Backstop Duo Signed

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The Southern Maryland Blue Crabs have announced the signings of two catchers for the 2018 season, Austin Green and Jose Gonzalez.

The 28-year-old Green will join the Blue Crabs for his first season in the Atlantic League. The former Detroit Tigers farmhand spent five seasons in the minor leagues, reaching as high as AA. Green was a 13th round draft pick by the Tigers in 2013, after making back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances with the University of San Diego.

The California native had a breakout year in his first full season with the organization, hitting .263 with 15 homeruns and 53 RBI’s as a member of the Lakeland Flying Tigers. Green was named Florida State League player of the week in August of that season, as well as being voted a Mid-Season All-Star. He then spent the next two seasons playing at the AA level, hitting .248 in 139 games for the Erie Seawolves.

The veteran Gonzalez heads to Southern Maryland with 12 years of professional experience. The Venezuelan was a free agent signing of the Colorado Rockies in 2006, at just 19-years-old. He spent the next nine seasons climbing the ranks of the Rockies organization, reaching as high as the AAA level.

After a quick 14 game stint with the Southern Illinois Miners, Gonzalez joined the St. Louis Cardinals organization for the 2015 season. He then headed to the American Association in 2016, posting an All-Star campaign with the Gary SouthShore Railcats. The defensive-minded catcher has put up strong numbers behind the plate, throwing out 41% of baserunners throughout his career.

“Catchers are always considered leaders on the field,” said Manager James Frisbie. “Both Green and Gonzalez have plenty of experience back there and have shown great defensive prowess throughout their careers.”

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A Trio of Right-handers Added to 2018 Roster

Hebner StemThe Southern Maryland Blue Crabs announced the addition of three pitchers to their current 2018 roster. Right-handers Cody Hebner and Craig Stem will return to the team for another season, alongside newcomer RHP Jayson McKinley.

Hebner will return to Southern Maryland for a second season with team. The hard-throwing reliever was a vital part of the Blue Crabs success in 2017, going 4-1 on the season with a 3.50 ERA, while appearing in 50 games. Despite throwing just 43.2 innings on the season,

Hebner was able to record 58 strikeouts, the highest total among all Blue Crabs relievers. The former San Diego Padres farmhand was originally drafted by in 2011 out of Green River Community College. Hebner spent five seasons in the Padres organization, being named one of the team’s top 25 prospects in 2013.

The versatile Stem comes back to the Blue Crabs for his third season with team, originally being acquired via trade from the New Britain Bees in 2016. The native of Hermitage, Tennessee appeared in 30 games for Southern Maryland last season, including making four starts for the team. Stem came on strong late in the season as the Blue Crabs pushed towards the playoffs, posting a 1.31 ERA in August – the second-lowest on the team for the month.

The Trevecca Nazarene University alum spent five seasons in the minors, his first four with the Los Angeles Dodgers before being traded to the Miami Marlins organization in 2015. After reaching as high as AAA in affiliated ball, Stem joined the Bees for his Atlantic League debut in 2016.

The right-handed McKinley joins the Blue Crabs pitching staff for his first season in the Atlantic League. The 24-year-old went undrafted out of Lamar University, posting a 1.04 ERA after being moved to long relief at the end of his senior season for the Cardinals.

McKinley drew the attention of the Tampa Bay Rays with his strong finish to the year, signing with the organization for the 2016 season. The reliever appeared in 11 games for the Hudson Valley Renegades that season, finishing with a 1.21 ERA and seven saves, second-highest total for the team that season. McKinley moved up to the Bowling Green Hot Rods for the 2017 season, going 4-1 and averaging a strikeout per inning for the Rays Single-A affiliate.

“I am eager to see Hebner and Stem return to our roster this season, both add unique skills and dependable experience to our staff,” said Manager James Frisbie. “Fresh off a solid season with the Rays, I believe McKinley’s addition will bring an exciting spark to our bullpen.”

Vaughn To Return in 2018

Vaughn DelgadoThe Southern Maryland Blue Crabs have re-signed outfielder Cory Vaughn, as well as newcomer RHP Casey Delgado, for the upcoming 2018 season.

Vaughn will return to Southern Maryland after an All-Star showing during the 2017 season. The outfielder began the season in left field, before finding an every-day home in centerfield in May. The winner of the 2017 Blue Crabs Gold Glove award led the Blue Crabs in fielding percentage and outfield assists last year. After finishing the first half of the 2017 in the top 10 of the league in runs scored, doubles, walks, and on-base percentage, Vaughn earned a spot in the starting lineup for the 2017 Atlantic League All-Star Game.

“Last season was a great first year in Southern Maryland,” said Vaughn. “With the talent returning from our playoff appearance last season, I’m looking forward to competing for a championship again this season.”

Prior to joining Southern Maryland’s roster, the 28-year-old California native played for the New York Mets organization from 2010 to 2015. During the 2012 season, Vaughn posted career-highs in stolen bases (21), RBI’s (69), and runs scored (73), earning him a spot on the MILB.com Organization All-Star Team. The San Diego State University alum also spent a season with the New Jersey Jackals of the Canadian-American Association in 2016. Vaughn appeared in 90 games for New Jersey, hitting nine homeruns and stealing 13 bases, while leading the team in doubles and outfield assists.

Delgado becomes the latest addition to the Blue Crabs 2018 pitching staff. The right-hander began his career in 2013 with the Frontier Greys, a road-only team of the Frontier League. In 2014, the Miami native joined the Traverse City Beach Bums, going 7-6 with a 3.25 ERA, striking out 118 batters in 116 innings. This performance was enough to earn the Traverse starter a trip to the 2014 Frontier League All-Star Game, working one scoreless inning in relief for the East Division.

This provided Delgado his first chance with an affiliated team, signing with the New York Mets organization in 2015. The young starter went 8-4 with a 3.17 ERA, spending the season at the single-A level. Delgado then started the 2016 season at the A+ level, going 8-3, while posting a 3.39 ERA. This warranted the Austin Peay alum a call up to the Double-A Binghamton Rumble Ponies to finish 2016. Delgado appeared in 37 games at the Double-A level across the last two seasons, going 15-11 with 126 strikeouts.

“Both of these players have shown consistency on the field throughout their careers, which is a big part of what we need to be successful this season,” said Manager James Frisbie. “I’m looking for Vaughn to show leadership in the clubhouse and build off the success we had last season. On the other hand, Delgado adds a guy to our staff that has shown toughness on the mound throughout his career, always putting his team in a position to win games at every level.”

Blue Crabs Strengthen Roster with ALPB Newcomers

Player Signings Website 2.21The Southern Maryland Blue Crabs have announced the signings of two Atlantic League newcomers, outfielder Johnny Bladel and pitcher Ryan Chaffee.

Bladel comes to Southern Maryland after an All-Star campaign in the Canadian-American Association during the 2017 season. The versatile outfielder led the New Jersey Jackals offensively, while posting league-high totals in runs scored, hits, stolen bases, doubles, and triples. Bladel’s 95 runs scored were the most all-time in a single season for Can-Am history, while his 135 hits tied him for second all-time. The James Madison alum went undrafted out of college in 2013, signing his first professional contract the following season in the Pecos League. Bladel appeared in 77 games between the Pecos League and the American Association in 2014, batting .449 on the year with 13 homeruns and 21 stolen bases. The right-hander is a career .339 hitter, while averaging over 20 stolen bases and 70 runs scored per year across his four professional seasons.

A nine-year vet on the hill, Chaffee joins the growing Blue Crabs pitching staff for the 2018 season. After playing at Chipola Junior College, he was drafted in the third round of the 2008 MLB Draft by the Los Angeles Angels. The 29-year-old was named a Mid-Season All-Star with Cedar Rapids in 2009, his first professional season. Prior to the 2010 season, the right-hander was named as a top 20 prospect in the Angels organization. In total, Chaffee has spent eight seasons in the minor leagues, six with the Angels and two with the Miami Marlins, reaching as high as AAA. In the 2012 season, Chaffee averaged over a strikeout per inning, en-route to a 7-1 record with a 2.60 ERA. The Nebraska native joined the Winnipeg Goldeyes of the American Association for the 2017 season. Serving as the team’s closer, he went 3-3 with a 3.26 ERA, picking up 21 saves to tie him for second in the league.

“We are excited to continue to bolster our roster with two more new additions,” said Manager James Frisbie. “Bladel has shown prowess at the plate throughout his first four years, and Chaffee will bring another reliable arm to the back of our bullpen.”

MLB Veteran Highlights 2 More Signings to 2018 Roster

Player Signings Website Runner

The Southern Maryland Blue Crabs have announced the signings of two Atlantic League newcomers. Former MLB outfielder Xavier Paul and infielder Frank Martinez are the latest additions to the roster as the team prepares for the start of the 2018 season.

Paul joins the Blue Crabs with six seasons of Major League experience under his belt. The outfielder was drafted out of high school by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the fourth round of the 2003 MLB Draft. He worked his way up the Dodgers farm system, eventually making his MLB debut with the team in 2009. Paul appeared in 349 games over the next six seasons, spending time with the Dodgers, Pittsburgh Pirates, Cincinnati Reds, and most recently appearing in 2014 with the Arizona Diamondbacks. In his 14 professional seasons, the Louisiana native has posted a career .280 batting average, with 100+ homeruns and stolen bases.

Martinez comes to Southern Maryland with 13 years of professional baseball experience. The utility infielder originally signed with the Oakland Athletics in 2004, joining their Rookie League affiliate. Martinez spent six seasons with the A’s organization, before making the jump to independent ball in 2011. The Dominican Republic native spent the next five seasons in the Frontier League, playing for three different teams in that span. He then joined the American Association, where he split 2016 between the Sioux Falls Canaries and the Gary SouthShore Railcats. The switch-hitter spent 2017 with Gary as well, hitting .275 in 88 games with the Railcats.

“Both of these guys bring a lot of experience to our locker room for this season,” said Manager James Frisbie. “Paul has played at the highest level with some of the best players in the world, and Martinez brings a consistent bat to our lineup with the ability to switch-hit and create matchup problems for opposing pitchers.”

Q and A with former Blue Crabs Pitcher Turned WVU Tight End Jesse Beal, Jr.

Blue Crabs Broadcast Network Play-by-Play guy Brandon Bulanda sat down with former Blue Crabs Pitcher Jesse Beal, Jr to talk about his decision to trade in the diamond for the gridiron in 2018.

Brandon: What ultimately led to your decision to switch sports?

Jesse: I kind of realized I wasn’t getting the opportunities I had hoped for as far as getting a call to join the Winter Leagues. I had some guys I knew from my past that made this switch, and I’ve seen it done before. People have been in my ear about football because of my height for a long time and I just felt, after this past year, I had an opportunity to go after it. I’m still young enough and my body feels great right now, so when the season ended I decided to make the switch.

Brandon: What will you miss about baseball and Southern Maryland specifically?

Jesse: I made a lot of real close friends in the Southern Maryland clubhouse last year that I still keep in contact with right now. We were a real tight-knit group, with a great team and manager. Everybody really got along well and kept it loose in the clubhouse.

Brandon: What experience do you have in football?

Jesse: I did not play in high school, but as I grew into my body and began to get stronger and more athletic, football just intrigued me.  I always toyed with the idea of flipping sports and following some of my teammates that made the switch. As soon as baseball season ended I began training to make the switch. I began working on running routes and building a video, which ended up getting some looks. The running backs coach at West Virginia knew me from high school and they ended up having a need at tight end. West Virginia was my number 1 choice from the start, so everything just kind of worked out perfectly for me to make the jump.

Brandon: What has the transition been like from professional athlete to student-athlete?

Jesse: Obviously taking a pay cut was part of the move. The real transition for me has been the transition from baseball to football. I have 120 teammates now. I try to keep my mindset the same, approaching this with a professional attitude, and working hard every day. It’s a little different for me than other student-athletes because I came in with the professional experience. No one has to tell me to go to class, do my work, go to bed early, or anything like that. I learned the importance of all of those things long ago and am carrying my routine into the football world now.

Brandon: What are your goals for football?

Jesse: I want to use this year to feel everything out and try to gain some momentum heading into Spring Football. I feel that it’s too early for me to set long-term goals in football, I’ve only been playing a month. Being drafted out of high school for baseball, I still have all four years of eligibility left so I have plenty of time to figure out my future in football. Right now, I’m just trying to make a good impression on) Dana (Head Coach Holgorsen) and the rest of my teammates and coaches. I am just taking things one day at a time, learning from my teammates and coaches, and working to improve every day at practice.

Brandon: What are your expectations for yourself and WVU football?

Jesse: For myself – I would like to reach a point where I am able to contribute every game. I try not to set expectations for the season yet because I have only been here a month. I’m just working on soaking everything in, and working hard every day. There are a lot of great coaches and players here, with a lot of experience in the sport. I am learning things from them every day and trying to reach a point where I know that I can make a difference for this team, hopefully this year but definitely at some point in the future.

For the team – We feel we are a very good football team with the guys we have returning. With (quarterback) Will Grier coming back and working back to 100%, we feel like we are right up there with the top teams in the country. Our goals are to win the Big 12 this season, and try to compete and get ourselves in the conversation for a playoff spot. We are starting inside the preseason top 25, and there’s no reason West Virginia can’t climb higher and draw some national attention.

Rodriguez and Wong Sign with Blue Crabs

Player Signings Website Runner 2The Southern Maryland Blue Crabs have announced the return of two players, Devon Rodriguez and Joey Wong, for the 2018 season.

Rodriguez returns to the Blue Crabs after an All-Star campaign during the 2017 season. The utility man joined the team in May, jumping into an everyday starting position in left field. The lefty came in on fire at the plate, hitting over .400 in his first two months with the team. This first-half performance led to his selection to represent the Freedom Division in the 2017 Atlantic League All-Star Game. Rodriguez played a major role in the First-Half Freedom Division Championship Game, going 3-5 with two RBI’s and two runs scored, helping the Blue Crabs punch their ticket to the postseason with an 8-3 victory.

Wong will return to Southern Maryland after a brief time with the team last season. The infielder was signed by the Blue Crabs in late February, but was picked up by the Seattle Mariners organization before he could make an appearance for the team. Wong made his professional baseball debut in 2009 out of Oregon State University, being drafted in the 24th round of the MLB Draft by the Colorado Rockies. The 29-year-old spent his first eight seasons in the Rockies organization, before joining the Mariners in 2017. Wong was also selected to represent China in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, starting all three games for them in the tournament.

“The versatility of Rodriguez and Wong make them great additions to our 2018 roster,” said Manager James Frisbie. “Both guys bring the ability to play multiple positions in the field, as well as giving us an advantage against most pitchers with two solid left-handed bats in our lineup.”