LINCOLN, NE – Most of the infield that led the Lincoln Saltdogs to the 2017 American Association Central Division Championship and helped set a league-record for fielding percentage is returning for 2018.
First baseman Nathaniel Maggio, second baseman Cesar Valera, shortstop Ivan Marin and third baseman Christian Ibarra have all signed contracts to join the Saltdogs for another season.
Maggio set the league ablaze in his rookie season. The Georgia-native hit .288 and smashed seven home runs over 49 games. Maggio went 4-13 with a home run and two RBIs in the playoffs. He committed just two errors while spending most of his time at first base.
Cesar Valera returns to the Saltdogs after being named the team’s MVP last year. The Venezuelan hit .327 with four home runs, seven triples and 19 doubles. He appeared in 98 of the team’s 100 games. Valera had seven hits in four postseason games and was named to the league’s All-Star team.
Ivan Marin teamed up with Valera to form one of the most dynamic double-play duos in the league. The Nicaraguan hit .218 but managed a .310 on-base percentage in 78 games for the Saltdogs in 2017. He wowed fans with miraculous plays at shortstop for the whole season.
Christian Ibarra is regarded across the league as one of the top defensive third baseman in the American Association. The former LSU star hit .243 with seven home runs and 37 RBIs in 2017. He was second on the team with 47 walks to help build a .354 OBP. Ibarra is versatile, having spent time at second base, shortstop and third base.
The return of these stalwarts ensures that the 2018 defense will be a solid one. The team finished with a .982 fielding percentage in the regular season, breaking the league record of .980. The Saltdogs committed just 65 errors, shattering the previous franchise-low of 84 miscues.
The Saltdogs are the reigning Central Division Champions. The 18th season of Saltdogs baseball begins on Thursday, May 17th. For offseason information on the Saltdogs, follow the team on Facebook and Twitter/Instagram @saltdogsball.