Sioux City, IA (February 5, 2020) – The Sioux City Explorers today have announced the signings of LHP Jairo Labourt and RHP Ben Yokley.
Jairo Labourt will be playing in his ninth season of professional baseball and his first with the Sioux City Explorers. Labourt is a native of the Dominican Republic, he was signed at just 17 years old as an international free agent by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2011.
Standing at 6’5, 234 pounds, Labourt is a big left handed arm for the X’s. He was mainly a starter in the five seasons that he spent with the Toronto Blue Jays. Labourt spent three seasons in rookie ball before making the jump to Low-A and A ball Lansing in 2014. That season Labourt saw the most action in Low-A Vancouver where he made 15 starts, put together a 5-3 record and an ERA of 1.77. He struck out 82 batters in 71.1 innings of work, good for a K/9 of 10.35.
In 2015 Labourt made the jump to High-A Dunedin, while there at just 21 years old he established himself as a prospect in the Blue Jays organization. He made 18 starts with a 2-7 record and a 4.59 ERA. He struck out 70 batters in 80.1 innings of work. Armed with a sinking fastball, a whiff inducing slider and changeup Labourt was named to the 2015 World All-Star team. In the game against the team USA All-Stars he tossed a perfect bottom of the fifth inning, striking out a pair and getting game MVP, Kyle Schwarber, to ground out.
2015 however proved to be the final season with the Blue Jays for Labourt. He was shipped off at the trade deadline with fellow Blue Jays prospects Daniel Norris and Matt Boyd to the Detroit Tigers in exchange for Cy Young award winning pitcher David Price. Labourt finished out the 2015 season with High-A Lakeland in the Tigers system making seven starts for the Flying Tigers.
After the 2016 season with Lakeland that saw Labourt split time between the starting rotation and the bullpen, 2017 was a banner year for the hard throwing lefty. During the 2017 season Labourt went on a true meteoric rise through the Tigers minor league system. It only took him eight games to be promoted to Double-A Erie. He only needed 21 games in Double-A to get the promotion to Triple-A Toledo. All in all, during the 2017 season between three different levels of the Detroit Tigers minor league system, Labourt made 45 trips to the mound posting a 2.17 ERA, four saves and struck out 79 batters in 66.1 innings of work.
All of the success rewarded Labourt with the ultimate promotion to the big league club. He made his big league debut on September 1, 2017 against the Cleveland Indians, tossing a scoreless inning in a 10-0 Indians victory. Labourt stay in the big leagues however was brief, appearing in six games for six innings, totaling an ERA of 4.50, striking out four but walking seven.
Labourt would then be designated for assignment by the Tigers in February of that off-season and was claimed by multiple teams before ultimately landing with the Chicago White Sox. The 2018 season was spent in the Dominican Summer League, going 0-2 with a 4.76 ERA in five appearances and one start. Labourt took the 2019 season off, before agreeing to terms with the Explorers for 2020.
Ben Yokley is entering his fourth season of professional baseball and first in independent ball with the Explorers.
Yokley a National Honor Society student in high school, played his collegiate ball at the United States Air Force Academy. He was a major contributor for the Falcons as he set a school record of 95 career pitching appearances over his college career. Over those 95 appearances he registered a 5.50 ERA and a 7-8 record. He also struck out 137 batters in 121.2 innings and never allowed a single home run in his four years at the Air Force Academy.
The native of Arvada, Colorado was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 29th round of the 2015 MLB Draft He became the first pitcher to ever be drafted out of the Air Force Academy. Post graduation he was given 60 days of leave before he would begin his military service and with that time pitched at the rookie ball level posting a 5.40 ERA in seven games.
Yokley did not play professional baseball during the 2016 and 2017 seasons as he was completing his service time for the United States Air Force and still currently, Yokley, is a Captain in the Colorado Air National Guard.
In 2018 the right hander spent most of the season at A level Peoria, appearing in 15 games with a 2-1 record and a 3.86 ERA. He struck out 20 batters in 21 innings.
The strong 2018 season earned him a promotion to High-A, Palm Beach for the 2019 season. Last year Yokley made 31 appearances including a single start, holding a 3.26 ERA and registering four saves. Yokley’s numbers were good enough to earn him a spot on the Florida State League, Mid-Season All-Star Team.
With the additions Jairo Labourt and Ben Yokley the Explorers now have seven players signed to American Association Contracts for the 2020 season.
RHP Ben Yokley
LHP Jairo Labourt
RHP Matt Pobereyko
LHP Winston Lavendier
LHP Raudel Lazo
OF Sebastian Zawada
OF Ricky Ramirez Jr.
The Sioux City Explorers 28th season in Siouxland will begin on May 19th at the Kansas City T-Bones. The X’s open up their home schedule on May 26th against the Sioux Falls Canaries. Season tickets, flex tickets, group tickets and luxury suites are now for sale for all 50 Explorers home games for the 2020 season. Simply call (712) 277-WINS (9467) to order your ticket package today.