By THE HERALD-WHIG
The Quincy Gems will have a local feel when they take the field for their 18th season next summer.
The Prospect League team has signed 13 players -- filling almost half of its available roster spots -- including Quincy University sophomore Brandon Ley. A middle infielder and 2011 Quincy Notre Dame graduate, Ley played in 22 games for the Hawks as a freshman, making 16 starts while batting .178. Ley was a four-year varsity starter at QND, where he hit .385 as a senior and was named to the Illinois High School Baseball Coaches Association Class 2A all-state team.
Gems manager Chris Martin is excited about the players his team is returning as well as the newcomers.
"We have a group of kids coming in that has a lot of past experience," Martin said. "We also have some freshmen who will have significant roles on their teams this spring."
Three of those players should be familiar to fans.
Zac Pearman, a left-hander from Lindenwood, will return for his third summer with the team. Making 14 appearances with eight starts last summer, Pearman was 2-2 with a 4.68 earned-run average. Two years ago, he was 2-0 with a 4.50 ERA in seven appearances.
Bryan Niedbalski is back with the Gems after playing the 2012 season with the Palm Springs Power in the So-Cal Baseball League. A first baseman from Iowa, Niedbalski started Quincy's first nine games in 2011 with three hits in 19 at-bats. His season ended when he suffered a wrist injury.
The Gems welcome infielder Ryan Light to the team after he played last summer for the Gems' rival, the Hannibal Cavemen. Light, who was selected to play in the league's all-star game, hit .250 with two home runs and 30 RBI. As a freshman at Lindenwood last spring, Light led the team with 41 RBI and was second with 10 doubles.
The list of signees also includes Western Illinois sophomore outfielder Erik Maki and Iowa freshman shortstop Nick Roscetti, who was a first-team all-state performer at Williamsville and The Springfield (Ill.) State Journal-Register's 2012 Area Male Athlete of the Year.
Quincy has won the Prospect League title in two of the league's four years and finished 34-26 last season.
The Gems are still searching for players to fill out their roster. Prospect League teams will be allowed to carry 30 players this season.
"We're looking for some quality arms and an outfielder or two," Martin said.
Infielder, Soph., Quincy
Infielder, Soph., Lindenwood
Outfielder, Soph., W. Illinois
Pitcher, Freshman, Iowa
Pitcher, Soph., Manhattan
Infielder, Jr., Iowa
Pitcher, Fr., San Diego State
Pitcher, Jr., Lindenwood
Shortstop, Fr., Iowa
Pitcher, Soph., Butler
Pitcher, Fr., Missouri
Catcher, Soph., Lindenwood