NEWARK – The Newark Bears announced the signing of outfielder Elijah Dukes, catcher Jake Long, and infielder Randy Gress. The Bears have also acquired catcher Todd Jennings from Bridgeport in exchange for catcher Tom Pennino.
Elijah Dukes enters his eighth season of professional baseball and first in the Atlantic League. The 26-year-old most recently played for the Washington Nationals in 2009, batting .250 with 8 HR and 58 RBI in 107 games. Dukes made his major league debut at 23 years of age with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2007.
During the following offseason, Dukes was signed by the Nationals and in 2008, posted personal major league bests with a .264 batting average and 13 home runs. The Florida native holds a .242 average with 199 hits, 31 HR, and 123 RBI in 240 career major league games. Dukes was originally selected by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 3rd round of the 2002 draft.
Long started 2010 with Triple-A Louisville in the Cincinnati Reds organization, where he batted .375 in seven games. The California native brings five seasons of minor league experience to Newark, all with the Reds organization. The catcher drove in a career best 16 RBI in 2008, splitting time with Single-A Dayton and High-A Sarasota of the Florida State League. Long holds a career .243 average with 126 hits, 5 HR, and 42 RBI in 169 minor league games. The 24-year-old was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the 37th round of the 2005 draft.
Gress enters his first season of independent baseball and fourth of his professional career. The 25-year-old began the 2010 campaign with Double-A Mississippi in the Atlanta Braves organization, where he hit .250 with 2 HR, 6 RBI and 13 runs scored in 39 games. Gress had his best season in 2009, where he hit 3 HR, 23 RBI and 25 runs in 78 combined games for Danville, Single-A Rome and High-A Myrtle Beach. The Hamden, Connecticut native has 7 HR, 54 RBI, 47 BB, and a .204 batting average in 217 career minor league games. Gress was originally drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the 18th round of the 2007 draft.
Jennings joins the Bears after making his Atlantic League debut with Bridgeport to start 2010. He put together a .301 average with nine runs, 25 hits, and 11 RBI in 30 games played. The 28-year-old’s best season as a professional came in 2005, with Single-A San Jose in the San Francisco Giants organization. Jennings batted .288 and posted personal-bests with 22 doubles, 10 home runs, 67 RBI, and 64 runs scored. The California native was drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the second round of the 2003 amateur draft.
To make room on the roster, the Bears have released left-handed pitcher Matt Melody and placed infielders Shawn Williams and Isaiah Kaaihue on the inactive list.
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