was a 7-time MLB All-Star, including 1991-93 with the Cardinals, and was the 1991 and 1992 Rolaids’ National League Relief Pitcher of the Year.  He held the MLB career saves record from 1993 through 2006 and his 478 saves ranks him third all-time.

Gateway will sell a specialty ticket package for $80 that includes that following:

Pregame food and beverage
One Field Box seat
One Meet-And-Greet pass
One autograph and photo with Smith

For tickets and more information call 618-337-3000

RASCALS, CITY OF O’FALLON FINALIZE LEASE

The O’Fallon City Council approved new lease terms with the River City Rascals, ensuring the team will return to CarShield Field for the 2019 season. The team will be playing their 21st season in O’Fallon.

“The Rascals have been a prime attraction for O’Fallon and St. Charles County residents for 20 years, and we are proud to continue serving our fans with affordable, family-friendly entertainment in 2019,” said Rascals Team President Dan Dial. “Countless O’Fallon residents have attended Rascals games and events over that time and it is our strong desire to remain a part of our community and provide this unique experience for many years to come.”

“We are pleased to have the River City Rascals back for the 2019 season,” said Tom Drabelle, Communications Director for the City of O’Fallon. “The Rascals continue to be a popular attraction for our residents, and we look forward to seeing the team’s enhanced marketing efforts for the upcoming season. With this new lease in place, we can continue to provide our residents with high-level professional baseball at CarShield Field, and we can make sure this unique asset is used to its fullest extent both now and in the future.”

The new lease calls for the Rascals to pay the City of O’Fallon a total of $165,000 for the upcoming season, which includes rent, turf fees and revenues from events and naming rights. The team and the City will continue discussions on developing an agreement that would extend beyond the 2019 season.

Season tickets, mini-plans and corporate outings are now available to be purchased for the 2019 season. To find out more information, visit rivercityrascals.com or call the Rascals box office at 636-240-2287.

GRIZZLIES ADD PITCHER, INFIELDER TO 2019 ROSTER

The Gateway Grizzlies have announced two recent additions for the 2019 season. The team has come to terms with Dominic Topoozian, a pitcher acquired from the Sioux Fall Canaries of the American Association, as well as infielder Rafael Valera, formerly of the Pittsburg Diamonds of the Pacific League.

Topoozian, 24, played his final two years of college at Fresno State playing his biggest role his senior year appearing in 30 games for the Bulldogs as a relief pitcher in 2017 tying for sixth-most appearances in the Mountain West. The Clovis, California native started in nine games for the Sonoma Stompers of the Pacific league and appeared in 11 games, starting two for the Sioux City Explorers of the American Association, finishing with a 7-1 record and a 2.91 ERA.

Valera, 24, began his professional career in 2011 as a non-drafted free agent of the Minnesota Twins. After spending eight seasons in the Twins organization reaching as high as the Fort Myers Miracle (A+ level). The Venezualan native spent 2018 with the Pittsburg Diamonds of the Pacific League, where he posted a stat line of .294/.401/.467 adding 11 home runs and 11 stolen bases.

The Gateway Grizzlies will begin their season on Friday, May 10th when they take on the Schaumburg Boomers at GCS Credit Union Ballpark.  For ticket call the box office at 618.337.3000.

OTTERS SIGN 4 TO CONTRACT EXTENSIONS

The Evansville Otters have signed catcher Mike Rizzitello, utility Taylor Lane, first baseman Carlos Castro, and pitcher Garrett Harris to contract extensions for the 2019 season.

Rizzitello, a Ronkonkoma, N.Y. native, split time last season as the Otters backstop, being acquired by Evansville following a 2017 season with the San Rafael Pacifics of the Pacific Association.

“We’re happy to extend the contract of Mike,” said Otters manager Andy McCauley. “He showed a lot of promise behind the plate and made big strides offensively last year.”

“I’m very excited to be back in Evansville,” said Rizzitello. “I love Bosse Field, the fans, and getting to be back with my teammates.”

Offensively, Rizzitello batted .223 with 10 doubles and 14 walks in 46 games played.

Rizzitello was one of four players who saw time catching the Otters pitching staff last season and helping nab a league-best 44 would-be base stealers.

“This season, I’m going to work to be more consistent at the plate, drive in more runs, and keep balls in front defensively to help our team go home with a championship ring,” said Rizzitello.

“We’re looking forward to seeing Mike compete to win the everyday job behind the plate,” said McCauley.

Lane was a late season arrival for the Otters in 2018, joining the club during the stretch run in August. From Chesapeake, Va., Lane played collegiately at Arizona State.

“I’m very grateful for the opportunity to go out and compete for Evansville in 2019,” said Lane. “Coming in at the latter part of the 2018 season and helping the team make the postseason was a lot of fun.”

“Taylor showed a lot of potential in a short amount of time,” said McCauley. “He is very athletic in the field and swung the bat very well.”

In 14 games played, Lane batted .275 with nine RBIs, nine runs and nine walks while seeing playing time at third base and in left field.

“We hope he can pick up where he left off and fill one of the starting jobs in 2019,” said McCauley.

“With 2019 being my first full season with the club, I’m just looking to contribute as much as possible in whatever spot the team needs me in. Being able to come back to handle some unfinished business is really something I have been looking forward to all off*season,” said Lane.

Castro, out of La Romana, Dominican Republic, returns to the Otters in 2019 after missing time mid-season in 2018 to injury. He joined the Otters following a stint in affiliated baseball with the Atlanta Braves organization.

“I am very happy to return with the Evansville Otters because the Otters are like family,” said Castro. “I’m healthy and ready to go this season, and ready to win a championship with my teammates.”

“We’re looking forward to see what Carlos can do for a whole season,” said McCauley. “He is going to be a dangerous middle of the lineup player who can play at first, third and the outfield.”

In 19 starts last season for the Otters, Castro hit .333 with five doubles and seven RBIs while scoring 12 times.

“I am very grateful to all the staff at the Otters for the support they give me, continuing to help make my dreams come true of playing professional baseball,” said Castro.

Harris was a right-handed option out of the Otters bullpen in 2018 as the Navasota, Texas native recorded a 4.37 ERA in 47.1 innings pitched and 30 appearances.

“Garrett was a solid, consistent arm out of the bullpen,” said McCauley. “He earned a spot on the roster in Spring Training and earned it every time out.”

The Otters reliever limited opposing batters to a .223 batting average and struck out 50 batters during the 2018 campaign.

“I’m excited to be returning to Evansville and putting on the Otters jersey for another season,” said Harris. “I’ve spent the off-season improving my work and look forward to making another postseason run to bring a championship to Evansville.”

Harris spent time in the Kansas City Royals organization before joining the Otters last season.

The Otters will open their 25th anniversary season against the Southern Illinois Miners on Friday, May 10 at Bosse Field.

To purchase a season ticket or group outing package, call (812) 435-8686 or visit the Bosse Field front office at 23 Don Mattingly Way, Evansville, Ind. The front office is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Evansville Otters are the 2006 and 2016 Frontier League champions.

The Otters play all home games at historic Bosse Field, located at 23 Don Mattingly Way in Evansville, Ind. Stay up-to-date with the Evansville Otters by visiting evansvilleotters.com, or follow the Otters on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

For more information, visit evansvilleotters.com or call 812-435-8686.