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SIOUX CITY, IA – The Sioux City Explorers announced today that the club has re-signed RHP PJ Francescon and also signed rookie RHP Ryan Flores to 2017 American Association contracts. The 2017 season will mark Francescon’s 7th season in professional baseball, while the upcoming season will be Flores’ first season of professional baseball. 

Francescon was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 40th round of the 2011 MLB June Amateur Draft from Trevecca Nazarene University. Francescon signed with the Explorers last season on July 3rd following his release from the Cubs. The right hander appeared in 23 games for the X’s in 2016, tossing 41 innings while striking out 36 batters and picking up 5 wins out of the bullpen to go with a 4.83 ERA.

Prior to joining the X’s, Francescon spent 5 seasons in the Cubs organization, spending the majority of his time serving as the closer for the Double-A Tennessee Smokies. In 2014, Francescon was named to the Southern League (Double-A) All-Star team after finishing 4th in the entire league in wins with 11. Francescon’s best season in the Cubs organization came in 2015 where he was once again selected as a Southern League All-Star after leading the entire league in saves with 21 and finishing with a miniscule 1.69 ERA, good for 7th lowest in the league. The right handed closer tossed 53.1 innings for the Double-A Smokies in 2015, allowing only 38 hits while striking out 50 batters to just 17 walks. For his efforts, Francescon was promoted to the Triple-A Iowa Cubs where he pitched 8 scoreless innings in 3 appearances and was also named an Organizational All-Star for the Chicago Cubs in 2015.

Flores joins the Explorers for his first season of professional baseball after playing collegiately at Richland College in Dallas, TX. In 2016, Flores also played for the Savannah Bananas in the Coastal Plain League (collegiate summer baseball league) where he impressed going 4-0 with 3 saves and a 2.21 ERA. In 36.2 innings pitched, Flores allowed only 29 hits while striking out 42 batters. Flores also played in the fall of 2016 in the new Desert League for the Yuma Hammers where the righty held a 2.69 ERA in 20 innings pitched, accumulating 16 strikeouts. 

With the signing of Francescon and Flores, the X’s now have 5 players signed to 2017 contracts (3 position players and 2 pitchers). In other team news, the Explorers have released C Ralph Henriquez as he has informed the organization of his intent to retire from professional baseball. 

The Explorers 2017 Home Opener, which marks the X’s 25th season in Siouxland, will be Thursday, May 18th versus the Sioux Falls Canaries in a 7:05pm contest. Get in the game with the X’s by reserving your 2017 season tickets or company group outing now by calling 712-277-WINS (9467).