GARY, IN. 2-9-2011 – The Gary SouthShore RailCats have agreed to terms with a pair of left-handed relievers for the 2011 season in Zeb Engle and Aaron Jenkins.
Engle, 24, looks to build on an excellent first campaign with the RailCats which saw the rookie earn a 5-2 record with a 3.72 ERA in 32 games including three starts after being acquired in a trade with the River City Rascals (Frontier) before the season. Engle charged out of the gates allowing only one earned run in 8.1 innings, good for a paltry 1.08 ERA during the season’s first month. After a solid June, Engle struggled through the much of July, which is not surprising for a first year professional adjusting to the rigors of a lengthened season and increased workload. The Spring City, Pa. native rebounded to put together a great August en route to a 3.45 ERA for the month and helping the RailCats earn a sixth consecutive playoff berth. Engle excelled against lefties holding them to a .239 average for the season. Engle was also especially tough with runners in scoring position holding opposing hitters to only 11 hits in 68 at-bats, good for a measly .175 average.
Engle brought an impeccable college resume to the RailCats after tearing through the record books at Division III Ursinus (Pa.) College the last four years. Engle set the school and Centennial Conference record for career strikeouts with 302 and was the 2009 league Pitcher of the Year following a near-perfect season. Engle pitched in 13 games and made nine starts in 2009, going 9-0 with a 1.87 ERA, allowing just 72 hits in 81.2 innings and fanning an amazing 91 hitters. That season earned Engle Second Team All-America honors from D3Baseball.com and the Mid-Atlantic Region Pitcher of the Year award from the American Baseball Coaches Association.
Jenkins, 26, is a veteran of four professional seasons which includes a very brief stint with the RailCats in 2009. Jenkins appeared in just one game with the ‘Cats allowing one earned run on two hits while walking two and striking out one in two innings of work. Drafted in the 22nd round of the 2007 Major League Entry Draft by the Oakland Athletics, Jenkins spent the remainder of that season at rookie-level Vancouver, allowing only 13 hits and striking out 41 in 22.1 innings. The 5’10” Jenkins split time in 2008 between Wichita Wingnuts and Grand Prairie Air Hogs and last season with the Laredo Broncos.
A star at the University of Northern Iowa in the powerhouse Missouri Valley Conference, Jenkins is the program’s single-season and career strikeout record holder. A Minnesota native, Jenkins posted a team-leading 3.04 ERA in 14 starts as a junior in 2007, amassing an impressive 126 punch-outs in just 94.2 innings to set the single-season mark, earning Second Team All-MVC honors in the process. Jenkins finished his three-year career with 247 strikeouts.
The additions of Engle and Jenkins give the RailCats 11 players under contract for the 2011 season joining fellow pitchers Will Krout and Nolan Nicholson, catchers John Parham and Mike Valadez, infielders Chris Carrara and Brian Kolb, and outfielders Adam Klein, Mike Massaro, and Cody McMorris. All 11 players will be part of an at least 28-man squad when the RailCats open Spring Training on April 30 at U. S. Steel Yard.
The RailCats open the 2011 season against the Grand Prairie Air Hogs on May 12. Opening Day 2011 at U. S. Steel Yard will feature a contest against the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks at 7:10 p.m. Season tickets and flex packs are on sale now by visiting www.railcatsbaseball.com or by talking to one of the RailCats ticket experts at 219.882.2255.