Wagner Gomez signed; Seven invited to Ducks spring training
(Central Islip, N.Y., April 15, 2019) – The Long Island Ducks today officially began their spring training workouts at Bethpage Ballpark in advance of their 20th Anniversary Season, presented by Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center. The first pitch of the 2019 season will be thrown on Friday, April 26, when the Ducks visit the York Revolution. Opening Night on Long Island will follow one week later on Friday, May 3, when the Ducks host the Revolution at 6:35 p.m.
“It is exciting to officially get going and have the entire team on the field together for the first time,” said Ducks Manager Wally Backman. “This is going to be a special year for the franchise, and we are looking forward to Opening Day.”
Entering spring training, the Ducks roster contains 33 players, 26 of whom have officially been signed (FULL ROSTER). The roster includes 17 former Major Leaguers, 21 players who have reached the Triple-A level or higher, and 13 who have previously played for the Ducks.
Prior to the team’s workout, the Ducks re-signed catcher Wagner Gomez. The switch-hitter returns after joining the team late in the 2018 season. He started the regular season finale at catcher while also appearing as a relief pitcher at York on August 31. The Queens, N.Y. resident earned a spring training invite last year after participating in the Ducks open player tryout. He spent the first five seasons of his professional career in the Cincinnati Reds organization. The 27-year-old began his career as a position player, totaling nine home runs, 54 RBI, 47 runs, 18 doubles and three triples over 130 games. He then converted to a pitcher in 2013 and appeared in 36 games over two seasons, striking out 43 batters in 38.2 innings. Gomez was originally signed by the Reds as an international free agent in 2010.
The team has invited the following seven players to spring training:
Rob Rogers (RHP) – Rogers has spent each of the past two seasons with the Ducks. The right-hander made 13 appearances in 2018, totaling a 3.75 ERA and 16 strikeouts to five walks over 12 innings. He suffered a season-ending elbow injury in June and is currently rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. The Islip, N.Y. resident pitched during the entire 2017 season with Long Island, making 58 appearances overall. He went 6-1 with a 3.93 ERA, two saves and 40 strikeouts to 30 walks over 66.1 innings of work. Prior to joining the Ducks, the 28-year-old spent the first four seasons of his career in the Los Angeles Dodger organization, reaching as high as Triple-A.
Chris Pike (RHP) – Pike made nine appearances (four starts) with the Ducks during the second half of the 2018 season. He went 1-1 with a 7.62 ERA and 14 strikeouts over 26 innings of work and also made one postseason appearance with the club. The Water Mill, N.Y. resident participated in the team’s open player tryout prior to the start of the regular season. The 26-year-old pitched with the Tampa Bay Rays organization during the first four seasons of his professional career, reaching as high as Triple-A.
Alex Katz (LHP) – Katz has played four seasons of professional baseball, including parts of three with the Chicago White Sox organization and parts of two in the Baltimore Orioles system. In 120 career appearances (one start), he has compiled a 6-8 record with a 3.95 ERA, seven saves and 204 strikeouts over 200.1 innings pitched. The New Hyde Park, N.Y. native split the 2018 season with Single-A Delmarva and Advanced-A Frederick in the Orioles organization. He went 3-2 with a 4.31 ERA, one save and 56 strikeouts over 33 appearances. The St. John’s (N.Y.) alum also pitched with the White Sox during spring training this year.
Jordan Jackson (C) – Jackson was a member of the Santa Fe Fuego in the independent Pecos League during the 2018 season. The 23-year-old played in nine games, totaling a .308 batting average with one home run, eight RBIs, six runs, eight hits and two doubles. The New Jersey native played his collegiate baseball at Bluefield College (Va.) and his high school baseball at Ridgefield Park Junior-Senior High School.
Jesse Russo (OF) – Russo was also invited to spring training after taking part in the team’s open player tryout. He played with the Alpine Cowboys of the independent Pecos League in 2018, accruing a .344 batting average with one homer, 14 RBIs, 15 runs, 21 doubles, one triple and four stolen bases over 15 games. The Westbury, N.Y. resident played his collegiate baseball on Long Island, spending one season at Hofstra University and three at SUNY College at Old Westbury. He totaled a .387 batting average with three homers, 73 RBIs, 117 runs, 42 doubles, 12 triples and a .441 on-base percentage in 119 games.
Francis Prettitore (C) – Prettitore was invited to spring training after participating in the Ducks open player tryout on April 13. The Bayville, N.Y. native played his collegiate baseball at Mitchell College (Conn.). In 79 games, he batted .344 with five homers, 78 RBIs, 63 runs, 13 doubles, two triples and 10 stolen bases. The 23-year-old played his high school baseball on Long Island at Locust Valley High School.
Brandon Sherman (LHP) – Sherman also attended the club’s open player tryout and received an invitation to spring training. The southpaw played his collegiate baseball at Nassau Community College. He has previously pitched with the Long Island Black Sox in the Zorrilla League.
The Ducks spring training schedule will include two exhibition games, both of which will be played at Bethpage Ballpark. Long Island will play back-to-back home games against local amateurs, the Long Island Black Sox, to follow on Monday, April 22, and Tuesday, April 23 (complete schedule below). Admission to the games against the Black Sox will be free for Ducks season ticket holders, while a $5 donation to the QuackerJack Foundation will apply for the general public.
The complete spring training schedule is as follows:
Monday, April 22 – 1:00 p.m. – Black Sox at Ducks
Tuesday, April 23 – 1:00 p.m. – Black Sox at Ducks
Following a season-opening road trip to York and Lancaster, Pa., Opening Night at Bethpage Ballpark will take place on Friday, May 3 when the Ducks host the Revolution at 6:35 p.m. Gates will open at 5:35 (5:20 for full season ticket holders), and the first 1,500 fans in attendance will receive Wally Backman Bobbleheads, courtesy of P.C. Richard & Son. Fans are encouraged to be in their seats by 6:15 p.m. to enjoy pre-game team introductions and traditional Opening Night pomp and circumstance. Tickets to the game, and all Ducks home games, can be purchased by visiting the box office, calling (631) 940-TIXX or CLICKING HERE. Season tickets, mini plans and group outings are also available by calling (631) 940-3825.
The Long Island Ducks are members of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball and play their home games at Bethpage Ballpark. For further information, call (631) 940-DUCK or visit www.liducks.com.
About the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball (ALPB)
With eight teams in the Mid-Atlantic and Texas, the ALPB is a leader in baseball innovation and a player gateway to Major League Baseball. Through its exclusive partnership with MLB, the Atlantic League tests Major League Baseball rules and equipment initiatives. The Atlantic League has sent over 900 players to MLB organizations while drawing more than 40 million fans to its affordable, family-friendly ballparks throughout its 22-year history.
For more information, please visit www.AtlanticLeague.com.