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Bender and Pobereyko added to 2019 roster


SIOUX CITY, IA – The Sioux City Explorers announced today that the club has signed RHP Anthony Bender and RHP Matt Pobereyko to a 2019 American Association contract. The 2019 season will be both Bender’s and Pobereyko’s 4th season in professional baseball and first season with the X’s.

Bender was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the 20th round of the 2016 draft. He was taken out of Santa Rosa Junior College where he was a two way player dominating on the mound and batting in the middle of the lineup. Bender had been committed to playing his collegiate ball at California State University Northridge before being drafted by the Royals.  Bender also played his high school ball at Casa Grande High in Petaluma, California. Both educational institutes Bender shared with former big leaguer Jonny Gomes.

Bender spent three seasons in the Royals farm system. After 32.2 innings and a 3.03 ERA in rookie ball he got the call up to Class A Lexington in 2017. He impressed yet again with the Legends with a 3.93 ERA in 73.1 innings. He compiled 70 strike outs (K/9 of 9.1) and showed great control with just 20 walks (BB/9 2.5). Those numbers were good enough to earn him a promotion and an end of the year start with the High-A Wilimington Blue Rocks. He began the 2018 season in High-A with Wilmington and put together a good season with a 6-3 record and a 3.57 ERA in 93.1 innings, his lowest ERA since rookie ball.

In his three seasons with the Royals, the 6’4”, 24 year old, never seemed to have a defined role. He started 23 games during those three seasons and came out of the bullpen 40 times. He compiled a record of 13-9 to go along with 7 saves along with a career 3.63 ERA in 203.1 minor league innings.

Pobereyko is a native of Munster, Indiana where he played his high school baseball at Bishop Noll Institute. There he was a two time All-Conference selection for the Warriors while also being a member of the swim team. He then spent two seasons at South Suburban Junior College in South Holland, Illinois. His 2012 season was lost to injury after three appearances. His 2013 season saw him notch a 1-1 record with a miniscule 1.96 ERA in eight appearances with 18 strike outs in 18.1 innings. Pobereyko then pitched collegiately at Kentucky Wesleyan College, which saw him shine as a senior. He went 9-2 with a 1.84 ERA in 12 games. He broke school records with 104 strikeouts during the season and 18 in one game.

Going undrafted after his senior season Pobereyko landed with the Florence Freedom of the Frontier League. It did not take long for an organization to notice him as he had dominating numbers. In just 20 games out of the bullpen he put together a 1.33 ERA with 31 strikeouts and just 10 walks in 20.1 innings. With stats like that the Arizona Diamondbacks purchased his contract from Florence. He would spend the rest of the 2016 season bouncing between levels appearing in Rookie ball, Low-A and High-A. He appeared in 15 games total, pitching 27 innings, striking out 36 and an ERA of 4.33.

Despite the good numbers the Diamondbacks would not bring him back for the 2017 season. Pobereyko instead went back to a familiar place in Florence. It again did not take Pobereyko long to impress a major league organization. In fact He was even better during his second stint with Florence, racking up 10 saves with an ERA of just 1.00 in 17 games, 18 innings, while punching out 38 batters for a ridiculous K/9 of 19.0. This time it was the New York Mets that came calling for his services. He would finish the 2017 season with the Class A Columbia Fireflies. His first few days with Columbia he actually happened to share a dugout with former Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow. In 23 games for Columbia he had a 3.15 ERA in 34.1 innings striking out 53.

The New York Metropolitans would keep Pobereyko to begin the 2018 season. He began on the opening day roster for the High-A ball St. Lucie Mets, there he appeared in 36 games, saving 10, with a 3.19 ERA and a 2-3 record in 48 innings on the mound. Pobereyko recorded 55 strikeouts during that time continuing his dominance of being able to make hitters whiff. He would get a promotion to AAA Syracuse and appear in one game before being sent to AA Binghamton for the final week of the season where he appeared in 5 games, tossing 5.2 shutout innings, and once again shared a clubhouse with Tebow.

Between three seasons in affiliated ball Pobereyko appeared in 80 games and put together a 3.51 ERA in 118 innings. What should get Explorers fans excited is his numbers from Independent baseball when he was with Florence. In his two seasons combined in the Frontier League he has appeared in 37 games, throwing 38.1 innings and an ERA of 1.17. He has walked only 15 while punching out 69 for an incredible K/9 of 16.2. 

With the signings of Bender and Pobereyko, the Explorers now have 22 players (14 pitchers, 8 position players) signed to 2019 American Association contracts.   

The Explorers 2019 home opener will be Thursday, May 16th versus the Lincoln Saltdogs in a 7:12pm contest. Get in the game with the Sioux City Explorers by reserving your 2019 season ticket packages, flex ticket packages, or company group outing now by calling 712-277-WINS (9467).