Blake Gailen, the Lancaster Barnstormers’ career home run leader, will be back at Clipper Magazine Stadium for a sixth season, it was announced today by manager Ross Peeples.
Gailen, who will be 32 on Opening Day, first came to Lancaster in 2012, becoming the Atlantic League and Baseball America Independent Player of the Year. He finished the season with a league-best .338 average, 22 home runs, 89 RBI and 25 stolen bases.
The left-handed batter returned to Lancaster for a portion of each of the last four seasons. Gailen spent much of the 2013 campaign with the Barnstormers before joining the Toronto Blue Jays organization late in the season. The following year, Gailen headed to the Mexican League’s Tijuana Toros in May, only to rejoin the Barnstormers and help guide Lancaster to its second Atlantic League title with a late season surge that carried through the playoffs.
In 2015, the California native’s contract was purchased mid-season by the Los Angeles Angels. He returned to Lancaster in the middle of the 2016 campaign after recovering from off-season surgery. Gailen batted .280 with four homers and 21 RBI in 48 games as a Barnstormer in 2016.
He has clubbed 63 career home runs in a Lancaster uniform, topping long time catcher and hitting coach Lance Burkhart by two. The outfielder/first baseman also ranks second on the club’s all-time career list in runs (269), hits (462) and doubles (95). He is tied for second with 243 runs batted in.
His playoff numbers outdistance his regular season performance. Over 16 games between the 2012 and 2014 post season, Gailen has batted .333 with five home runs and 17 runs batted in. Lancaster has won 10 of those 16 games.
Gailen, whose father is of Jewish heritage, stepped onto the international stage this off-season, playing for Team Israel in the World Baseball Classic. He was 4-for-17 in the six games played by the Israel in the tournament, driving in three runs.
“We all know what Blake can do here when he is healthy,” said Peeples. “He’s always a fan favorite, and he will be a leader in our clubhouse.”