LINCOLN — The Saltdogs will welcome back record-setting closer P.J. Zocchi to the bullpen, as the right-hander re-signed with the club for the 2013 campaign Monday.
Zocchi broke the Lincoln franchise record with 24 saves in 2012, bettering Chris Weidert’s previous high of 22 in a season. Despite battling an early-season arm ailment, "The Fireman" finished the year with 55 strikeouts in 41 innings and a 5.27 ERA.
In his debut campaign for the ‘Dogs in 2011, Zocchi tore through the American Association — booking 21 saves with a dominant 1.95 ERA. His 45 career saves for the Saltdogs ranks second behind only Weidert (62).
Zocchi began the 2012 season in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization, pitching in three games for Class-A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga (California League) before re-joining the Saltdogs. Overall on the season, the Bronx, N.Y. native boasted a head-turning 12.4 strikeouts per nine innings.
The 27-year old has shown a remarkable knack for closing ballgames since his first season as a full-time closer in 2010, when he set a Frontier League record with 26 saves for Oakland County. In three years as a stopper, Zocchi has recorded 71 saves.
Zocchi was originally drafted by the Cleveland Indians in 2008 out of Clemson University, where he pitched in the 2006 College World Series at Rosenblatt Stadium.
SALTDOGS SIGN FORMER ORIOLES LEFT-HANDER
The Saltdogs also inked former Baltimore Orioles farmhand Nathan Moreau, a 6-foot-3, left-handed hurler out of the University of Georgia.
In five seasons in the O’s organization, Moreau went 23-25 in 85 games – including 71 starts – with a 4.32 ERA. The 26-year old from Lilburn, Ga. has struck out 361 batters in 377 1/3 professional innings.
As a collegian, Moreau helped lead the Bulldogs to the championship round of the 2008 College World Series.