Canaries Add a Pair of Bats

Posted: 11/25/2020

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The Sioux Falls Canaries are packing more punch to one of the American Association's most potent lineups with the signing of proven independent league slugger Nate Etheridge and former Double-A infielder Zane Gurwitz.

Etheridge has driven in 153 runs in 154 games of independent ball -- where he has spent his entire three-year professional career -- while posting an impressive .345 batting average, .425 on-base percentage (OBP), .519 slugging percentage (SLG), and .944 on-base-plus-slugging percentage (OPS).

Most recently, the 27-year-old scorched the Pecos League in 2020, batting .435 with 5 home runs, 59 RBI, and 39 runs scored in 30 games, with an astounding 1.226 OPS for the Tucson Saguaros. 

The 6'5, 240-pound righthander out of Western Oregon University should provide an intimidating presence at the plate. The Birds led the AA by far in runs (342) and were second in home runs (70) in their 58-game regular season, the first since 2010 in which they qualified for the American Association Finals.

"Nate is a young player we had in spring training a few years ago," Meyer said. "He was too raw but has been working really hard and putting up great numbers in the Pecos and Pacific Leagues. Nate can play corner infield or corner outfield spots and will provide some thump in our lineup."

Gurwitz, a San Antonio, TX, native, was a 26th-round MLB draft pick in 2017 out of the University of Texas and is a potential lead-off man. 

The 25-year-old righthander logged 197 games over three years in the Los Angeles Angels organization's minor league teams. He played 29 games for the Double-A affiliate in 2019 and most recently batted .288 (.364 OBP and .448 SLG) with seven home runs and 35 RBI over 71 games with the Inland Empire 66ers in the (Advanced) Class A California League.

Like many affiliated minor league players, Gurwitz (5'8, 185) did not compete in 2020. 

"I'm really excited about Zane Gurwitz," Meyer said. "Zane will fill a major hole for us up the middle, either at shortstop or second base. He's not a big guy but has surprising juice. I see him hitting at the top of our lineup."

The American Association is planning on a back-to-normal May start to its 2021 season, with a full 100-game schedule.