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Bibens-Dirkx Purchased by Texas

A fan favorite has returned.

Blake Gailen, the Atlantic League MVP in 2012 and repeat league All-Star has joined the Lancaster Barnstormers for the fifth straight season, it was announced today by manager Butch Hobson, though he is not expected to be activated until later in the week.

In addition to the signing of Gailen, the Barnstormers have announced that the contract of right-handed starting pitcher Austin Bibens-Dirkx has been purchased by the Texas Rangers.

Gailen, 31, batted a league-leading .338 with 22 home runs and 89 RBI in 2012, as one of four Lancaster outfielders to be named to the Atlantic League’s season-end All-Star Team.  He added three homers in the first two games of the division series against York, lifting the Barnstormers to a three-game sweep.  That squad went on to win a franchise record 88 regular season games.

Since then, the California native has been in and out of Lancaster.  He spent the bulk of 2013 with the Barnstormers, batting .288 with 11 homers and 52 RBI before being purchased by the Toronto Blue Jays in August and closing out the year with Class AAA Buffalo.  He was leading the league with both 35 doubles and 65 walks when he departed.

In 2014, Gailen started and finished in Lancaster but spent the middle portion of the season with Tijuana in the Mexican League.  With the Barnstormers, he batted .350 and slugged 18 home runs and 52 RBI in 66 games.  His return in August coincided almost perfectly with the Barnstormers push toward a playoff spot and eventual Atlantic League crown.

Last season, Gailen spent 44 games in Lancaster, batting .252 with eight homers and 29 RBI.  He joined the LA Angels organization in June and played for Class AA Arkansas for the remainder of the season.

Overall, the product of Nevada-Las Vegas has played in 361 games for the Barnstormers, batting .314.  He is within two of the franchise career home run record, currently held by long time catcher Lance Burkhart with 61.

“Blake is a fan favorite,” said Hobson.  “He is a tremendous ballplayer.  We are happy to have his bat, his defense and his presence back.”

Bibens-Dirkx, 31, went 3-3 with a 3.81 ERA for the Barnstormers.  He threw five quality starts, striking out 50 in his 54 1/3 innings of work.

The 11th year professional joins the Texas organization with their Class AAA franchise in Round Rock, TX, located in the Austin suburbs.  The Rangers will be his sixth Major League system.  Bibens-Dirkx has pitched at AAA in all six.

“Austin is a true professional,” said Hobson.   “He is fun to watch pitch with all the different pitches and angles he has, plus he is a fierce competitor.  We are happy for him to get this chance.”