Three more players have agreed to don a Lancaster Barnstormers uniform again in 2021, including one who never actually has had the opportunity to do so.
Veteran catcher Anderson De La Rosa, infielder Melvin Mercedes, and first baseman Kelly Dugan have all signed contracts for the 2021 season, it was announced today by manager Ross Peeples.
De La Rosa, 36, will be in his fourth season with the Barnstormers. A defensive specialist, De La Rosa has been the anchor to the Lancaster pitching success in both the 2017 and 2018 seasons while, at the same time, controlling opposing teams’ running game. The native of Barquisimeto, Venezuela has also contributed at the plate, batting .254 with 54 doubles in his 244 previous Barnstormers games.
The upcoming season with be the 16th professionally for the backstop. He spent 10 seasons in the Milwaukee Brewers organization, peaking at Class AAA Nashville before moving onto the Los Angeles Angels and Kansas City Royals organizations for one season each.
“De La Rosa is a good defensive catcher that understands the game and what he is trying to do behind the plate and he is a great veteran on and off the field,” said Peeples. “We will bring someone else in who will help him as he will need days off.”
Mercedes, 29, joined the Barnstormers initially in 2019. The switch hitter from The Bronx had an exciting first week in a Lancaster uniform before breaking his ankle sliding into second base at Southern Maryland. He would return in July, eventually playing in 55 games. He hit .264 with eight doubles and two homers while stealing six bases.
The former Oakland farmhand advanced to Class AAA Nashville, then an A’s affiliate, in both 2017 and 2018. Known for his versatility, Mercedes played all nine positions for Class A Stockton on September 3, 2016.
“Melvin is the type of players fans should love to watch,” Peeples said. “He is a solid all-around player who you can move around the field and who plays the game hard.”
Dugan, 30, signed to play with the Barnstormers last season, coming to Lancaster from the Chicago Dogs of the American Association where he batted .313 in 56 games in 2019. After the Atlantic League season was canceled, Dugan spent time with the Lightning Sloths in the Constellation Energy League (Sugar Land, Texas) and later returned to the Dogs to close out the campaign.
The Los Angeles native previously played in the minor leagues for the Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago Cubs and Arizona Diamondbacks after being drafted by the Phillies in the second round of the 2009 draft. He is no stranger to the eastern half of Pennsylvania, having spent time in Williamsport, Reading and Lehigh Valley during his tenure with Philadelphia.
A left-handed hitter, Dugan has clubbed 84 home runs in 818 professional games entering this season. He has a high of 20 in one season – 10 with Clearwater and 10 with Reading in 2013.
He is the son of Hollywood actor and film director Dennis Dugan, who guest starred in many TV favorites from the 70’s through the 90’s. Among his most notable directorial accomplishments have been the comedies Happy Gilmore and You Don’t Mess with the Zohan.
“Dugan had a good year with Chicago (in 2019),” said Peeples. “Butch (Hobson) had a lot of good things to say about him. He could be a quality lefty bat for us in our order.”
The signings bring the total number of players on the 2021 roster to 11. All have either played in Lancaster previously or were signed for last season, which was canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.