WICHITA, KS – The Lincoln Saltdogs made a series of transactions before the start of their series against the Wichita Wingnuts on Tuesday. The Saltdogs placed right-handed pitcher Jake Hohensee on the Disabled List, released outfielder Chad Hinshaw, and signed RHP Dillon Sunnafrank and OF T.J. Bennett.
Bennett has made a splash in his two games with the Saltdogs. The 25-year-old is 3-9 with a double, home run and four RBIs. He has started two games in center field with the absence of Hinshaw.
The left-handed hitter already comes to the Saltdogs as an independent league success story. Bennett went undrafted after his senior season at the University of Utah in 2014 and started his pro career with the Gateway Grizzlies of the independent Frontier League. He hit .269 with two home runs and 37 RBIs over 56 games. Bennett spent most of 2015 with the Schaumburg Boomers and batted .283 with nine doubles and two triples over 51 games.
Bennett played for the Brisbane Bandits of the Australian Baseball League in the winter of 2015 and caught the eyes of Giants scouts. He recorded a .319 batting average with eight home runs and 21 RBIs over just 25 games in the ABL. The Giants purchased his contract ahead of the 2016 season.
The Arizona native played for four different teams in the Giants farm system in ’16, reaching as high as Triple-A with the Sacramento River Cats. On the whole season, Bennett hit .282 with nine home runs and 33 RBIs over 71 games. He spent the bulk of the year with the San Jose Giants of the High-A California League. He batted .284 with a .357 on-base percentage and earned a league player of the week honor.
Bennett spent 2017 shuffling between different levels and compiled .222 average and three homers over 59 games. He played in nine games between Rookie and Single-A this year before he was released.
Sunnafrank joins the Saltdogs after an excellent start to the year in the Can-Am League. He made nine appearances for Salina and Hollywood and didn’t allow a run over 10 innings of work. He recorded three saves and struck out eight batters.
The right-hander pitched for the Salina Stockade in his rookie season last year. He made 14 bullpen appearances and posted a 0-1 record with a 4.66 ERA. He pitched in two games against the Saltdogs and gave up two runs over 1.1 innings of work. Sunnafrank went to Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia.
Hohensee heads to the Disabled List with a triceps injury. The Lincoln native made his pro debut with the Saltdogs on June 8th. He pitched in seven games and notched a 0-1 record with a 7.04 ERA. The former Huskers closer pitched well in his last three outings. He went four innings and allowed just one run while striking out five batters.
Lincoln released Hinshaw after he started 34 games in center field. The former Marlins and Angels prospect hit .184 with one homer and 12 RBIs. He tallied three triples, which is tied for the most in the league.
The Saltdogs (25-19) face the Wichita Wingnuts in a rubber match on Thursday night. First pitch is at 7:05 PM with coverage beginning at 6:35 PM on ESPN 101.5 FM 1480 AM and http://www.espn1480.com/lincoln-saltdogs-baseball/.