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Garko, Ortiz and Nelson signed by Long Island

(Central Islip, N.Y., Mar. 22, 2012)
The Long Island Ducks today announced the signings of infielders Ryan Garko, Wilberto Ortiz, and Bryant Nelson. Nelson was acquired in a trade with the York Revolution in exchange for infielder Freddie Thon.

Garko begins his first season with the Ducks and ninth in professional baseball. He spent parts of six seasons in the Major Leagues with the Cleveland Indians, San Francisco Giants, and Texas Rangers and is a career .275 hitter over 463 big league contests with 55 home runs, 250 RBI, 75 doubles, and a .434 slugging percentage. His best season came with the Indians in 2007 when he hit .289 with 21 homers, 61 RBI, 29 doubles and 140 hits in 138 games.

Most recently, the 31-year-old spent part of the 2011 season with the Samsung Lions of the Korean Baseball Organization. He began his career as a catcher with Stanford University, where he earned the Johnny Bench Award as the nation’s Top College Catcher and was named the Pac-10 Player of the Year in 2003. The Pittsburgh native was converted to a first baseman while with the Indians organization, where he was also a two-time All-Star. Garko was originally drafted by the Indians in the third round of the 2003 amateur draft.

Ortiz joins the Flock for the first time in 2012 with six season of professional experience. He reached the Triple-A level as a member of the Dodgers organization in 2011 and combined to hit .250 with 44 RBI, 21 doubles, and 42 runs in 109 games across three levels.

The Brooklyn native and Dowling College alum has also spent time in the Angels and Nationals’ organizations. In 551 career games, he has compiled a .265 batting average 16 home runs, 206 RBI, 103 doubles, and 50 stolen bases while also boasting a .949 fielding percentage. The 27-year-old was originally drafted by the Angels in the 33rd round of the 2006 amateur draft.

Nelson enters his third season with the Ducks and seventh in the Atlantic League. He reached the Major Leagues in 2002 as a member of the Boston Red Sox and played in 25 games, hitting .265 with two RBI, six runs, and three doubles. The infielder has spent time with seven different Major League organizations (Astros, Cubs, Diamondbacks, Pirates, Red Sox, White Sox, and Blue Jays) and has a .285 batting average and nearly 2,000 hits in 1,759 minor league games.

A native of Arkansas, Nelson has played with five different Atlantic League teams (Bluefish, Ducks, Riversharks, Barnstormers, Revolution). While with the Ducks in 2007 and 2008, he combined for eight home runs, 46 RBI, and 53 runs in 91 games. The 38-year-old’s best season came in 2000 when he split time with Triple-A Tucscon (Diamondbacks) and Monterrey of the Mexican League, combining to post career-highs in batting (.328), homers (25), RBI (103), and doubles (39) in 128 games. Nelson was originally drafted by the Astros in the 44th round of the 1993 amateur draft.

The Long Island Ducks are members of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball and play their home games at Bethpage Ballpark. Opening Day is May 4. For further information, call (631) 940-DUCK or visit