Hometown Kid AJ Nitzschke Signs with Explorers
Sioux City, IA– The Sioux City Explorers today have announced the signing of RHP AJ Nitzschke.
Growing up in near by Lawton, Iowa, AJ Nitzschke was probably always meant to be a Sioux City Explorer. He played football, basketball and most importantly baseball for the Eagles of Lawton-Bronson. He was a four year starter for the Eagles that included posting an impressive .304 batting average as a freshman. He also tossed nine innings on the mound that freshman season, striking out six and not allowing a run. A trend that would continue over his high school career. Nitzschke was a stellar two-way player for the Eagles, in his high school career he would hit at a .331 clip, with a total of nine home runs, 102 RBI and 42 stolen bases. He also held down a cumulative 3.46 ERA, over 78 innings and racking up 90 strikeouts, good for a K/9 of 10.4. His true banner season in high school came in his 2014 junior season when he hit for a .450 average, driving in 25 RBI and smacking three homers, while on the mound in four starts and eight total appearances he went 3-0, with a 2.39 ERA while striking out an incredible 40 batters in 29.1 innings of work. Those two way numbers earned him 1st Team West Valley Conference.
Nitzschke then stayed near by for his college years, going to Northwestern College in Orange City, IA. In his first three seasons with the Raiders Nitzschke did not see the mound. His sophomore year as a hitter hit for a collegiate career high average of .311 and 37 runs scored while also swatting five homers and driving in 27 RBI. Those numbers earned him G-Pac Honorable Mention All-Conference Honors.
His 2019 senior season saw a true return to a two way player for Nitzschke. Playing in all 48 of the Raiders games he hit for a .259 average, swatting a career high six homers and 30 RBI with 10 doubles. He also found the mound ten times as a reliever, compiling 13.1 innings of work, collecting two saves and striking out 22 batters.
For the work in the 2019 season Nitzschke was once again awarded G-Pac Honorable Mention All-Conference Honors. He was also named to the G-Pac/Hauff Mid-America Sports Baseball Gold Glove Team for his stellar play as an outfielder, committing just two errors in 120 chances. Nitzschke also proved to be a scholar as twice during his collegiate career he was named an NAIA Scholar Athlete.
The summers away from Northwestern College for Nitzschke were not filled with catching up with old high school friends and heading to the ballpark to catch the X’s. Instead he was busy playing baseball. Used mostly as a position player he spent the 2017 summer with the Genesee Rapids in the New York College Baseball League. In 40 games he hit .284 with three homers, 29 RBI, 35 runs and 8 stolen bases, helping guide the Rapids to their first playoff appearance in their four year franchise history.
The following 2018 summer saw him join the Edmonton Prospects of the Western Canadian Baseball League. He would hit for a .255 average with three homers, 16 RBI and 22 runs scored while collecting seven multi hit games. He also helped his team to the post-season and in 8 playoff games hit .381.
Despite displaying the ability to be a two-way player in his career Nitzschke will have a more clear and defined role with the Explorers in 2020. Both manager Steve Montgomery and pitching coach Bobby Post have agreed that they view Nitzschke’s talents will best be utilized on the mound as a pitcher.
The Sioux City Explorers 28th season in Siouxland will begin on May 19th at the Kansas City T-Bones. The X’s open up their home schedule on May 26th against the Sioux Falls Canaries. Season tickets, flex tickets, group tickets and luxury suites are now for sale for all 50 Explorers home games for the 2020 season. Simply call (712) 277-WINS (9467) to order your ticket package today.
by Connor Ryan, Sioux City Explorers