04/12/2007 1:07 PM - JOLIET, IL-The Joliet JackHammers have added former Frontier League strikeout champion Nick Renault (pictured) to their starting rotation for the 2007 season. Renault (Ree-naw-lt), a right-handed pitcher, 1B/OF Derek Nicholson and SS Tim Hutting are expected to see plenty of action on the field for the 2007 Joliet JackHammers. The JackHammers begin their sixth season in the Northern League on May 17, 2007 at 7:05 p.m. against the Calgary Vipers at Silver Cross Field.
Nick can certainly strike some guys out, said JackHammers Manager Hal Lanier. Hell fit in real nice in our starting rotation. Hes capable of throwing 90-92 miles per hour and getting some ground balls as well.
Renault, 27, started his career with the now defunct Mid-Missouri Mavericks of the Frontier League. He went 9-7 with a 3.85 E.R.A in 2005, finishing first in the league with 145 strikeouts in 138 innings pitched. Renault struck out 62 men in 69.2 innings pitched last year with the Windy City ThunderBolts of the Frontier League. He played collegiate baseball at Oregon State University and makes his off-season home in Beaverton, Oregon.
Nicholson, 30, begins his inaugural season in independent baseball after a nine-year stint in the Houston Astros and Detroit Tigers minor league systems. He spent 2006 with the AA Corpus Christi (TX) Hooks and AAA Round Rock (TX) Express. He has AAA experience in parts of four minor-league seasons (Toledo in the Tigers system from 2002-2004 and Round Rock in 2006). Originally a 16th round pick of the Astros in the June, 1998 First Year Player Draft out of the University of Florida, Nicholson currently lives in Redondo Beach, California.
Derek is a first baseman who is capable of playing third base and the outfield, explained Lanier. His veteran bat can drive in some runs.
Huttings independent career will start with the JackHammers after four solid seasons in the Giants minor league system. The 25-year-old played for the San Jose Giants (A, California League) and the Fresno Grizzlies (AAA, Pacific Coast League) in 2006. Hutting hit .266 with San Jose in 2006, earning a career-best batting average for one season with four home runs and 32 RBI.
Loose Gravel: 2006 JackHammers infielder Blake Gill has announced his intention to voluntarily retire. Gill played in 81 games with the JackHammers in 2006, mostly at second base and hit .298 with four home runs and 39 RBI.
The JackHammers have seven pitchers under contract for 2007. The club is carrying four infielders and five outfielders for the upcoming season. Players will report to Silver Cross Field for the first day of spring training on May 2.