RiverHawks complete James, Durand deal
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October 24, 2011 - LOVES PARK, Ill. – The Rockford RiverHawks have acquired three players from the Windy City ThunderBolts to complete the August 15 trade that sent outfielder Jason James and closer Brett Durand to Crestwood.

Rockford’s professional baseball team announced Monday it has added outfielder Brandon Anderson, first baseman Devin Shepherd and pitcher Greg Johnson. Pitcher Nick Gaudi was the other former ThunderBolt involved in the trade, and he joined the RiverHawks on the day of the deal.

“One thing I want to focus on this offseason is getting good quality players to set things up well for 2012,” manager Rich Austin said. “This is a good trade for us, because we get three experienced guys who can make an immediate impact on the field.”

Anderson led the Frontier League with 53 stolen bases last season and hit .287 with a home run and 25 RBI. The switch hitter also started for the East Division All-Stars at Lake Erie on July 13.

“Anderson is an experienced player who is a great guy on and off the field,” Austin said. “He’s a top of the order guy who can hit for contact, and the fact he is a switch hitter is a bonus.”

Anderson, 26, is entering sixth professional season. He was originally drafted by the Colorado Rockies in 2003.

Shepherd batted .301 with 10 homers and 63 RBI in 85 games split between the Joliet Slammers and ThunderBolts last season. He began 2011 with Joliet, but was released by the Slammers on June 1. The ThunderBolts signed Shepherd two days later, and he spent the rest of the season (74 games) with them.

“He’s a middle of the lineup guy with a good bat,” Austin said of Shepherd. “He has good field work at first base, and a lot of versatility.”

Shepherd, 24, was the St. Louis Cardinals’ 11th round draft pick in 2008. He reached as high as the Class A Advanced Palm Beach Cardinals in the Florida State League in 2010. Shepherd is entering his fourth pro season, and second in the Frontier League.

Johnson was an effective right-handed reliever out of the ThunderBolts’ bullpen throughout last season. He went 6-1 with a 2.58 earned-run average and a save in 51 appearances. Johnson also pitched a scoreless inning of relief as a member of the East Division All-Star Team.

“Johnson has been a quality reliever for a few years, and he will definitely help us out in the bullpen,” Austin said.

Johnson, 24, began his career in the Chicago White Sox farm system in 2009, and is entering his fourth professional season.

The RiverHawks are members of the Frontier League, an independent professional baseball league that will play its 20th season in 2012. Advertising and ticket information is available by calling (815) 885-2255. Fans can also visit www.rockfordriverhawks.com.


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