The Lincoln Saltdogs have retained the services of three key players, re-signing pitchers Brian Campbell and Jim Paduch, and third baseman Shea McFeely for 2009. All three players featured prominently in Lincoln’s 2008 playoff push.
The 24-year-old Campbell played his first full season as a professional last year, making 17 starts and going 10-4 with a 4.26 ERA. “Soup” recorded the tenth double-digit-win season in Saltdogs history, and was especially good over the final month of the season. The righty went 4-1 with a 3.48 ERA in August, including a win on the season’s final day.
“Brian’s grown a lot over the past year and a half,” said Saltdogs general manager Tim Utrup. “You could see the improvement as 2008 went along, and he got hot for us when we needed him most. He’s a battler out there on the mound, he doesn’t like giving into hitters, and he finds ways to win even when he doesn’t have his best stuff.”
Campbell first joined Lincoln in July of 2007, tossing seven innings of one-hit ball in his first-ever professional appearance. He’s won 12 games for the Saltdogs in his first season and a half with the club, and he’ll crack the top five in the team’s all-time wins column with his next victory. Brian played his college ball at Division III Widener University.
The 25-year-old McFeely proved to be a stabilizing force in the Lincoln lineup last year, hitting .290 with six home runs and 39 RBI in 67 games. He ended the 2008 campaign second on the team in doubles (19), second in walks (45) and tied for third in runs batted in. Shea saved his best performances for late in the season, as the Saltdogs made a late push for the playoffs; he hit .321 with four home runs in August, and homered in all three games of Lincoln’s sweep at St. Paul August 18th through the 20th. In all, McFeely had four different 4-RBI games for the Saltdogs in 2008.
“Shea made a big difference for us last year,” said Utrup. “Third base was a hole in our lineup for the first month of the season, but he stepped in and made sure we couldn’t take him out of the lineup. Shea’s a true professional who just goes out there and gives us 100 percent day in and day out, and we’re happy to be able to keep him in our dugout for this season.”
McFeely first made a name for himself in Nebraska in 2006, when he played third base for Oregon State’s College World Series national championship squad. Shea was named to the all-tournament team, and was drafted that same month by the Arizona Diamondbacks. He spent two seasons in the D-backs organization before signing with the Saltdogs in 2008.
Paduch joined the Saltdogs on July 31 of last season, just in time for the final month of the playoff push. The righty went 1-1 with a 3.12 ERA in five games, including two starts. His best outing came on the next-to-last day of the season, when he pitched seven scoreless innings in a start at Wichita, allowing just two hits. The 26-year-old Paduch, a Chicago native, was originally drafted by the Cincinnati Reds and reached as high as the AAA level with that organization.
Lincoln now has eight players officially under contract for the 2009 season. The Saltdogs plan to announce more signings in the near future, including the return of several more players from the 2008 squad. The players will report to Lincoln for the start of spring training on May 1st.