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SIOUX CITY – The Sioux City Explorers announced the signing of infielder Nelson Ward to a 2018 American Association contract. The 2018 season will mark Ward’s fifth season in professional baseball.

Ward was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the 12th round of the 2014 MLB Draft out of the University of Georgia. Ward would spend two years in the Mariners organization and in 2015 Ward hit .278 with 19 doubles, 13 triples, and 9 homeruns, while totaling 55 RBIs, 81 runs scored, and 13 stolen bases in 122 games between the Mariners Single-A Clinton and Single-A Bakersfield affiliates.

Ward was traded the following offseason to the San Diego Padres for big league pitcher Joaquin Benoit. The Marietta, Georgia native would spend the entire 2016 season playing for the Padres Double-A affiliate San Antonio Missions where he appeared in 123 games collecting 100 hits to go along with a .313 on base percentage and 31 stolen bases. The 31 stolen bases were good for second most in the entire Texas League, only behind Kansas City Royals Terrance Gore’s 44 stolen bases.

The Explorers originally signed Ward last season before the Seattle Mariners purchased his contract and was assigned to their AA affiliate Arkansas Travelers. Ward would spend the entire 2017 season playing for the Travelers, appearing in 82 games where he owned a .265 batting average and a .339 on base percentage.

In his four-year professional career, Ward owns a career .253 batting average and a .339 on base percentage. Ward also owns an impressive career fielding percentage at .973, committing only 44 errors in 1,631 total chances.

Ward played collegiately at the University of Georgia and in 149 career games for the Bulldogs, Ward owned a career .301 batting average with 21 doubles, seven triples, four home runs and 66 RBIs. In his sophomore season, Ward established a Georgia single season school record for highest fielding percentage by a second basemen at .987 committing only three errors in 239 total chances. In his final season at Georgia, Ward led the Bulldogs in RBIs (34), walks (33), and multiple hit games (18) while finishing second on the team in batting average (.306), hits (64), and stolen bases (10).

With the signing of Ward, the Explorers now have eight players signed to 2018 contracts. In other team news, the Explorers have released pitcher Bubby Rossman.

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