EVANSVILLE, IN – The Evansville Otters have signed outfielder Jeff Gardner to a contract extension.
Gardner, a Louisville, Ky. native, joined the Otters midway through the 2016 season after spending time in the Washington Nationals’ organization.
“Jeff was a huge shot in the arm late in the season for us,” Otters manager Andy McCauley said. “Not just in the lineup but with his professionalism on and off the field.”
Gardner played collegiately at the University of Louisville and he was named to the 2014 Louisville Slugger and NCBWA All-America second teams after his senior season in which he hit .313 with nine home runs and 68 RBIs.
He was drafted in the eighth round of the 2014 MLB Amateur Draft by the Nationals and split time between Auburn and Hagerstown from 2014-16.
“I think having success with the Nationals and then being released certainly added to his motivation,” McCauley said. “He enjoys playing baseball as much as anyone I’ve had.
“We hope Jeff settles into the middle of our everyday lineup and he’ll see time in outfield, he’ll be a designated hitter and he might catch a few games.”
In 45 games with Evansville last season, Gardner hit .242 with six home runs and 24 RBIs.
The Otters made an additional move, signing Rochester Hills, Mich. native Tom Constand.
Constand, a left-handed pitcher, played collegiately at Western Illinois University from 2012-15 and appeared in 16 games for the Leathernecks during his senior season.
Evansville will open the regular season in Marion, Ill. May 12 against the Southern Illinois Miners at 7:05 p.m. and will celebrate Bosse Field’s Opening Night May 19 against the Gateway Grizzlies at 6:35 p.m.