Major League, NJ Jackals, Jose Almonte
Jose Almonte (Photo Credit: James Mancave - Provided by NJ Jackals)

Hayden Shenefield and Jose Almonte Sign With Major League Clubs

An independent league baseball organization has many goals along with winning ballgames. One of the biggest is helping their players get signed by Major League Baseball organizations. The New Jersey Jackals did just that, as two of their pitchers have signed with MLB clubs.

Hayden Shenefield has signed with the Cincinnati Reds while Jose Almonte has signed with the Chicago Cubs.

"We want to get these guys up to the next level," said Jackals general manager Gil Addeo. "Get them those major-league contracts. It just kind of goes to show that what we're doing here is working. It's going to make more guys want to come and play here and play for Brooks and want to win a championship."

Shenefield pitched 11 games for the Jackals in 2020 when they played in the All-American Baseball Challenge. In those 11 games, he went 3-0 and pitched to an impressive 1.71 ERA, 0.714 WHIP, and struck out 33 in 21 innings pitched. He was a key part of the Jackals winning their sixth league championship and second in a row last season.

Jose Almonte's time in New Jersey was short. So short in fact, he only pitched one game with the team. That one game was opening day of the 2021 season. In that one game however, Almonte was excellent for the Jackals, pitching 5 2/3 innings without giving up one earned run while striking out eight batters. He was a key contributor to a 4-3 Jackals win over the New York Boulders to get the season started.

"Congratulations to them," said Jackals manager Brooks Carey, who managed both Shenefield and Almonte. "I'm going to try to get every guy that I can get signed outta here and then we'll take the next day as it comes."

Major League Signings Leave Major Holes on Jackals Roster

As great as the signings are for the Jackals, it does leave them with two holes in their pitching staff. Starting pitcher Brendan Butler and relief pitcher Reece Karalus, two key players from the 2019 championship team, are currently on the inactive list. In the meantime, New Jersey signed RHP Angelo Baez. Baez put up a 3.50 ERA, 1.281 WHIP, and 138 strikeouts in 123 1/3 innings of work during his four seasons at the University of St. Thomas.

Regardless, getting your players signed to Major League Baseball can only benefit New Jersey in the long run as it strengthens the culture the team has built as of late where players strive to accomplish two feats. Winning and making it to the Major Leagues.

Adam Grassani