Big league, Triple-A bats join Birds lineup

Posted: 4/11/2014

SIOUX FALLS  –  Sioux Falls Canaries manager Steve Shirley announced on Friday the signing of former major league outfielder Brandon Jones along with former Chicago Cubs prospect Greg Rohan.  In addition, the Canaries added rookie reliever Erick Gonzalez.

Jones, 30, played in 51 games with the Atlanta Braves across three seasons from 2007-2009, most notably 41 contests in 2008 in which he hit .268 with his only major league home run and 17 RBI. The corner outfielder also whacked 10 doubles and a triple.

“We’re thrilled to have a player with Brandon’s talent joining our organization,” Shirley said. “He should be not only a big presence in our lineup but also a good leader in the clubhouse.”

After his stint with Atlanta, the Wewahitchka, Fla., native had stops in the Pittsburgh Pirates, Detroit Tigers and Milwaukee Brewers systems before moving to independent baseball in 2011. Jones caught on with the Kansas City T-Bones in 2012, batting .326 with 14 home runs and a team-best 74 RBI in 97 games. Last season he split time with Kansas City and the New Jersey Jackals of the Can-Am League, combining for a .245 average, eight home runs and 52 RBI in 102 contests. Atlanta drafted him in the 24th round of the 2003 draft.

Jones is the 33rd former major league player to continue his career in Sioux Falls. The most recent was Reggie Abercrombie.

Rohan made plenty of noise in the Chicago Cubs system, ascending from Class A to Class AAA Iowa in the course of the 2012 season. The 27-year-old corner infielder/outfielder  hit .290 with four home runs and 24 RBI in 27 games with Iowa, but he was limited by a back injury last year, going 6-for-36 (.167) in 12 contests for Iowa.  The North Lima, Ohio, native was a Cubs’ 21st –round draft pick in 2009 out of Kent State University.  He is a career .285 hitter with 43 home runs in 433 professional games.

Gonzalez, 22, is a right-handed reliever who spent the last two seasons with rookie affiliates of the Houston Astros. Last year he went 3-5 with a 4.00 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 20 appearances with the Gulf Coast League Astros. The native of Gilbert, Ariz., was drafted by Houston in the 15th round out of GateWay Community College (Ariz.).

To make roster space, the Canaries traded outfielder J.P. Ramirez to the Laredo Lemurs in exchange for cash and a player to be named later. Ramirez hit .300 with nine home runs and 54 RBI in 94 games for Sioux Falls last season.

The Sioux Falls Canaries home opener is Thursday, May 15, at Sioux Falls Stadium against the Sioux City Explorers. The Canaries’ 2014 campaign follows their highest attended season ever. It will be their 22nd season and ninth as members of the independent American Association. For more information about business partnerships or season tickets , call the Canaries at (605) 336-6060.