High Point, N.C. - The High Point Rockers have signed veteran pitcher Jonathan Crawford, rookie free agent pitcher Logan Bender, and traded for outfielder Jay Gonzalez from the Winnipeg Goldeyes of the American Association for a player to be named later.
All three players have joined the Rockers within the past few days and are available for this week’s series with the Lexington Legends.
Crawford, a University of Florida product, was a 2013 first round draft pick of the Detroit Tigers (20th overall). In 2014, he put together an impressive season for Class A West Michigan, going 8-3 with a 2.83 ERA while being named to the Midwest League All-Star Game. That offseason he was traded, along with infielder Eugenio Suarez, to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for Alfredo Simon. After two injury-plagued seasons and a tough 2017 campaign with the A+ Daytona Tortugas, Crawford was released from the Cincinnati Reds. In 2020, he pitched in the Constellation Energy League in Sugar Land, TX, and had spent the beginning of the 2021 season with the Chicago Dogs of the American Association, where he had gone 0-1 in 14 appearances (5 starts).
Bender, a twenty-two-year-old righty from Fort Polk, LA, began his collegiate career in 2018 with Campbell University. Working out of the bullpen, he posted a 5-2 record with a solid 3.42 ERA. His swing-and-miss stuff was evident as a redshirt freshman, whiffing 64 hitters in only 47.1 innings. In 2019, he pitched for Catawba Valley Community College, going 7-0 with a glistening 0.76 ERA en route to being selected as a NJCAA All-American. After transferring to NC State, his 2019 and 2020 campaigns were abbreviated ones, only appearing in a combined eight appearances out of the bullpen.
Gonzalez hails from San Diego, CA, and has spent the last 10 seasons in various levels of collegiate, professional and affiliated ball. He burst onto the scene with the Auburn Tigers in 2012, hitting .308 while swiping 30 bases. After transferring to Mt. Olive (Conference Carolinas), he put on a display of speed, stealing 51 bases in 2014 while batting an eye-popping .425 with an on-base percentage of .500.
Gonzalez was drafted by MLB clubs on three separate occasions: by the Boston Red Sox in the 27th round of the 2010 draft, by the Texas Rangers in the 39th round of the 2013 round, and lastly by the Baltimore Orioles in the 10th round of the 2014 round. Gonzalez reached AA Bowie in 2016 and 2017 during a streak in which he stole 30+ bases in three consecutive seasons. Following his release from the Orioles in 2017, he latched on with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2018, batting .287 for AA Jackson in 55 games. As a member of the New Jersey Jackals of the independent Canadian-American Association in 2019, he batted .310, his first season hitting above .300 as a professional.
At the time of his trade to the Rockers, Gonzalez was batting .333 for the Goldeyes, with 2 home runs and 8 stolen bases in 38 games. He made his Rockers’ debut on Friday, August 8th against the Long Island Ducks, going 0-3.