GARY, Ind. — The greatest pitcher in Gary SouthShore RailCats history will be back on the mound at U. S. Steel Yard in the summer of 2010 as right-hander Willie Glen has agreed to terms with the ‘Cats on a contract for the upcoming season. The signing was first announced at the RailCats second-annual Fan Fest Saturday.
As part of the Closing Ceremonies at Saturday’s Fan Fest, RailCats Manager Greg Tagert held up a number 23 jersey and announced to a raucous ovation that Glen would be back in a RailCats uniform this summer. One of Fan Fest’s featured guests, Glen took part in all of the day’s festivities as a crown 1,000 fans strong descended on the Radisson Hotel in Merrillville to celebrate RailCats baseball for the second February in a row.
Glen, 32, comes back to Gary after pitching for the Florida Marlins Double-A and Triple-A affiliates the last two seasons. The last time the right-hander was in a RailCats uniform, he was delivering the seminal performance of his career in Game Five of the 2007 Northern League Championship Series – a 143-pitch, complete game win that clinched the ‘Cats second league title.
In his first tour with the RailCats, Glen pitched in parts of three seasons (2005-07) and was a relentless force in the starting rotation, making a whopping 66 starts in his three year RailCats career. And as reliable as Glen was, he was at times even more dominant – going an unfathomable 16-1 in 2007 (including the playoffs) and shattering the Northern League’s single-season strikeout record in the regular season by piling up 162 whiffs in 139.2 innings. That sensational 2007 earned Glen mountains of awards, including First Team Baseball America All-Independent Leagues honors, the Northern League Pitcher of the Year award, the Northern League Championship Series MVP and – following the season – a shot back in affiliated baseball with the Marlins.
Glen’s career numbers with the ‘Cats are staggering, with the slender right-hander boasting a 32-9 record and 3.23 ERA. In 409.0 RailCats innings (more than any other pitcher), Glen allowed only 338 hits and amassed a whopping 384 strikeouts, an amazing 167 more than any other RailCats pitcher ever. Northern League hitters carried just a .221 average off Glen in his first stint in the league and had only a .285 on-base percentage against him.
A two-time Northern League All-Star and two-time NL Pitcher of the Month, Glen ranked in the top six in the league in ERA twice in his three seasons and twice finished in the top three in the league in wins, starts and strikeouts. The RailCats all-time leader in innings pitched, wins, winning percentage, opponent’s batting average and strikeouts, Glen remarkably was even better in the playoffs, going a perfect 8-0 with a 1.54 ERA in nine postseason starts, tossing three complete games, racking up 73 strikeouts in 70.0 innings and holding opposing hitters to a .190 average.
In his two seasons since his first RailCats stint, Glen has fared well in the affiliated ranks, even earning a spot in the Southern League (AA) All-Star game in 2008. Last season, Glen was just 2-7 at Jacksonville (AA) but did have a 3.69 ERA in 14 starts and allowed only 79 hits in 78.0 innings.
A veteran of nearly 1,000 professional innings, Glen had reached Triple-A in the Tampa Bay Rays organization in 2004 before signing with the RailCats in June 2005. First signed as a non-drafted free agent out of the University of Evansville by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2001, Glen has a lifetime record of 63-43 in 260 professional games and has amassed 865 strikeouts. Glen has spent time in the Blue Jays, Rays, Marlins, Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago White Sox organizations in his career.
An Indianapolis native, Glen played high school baseball in nearby Plainfield, Indiana before enrolling at Missouri Valley Conference power Evansville. Glen left school as the Purple Aces all-time leader in saves and appearances.
Glen becomes the 13th RailCats player to sign a contract for the 2010 season, joining fellow pitchers Aaron Cook, Zach McClellan, Andy Paulun, J.J. Potrikus and Andy Shipman; catcher Matt Lenski; infielders Jeff Beachum, Chris Carrara and Mike Rohde; and outfielders Caleb Curry, Adam Klein and Mike Massaro. The RailCats will have at least 28 players in camp when the team open’s Spring Training May 6 at U. S. Steel Yard.
The RailCats begin the 2010 season Thursday, May 20 back at The Steel Yard at 7 p.m. against the Kansas City T-Bones. Mini-plans, group outings and season tickets are on sale now by calling the RailCats ticket office at 219.882.2255, and more information is available at www.railcatsbaseball.com.