The Gary SouthShore RailCats announced the signing of right-handed pitcher/infielder Dugan Darnell to his first professional baseball contract and moved right-handed pitcher Christian DeLeon from the Inactive List to the 23-man active roster prior to tonight’s series opener vs. the Sioux City Explorers. In order to make room for the DeLeon and Darnell on the 23-man active, the ‘Cats traded right-handed pitcher Jumpei Akanuma to the Schaumburg Boomers of the Frontier League in exchange for a player to be named later and released left-handed pitcher Tasker Strobel earlier in the week.
Darnell recently completed his senior season at Adrian College was named First Team All-Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA), First Team All-Mideast Region and D3baseball.com Fourth Team All-American honors as a two-way player. On the mound, Darnell went 3-1 with a league-best and single-season school record eight saves and 0.39 ERA in 20 relief appearances. In 23 innings pitched, Dugan yielded just two runs (one earned) on six hits and 15 walks while striking out 37 batters and held opposing hitters to a .081 batting average. Offensively, Dugan slashed .314/.460/.497/.957 with a career-best 41 runs, 48 hits, 12 doubles, two triples, four home runs, 43 RBIs, 26 walks and 18 hit by pitches in 46 games.
A native of Northville, Mich., Darnell was a three-year starter and four-year letter winner at Adrian from 2016-19. In 132 career games, Darnell slashed .317/.447/.433/.890 with 101 runs, 128 hits, 21 doubles, four triples, six home runs, 94 RBIs, 58 walks and 12 stolen bases.
Following the 2019 college season, Darnell played for the Rockford Rivets of the Northwoods Summer Collegiate Baseball League. In seven games (one start), Darnell went 0-1 with two saves and a 2.64 ERA. In 17 innings, Darnell allowed five runs on 13 hits and nine walks while striking out 19 batters.
As a junior in 2018, Dugan slashed .362/.496/.429/.925 with 22 runs, 38 hits, seven doubles, 19 RBIs and four stolen bases in 33 games. In the summer of 2018, Darnell played for the Xenia Scouts of the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate Baseball League. In 18 games, Darnell slashed .286/.481/.286/.787 with 14 runs, 16 hits, 10 RBIs, 16 walks and four stolen bases.
As a sophomore in 2017, Darnell slashed .278/.378/.361/.739 with 33 runs, 37 hits, one double, two triples, two home runs, 29 RBIs, 15 walks and five strikeouts in 40 games. As a freshman in 2016, Dugan went 5-for-13 with five runs, a double, two walks and three RBIs over 13 games.
DeLeon signed his first American Association contract with Gary on Feb. 7 and is 1-2 with a 3.52 ERA in three starts. In 15.1 innings pitched, DeLeon has allowed seven runs (six earned) on 16 hits and six walks while striking out seven. The right-hander recorded the win in his most recent start back on May 26th vs. the Sioux Falls Canaries before getting placed on the Inactive List on June 3rd with a right shoulder impingement retroactive to May 27th.
De Leon signed his first Independent Professional Baseball contract (IPBF) with the Florence Freedom of the Frontier League in 2018 and went 7-5 with one complete game and a 4.17 ERA in 16 games (14 starts). In 77.2 innings pitched, De Leon allowed 38 runs (36 earned) on 72 hits and 23 walks and struck out 48 batters.
De Leon was named the Frontier League Pitcher of the Week for the first time in his career for the week ending on July 22, 2018, after tossing seven scoreless innings on July 19 vs. the now defunct Traverse City Beach Bums. The right-hander yielded just one hit and two walks and struck out a career-high eight batters in the second longest start of his career. De Leon also didn’t allow a walk or run in both his relief appearances and recorded eight quality starts. Prior to signing with Florence, De Leon made one relief appearance (2.2 IP, 2 R/ER, 4 H, 1 BB, 4 K) with the Melbourne Aces of the Australian Baseball League in 2017.
De Leon pitched the last two seasons of his collegiate baseball career at the University of Nebraska, going 12-6 with three complete games and a 2.86 ERA in 25 starts. In 173 career innings pitched, De Leon struck out 85 batters and allowed just 31 walks.
As a senior for the Cornhuskers in 2014, De Leon was named Second Team All-Big Ten after going 5-2 with two complete games and a 2.46 ERA in 11 starts. In 80 innings pitched, De Leon yielded 25 runs (22 earned) on 71 hits and 16 walks and struck out 39 batters. As a junior in 2013, De Leon was named to the Big Ten All-Tournament Team and went 7-4 with one complete game and a 3.21 ERA in a team-high 14 starts. De Leon also led the Nebraska pitching staff with 92.2 innings pitched, 46 strikeouts and seven wins.
Prior to pitching at Nebraska, DeLeon pitched for Blinn Community College as a sophomore in 2012 and at North Central Texas College as a freshman in 2011. In 2012, De Leon went 3-5 with two saves and a 4.04 ERA in 15 relief appearances. In 49 innings pitched, De Leon allowed 32 runs (22 earned) on 53 hits and 14 walks and struck out 52 hitters.
Akanuma signed his professional baseball contract on Jan. 16 and went 2-2 with one hold and a 5.05 ERA in 16 games (four starts). In 35.2 innings pitched for the RailCats, the rookie allowed 21 runs (20 earned) on 41 hits and 16 walks while striking out 22.
Akanuma made his professional baseball debut on May 18th in the second game of the year against Chicago and tossed two scoreless innings of relief in his home debut on May 23rd vs. Sioux City.Akanuma made his first 10 appearances of the year out of the bullpen and prevented the first nine runners he inherited on base from scoring and has allowed just three of the 13 he has inherited in relief to score.
Akanuma recorded his first professional hold on May 31st against Kansas City after allowing a run over an inning and recorded his first professional win on June 15th vs. St. Paul. Akanuma tossed three scoreless innings in his first professional start on June 22nd against St. Paul and recorded his first win as a starter in his second pro start on June 30th vs. KC after allowing just an unearned run over a career-high five innings.
Strobel signed his first American Association contract with Gary on July 19th and finished without a record and a 7.71 ERA in two relief appearances. In 2.1 innings pitched, the southpaw allowed three runs (two earned) on seven hits and a walk while striking out two.
Strobel signed his first professional baseball contract with the Joliet Slammers of the Frontier League in 2017 following his senior season at now defunct St. Joseph’s College and went 1-2 with a 7.31 ERA in seven games (two starts). The southpaw allowed just one run over five innings in his professional baseball debut against the River City Rascals on May 28th and recorded the win in his second professional baseball appearance with 0.2 hitless innings pitched on June 2nd vs. the Lake Erie Crushers.
As a senior in 2017 at St. Joseph’s, Strobel went 7-3 with three complete games and a 3.17 ERA in 14 games (13 starts). The senior also posted a career-high in strikeouts (68), innings (88), WHIP (1.27), wins (seven), ERA (3.17), games (14) and starts (13). As a junior in 2016, Strobel went 4-4 with a 4.53 ERA in 12 games (nine starts). In 57.2 innings pitched, the southpaw allowed 34 runs (29 earned) on 68 hits and 13 walks while striking out 57.
The Gary SouthShore RailCats begin a six-game road trip on Wednesday in Iowa against the Sioux City Explorers. First pitch between the two teams is at 7:12 p.m. from Mercy Field at Lewis and Clark Park. Christian DeLeon (1-2, 3.52) makes his first start since May 26th for the RailCats while the Explorers have yet to announce their starter.
Gary returns home to U.S. Steel Yard on Tuesday, July 30th for a nine-game, 10-day homestand vs. the Winnipeg Goldeyes at 7:10 p.m. Tuesday’s game is Crown Point Community Library Night and features a food drive, supporting Food Bank of Northwest Indiana. Tuesday’s game is also another Community HealthNet Health Centers Tuesday and Taco Tuesday. Visit any Northwest Indiana CHN for complimentary tickets to Tuesday’s game and enjoy our beef tacos and margaritas for $2 and $5, respectively.