(March 15, 2022) — The York Revolution return two big bats from last season and a former arm in the latest batch of signings. Infielder Jack Kenley and outfielder JC Encarnacion will return from the 2021 club, and RHP Jorge Martinez will return to York for the first time since 2016. In addition, catcher Brian Navarreto, who had previously signed with York, became the first Atlantic League player to have his contract purchased by a Major League organization in 2022, joining the Milwaukee Brewers as big league spring training camps get underway. The moves were announced by manager Mark Mason live on Monday’s airing of Revs Hot Stove Weekly presented by Shipley Energy on SportsRadio 98.9 FM & 1350 WOYK.
Kenley joined the Revs last season after beginning his career in the Detroit Tigers organization, where he reached as high as Double-A Erie in 2021. In 96 games after his signing, Kenley slashed .288/.415/.495, while also slugging 22 doubles and 12 home runs. In addition to his power, Kenley also presented a great eye at the plate, drawing 68 walks last season, behind only Nellie Rodriguez for the team lead. The power flashes were plentiful last season as well for Kenley, who posted a career-high and team-high 6 RBI on July 11 vs Long Island and a two-homer game on August 5 on the road against rival Lancaster.
“He had very good power numbers, especially for a middle infielder,” said Mason. “He’s a left-handed bat that did some real damage in our league. He made us better defensively at second base, and we’re really excited to have him back with us this year.”
Playing three years at the University of Arkansas, Kenley’s breakout season in 2019 saw him slash .311/.428/.533, driving 13 home runs en route to the team’s second consecutive trip to the College World Series. That performance led to him being selected in the 8th round by the Tigers in the 2019 MLB Draft.
Encarnacion provided plenty of pop in 86 games with York last season after signing on June 16. At just 23 years old, Encarnacion slashed .295/.363/.521, mashing 32 total extra base hits, headlined by 18 doubles and 9 home runs. Encarnacion also brought tremendous speed, swiping 14 bases while legging out five triples. His first season in York included a 10-game hitting streak between June 26 and July 6.
“When you look back at the year he had, it was a quietly impressive year,” remarked Mason. “Tremendous power numbers and a good batting average. He can also be one of the best base stealers in the league when he gets on.”
Despite his young age, Encarnacion will be entering his sixth professional season since signing with the Atlanta Braves as an amateur free agent in July 2016. Encarnacion reached the Low-A South Atlantic League with the Rome Braves in 2018 before being sent to the Baltimore Orioles on July 31 as part of a four-player package in a deal for RHPs Kevin Gausman and Darren O’Day. After earning postseason All-Star Honors in 2018, Encarnacion hit .245 with nine home runs in his first full season with Low-A Delmarva in 2019.
Martinez returns to York for the third time, most recently toeing the rubber for the Revs in 2016. That 2016 season saw him start seven games and total 40 innings (3-2, 1.80 ERA) before his contract was purchased by Diablos Rojos of the Mexican League.
He made his U.S. debut with the Revolution in 2014 at age 29. In 24 starts, Martinez pitched to a 3.21 ERA, which ranked 4th in the Atlantic League among qualified pitchers. Across 134.2 innings, Martinez struck out 93 batters while walking just 39, rolling out an 11-8 win-loss record.
“We wanted to get a little more veteran presence in our starting rotation,” detailed Mason. “He’s had a great career in Mexico since he's left here. Great guy who knows how to pitch, so I'm happy to plug him into the rotation.”
Martinez has been well traveled during his professional career, beginning with eight seasons in the Cuban National Series with Cocodrilos de Matanzas. The Havana, Cuba native spent the 2021 season in the Mexican League, splitting time between Pericos de Puebla and El Aguila de Veracruz. The 37-year-old has also spent winter league seasons in Puerto Rico, Venezuela, and the Dominican Republic and has pitched overseas in Italy. He enters his 18th pro season with a lifetime 111-89 record and a 3.93 ERA, in addition to 34 career victories in his native Cuba.
Navarreto, 27, was a sixth-round draft choice of the Minnesota Twins out of high school in 2013 and reached the Majors for two games with the Miami Marlins in 2020, while spending most of last year at Triple-A Jacksonville. A career .214 hitter across nine seasons, Navarreto spent the bulk of his first seven seasons in the Twins system before a July 2019 trade to the New York Yankees. After finishing the year at then-Double-A Trenton, Navarreto signed with Miami that off-season.
Navaretto’s contract purchase by Milwaukee comes after the Revs sent a franchise record-tying six players to big league organizations in-season last year, their most since the 2007 and 2011 seasons.
The Revs now have 16 players under contract for the 2022 season and will continue to unveil new signings live on Revs Hot Stove Weekly presented by Shipley Energy each Monday at 6 p.m. on SportsRadio 98.9 FM & 1350 WOYK. The next episode is set to air on Monday, March 21.