By Robert Held
The New Britain Bees do not start their season until April 21st, however that has not stopped the team from signing plenty of former Major League talent, a lot of which comes from Connecticut.
On April 4th the Bees announced the signings of four pitchers, Josh Outman, Eric Fornataro, Josh Zeid, and Nick Greenwood.
“Today’s signings represent a great step forward for this season’s pitching staff,” said Bees’ Manager Stan Cliburn. “Outman, Fornataro, Zeid and Greenwood bring great MLB experience to our roster.
Greenwood, is a Connecticut native, who grew up in Farmington. He was originally drafted in the 14th round by the San Diego Padres in 2009. Greenwood has appeared in 20 Major League games, over the course of the 2014-15 seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals.
Zeid is also a Connecticut native, and was a standout player during his high school career. He attended what was then known as Hamden Hall Country Day school. During his senior year Zeid was named the Gatorade Connecticut High School Player of the Year, after he finished his high school career with 400 strikeouts. In 2003, Zeid was a member of the gold-medal winning Team USA Youth National Team.
Originally from New Haven, Zeid was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 10th round of the 2009 MLB Amateur Draft. Zeid appeared in 48 games for the Houston Astros between 2013-14 as a relief pitcher. A seven year professional baseball veteran, Zeid has totaled 35 wins and 528 strikeouts so far during his career.
The Bees also signed Newington resident, and former New Britain Rock Cats pitcher Cole Johnson. Johnson was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 44th round of the 2011 MLB Amateur Draft. While never reaching the majors, Johnson has accumulated 280 strikeouts in 262.2, with a 2.88 earned run average during his minor league career. He spent part of the 2013 and 2014 seasons with the Rock Cats, recording 12 saves and 130 strikeouts.
“Johnson’s experience in New Britain is a fantastic asset,” said Cliburn.
Outman and Fornataro are not originally from Connecticut, but bring the Bees plenty of Major League experience. During his 6-year Majors career, Outman has pitched on four different teams including the Oakland Athletics, Colorado Rockies, Cleveland Indians, and most recently the New York Yankees.
Fornataro has played in eight minor league seasons for the St. Louis Cardinals and Washington Nationals organizations. As a relief pitcher in 2014, Fornataro appeared in eight major league games for the Cardinals.
On April 8th according to the Atlantic League transaction records Fornataro was sold to the Orioles.
Besides signing more players to their roster, the Bees also recently announced the teams new jingle. The jingle will appear during all radio broadcasts of Bees’ games and television advertisements for many seasons to come. For fans who want to listen to the jingle it is available on the teams website.
Titled “It’s Better With The Bees”, the jingle was written and performed by Tom Russo and Paul Lombardo. The duo has written several jingles for many minor league teams across the country.
“Between all the players with Connecticut ties and a catchy new jingle that I want to hear, I can’t wait to go see the Bees play in a few weeks,” said Southington resident Dinah Landry.