Pheasants add RBI record holder Nicolas
SIOUX FALLS – The Sioux Falls Pheasants added a final piece to what could be a very powerful lineup this season. On Monday, Pheasants manager Steve Shirley announced the signing of free agent infielder Cesar Nicolas, an RBI record holder in the American Association with Triple-A experience.
Nicolas played earlier this month with the Class AAA Acereros de Monclova of the Mexican League and briefly last season with the Detroit Tigers Class AAA affiliate, the Toledo MudHens.
"Cesar will solidify the middle of our lineup," Shirley said. "He has a big history of hitting and driving in runs. We're excited to have him with us."
Nicolas, 30, set the American Association single-season record of 103 RBI with the Grand Prairie Airhogs in 2009. He played last year in Grand Prairie and hit at a blistering .353 average, sixth best in the league. He swatted eight home runs and notched 73 RBI for the 2011 league champions while reaching base at a .453 clip, third highest in the league.
With Monclova this month, Nicolas was 7-for-32 (.219) with one RBI in nine games.
Nicolas made a convincing opening statement during his rookie 2005 season in the Arizona Diamondbacks system. He earned post-season all-star honors in the Class A Midwest League, hitting .302 with 21 home runs and 70 RBI with South Bend. Nicolas progressed to Class AA Mobile in 2007-2008 before moving to Grand Prairie.
The Detroit Tigers noticed Nicolas after his record year in 2009, purchasing his contract and assigning him to Class AA Erie for 2010. He advanced to Triple-A Toledo last year for a brief, seven-game stint before rejoining the Airhogs.
The D'Backs selected the Queens, N.Y., native in the fifth round of the 2004 draft out of Vanderbilt University. Nicolas is a career .295 hitter with 84 home runs and 471 RBI in 693 professional games.
The Pheasants roster now totals 26 players – 14 pitchers and 12 position players. During the pre-season, a maximum of 28 players may be under contract. Rosters must be trimmed to 23 players for Opening Day. Players report for spring training on Friday, May 4.
The Sioux Falls Pheasants begin their 20th season at 7:05 p.m. on Thursday, May 17 when they host the Sioux City Explorers. Information about season tickets and group outings is available by calling (605) 336-6060 or visiting www.sfpheasants.com