LINCOLN — A former Lincoln East standout pitcher, the 2014 United League batting champion, and Air Force Reserve Senior Airman and knuckleballer Zach Staniewicz (pictured) headline the recent acquisitions by the Saltdogs for the upcoming season.
The ‘Dogs signed RHP Jesse Smith, who earned All-State honors at Lincoln East in 1997.
A sixth round draft pick by the Angels, the 34-year old reached as high as Triple-A Salt Lake.
Smith spent last season pitching for San Rafael (Pacific Assoc.), where he went 6-7 with a 3.75 ERA.
In 11 seasons as a professional, the Lincoln native is 60-59 with a 4.20 ERA in 942 1/3 innings.
INF Ryan Lashley, 24, hit .369 with 22 doubles, six home runs and 45 RBI in 53 games for the Fort Worth Cats in 2014, finishing with a batting average 30 points higher than the United League’s next best hitter.
The Boca Raton, Fla. native scored 46 runs and posted an impressive .960 on-base plus slugging percentage en route to Silver Slugger honors as a 23-year old.
Lashley made tremendous strides last season in his second year as a professional after hitting .241 as a true rookie for Normal (Frontier) in 2013, coming out of Stetson University.
Lincoln traded for Lashley from Ottawa (Can-Am) in exchange for future considerations.
In addition, the Saltdogs signed RHP Zach Staniewicz (stan-uh-witz), a Senior Airman in the Air Force Reserve and knuckleballer formerly in the Orioles organization.
Staniewicz, 29, went 7-8 with a 5.02 ERA in a career-high 107 2/3 innings last season for Quebec and New Jersey of the Can-Am League.
The Chicago native honed his knuckleball under the tutelage of Hall-of-Fame pitcher Phil Niekro before signing with Baltimore in 2013.
Staniewicz began his professional career in 2009 in the Central Baseball League before joining the Air Force Reserve.
Lincoln also acquired LHP Jared Gaynor from Grand Prairie to complete an earlier trade.
The 22-year old from Scottsdale, Ariz. went 0-2 with a 5.47 ERA in 12 games for Wichita and the AirHogs last season as a true rookie.
Gaynor went 8-5 with a 2.03 ERA as a senior at George Mason University in the Spring of 2014 to earn Atlantic 10 Second-Team All-Conference honors.