SIOUX CITY, IA – The Sioux City Explorers announced today that the club has re-signed RHP Justin Vernia, the 2018 American Association Rookie of the Year, to a 2019 American Association contract. The 2019 season will mark Vernia’s 3rd season in professional baseball, all with the X’s.

Vernia turned in a phenomenal 2018 campaign on the mound for the Explorers, going 12-2 in 20 starts, owning a 3.32 ERA. His 12 wins were not only tops for an impressive X’s pitching staff that finished the 2018 season ranked atop the league in several pitching categories, but also tied him for the most in the entire American Association. His impressive 3.32 ERA was also good for 6th best in the league.

Vernia was a workhorse for the Explorers, making 20 starts in 2018 (T-1st on team) and tossing 119.1 innings (2nd on team). The righty racked up 91 strikeouts (2nd on team) while issuing just 22 walks, which was good for a team best 1.66 BB/9.

For his efforts, Vernia was named the 2018 American Association Rookie of the Year, becoming the first Explorer to win the award. That wasn’t the only award Vernia collected throughout the 2018 season, also being tabbed as the league’s Rawlings Pitcher of the Month for the month of June after finishing a perfect 4-0 in 5 June starts, compiling 31 strikeouts. Vernia was also named the Pointstreak Pitcher of the Week for the week ending August 5th after tossing 14 innings and allowing just 1 earned run over two starts during the week, including a dominant 10 strikeout performance against the Texas AirHogs, which was a season high for the righty.  

Vernia began his professional career with the Explorers in the 2017 season, signing on August 5th and making his professional debut a day later, tossing 6 innings vs the Wichita Wingnuts, allowing just 5 hits and picking up his first professional win. Vernia would finish the season with the Explorers in 2017 owning a 3-2 record in 6 starts.

Prior to joining the Explorers, Vernia spent his first two collegiate seasons pitching for Tacoma Community College where he went a perfect 22-0, earning NWAC West Division MVP, while also being named First Team All-NWAC both seasons. The Spokane, WA native finished his collegiate career at Gonzaga University, earning WCC All-Academic Honorable Mention accolades as a senior, going 7-3 in 14 starts with a 3.11 ERA. In his 4 collegiate seasons, Vernia owns an impressive 30-5 record, including 9 complete games and 5 shutouts, to go along with his 2.72 career ERA.

The Explorers 2019 home opener will be Thursday, May 16th versus the Lincoln Saltdogs in a 7:12pm contest. Get in the game with the Sioux City Explorers by reserving your 2019 season ticket packages, flex ticket packages, or company group outing now by calling 712-277-WINS (9467). Connor Ryan