The Savannah Bananas are thrilled to announce that nine Premier Team players have signed onto independent professional baseball teams for the summer while two more are playing in the Tokyo Olympics. Kyle Arjona, Stephen Chamblee, Thomas Nicoll, Chris Kwitzer, Logan Maxwell, Michael Deeb, Christopher Vasquez, Jay Hayes, and Dakota McFadden are playing more professional baseball while Nick Rickles and Shlomo Lipetz are playing for Team Israel in Tokyo.
Kyle Arjona is one of three Premier Team players to be signed by the Schaumburg Boomers in the Frontier League. “Hollywood” was easily one of the most dominant pitchers in March, as the former Phillies Minor Leaguer struck out a Spring Series leading 17 batters in only 7.1 innings of work.
Stephen Chamblee has signed with the Boomers as well after his powerful performance in March. A 2019 Banana, Chamblee traded the yellow and white for black and pink and stifled Bananas hitters alongside Arjona for the Party Animals. “Chambleezy” threw a Spring Series high 11 innings while only allowing 3 runs and striking out 6 batters.
Thomas Nicoll is returning to Schaumburg after being traded from the Gateway Grizzlies to the Boomers near the end of the 2019 season. “T-Train” pitched for the Bananas in the Breakfast Bowl at the end of the 2020 season and was a star in the first game of the Spring Series where he threw a scoreless 8th inning and then retired all three batters he faced in The Showdown, striking out 3 along the way and helping the Bananas win 5-2.
Chris Kwitzer will be facing his Premier Team buddies in the Frontier League as he has signed with the Lake Erie Crushers. “Kwitz” is no stranger to professional baseball: before manning right field for the Party Animals in the Spring Series he played professionally for the Sante Fe Fuego, Salina Stockade, Hollywood Stars, Sanoma Stompers, Aguilas Metropolitanas (in Panama City, Panama), Washington Wild Things, Jersey Wise Guys, and the Lake Saranac Surge.
Logan Maxwell is taking his talents to the Great Falls Voyagers in the Pioneer League. “Lolo” was a strikeout machine for the Bananas in the Spring Series, sitting down 9 Party Animals in 4.1 innings thrown. The Voyagers will be Logan’s 6th professional team, as he played for the New Hampshire Wild, Road City Explorers, Puerto Rico Islanders, and Baseball Resume Bandits before his time on the Bananas.
A two-time teammate of Maxwell, first in Puerto Rico and then with the Bananas, Michael Deeb has signed on to play for the Joliet Slammers in the Frontier League. “Vitamin Deeb” dazzled with his glove in left field and was the Bananas most dependable bat when it came to Showdowns. The former Notre Dame linebacker and White Sox Minor Leaguer went 2-3 in Showdowns and scored his team-high 3rd Showdown point when he was knocked in by Joshua Keating in the 4th and final game of the Spring Series.
The Bananas second baseman for every at-bat of the Spring Series, Christopher Vasquez, has signed to play for the York Revolution in the Atlantic League. “Vazzy” was the MVP of the Fansgiving Game in November and the first game of the Spring Series, where his shot off the right field wall in Showdowns gave the Bananas a 5-2 win.
Party Animals left fielder Jay Hayes is following “Lolo” out to Montana and joining the Pioneer League, but “J-Boogie” will once again be wearing a different jersey as he has signed with the Missoula Paddleheads. Jay was a baseball magnet, getting plunked by 3 pitches to help him secure a .500 OBP in the Spring Series. Hayes was signed to play in the Frontier League for the summer of 2020 before the season was cancelled, and now gets his first shot at a full season of professional baseball.
The first man picked to make the Premier Team, Dakota McFadden, has signed a contract to play in the United Shore League. “D-Mac” did a little of everything for the Bananas. At the plate he had 2 hits, 2 walks, 2 runs scored, 2 RBI’s and a steal of 1st base. On the mound he was a force to be reckoned with, striking out 5 batters in the 3 innings he tossed, while not allowing any points to be scored against him in 4 Showdowns.
On top of the professional baseball contracts signed in the United States, Nick Rickles and Shlomo Lipetz have both made the Olympic roster of Team Israel. Rickles was drafted in the 14th round of the 2011 MLB Draft by the Oakland Athletics and played for 11 different Minor League teams over the next 8 years. Nick has been on both of Israel’s World Baseball Classic rosters and went 2-4 with an RBI while manning third base for the Party Animals in the first game in Mobile.
Shlomo Lipetz happens to be one of the most legendary pitchers in Israeli baseball history. Born in Tel Aviv, Israel, he came to the United States when he was 22 years old and walked on to the San Diego Mesa College baseball team becoming only the 2nd ever native-born Israeli to play college baseball in the U.S. Shlomo’s played on every Israeli national baseball team since the age of 10 when he played in the Little League World Series in Germany. Shlomo had an eventful time as a Party Animal, throwing in the Showdown in Game 1 and then going viral in Game 2 when he plunked Dakota Albritton who was hitting in stilts.
The amount of talent on the field throughout the Spring Series was evident, and it’s extraordinary to see so many of the guys getting the contracts they deserve to continue their professional baseball careers around the world. There is no doubt there will be more Premier Team players signed to professional teams for the summer, and we’ll let you know as soon as it happens. Follow the Bananas on Twitter and Instagram @TheSavBananas, and Facebook for updates.