Pensacola Pelicans kick off season May 14 with great talent

Pensacola-Born Kyle Middleton joins Pels

The Pensacola Pelicans signed right-handed pitcher Kyle Middleton to contract for the 2009 season.

2007 was 6' 6" 230-pound hurler Middleton's first, albeit brief, encounter with the Pelicans. He was set to be the opening day starter after a superb spring training, but the Houston Astros bought the rights to Middleton the day before opening day.

Middleton reported to the Astros' double-A Corpus Christi team and had a winning season: a record of three wins and two losses, a 3.35 ERA, and 23 saves for the right-hander. He played six games for Corpus Christi in 2008 before being promoted to Round Rock for his second stint in triple-A, his first occurring with Omaha of the Pacific Coast League in 2006.

The 28 year old Middleton is a Pensacola native; having played ball for the Escambia High Gators before moving to Alabama for college. After attending Jefferson Davis, Middleton started his eight year professional career. Drafted in the 1999 Major League Baseball draft by Kansas City, Middleton signed with the Royals on May 31, 2000.

Middleton moved up the minor leagues annually before spending three seasons with double-A Wichita from 2004- 2006. In 2005 Middleton struck out 109 batters in 171.1 innings. He started 28 games and earned a record of 10-9.

Last season with triple-A Round Rock, Kyle Middleton posted an ERA of 5.13 with 20 strikeouts in 33.1 innings. Middleton's eight year professional career includes a record of 55-53 and 584 strikeouts in 233 games. Middleton has allowed an average of 10.1 hits over 9 innings during his professional career.

The Pelicans report to Spring Training on May 2. Spectators can attend Spring Training free of charge. More information is available at

HBO's Eastbound and Down's Kenny Power gets 2009 contract

The Pensacola Pelicans, a member of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball, extended a contract offer to Danny McBride, a professional actor, to play with the Pelicans this season. McBride plays Kenny Powers in the new hit HBO series Eastbound and Down, which airs every Sunday at 10:30 p.m. eastern standard time.

As stated on the Eastbound and Down HBO website, "Relief Pitcher Kenny Powers was poised to rule the Big Leagues, but two things got in the way: his fading fastball and his insufferable personality. After a spectacular career flame-out, Kenny came home to Shelby County, NC and picked up a job as a substitute gym teacher (mostly so his brother Dustin would stop threatening to kick him out). He's spent every moment since then cashing in the last of his dying fame while plotting his inevitable comeback."

"Danny has played at the highest level and after seeing the show, we think he still has some athletic potential," said Pelicans owner Quint Studer. "If we can get Danny to work with our pitching coach Justin Lord, there could be something there. Plus, I know he'll be an unusual influence in the clubhouse and a lot of fun on the bus rides."

We are hoping by the beginning of the season Kenny has lured back April Buchanon, played by Pensacola native Katy Mixon. One of Mixon's most noted roles was in the 2008 film Four Christmases in which she co-starred alongside Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn.

"Once Danny signs we're planning on him being our opening day starter," added Studer.

Starting Lefty Dan Smith Returns To Pelicans

The Pensacola Pelicans announced today that they have signed Dan Smith for the 2009 season. Standing 6'5" and weighing 225 pounds, the 25 year old posted a record of 3 wins and 3 losses for Pensacola in 11 games after joining the team in mid-season. Smith hurled a 3.08 ERA and threw 2 complete games in the 10 he started.

Smith began 2008 with the Mississippi Braves, the double- A affiliate of the Atlanta Braves before joining the Pensacola Pelicans in midseason. At the conclusion of the Pelican's reg- ular season, Smith played with Southern Maryland of the Atlantic League for the rest of 2008.

"Smith will anchor the pitching staff for the 2009 season," General Manager and Field Manager Talmadge Nunnari reported. "The numbers he put up last year speak for themselves."