Sioux City, IA (March 11th, 2022) — The Sioux City Explorers have announced the signing of RHP Zach Hedges to a 2022 American Association Contract.
The 2022 campaign will be Hedges eighth season of professional baseball and his second with the Sioux City Explorers.
Over the course of the 2021 season, Hedges proved to be the workhorse of the Explorers starting rotation. He finished tied for the league lead in games started (21) and second in innings pitched (120), finishing only two innings shy of the top spot.
The right hander was Sioux City’s opening day starter, a game where he pitched six shutout innings against the Houston Apollos. Over the course of the campaign he went 8-5 with a 4.57 ERA, striking out 71 batters and walking 37.
A native of Glendora, CA Hedges was a 26th round draft pick of the Chicago Cubs in the 2014 MLB Draft out of Azusa Pacific University. After a collegiate season where he went 5-4 in 13 games, 12 starts with a 2.74 ERA in 85.1 innings.
In 2016 Hedges broke out in the Cubbies farm system. In 24 starts between High-A and Double-A, he compiled a 2.75 ERA in 144 innings striking out 95 while walking only 27. Pitching the bulk of the season in the High-A, Carolina League, he finished third in both ERA (2.89) and WHIP (1.14) and placed second in BB/9 (1.68).
The following two seasons Hedges bounced between Double and Triple-A. In 2017, Hedges was used as a starter making all 26 appearances that way, and fashioned a 4.49 ERA in 146.1 innings along with 76 strikeouts.
Fast forward to 2018, and the Cubs attempted to turn the 6’4”, now 29 year old into a reliever. He made just four starts that season and appeared out of the bullpen 32 times. He held a 3.40 ERA, picked up a pair of saves, and struck out 58 in 87.1 innings of work.
Hedges in 2019 transitioned back into a starting role and put together a 3.18 ERA in Double-A over the course of four starts before an injury sidelined him. He was released by the Cubs organization in May of 2020.
In six seasons with the Cubbies, Hedges was 35-34 in 128 games and 81 starts. In 554 innings he had a 3.64 ERA, 348 strikeouts and showcased elite control at the minor league level, walking only 125 batters for a BB/9 of 2.0.
With the addition of RHP Zach Hedges the Explorers have now signed six players (5 pitchers, 1 position player) to a 2022 contract.
RHP Matteo Bocchi
RHP Zach Hedges
RHP Carlos Sierra
RHP Michael Slaten
RHP Jonah Smith
OF Sebastian Zawada