Somerset Patriots Sign Atlantic League All-Star Luis Cruz

Bridgewater, NJ- The Somerset Patriots have signed 2018 Atlantic League left-handed pitcher Luis Cruz for the 2019 season.

“I am very happy to be able to play with the Somerset Patriots this season,” said Cruz. “I will do everything in my power to help this team win.” LuisCruzIG

Cruz enters his first year in Somerset and second season in the Atlantic League. The southpaw reliever shined out of the bullpen for the Road Warriors in 2018. He finished the season 1-2 with a 2.51 ERA and a 79/25 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 44 appearances (two starts) over 71.2 innings of work. Cruz also recorded two saves on the year.

The San Juan, Puerto Rico native led all Road Warriors pitchers (minimum 30 innings) in ERA, WHIP (1.24) and K/9 (9.92). He also finished fourth on the team in innings pitched despite working the majority of the season as a relief pitcher. In fact, 25 of his 44 appearances in a Road Warriors uniform went for multiple innings.

“We could not be any happier to add Luis to our pitching staff,” said Somerset Patriots manager Brett Jodie. “He was a stud with the Road Warriors last year as a lefty reliever and starter. Cruz was another guy that was extremely consistent the entire season. He can get both righties and lefties out and can pitch multiple innings if necessary. We faced Luis enough (with little success) and are fortunate to now have him on our side this year.”

Cruz got off to a hot start with the Road Warriors last year. He allowed just one run over his first 12 appearances (0.49 ERA) to begin the year, before also tossing nine consecutive scoreless appearances to end the first half. The 5’9” lefty allowed an earned run in just five of his first 27 appearances leading into the All-Star break: good for a 1.58 ERA. He was one of three Road Warriors selected to the Midsummer Classic on Long Island, where he tossed a scoreless inning of relief.

The former Houston Astros’ farmhand led the Atlantic League amongst pitchers with at least 30 relief appearances in innings pitched (71.2) and strikeouts (79). Additionally, Cruz excelled against the Patriots, limiting his future team to one run over 11 innings of work (0.82 ERA) in seven appearances.

Cruz spent one season as an All-Star with the Joliet Slammers (Frontier League) prior to joining the Atlantic League. He went 5-5 with a 3.23 ERA and 67 strikeouts over 61.1 innings as a 12-game starting pitcher for the Slammers in 2017, en route to an All-Star Game selection.

Before Joliet, Cruz spent the first eight seasons of his professional career in the Astros organization, including 28 games (19 starts) with Triple-A Fresno in 2015. He was named an MiLB.com Organization All-Star in 2013 after he posted 10 wins and 150 strikeouts over 130.1 innings in time split between High-A Lancaster and Double-A Corpus Christi. Overall, Cruz tallied 49 wins and 746 strikeouts over his eight years in the Astros organization.

The 28 year-old was originally a ninth round draft pick by the Astros out of Academia Santa Monica in 2008.

The Somerset Patriots will be back in action on Friday, April 26th for Opening Day at TD Bank Ballpark. Stay up to date on all the team news throughout the offseason online; on all of our social media platforms, and on our mobile app. For more information, visit www.somersetpatriots.com.

About the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball (ALPB)
The Atlantic League has been a leader in professional baseball and a gateway to Major League Baseball since 1998. Over 40 million fans have attended Atlantic League games and more than 900 players and 70 managers and coaches have joined MLB organizations directly from the ALPB.  The Atlantic League emphasizes winning baseball games, showcasing the talent of top-caliber players and offering affordable family entertainment.

For more information, please visit www.atlanticleague.com.

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Somerset Patriots To Celebrate 50th Anniversary Of 1969 Mets

Patriots-NYM1969Bridgewater, NJ – The Somerset Patriots will host a special 50th Anniversary Celebration of the 1969 World Series Champion New York Mets at TD Bank Ballpark on Sunday, June 9, 2019.

Four members of the 1969 World Series Championship team will be in attendance to be honored down on the field during the pre-game ceremonies and then sign autographs for fans at the ballpark. Scheduled to appear are Art Shamsky, Ed Kranepool, Cleon Jones, and Ron Swoboda.

Fans will be able to meet Shamsky, Kranepool, Jones, and Swoboda on the main concourse for two hours during the game. In order to get to as many fans as possible, the Mets will sign one item per person and will not be taking pictures at that time.

The four World Series Champions will take part in a special VIP Meet and Greet in the Diamond Club from 12:00 pm to 12:40 pm. Tickets for this special event are $69 and will include an autographed 8”x 10” commemorative photo of all four Mets, one additional item that participants can bring that will be signed, and a posed picture with the four players. The VIP Meet and Greet will also include food and beverages (non-alcoholic) with the ticket to enjoy the game from the Diamond Club. To purchase VIP Meet and Greet Tickets, fans can order online by selecting the option called “1969 Mets Meet and Greet Diamond Club” or “Diamond Club.”

Shamsky was a .300 hitter with 14 home runs for the Mets during the 1969 season (both good for second on the team). He batted cleanup in the post-season and hit .538. He had an eight-year Major League Baseball career with the Cincinnati Reds, Mets, Chicago Cubs, and Oakland A’s. His Mets career spanned from 1968 to 1972.

Kranepool spent his entire 18-year career with the Mets from 1962-1979 and is a member of the New York Mets Hall of Fame, inducted in 1990. He hit a home run in Game Three of the 1969 World Series in New York’s 5-0 win. Kranepool finished his Mets career with a .261 batting average in 1,871 games. He had back-to-back .300 seasons in 1974 and 1975.

Jones spent all but the final season of his 13-year Major League career with the Mets. He finished his New York career with a .281 batting average in 1,201 games from 1963 to 1975. Jones was inducted in the New York Mets Hall of Fame in 1991. He batted .429 in the 1969 NLCS over the Atlanta Braves, including a 3-for-5 performance with a home run and three RBI in Game Two of the series. Jones also caught the memorable final out of the 1969 World Series, dropping to a knee while making a two-handed catch, to seal New York’s first world championship.

Swoboda played six of his nine Major League seasons with the Mets. He also played for the Montreal Expos and New York Yankees. Swoboda made a spectacular diving catch of a ball hit by Brooks Robinson in the ninth inning to end a rally by the Baltimore Orioles in Game Four of the 1969 World Series. It became one of the most iconic images of the post-season and Mets history. Swoboda hit .400 during the series and hit the game-winning RBI in Game Five of the series.

The Somerset Patriots will be back in action on Friday, April 26th for Opening Day at TD Bank Ballpark. Stay up to date on all the team news throughout the offseason online; on all of our social media platforms, and on our mobile app. For more information, visit www.somersetpatriots.com.

About the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball (ALPB)

The Atlantic League has been a leader in professional baseball and a gateway to Major League Baseball since 1998. Over 40 million fans have attended Atlantic League games and more than 900 players and 70 managers and coaches have joined MLB organizations directly from the ALPB. The Atlantic League emphasizes winning baseball games, showcasing the talent of top-caliber players and offering affordable family entertainment.

For more information, please visit www.atlanticleague.com.

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Somerset Patriots Bring Back All-Star LHP Mike Antonini

 

Bridgewater, NJ- The Somerset Patriots have re-signed left-handed pitcher and 2018 Atlantic League Post-Season All-Star Mike Antonini for the 2019 season.

“I’m grateful to be back with the Patriots for another season,” said Antonini. “I look forward to contributing in any way I can to help bring a championship back to Somerset!” MikeAntoniniIG

Antonini enters his third season with the Somerset Patriots and fifth in the Atlantic League. The southpaw reliever impressed with a 1.61 ERA over nine starts with the Patriots in 2017, but built upon those numbers out of the bullpen in 2018. He went 3-2 with a 1.41 ERA over 42 relief appearances, including a 56/11 strikeout-to-walk (K/BB) ratio over 51 innings of work.

The Aston, Pennsylvania native led the Atlantic League with a 0.76 WHIP (minimum of 40 innings pitched). Additionally, only Felipe Paulino (Sugar Land Skeeters) had a lower ERA (1.18) than Antonini in the entire league among pitchers with a minimum of 50 innings of work.

Antonini did not allow an earned run over his first 10 appearances, stretching 14.2 innings of work from April 27th to May 31st. He allowed just three hits over this stretch. The second-year Patriots lefty picked up his play again after June 14th. He allowed just four runs and four walks while striking out 32 batters with a 1.15 ERA over his final 27 appearances of the regular season. That included 14-straight shutout relief appearances from July 8th to August 18th.

His success continued in the postseason, where he made three scoreless and hitless relief appearances in consecutive games, striking out six batters against one walk over 3.1 innings of work.

“We are thrilled to be joined by Mike again in 2019,” said Somerset Patriots manager Brett Jodie. “Mike was the definition of consistency for us last year. He was tough against opposing teams the entire year. You just knew you would get his best every time out. Antonini can start of relieve, but last year he really thrived as a shut down left-handed reliever for us. He is truly the total package and we look forward to teaming up again for big things this season.”

Antonini went 2-1 with a 1.62 ERA over nine starts in his first go-around in Somerset back in 2017. The lefty struck out 47 batters against just 10 walks over his 39 innings pitched that year, including a career-best 10.8 K/9 ratio.

He did not allow more than two runs or five hits in any of his nine regular season starts in 2017, including a 10-strikeout performance over five shutout, one-hit innings on August 13th against the Lancaster Barnstormers. His lone loss – which came in his next start on August 19th at Southern Maryland – occurred after he tossed six innings of a seven-inning game without allowing a hit.

Antonini appeared in 13 games with the Camden Riversharks in 2013 before he pitched for the Bridgeport Bluefish in 2015 and 2016. His previous best Atlantic League season came in 2015 with the Bluefish when he posted four wins over 11 starts with a 2.79 ERA and 62 strikeouts in 67.2 innings of work.

The Georgia College and State University alumnus also enjoyed a solid season for the New Jersey Jackals (Can-Am) in 2014 with a 9-3 record, 2.84 ERA and 115 strikeouts in 117.1 innings pitched. That included a Can-Am record 15-strikeout performance on July 12th, 2014 against the Lincoln Saltdogs.

Antonini spent the first four years of his professional career in the New York Mets organization, and reached the Triple-A level in both 2009 and 2010. He was then traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers and was named a 2011 MiLB.com Organizational All-Star with Double-A Chattanooga. He appeared in 30 games with Triple-A Albuquerque in 2012 and was twice called up to the Majors, but never appeared in a game.

The 2007 18th-round draft pick is 62-65 in his 11-year professional career with a 4.00 ERA.

The Somerset Patriots will be back in action on Friday, April 26th for Opening Day at TD Bank Ballpark. Stay up to date on all the team news throughout the offseason online; on all of our social media platforms, and on our mobile app. For more information, visit www.somersetpatriots.com.

About the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball (ALPB)
The Atlantic League has been a leader in professional baseball and a gateway to Major League Baseball since 1998. Over 40 million fans have attended Atlantic League games and more than 900 players and 70 managers and coaches have joined MLB organizations directly from the ALPB.  The Atlantic League emphasizes winning baseball games, showcasing the talent of top-caliber players and offering affordable family entertainment.

For more information, please visit www.atlanticleague.com.

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All-Star Game and Team MVP Alfredo Rodriguez To Return To Somerset Patriots

Bridgewater, NJ- The Somerset Patriots have announced the first member of its 2019 roster in the signing of Atlantic League All-Star shortstop Alfredo Rodriguez.

“I’m extremely excited to be back with this first-class organization,” said Rodriguez. “It is a special organization to me from top to bottom. I look forward to bringing a championship back to Somerset!” ARodFB

Rodriguez enters his third season with the Somerset Patriots and third in the Atlantic League. The everyday shortstop enjoyed a breakout 2018 season that saw him achieve a number of accolades, including both Mid-Season and Post-Season All-Star honors, the All-Star Game MVP award and the Patriots’ team MVP award.

As for stats, Rodriguez led the Patriots in games played (122), at-bats (432), hits (131), runs (69), and RBI (55). His .303 batting average ranked second on the team and 10th in the Atlantic League, while his .395 on-base percentage was also second on the team and fourth in the league. He set a career-high with five home runs: fourth most on the team.

The Oak Hill, Virginia native led all Atlantic League shortstops in batting, on-base percentage, games, runs, doubles, and walks (58). He also ranked second amongst shortstops in at-bats, hits, RBI and stolen bases (17). Defensively, Rodriguez played in more innings (1,034.2) and recorded more put-outs (190), assists (309), and double plays (76) than any other shortstop in the league.

“What better guy to kick off the 2019 signing class than our team MVP in Alfredo,” said Somerset Patriots manager Brett Jodie. “Alfredo truly put together a spectacular 2018 season in every facet. And it was not through streaky success; but through sustained, consistent play day-in and day-out. It is a manager’s dream to have someone play for you that you know brings passion, energy and great, consistent play every day to the field. “Rod” is a leader in our clubhouse and we are fortunate to have him back again.”

Rodriguez also shined on the league’s biggest stage, going 3-for-3 from the plate in the Atlantic League All-Star Game. He reached base four times and recorded two RBI – including the game-tying and walk-off game-winning runs – en route to being named the game’s MVP.

At the end of the regular season, Somerset Patriots fans voted Rodriguez as the team MVP. His impressive season carried over to the Atlantic League playoffs, where he went 7-for-16 from the plate, good for a team-best .438 batting average. He also scored a pair of runs, drew a team-high five walks and finished with a .591 on-base percentage over five games.

The University of Maryland Alum also excelled in 2017 with the Patriots. He led the team in doubles (20), ranked second in games played (112), at-bats (405), hits (104) and finished third in runs (57) and walks (50) that season. Additionally, Rodriguez hit .412 (7-for-17) with three runs scored in the 2017 playoffs.

He was originally drafted in the 17th round of the 2012 draft by the Milwaukee Brewers. He spent the first three years of his career in the Brewers organization, including a season with High-A Brevard County in 2014. Rodriguez then spent his next two seasons with the Joliet Slammers (Frontier League), where he never missed a game, leading the league in games played both years.

The Somerset Patriots will be back in action on Friday, April 26th for Opening Day at TD Bank Ballpark. Stay up to date on all the team news throughout the offseason online; on all of our social media platforms, and on our mobile app. For more information, visit www.somersetpatriots.com.

About the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball (ALPB)
The Atlantic League has been a leader in professional baseball and a gateway to Major League Baseball since 1998. Over 40 million fans have attended Atlantic League games and more than 900 players and 70 managers and coaches have joined MLB organizations directly from the ALPB.  The Atlantic League emphasizes winning baseball games, showcasing the talent of top-caliber players and offering affordable family entertainment.

For more information, please visit www.atlanticleague.com.

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Somerset Patriots Announce 2019 Coaching Staff

Bridgewater, NJ- The Somerset Patriots and manager Brett Jodie have announced the coaching staff for the 2019 season. Glen Barker will return as the team’s Third Base/ Hitting coach while Jon Hunton will also return as the team’s Pitching Coach/ Director of Baseball Operations. Fox Beyer will continue to work as a volunteer Assistant Coach.

“Around the turn of the new year, every year, I find myself getting really excited about baseball and our season,” said Somerset Patriots manager Brett Jodie. “There are so many wonderful memories throughout the years in Somerset. It truly is a special and unique environment here. I am very fortunate to be a small part of such an awesome organization with so many great people, players, staff and fans.” 2019CoachesBlog

Jodie enters his seventh season as manager and 16th overall season with the Somerset Patriots organization. He carries a 487-336 (.592) record in his first six seasons as a manager, including a 2015 Atlantic Championship. His teams have won seven of a possible 12 Half Championships and have made the playoffs in each of his seasons at the helm.

The South Carolina native was named the 2015 Atlantic League Manager of the Year after his team not only won the league’s title but recorded a historic 50-win first half: the most wins in any half by any team in league history. Additionally, Jodie’s 2013 team set a franchise record with 90 wins and he became the fastest manager in league history to win 250 games, setting that mark on August 26, 2015.

Jodie first joined the Patriots organization in 2003 as a player. That year, the former New York Yankee southpaw went 12-5 with a 3.78 ERA en route to an Atlantic League championship. He also made 10 starts with Somerset in 2005 before he announced his retirement. Jodie then became the team’s pitching coach in 2006 – a position he held through 2012 – and the Director of Player Personnel from 2007 through 2013. He won two additional championships as a coach in 2008 and 2009.

Jodie is the longest-tenured coach in the Atlantic League and is tied with Mark Mason (York) as the league’s longest-tenured manager.

Barker enters his fourth season as the Third Base/Hitting Coach in Somerset. Under his tutelage last year, the Patriots as a team finished second in the Atlantic League in stolen bases (173) and walks (460), and third in on-base percentage (.348). The team also struck out the second-fewest amount of times in the league (850).

Barker played in 235 games for the Houston Astros from 1999 through 2001. In 1999, Barker hit .288 with 23 runs scored, 21 hits, two doubles, a home run, 11 RBI and 17 stolen bases in 81 games played.

He was originally drafted in the 11th round of the 1993 MLB draft by the Detroit Tigers. He spent six seasons in the organization before joining the Astros in 1999. His minor league career also included time in the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles organizations.

For his minor league career, Barker had 430 runs scored, 656 hits, 113 doubles, 31 triples, 37 home runs, 262 RBI and 236 stolen bases.

Hunton enters his eighth overall season with the Somerset Patriots and second as the team’s Pitching Coach/ Director of Baseball Operations. He previously spent six seasons as a record-setting relief pitcher; the latter four of which he was also the Director of Player Personnel.

The North Plainfield, New Jersey native spearheaded a pitching staff that led the league in strikeouts (997) and finished second in ERA (3.62), WHIP (1.29), BAA (.253) and walks allowed (335) in his first season as pitching coach. He also played an integral role in putting together a roster that finished with the best overall record in the Liberty Division.

Hunton finished his Atlantic League playing career as the single season (49, 2014) and all-time saves leader (167), 158 of which came with Somerset. Additionally, he was twice named an Atlantic League All-Star (2013 and 2016) and has won three Atlantic League championships, including two with the Patriots (2008 and 2015).

In 2014, Hunton became the first player in professional baseball to hold the title of Director of Player Personnel while still playing. The 6’9” closer either led or finished second in the league in saves in four-straight seasons (2013-2016). He previously had years of service in both the Chicago Cubs and Oakland Athletics organizations.

Hunton has 275 career saves over a 14-year career that’s taken him all over the United States and around the world.

Beyer comes back for his 12th season as a volunteer Assistant Coach/ Bench Coach for the Somerset Patriots.

He spent parts of three seasons filling the same position in the Washington Nationals and Philadelphia Phillies organizations- both at the Double-A level.

The Somerset Patriots will be back in action on Friday, April 26th for Opening Day at TD Bank Ballpark. Stay up to date on all the team news throughout the offseason online; on all of our social media platforms, and on our mobile app. For more information, visit www.somersetpatriots.com.

About the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball (ALPB)
The Atlantic League has been a leader in professional baseball and a gateway to Major League Baseball since 1998. Over 40 million fans have attended Atlantic League games and more than 900 players and 70 managers and coaches have joined MLB organizations directly from the ALPB.  The Atlantic League emphasizes winning baseball games, showcasing the talent of top-caliber players and offering affordable family entertainment.

For more information, please visit www.atlanticleague.com.

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