GARY, Ind. — One of the best hitters in Frontier League history is joining the RailCats in the American Association in 2012, as the team announced the signing of outfielder Jason James. The RailCats also signed rookie catcher Dan Pellegrino and traded infielder Brad Boyer and pitcher James Baker. In addition, they acquired the rights to pitcher Scott Kelley in a trade from the Evansville Otters.
James, 27, has spent most of his six-year career with the Rockford RiverHawks, and has shattered most of the club’s offensive records along the way. The four-time All-Star is a .326/.391/.488 career hitter and is in the top 10 in Frontier League history in hits and batting average. In 2009, James set a Frontier League record with a 40-game hitting streak and won the league batting title with a .374 average.
“Jason is a dynamic player,” RailCats manager Greg Tagert said. “I've always been impressed by his talent level. He brings a unique dimension to our ball-club both offensively and defensively, and the way he competes.”
James, a left-handed batter, combined to hit .278/.348/.431 with 10 homers and 52 RBI last season between Fargo in the American Association and Rockford and Windy City in the Frontier League. The Vernon Hills, Ill. native was drafted twice by Major League clubs but did not sign and spent 2010 spring training with the Chicago Cubs organization.
Right-handed pitcher Scott Kelley comes from the Evansville Otters in the Frontier League to complete a 2010 trade that brought infielder Brian Kolb to the club. Kelley was 6-6 with a 5.64 ERA and 104 strikeouts in 99 innings for Evansville last season. He was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the 23rd Round in 2009 and spent two seasons in their organization between rookie ball and Class A.
Boyer was dealt to Lancaster in the Atlantic League in exchange for future considerations. He led the RailCats with a .348 average last season, which was eighth-best in the league, and added 10 homers and 68 RBI.
Baker, a right-handed pitcher, was sent to Somerset in the Atlantic League for cash considerations. He spent the past two seasons with the RailCats, and was outstanding out of the bullpen in 2011, going 3-1 with a 2.57 ERA and 68 strikeouts in 49 innings.
Pellegrino played four collegiate seasons at UC Riverside, where he hit .238 with three homers and 41 RBI in his career. He was drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the 49th Round of the 2010 Draft but did not sign.
Gary has signed 20 players for the 2012 season. A maximum of 28 players may be under contract during the pre-season and the active roster may hold up to 22 players once the regular season begins.
The RailCats will open the 2012 season on May 17, with the Home Opener on Friday, May 25 at 7:10 p.m. against the Wichita Wingnuts at U. S. Steel Yard.