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Slammers baseball: Roster gets boost from pitcher Ortiz

JOLIET – The Joliet Slammers’ 2017 roster is beginning to take shape.

The addition of Joseph Ortiz, a former Cubs prospect who pitched in 32 major-league games for the Texas Rangers in 2013, is being counted on to help the Slammers build on a 2016 campaign where they won the Frontier League East Division championship.

Ortiz, a native of Caracas, pitched for Tiburones de La Guaira of the Venezuelan Winter League in 2016. He originally was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Rangers at the age of 16. He also pitched for the Cubs’ Triple-A affiliate, the Iowa Cubs, in 2015.

“Joe is coming off an injury and wants to show major league teams he’s healthy,” Slammers manager Jeff Isom said. “We are looking at him to anchor our pitching staff.  He could be a starter or a receiver, that is still up in the air. But to get a pitcher with experience that Joe has, it’s exciting for our club. He is one of four players to play in the major leagues and come to the Frontier League.”

The Slammers also have some area products who will make their Frontier League debuts this season.

Zach Jones, a Northwestern graduate from Glenview, will play the outfield and first base for Isom. Maxwell Biedrzycki, an Illinois-Springfield graduate and Plainfield native, will add depth to the Slammers’ pitching staff. Justin Kovalsky, a graduate of Judson University and native of Bolingbrook, can catch and play third base.

Returning from last year’s East Division championship team is Marc Flores, who joined the Slammers in the second half of the 2015 season. In 2016, he played in 95 games and had 12 home runs and 62 RBIs. He was selected in the 30th round of the 2014 MLB draft by the White Sox.

The 2017 Frontier League Tryout Camp and Draft will be held April 24-25 at GCS Ballpark, home of the Gateway Grizzlies. All 12 teams will be present, along with scouts from multiple major-league franchises.

The Slammers open the 2017 season on the road on Friday, May 12, against the Lake Erie Crushers. They open at home on Tuesday, May 16, against the Traverse City Beach Bums. Individual-game tickets go on sale Monday, April 17. Groups and season ticket plans are on sale now. For information, call the Slammers box office at 815-722-2287.

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