Thursday, January 10, 2008


MARION, Ill. – The Southern Illinois Miners have signed left-handed pitcher Jon Bjelland and right-handed pitcher Nick Starnes for the 2008 season. This is the beginning of Manager Mike Pinto’s commitment to add even more quality arms to the Miners pitching staff.

“We are excited to add Jon and Nick to our pitching staff,” Pinto said. “They are both hard throwers and they throw strikes.”

Bjelland went 11-0 with a 2.17 ERA and struck out 95 batters in 70.2 innings as a senior at Minnesota State University in 2007. This earned him Central Region Pitcher of the Year and First Team All-Region honors. In his career at MSU, Bjelland went 22-1 with a 2.26 ERA, striking out 184 batters in 147 innings.

He signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks as a fifth-year senior in May of 2007. However, he was released by the D-backs when a small tear was found in his rotator cuff. Following successful surgery this past August, Bjelland has completed his rehab and expects to be fully healthy and ready for Miners spring training.

“Jon has shown the ability to win a lot of games over the last four years,” Pinto said. “He is a strikeout guy and is stingy in allowing hits. Jon is a big strong lefty who throws hard. After successful surgery and rehab he could certainly help our club this season.”
Starnes played four seasons at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and was a teammate of Miners outfielder Drew Moffitt in the 2007 National Baseball Congress (NBC) World Series, the premier semi-pro world baseball tournament.

“Nick has plus velocity and an exceptional breaking ball, and he throws strikes.” Pinto said. “We expect him to compete for one of the spots in the rotation.”

Following his senior year of high school, Starnes was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the ninth round of the 2002 draft but did not sign. That year Baseball America ranked him as the No. 31 best high school prospect.

In 2007 he went 6-0 with a 2.34 ERA with the NBC World Series Champion Havasu Heat. He recorded 47 strikeouts and walked just 11 batters in 34 innings.

“Mike has made a commitment to create a strong pitching staff,” Miners GM Tim Arseneau said. “I know he’s working hard right now to continue to add to this team, and we’ll see even more talent added this year.”

The Miners home opener is scheduled for Saturday, May 24 at 7:05 p.

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