EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE) -The Evansville Otters have signed left-handed pitchers Abraham Almonte, Dan Zurowski and catcher Dakota Phillips and acquired right-handed pitcher Jake Welch from the Windy City Thunderbolts of the Frontier League.
Almonte joins the Otters after spending two years in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization. Almonte is from Danbury, Conn. and was drafted by the Diamondbacks in the 26th round of the 2017 MLB June Draft.
“Abraham is a dominant, power left-handed pitcher that should solidify the back end of the bullpen,” said Otters manager Andy McCauley.
“I’m really excited to go out there to pitch and show what I got,” said Almonte. “I’m going to put everything I have into it and really work to put myself in positions to succeed and compete.” Almonte spent 2017 with the Missoula Osprey of the Pioneer League, going 1-0 with a 2.86 ERA in 19 appearances and striking out 31 batters with 11 saves.
In 2018, Almonte pitched for the Kane County Cougars of the Midwest League. With the Cougars, Almonte appeared in 39 games and recorded a 4.07 ERA with three saves. He struck out 62 in 59.2 innings pitched.
“What made the decision to come to Evansville easy is I knew people already there,” said Almonte. “I roomed and played with Tyler Vail when we were both with the Arizona Diamondbacks organization, so I felt comfortable going to the Otters with that connection already in place.”
Dan Zurowski, a Pottstown, Pa. native, joins the Otters following a collegiate career at Misericordia University.
“Dan was signed out of our Allentown workout on March 30 and came recommended by trusted college scouts in the Philadelphia and Allentown area,” said McCauley.
“I’m extremely excited about getting this opportunity with Evansville,” said Zurowski. “I can’t wait to head out there and meet the team to begin a great first season with the Otters.”
In his senior season in 2018, Zurowski struck out 16 batters in 11 appearances and posted a 1.42 ERA.
“He is long, lanky left-handed pitcher who will be tough on left-handed hitters,” said McCauley.
“I throw from a sidearm angle, so my approach is to use location and movement on my pitches to keep the hitters off balance,” said Zurowski.
Phillips is from Nacogdoches, Texas and joins the Otters after spending 2018 with the New York Bucks of the independent Empire Professional Baseball League. With the Bucks, Phillips batted .250 in 12 games with a home run and six RBIs.
“Dakota was signed out of our Evansville tryout camp in March,” said McCauley. “Bobby Segal (Otters hitting coach) recognized attributes that we are looking for to come in and compete for a starting job.”
“I’m thankful for this opportunity and prove others wrong that have overlooked me at the professional level,” said Phillips. “I have found success at every level that I’ve played at, and I’m ready to come to Evansville and prove myself at the professional level and compete for a starting role.”
Phillips played collegiately at Tennessee Wesleyan for his senior season. With Tennessee Wesleyan, Phillips hit .353 with 14 home runs and 47 RBIs. Phillips also had 17 doubles, 38 runs, and 29 walks.
“Phillips was on our radar last year but being able to see him first hand is what got him signed,” said McCauley.
“When I step into the batter’s box, my mindset is to put runs on the board,” said Phillips. “In my career, I’ve been successful hitting for power and average, and I look to carry that over into this season with the Otters.”
“Behind the plate, I look to bring my knowledge of the game and take on a leadership role, getting to know and work hard with the pitching staff.”
“I’m excited to experience the atmosphere in Evansville that I’ve heard so much about and look forward to the opportunity to bringing a championship back to Evansville.”
Welch was acquired by the Otters in a trade with the Windy City Thunderbolts. With Windy City, Welch went 7-6 in 2018 and recorded a 3.76 ERA in 18 starts with 78 strikeouts in 105.1 innings pitched.
“Jake had impressive numbers for Windy City last year, and his character came highly recommended from numerous people,” said McCauley.
“The trade to Evansville has me anxious yet exciting and looking forward to being with some old teammates like Randy (Wynne) and Hunter (Wood),” said Welch. “We dominated to a championship in the United Shore League in 2017.”
Before pitching for the Thunderbolts, Welch spent two years in the United Shore League with the Birmingham-Bloomfield Beavers, going 6-4 with a 2.90 ERA and three saves overall.
“I’m trying to perform at my highest level to give this team and myself an opportunity to advance to the next chapter,” said Welch.
“He is close friends with a few of our players and should compete for a starting job,” said McCauley.
In 2017, he finished fourth in the league in wins (5) and ERA (2.82) and fifth in strikeouts (76).
“On the mound, I’ve always kept a good composure but also come out with a bulldog mentality, and my mound presence speaks for itself from the first moment I step across the lines,” said Welch.
“I play with a ton energy, fast pace and shut down capability. When I step on that bump, I have one job to do, and then my focus and competitive nature take over.”
Welch attended Notre Dame College in South Euclid, Ohio and is from Spencerport, N.Y.
The Otters will open the 25th season celebration against the Southern Illinois Miners on May 10 at Bosse Field.
Courtesy: Evansville Otters