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LAST SEASON’S LONE LEFTY RETURNS TO THE EXPLORERS

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Sioux City, IA– The Sioux City Explorers today have announced the signing of LHP Jose Velez Jr to an American Association contract. The 2020 season will be Velez’ second season with Sioux City and 8th professionally.

Last season Velez was the lone southpaw out of the bullpen for the X’s. This season the Explorers have been sure to add left-handed depth with the addition of four left-handed pitchers plus Velez. In 32 total games he was impressive holding down a 1.65 ERA, throwing 32.2 innings. He walked only eleven batters for a BB/9 of 3.0 and struck out an impressive 47 equaling a K/9 of 12.9. In an eleven game stretch from May 26th to June 22nd Velez did not surrender a single run over 12.1 innings, walking just two and fanning 16.

Velez had already been all over the country even before getting his start in pro baseball. Born in New York, he played his high school ball at South Fort Myers High School before taking his talents north to Alma College in Michigan. In one season there he appeared in 10 games, 6 of those being starts, and struck out an incredible 78 batters in 44 innings with an ERA of 2.62 earning him 2013 Second-Team All-MIAA honors. Not only was Velez a force on the mound but he was incredible at swinging the bat as well. At Alma he batted .302 while leading the team with 5 home runs and 21 RBI’s.

Despite the excellent numbers Velez went undrafted, from which he found his way to the Evansville Otters of the Frontier League. He spent a shortened 2013 season there while putting in a full season of work in 2014. In that 2014 season Velez made 31 trips to the mound with 5 of those coming as starts. In 57 innings of work Velez would strike out 82 batters good for a K/9 of 12.9 while keeping an ERA of 2.53.

Those numbers did not go unnoticed as Velez earned his chance with a major league organization when the Twins signed him after the season. He began the 2015 season in the Twins organization but his time there would not be long. After bouncing between High A and A ball for the Twins he was traded to the Miami Marlins in June of that year. He finished out the season with their Class-A club, Greensboro Grasshoppers. The 2015 season saw Velez bounce between two levels, three different teams and two different major league organizations. Between it all he pitched in 34 games, collecting 4 saves, in 50.1 innings with an ERA of 4.29 and 69 strikeouts.

Miami started Velez in High A Jupiter in 2016, he would appear in 14 games and 19 innings with 2 saves and an ERA of 3.79 ERA and 22 punch outs. Although 2016 was the last season Velez appeared in affiliated ball. 2017 saw Velez make a quick stop with Long Island of the Atlantic league appearing in only 6 games. Velez made another appearance in the independent ranks in 2018 with the New Jersey Jackals then of the Can-Am League. The southpaw dominated out of the bullpen as he appeared in 40 games and held a masterful 1.67 ERA. He went 5-1 and tossed 54 innings while striking out 68 for the Jackals.

With the addition of LHP Jose Velez the Sioux City Explorers have now signed 19 players (14 Pitchers, 5 position players) to a 2020 contract.

LHP Jose Velez

RHP Jose Taveras

LHP Matt Marksberry

RHP Joe Riley

RHP Ryan Flores

RHP Liam O’Sullivan

RHP Tyler Cloyd

RHP Nate Gercken

RHP Ben Yokley

RHP AJ Nitzschke

LHP Jairo Labourt

RHP Matt Pobereyko

LHP Winston Lavendier

LHP Raudel Lazo

C Justin Felix

INF John Brontsema

OF Chase Harris

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.