Thursday, February 21, 2008


MARION, Ill. – The Southern Illinois Miners strengthened the right side of the infield this week. The Miners re-signed first baseman Joey Metropoulos for the 2008 season and acquired second baseman Jason Diaz from the Schaumburg Flyers of the Northern League in exchange for a player to be named later.

Metropolous hit .326 with 11 doubles, nine home runs and 32 RBI in only 39 games with the Miners in 2007. He joined the team in late July following his release from the Lansing Lugnuts, the Single-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays. Metropoulos started off strong with the Miners as he recorded a hit in 11 of his first 12 games and hit two home runs in his first week with the team.

The former USC Trojan really caught fire as the season ended, finishing the year on a 10-game hit streak. During that stretch he hit .475 with five home runs and 21 RBI and raised his season average from .250 to .326. Although he was only with the team for the final six weeks of the season, Metropoulos hit seven home runs at Rent One Park, more than anyone else.

“Joey is a big bat to return to the Miners lineup,” Miners Manager Mike Pinto said. “He really got comfortable here as last season went on. He is a real professional in how he plays the game. We found him to be excellent defensively and a great guy to have on the club. To add him to the middle of the order mix with Tim Dorn, Drew Moffitt and Brandon Jones is a big plus for us.”

“He can really hit,” Miners General Manager Tim Arseneau said of Metropoulos. “He was a great pick up for us last season, and I’m looking forward to watching him hit here again this year.”

In 2007 Diaz spent his rookie season playing second base with the San Angelo Colts of the United League. The left-handed hitting Diaz hit .290 with 5 doubles and 12 RBI in 34 games. The Miners were left with an opening at second base since 2007 all-star second baseball Ralph Santana retired to become a coach with the Miners when he surpassed the Frontier League’s age limit of 27 following last season.

“Jason’s college coach told me about him last winter prior to his senior season,” Miners Manager Mike Pinto said. “But with Ralph at second base, it was better that Jason had a chance to go to San Angelo to get some at bats. He brings a lot of tools to the Miners. Jason has excellent base running speed, a controlled swing and an excellent feel for the strike zone. That should give him an opportunity to get on base often for us. He also played excellent defense last season.”

Jason played his college baseball at Texas Wesleyan University where he led the team in hitting with a .390 batting average. He also stole 39 bases in 43 attempts. He earned first team All-Red River Athletic Conference honors and was named Player of the Week on two occasions.

The Miners home opener is scheduled for Saturday, May 24 at 7:05 p.m. For the latest Miners news and updates, visit www.southernillinoisminers.com.

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