Two key members of the Bulls' Governors' Cup Championship squad will not be returning to Durham in 2014. Longtime fan-favorite Craig Albernaz has signed a Minor League contract with the Detroit Tigers, while 2013 International League Pitcher of the Year J.D. Martin has inked a deal with the Samsung Lions of the Korean Baseball Organization.
Albernaz, who spent parts of five seasons with the Bulls, is among the most popular players ever to take the field at the DBAP. Beginning with his Triple-A debut in 2009, the Fall River, MA native won over fans with his stellar defense behind the plate, down-to-earth approachability, and occasional appearance as a relief pitcher. 2013 provided some career highlights for the Eckerd College alum, who caught a combined no-hitter on May 5 at Pawtucket, just miles away from his hometown. On August 6, Albernaz blasted his lone home run as a member of the Bulls in spectacular fashion. In his first at-bat in over a month, he belted a first pitch Grand Slam off the famous Snorting Bull, earning free steak for himself and ten lucky fans. A mainstay in the Rays Minor League affiliate chain, Albernaz spent eight total seasons with the Tampa Bay organization before signing a Minor League deal with the Detroit Tigers.
Despite only playing a single season in Durham, Martin carved his name into the Bulls record books by authoring one of the most impressive campaigns in the 111-year history of the storied franchise. The veteran righty signed a Minor League deal with the Rays last offseason and seemed headed for a role as a spot starter or in long relief. After early injuries thrust him into the starting rotation full time, the Ridgecrest, CA native was both dominant and consistent in anchoring a staff that led the International League in ERA and strikeouts. A mid-season and postseason All-Star, Martin won 16 games in 2013, setting Durham's all-time record for victories in a season. He was honored further for his historic campaign when he was named IL Pitcher of the Year on August 27. Martin will now head to Korea after signing a free agent contract with the Samsung Lions.
The Durham Bulls open their Governors' Cup title defense at the newly renovated Durham Bulls Athletic Park on April 3, 2014 versus the Gwinnett Braves. Season Ticket and Mini Plan packages for the 2014 season, which include the ability to secure Triple-A All-Star Game and Home Run Derby tickets, can be purchased by calling 919.956.BULL or clicking here.