WICHITA, KS- The Wichita Wingnuts added two players to their 2011 roster on Thursday, re-signing shortstop Josh Horn and signing outfielder Kenny Gilbert.
An all-star in each of his first four professional seasons, Horn ranked 13th in the American Association with a career-high .331 batting average for the Wingnuts last summer. Horn hit three home runs with 27 RBIs and 44 runs scored in 78 games played. The Shelbyville, TN native drew 37 walks while striking out only 45 times in 287 at bats, and posted a .417 on-base percentage.
"I can't say enough good things about Josh", said Wingnuts' manager Kevin Hooper. "He's a huge piece of our puzzle who is an all-star both offensively and defensively at a premium position. We're excited to have him back for a third year and expect even bigger things from him in 2011."
Horn set a Wingnuts' team record on June 5th, hitting safely in 20 consecutive games. When Horn was caught stealing on May 25th at Lincoln, it broke a streak dating back to August of 2008 in which he was never thrown out by an opposing catcher on a steal attempt. Horn is 50 for 62 (81%) in stolen base attempts for his career. Horn missed the 2010 All-Star Game due to injury, but returned in mid-August and homered in his first at bat after sitting out for nearly three weeks. When the Wingnuts' season ended, Horn was loaned to the Atlantic League's Camden Riversharks for 12 games.
Horn, who will be 27 on opening night, has a lifetime .305 batting average, and has hit .290 or better in all four of his professional seasons. Prior to joining the Wingnuts, Horn helped the Frontier League's Windy City Thunderbolts to consecutive championships in 2007 and 2008. Horn did not begin playing his current position full-time until midway through 2009, but transitioned quickly and finished the year second in fielding percentage among American Association shortstops. The right-handed hitter played two seasons of college baseball at Middle Tennessee State University, hitting .330 as a senior in 2006.
Gilbert is coming off a stellar season with the United League's Laredo Broncos, where he hit .363 with four home runs, 16 doubles, and 55 RBIs in 55 games. A left-handed hitter and fielder, Gilbert scored 43 runs, drew 23 walks, and fanned only 33 times in 212 AB. The Dallas, TX native finished 2011 with a .424 on-base percentage and a .524 slugging percentage. Entering his fifth season of professional baseball, Gilbert is a former ninth round draft pick of the Chicago White Sox in 2007 out of DeSoto High School in Texas.
"Kenny is a potential five-tool guy who can play all three outfield positions. He looks to be a run producer who had 55 RBIs in just 55 games last season. I'm excited for him to come in and compete for a spot in our outfield."
Gilbert spent three seasons in the White Sox Organization, splitting time with the Appalachian League's Bristol White Sox and the Pioneer League's Great Falls Voyagers. Gilbert, who will be just 22 on opening night, also played in 25 games for the Frontier League's Evansville Otters in 2009. Gilbert has driven in 104 runs in 161 career games.
Horn and Gilbert give the Wingnuts 12 players under contract for the 2011 season.
2011 Wingnuts Signings
RHP Cole Akins
C Edwin Bellorin
2B Jason Diaz
OF Kenny Gilbert
LHP Eric Gilliland
C Ben Harty
SS Josh Horn
RHP Cephas Howard
RHP Brandon Mathes
RHP David Miller
RHP Sean Teague
OF Eric Williams
The Wingnuts open the 2011 season on May 12th with a four-game series against the Amarillo Sox. Wichita's 2011 home opener is Friday, May 20th versus the El Paso Diablos at 7:05 p.m. Season tickets and packages are on sale now. For more information, call the Wingnuts' office at (316) 264-NUTS or visit the Wingnuts' official website at www.wichitawingnuts.com