JOLIET — The Joliet Slammers announced seven players signed to contracts for the 2013 season on Tuesday. Four are returning to the Slammers from last year’s squad and three are new to the team.
Returning to Joliet for 2013 will be star right-hander Jacob Sanchez. He started 11 games for the Slammers in 2012 and posted a 5-2 record with a 2.89 ERA. In his first season of pro ball Sanchez tossed 65.1 innings, striking out 45 batters while only walking 15. He joined the team mid-season last year after completing his senior campaign at Iowa Wesleyan University.
“We are very pleased and fortunate to have Jacob back for the 2013 season,” Slammers manager Mike Breyman said. “He was one of the first calls I made to talk about the upcoming season and my plans for him in the starting rotation. In my opinion he was one of the top rookies in the league and that is saying something. He will be a lot of fun to watch every five games."
Mokena native Andrew Brauer also signed a contract extension and will compete for a starting spot in the outfield after a promising rookie year in 2012. He hit .295 in 13 games for Joliet after completing his senior season at Lewis University.
“Andrew is a very good athlete and his speed makes him very valuable in the system that I am going to install this summer for the Slammers,” Breyman said. “We are looking for Andrew to make a push for one of the corner outfield spots.”
Out of the bullpen, there were few pitchers more reliable than Chase Doremus in 2012. The rookie right-hander posted a 2.76 ERA in 41 appearances. Doremus tossed 51 innings, striking out 49 batters along the way.
“A strong back end of a bull pen is very key to a winning team,” Breyman said. “His stuff is closer type stuff and I wouldn't be surprised if he pushes for that closer role. Having big plans for Chase this year is an understatement."
Also returning to Joliet for 2013 is RHP Matt Sommo. The second-year pro played for three teams during his rookie season in 2012, finishing up with the Slammers. He posted a 1-1 record in six games, three starts for Joliet.
“Matt is a guy that we are looking to compete for a spot at the back end of our rotation or in the middle of our bullpen,” Breyman said. “Even though his end of the year numbers didn't light up the stat sheet, his game by game production was intriguing. He had a few really good outings and a few bad ones. We hope to get some consistency with Matt and have him be a contributor in the 2013 season.”
New to the Slammers in 2013 will be RHP Jonathan Gonzalez. He pitched for the Gateway Grizzlies in 2012. It was his first season of professional baseball after graduating college in 2011. The Grizzlies selected him in the first round of the Frontier League Draft last season. He was drafted in the 33rd round of the MLB draft out of high school by the Dodgers, but did not sign.
“Gonzo has plus-stuff and good command,” Breyman said. “His numbers at Adelphi University were eye opening. His walk to strikeout ratio was extremely good. Last year, Gonzo had immediate success like expected. About five games in he experienced arm fatigue and had to go on the injured reserve list. In my opinion he was not conditioned for the season due to him not pitching the summer of 2011. With this new opportunity, I am giving him five months to get ready and show me the real Jonathan Gonzalez."
Infielder and Northern Illinois University alum Alex Jones signed with the Slammers as well. Jones closed the 2012 campaign with 53 starts for the Huskies, leading the team in several statistical categories on offense and defense, including batting average (.322), hits (68), doubles (21), triples (4), runs (33), on-base percentage (.379), slugging percentage (.474) and assists (148). Defensively in 244 chances, Jones only committed seven errors on the diamond for the Huskies and helped turn 31 of NIU's 42 double plays in 2012. Jones was one of 25 finalists for the Brooks Wallace Award, given to the nation’s best shortstop.
“I am very excited to have Alex coming on board this spring,” Breyman said. Anytime you are up for a national award in collegiate sports means you know how to play the game and play it well, and play it well he did for his entire career at Northern Illinois University. Alex will get a chance to compete for the job at short, but I am confident he will also be able to play second and third when called upon. His college offensive numbers won me over, but his ability to play multiple positions well was icing on the cake.”
RHP Dan Marcacci enters his third season of professional baseball but first with the Slammers. The right-hander pitched the past two seasons for the Evansville Otters. Last year he was used strictly as a relief pitcher in 25 appearances after starting 14 of 20 games in 2011 with Evansville. The University of Southern Indiana alum has a career 8-4 record in professional baseball.
“Dan is a proven pitcher in this league,” Breyman said. “Playing out his option in Evansville and being a free agent this off season is very beneficial for the Slammers pitching staff. I remember Dan coming out of the bullpen last year in back-to-back games in the 8th inning against us (the Grizzlies) and shutting the door and shutting it hard. I will look for Dan to compete for that 7th or 8th inning spot and be very big for us in pressure situations."
Fans can keep up-to-date on all the acquisitions this off-season for the Slammers by visiting www.jolietslammers.com