SAUGET — The Gateway Grizzlies have added local product Aaron Newcomb to their 2014 roster. The Centralia native will start his third professional season when the Grizzlies regular season gets under way on May 16.
Newcomb, who turned 24 on March 2, was drafted by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the 19th round of the 2012 MLB draft after finishing up his collegiate career at Division II powerhouse Delta State University.
"I'm excited to join the Grizzlies this year," Newcomb said. "I've been working hard this offseason trying to improve my mechanics. I'm ready to see my progress."
Newcomb went a combined 4-5 in 2012 and 2013 in the Angels organization. The 6-2 205-pound right-hander appeared in a total of 27 games (15 starts). He pitched for Rookie Ball Orem in 2012 and Single-A Burlington in 2013.
"Aaron comes in with a good amount of pro experience and a lot of talent," Grizzlies eighth-year manager Phil Warren said. "This is a big signing for us."
Newcomb played his final two collegiate seasons for Delta State, winning a combined 18 games and helping guide the Statesmen to a Division II College World Series Runner-Up finish in his senior season. Newcomb led the team with 11 wins during his senior season while notching a 3.07 ERA. He transferred to Delta State after pitching his first two seasons of college at Olney Central College in Olney.
The former Central Orphan was a high school standout on the mound, earning first team all-conference honors during his senior season. Newcomb joins a list of local products who have pitched for the Grizzlies, including Okawville native Joel Boeschen, Columbia product Andy Galle and Greenville native Cale Johnson.
"I'm very excited to pitch close to home this year," Newcomb mentioned. "I always enjoy pitching in front of friends and family."
The Grizzlies said they have re-signed pitchers Brett Higginbotham and Aaron Baker for the 2014 season.
Higginbotham, 23, moves into his second season with the Grizzlies in 2014. The Hutto, Texas native was named the Grizzlies Rookie of the Year in 2013 after compiling a 2-3 record with a 2.63 ERA in 30 games (three starts).
"Brett was one of our top pitchers last season," Warren said. "We're thrilled to bring him back for another season and feel like he can be one of the top relievers in the league."
The Grizzlies signed the submarine right-hander in June of 2013 after he finished up his collegiate career at NCAA Division I Stephen F. Austin University.
Baker, 24, also moves into his second season with the Grizzlies. The right-hander from Belmont, Mo. began his pro career with the Grizzlies in 2013, appearing in 12 games while starting four.
"Aaron has a lot of potential and showed glimpses of that last season," Warren added. "We're looking for him to come in and be more consistent in 2014."
Baker, a right-hander, started his college career at NCAA Division II's University of Central Missouri. He finished at the NAIA's Avila (Mo.) University. In his senior season at Avila he was 7-4 with a 3.08 ERA in 79 innings pitched during 11 games.
Two players added
The Grizzlies have added Colt Loehrs and Madison Beaird to the 2014 roster.
Both players were acquired in a trade earlier in the offseason with the Wichita Wingnuts of the American Association for Grizzlies pitcher Tim Brown. Loehrs and Beaird played together collegiately in 2010 and 2011 at Division II Arkansas Tech University. They also paired up for Wichita in 2013.
Loehrs, 25, comes to Gateway after batting .279 with two home runs and 14 runs batted in with the Wingnuts in 2013. The 6-2 230-pound Arkansas City, Kan. native appeared in 40 games, appearing at both corner outfield spots and third base.
"Colt has shown he can hit at every level he has played at," Warren said. "He also comes in with versatility defensively."
Beaird, 23, played in 27 games with the Wingnuts in 2013. The speedy outfielder from Russellville, Ark. recorded six doubles, two triples and eight stolen bases while driving in six runs. Beaird started his collegiate career at Arkansas Tech before finishing at Arkansas Fort-Smith.
"When you look at his numbers it's obvious that Madison has a lot of speed," Warren remarked. "He hits for a high average and can cover a good amount of ground defensively in the outfield."
Single game tickets
Single game tickets for the 2014 Gateway Grizzlies season are on sale now.
Fans can purchase the single-game tickets at GCS Ballpark, by calling the Grizzlies at 618-337-3000 or online at www.gatewaygrizzlies.com.
Ticket prices remain the same for the upcoming season. Fans can purchase tickets for as low as $5 (general admission), while field box tickets are $10 in advance and $11 on the day of the game.
For a complete list of ticket pricing and information, go online to www.gatewaygrizzlies.com.
The Grizzlies 2014 regular season opener is on May 16 when they take on the Traverse City Beach Bums at GCS Ballpark.