Nester, Grant-Parks Return to Railroaders
CLEBURNE, Tex. (Oct. 28, 2019) – The Cleburne Railroaders announced Monday the re-acquisition of catcher Blake Grant-Parks from the Rockland Boulders of the Frontier League. The trade completes an earlier deal from February 20 that sent Grant-Parks to Rockland in exchange for a player to be named later. Additionally, Cleburne has re-acquired catcher John Nester from the High Point Rockers of the Atlantic League. Nester was traded to High Point on September 12 for the remaining weeks of the Atlantic League season.
Grant-Parks is coming off a career year with the Boulders in 2019. The 26-year old set new personal bests in batting average (.327), on-base percentage (.375), and slugging percentage (.510) for an .885 OPS. In counting stats, Grant-Parks set a career high in walks (17), doubles (16), home runs (10), RBI (44) and runs scored (35). The 10 home runs doubled Grant-Park’s career total from his first five professional seasons.
Operating primarily as the Boulders designated hitter and backup catcher, Grant-Parks threw out eight of 48 opposing baserunners (17%) while committing seven errors for a .966 fielding percentage. The native of Yuba City, Calif., also played nine games in the outfield for Rockland and made four appearances on the mound, striking out six in five innings of work.
Grant-Parks was a fan-favorite with the Railroaders during the 2017 and 2018 seasons, hitting a combined .284 with four home runs. The right-handed hitter led Cleburne with a .312 average in 2018, but was limited by injuries to 42 games.
Prior to his time with Cleburne, Grant-Parks spent parts of three seasons in the Tampa Bay Rays organization, splitting time between the Rays Gulf Coast League affiliate and Rookie-level Princeton. The 6’2, 200-pounder was a two-time draftee of the Tampa Bay organization, first out of Yuba City High School in the 28th round in 2011, and then again out of Cal State Monterey Bay in the 39th round in 2014. Grant-Parks began his college career at Sierra College in Rocklin, California before transferring to Monterey Bay for his junior season.
Nester also had a career year in 2019, slashing .277/.342/.505 in 85 games with the Railroaders. The 30-year old set personal bests in doubles (23), home runs (16), runs scored (55) and RBI (63). Nester’s .847 OPS was 73 points higher than his previous career best, set back in 2015 with Wichita. Defensively, Nester solidified his reputation as one of the premier backstops in the American Association. He cut down 23 opposing base stealers, second-most in the league, while committing only five errors and allowing five passed balls.
After a slow start at the dish in which Nester produced one hit in his first 18 at-bats, the veteran catcher caught fire. From June 4-17, Nester recorded multi-hit games in six of thirteen contests, raising his average to .294. He smacked a pair of home runs against the Texas AirHogs on June 28, kicking off a stretch of six homers in nine days. He became the first Railroaders player to hit for the cycle on August 20 against Sioux Falls, homering in the top of the ninth inning to complete the feat.
The native of Greer, S.C. helped High Point reach the Atlantic League playoffs in their first season as a franchise, playing in eight games and recording four hits, including a home run.
For information on partnerships, season tickets, group outings, and party packages, call the Railroaders main office at (817) 945-8705, or visit the Railroaders official website at www.railroaderbaseball.com.
By Denning Gerig, Cleburne Railroaders