The Gary SouthShore RailCats signed outfielder Abel Arocho to his first American Association contract before Friday’s series finale vs. St. Paul. In order to make room for Arocho on the 23-man active roster, Gary placed outfielder MJ Rookard on irrevocable waivers.
Arocho has played for the Trinidad Triggers of the PECOS League the last two seasons prior to signing with the RailCats. In 56 games with Trinidad in 2019, Arocho slashed .308/.473/.487/.960 with 52 runs, 60 hits, eight doubles, nine home runs, 31 RBIs, 55 walks and 14 stolen bases. In 2018, Arocho slashed .369/.504/.492/.996 with 66 runs, 72 hits, nine doubles, five home runs, 46 RBIs, 52 walks and 10 stolen bases in 60 games.
Prior to beginning his professional baseball career in 2018, Arocho played collegiately at Shenandoah University. As a senior in 2017, Arocho collected American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) Third Team All-South Region honors. Arocho started in a single-season school record 51 games and slashed .348/.434/.425/.859 with 55 runs, 72 hits, 10 doubles, three triples, 33 RBIs, 32 walks, one hit by pitch and seven stolen bases.
A native of Glen Burnie, Md., Arocho garnered First Team All-Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC), First Team All-State by the Virginia Sports Information Directors, ABCA Second Team All-South and D3Baseball.com Third Team All-South Region honors as a junior in 2016. Arocho slashed a career-best .457/.514/.543/1.057 with 25 runs, 42 hits, five doubles, one triple, 26 RBIs, nine walks, four hit by pitches and four stolen bases in 23 games.
Prior to attending Shenandoah University, played collegiately at the Community College of Baltimore County Catonsville from 2014-15. As a sophomore in 2015, Arocho slashed .360/.464/.482/.946 with 34 runs, 50 hits, 12 doubles, one triple, one home run, 23 RBIs, 21 walks and seven stolen bases in 42 games. As a freshman in 2014, Arocho slashed .361/.443/.367/.810 with 21 runs, 53 hits, one double, 26 RBIs, 22 walks and six stolen bases in 44 games.
Rookard signed his first professional baseball contract with Gary on July 1st following his senior season at Middle Georgia State University and slashed .180/.312/.292/.604 with 15 runs, 16 hits, three doubles, two triples, one home run, eight RBIs, 16 walks, two sacrifice flies and five stolen bases in 29 games. Rookard went 1-for-2 with two runs, an RBI, a triple and a hit by pitch in his pro debut on July 10th in game one of a doubleheader against the Chicago Dogs. Rookard reached base safely in a career-best 14 games from July 25th to August 14th and hit a go-ahead solo home run for the first of his career with two outs in the top of the 9th off Milwaukee Milkmen All-Star relief pitcher Myles Smith on July 29th.
Rookard had spent the 2019 summer playing with the Macon Bacon of the Coastal Plain League before signing with Gary. Rookard left the Macon Bacon leading the league in hits (39) and batting average (.382), was second in runs scored (33) and in the top 10 in on-base percentage, (.484), slugging percentage (.569), total bases (58) and doubles (eight). The 23-year-old also hit for the cycle in his first four at bats of a game back on June 17th. Those numbers garnered him a spot on the Coastal Plain League All-Star Team.
Rookard finished up his senior season earlier this year at NAIA Middle Georgia State University. Rookard slashed .348/.456/.582 in 2019, with nine homers, 57 RBI and more walks (33) than strikeouts (23). This season the Douglasville, Ga., native tallied two 4-hit games and a 5-hit game back in February in which he finished with seven RBI.
Rookard spent his final two years at MGSU after transferring from Chattahoochee Valley Community College. In his last year with CVCC, he finished with an OBP of .408, more walks (19) than strikeouts (15), 19 runs scored and was 7/8 stealing bases.
Gary concludes its three-game homestand on Friday night at 7:10 p.m. vs. St. Paul. RailCats’ rookie left-hander Seth Hougesen (3-3, 5.36) opposes Saints’ left-hander Jordan Jess (6-0, 3.47) in the series finale.
Friday’s game is Breakfast Club Night, a Fireworks Super Show and the last Fifth Third Bank Fireworks Friday. Breakfast Club Night includes breakfast concession specials and 80s music throughout the game.
Ticket packages for the 2019 Gary SouthShore RailCats season are available online at railcatsbaseball.com and can also be purchased by calling the RailCats ticket line at (219) 882-BALL. The RailCats box office is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.