SAUGET, IL. The Gateway Grizzlies have three key players returning for the 2017 season. Infielder/DH Craig Massoni and outfielders Cody Livesay and Blake Brown will all be entering their third season with the organization, announced Wednesday.
Massoni, 25, looks to become a leader in the clubhouse as he led the team in homeruns and RBIs during the 2016 season.
"I love the responsibility of leading by example and being the spark plug that we need," Massoni said.
Massoni spent two seasons in the San Francisco Giants organization prior to signing with the Lake Erie Crushers. He was then traded to the Grizzlies after just eight games during the 2015 season. He finished the 2016 season with 14 homeruns and 52 RBIs.
Livesay, 23, signed with Gateway after spending three seasons in the Atlanta Braves organization. He played 89 games for manager Phil Warren in 2016 and led the team in plate appearances and hits. The outfielder is also ready to embrace his new leadership role and pave the way for the new players on the team.
"The chemistry with the guys returning and the way new guys always seem to fit right in with this group is unbelievable," said Livesay.
The other returning outfielder Blake Brown, 25, made a big impact in 2015 where he cracked 22 homeruns and drove in 60 runs. He also led the team in walks with 49. In 2016, Brown battled injuries but looks to be back in full health for the start of 2017.
"I'm getting really anxious to get back out there since I missed the end of 2016," said Brown, who has also spent time in the Atlanta Braves organization. "I'm nearly 100% and getting better every day."
Despite the injuries, Brown managed to still have a productive season with eight homeruns and 10 doubles.
Grizzlies' manager Phil Warren showed confidence with the return of the three veterans. "We're looking for Brown and Massoni to be the anchors with Cody setting the table for them in the leadoff spot," said Warren. He went on to say that it's now "their clubhouse to lead." The Grizzlies skipper will enter his 11th season managing Gateway, the longest tenured manager in the team's history.
The Grizzlies begin the 2017 season on May 12 against the Florence Freedom at GCS Credit Union Ballpark. Season and group tickets are on sale now. Please call the Grizzlies' box office at (618) 337-3000 for more information or CLICK HERE!
ABOUT THE GATEWAY GRIZZLIES: The Gateway Grizzlies are a professional baseball team, located a mere 100-yards from I-255 (10 minutes from downtown St. Louis). The Grizzlies offer baseball fans entertainment, the likes of which are difficult to find - affordable, family, fun in the comfortable GCS Credit Union Ballpark with a great view of the St. Louis skyline. For tickets or general information please visit gatewaygrizzlies.com or call 618.337.3000.
ABOUT THE FRONTIER LEAGUE: The Frontier League is celebrating its 25th season as a professional, independent baseball organization. Since its inception, the Frontier League has provided millions of fans to a fun and exciting baseball experience within the American Midwest. Consisting of 12 teams in two divisions and 96 game schedules, the league is recognized for the amount of talented athletes that are picked up by various MLB teams every year.