The High Point Rockers have added two new pitchers to their roster for the 2021 season that, unlike the 2020 season, will become a reality.
The baseball team that’s a key component of High Point’s downtown economic development was sidelined by COVID-19 last year – but is now gearing up for a new season just a few months away.
The Rockers will kick off their second season of baseball on Friday, May 28 when they visit the York Revolution. The home opener – at Truist Point in downtown High Point – is slated for Tuesday, June 1, and will be against the Lexington Legends – one of two new teams to join the Atlantic League in 2021.
The Rockers have been adding players in the off-season and this week the team announced that it has signed lefthander Luke Westphal and righty Preston Gainey (pictured above).
Westphal, 31, is described by the team as a “hard-throwing lefthander who has predominantly been a starter in recent years.”
Westphal was considered the best pitching prospect in the American Association in 2019 while pitching for the Chicago Dogs. He went 11-2 with a 2.82 ERA in 2019 and was 3-2 with a 3.42 ERA last season.
Even though he’ll be new to the Rockers, Westphal will have at least one ready-made friend on the team. While with the Dogs, Westphal’s catcher was Logan Moore, who also recently signed with the Rockers.
Rockers’ manager Jamie Keefe stated in a press release that the two have chemistry.
“Logan caught him last summer and loved him and (fellow Rocker) Tyler Ladendorf played behind him,” Keefe said. “These guys say number one, he works quick and number two, he attacks hitters. As a player, you love playing behind those guys. He threw the ball fantastic last year. Luke is a guy who commands the strike zone, attacks hitters and works really fast.”
Westphal, a Wisconsin native, turned pro in 2013. He spent two seasons with the Minnesota Twins organization and has a career record of 31-31 and he’s struck out 614 batters in 508 innings of work.
Gainey, 30, from Pompano Beach, Florida, played his college ball at the US. Naval Academy. Gainey was selected in the 11th round of the 2012 Major League Baseball draft by the Milwaukee Brewers and spent six seasons in the Brewers organization including two seasons at AA Biloxi in the Southern League.
This will be a comeback season for Gainey who hasn’t pitched professionally since 2017. He suffered an elbow injury during spring training in 2018 and underwent ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction, commonly known as “Tommy John” surgery.
High Point’s schedule for 2021 includes 120 games with exactly half of those games being home games at Truist Point.