SIOUX CITY | Friday, the Sioux City Explorers announced the signing of Justin Vernia to a 2019 American Association contract.
Vernia, a right-hander, was the 2018 American Association rookie of the year, going 12-2. His 12 wins was not only tops for an impressive Explorers pitching staff, but it tied for the most in the league.
A native of Spokane, Wash., Vernia was a workhorse for the Explorers, making a team-best 20 starts while ranking second on the squad in innings (119.1) and strikeouts (91). He issued just 22 walks.
Vernia became the first Explorer to win the American Association’s rookie of the year honor. He set the tone for his successful season while being named the league’s pitcher of the month, going 4-0 in five June starts with 31 strikeouts. He was also named the league’s pitcher of the week ending Aug. 5 after tossing 14 innings while allowing only one earned run over two starts that week, including a 10-strikeout performance against the Texas AirHogs.
Vernia began his professional career with the Explorers in 2017, going 3-2 in six starts. Prior to joining the Explorers, he went 22-0 in two seasons at Tacoma Community College where he earned NWAC West Division MVP honors while winning first-team NWAC honors twice.
Vernia concluded his collegiate career at Gonzaga, going 7-3 in 14 starts with a 3.11 ERA.
The Explorers will open the 2019 home season on May 16 against Lincoln.