Three ex-RiverHawks on opening-day rosters
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April 8, 2009 - LOVES PARK, Ill. – Three former Rockford RiverHawks are on opening-day rosters with major-league organizations.

Pitchers Justin Dowdy, Derrick Ellison and Taylor Sinclair, all left-handers, broke spring training with affiliated teams. Dowdy is with Oakland’s Class AA affiliate, Ellison is with Milwaukee’s high Class A team and Sinclair is with Arizona’s low A farm club. All three teams begin their season on Thursday.

One other former RiverHawk was a final-weekend cut in camp. The Brewers released Reed Dickert on Sunday.

The three are among roughly two dozen former RiverHawks that have landed in major-league organizations following their Frontier League days. Dowdy and Sinclair are among the dozen who have been signed directly off the Rockford roster.

“We think that our organization gives players the best opportunity to be showcased,” RiverHawks owner and director of baseball operations Dave Ciarrachi said. “Ultimately, it’s up to the player to put up the numbers, but to be showcased, there’s no better platform than in Rockford, based on our relationships with a couple of teams in major-league baseball that we’ve developed a comfort level with.”

Dowdy will open the year with the Midland RockHounds of the Texas League, where he spent most of last season. Dowdy went 1-3 with a 7.16 earned-run average and a save in 38 games. He averaged nearly a strikeout an inning. In August, the A’s promoted Dowdy to Sacramento. Dowdy became the first former RiverHawk to reach a domestic Triple-A League. Dowdy had no record and a 3.75 ERA in three appearances for the River Cats, who took the Pacific Coast League pennant, then won the Triple-A championship.

Dowdy, 25, pitched for the RiverHawks in 2003 and 2004. Each season, he went to the Frontier League All-Star Game and was picked up. Seattle signed Dowdy in 2003 and Anaheim signed him the following season.

Ellison returns to the Brevard County Manatees of the Florida State League, where he finished last season. The Brewers signed Ellison following an all-star first half with Bridgeport of the independent Atlantic League. Ellison was 1-0 with a 2.70 ERA and a save in 11 appearances with the Milwaukee affiliate. He struck out 21 in 20 innings.

Ellison was a member of the RiverHawks’ 2004 Frontier League championship team. The following season, he was signed by the Mariners.

Sinclair opens the season with a promotion to the South Bend SilverHawks of the Midwest League.

Sinclair made an immediate impact in both independent and affiliated ball last year. The RiverHawks signed him out of the University of Northern Iowa in June. Sinclair went 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA in four appearances. He struck out 23 in 23 1/3 innings. The Diamondbacks signed Sinclair in June and sent him to Rookie-level Missoula. Sinclair was 5-2 with a 3.07 ERA in nine appearances for the Osprey. He struck out 48 in 44 innings. Sinclair was twice named Pioneer League pitcher of the week.

The RiverHawks are members of the Frontier League, a 12-team independent professional baseball league that will play its 17th season this summer. The RiverHawks will begin their eighth season at 7:05 p.m. May 21 at Windy City and play their home opener at 7:05 p.m. May 26 against the Midwest Sliders of Ypsilanti. The RiverHawks host the 2009 Frontier League All-Star Game at 7:05 p.m. on July 15. Advertising and season-ticket information is available by calling (815) 885-2255. Fans can also visit the RiverHawks at www.rockfordriverhawks.com.


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