Phone: 817.739.3693




March 19, 2024




SIOUX CITY, Iowa – The Sioux City Explorers are living by the old baseball saying, “you can never have enough pitching,” and they are backing that up by signing two more quality arms. The Explores have announced the addition of left-handed pitcher Justin Kelly and right-hander Luis De LaRosa for 2024.

Lefty Justin Kelly comes to the Explorers after spending time with the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim organizations as well as in Mexico. Kelly was drafted in the 33rd round of the 2016 MLB Draft out of the University of California at Santa Barbara by the Angels. He would spend his first two professional seasons in Angels organization before being dealt to Atlanta Braves on November 30, 2017. Kelly would reach AA with the Braves before being released and would go on to play in AAA Mexico.

Kelly last pitched professionally in 2022 with Leon in the Mexican League. He made three appearances, surrendering two earned runs on five hits over 2.1 innings with one strikeout. Kelly split the 2021 season between Long Island in the Atlantic League and Monclova in Mexico. He began the season with Long Island, appearing in six games over 6.2 innings with a 6.75 ERA. He would sign with Mexico in June and work 15 innings, making 21 appearances out of the pen with a 5.40 ERA. He gave up nine earned runs on 14 hits while striking out 19.

Kelly would miss the 2020 season due to the worldwide pandemic. He began the 2019 season with the Atlanta Braves organization, tossing 5.1 scoreless innings at AA Mississippi and working another 13.2 innings at High A Florida. He would post a 1-1 record and a 5.93 ERA while striking out 22 with a 1.537 WHIP. The Braves would release Kelly on May 22, but he would sign with AAA Monclova in Mexico on June 6. He would finish the season strong, surrendering just four earned runs in 16.1 innings in 28 games. Kelly would allow nine hits while striking out 16, picking up one relief win and adding a 1.224 WHIP.

In 2018, Kelly spent the bulk of the season at High-A Florida, pitching in 29 games totaling 44.1 with a 3-2 record and three saves. He would strike out 51 batters while giving up 31 hits and 15 earned runs while posting a 1.376 WHIP. At AA Mississippi, Kelly went 1-0 with a 5.06 ERA in 10.2 innings all in relief for the Braves. He would add 14 strikeouts in his seven games out of the pen.

Kelly saw time at five different stops, covering all four classifications in 2017 for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim organization. He would go a combined 6-4 with a 3.53 ERA in 63.2 innings with two saves. Kelly would punch out 57 while pitching in a total of 25 games in relief and adding another six games as a starter. He would open the season at AAA Salt Lake City, making two relief appearances over 4.0 innings. Kelly would give up five earned runs on seven hits for a 11.25 ERA. Kelly would cover the rest of the system that season, going 1-0 at AA Mobile with a 7.50 ERA in two games and 0-1 High A Inland Empire with a 5.79 ERA. He would notch two saves at Low A Burlington in 11 games, going 2-3 with a 2.43 ERA and go 3-0 at rookie level Orem with a 1.86 ER in eight games. Kelly was traded following the 2017 season to the Atlanta Braves organization.

In 2016 Kelly made his pro debut, going 2-1 at rookie-level Orem in 17 games (one start) with a 6.44 ERA. He allowed 26 earned runs with 33 strikeouts and a 1.872 WHIP. Kelly would close out his college career before the Angels drafted him by going 2-1 with a 3.80 ERA with 35 strikeouts in 23.2 innings for UC-Santa Barbara. Kelly made 10 appearances for the Gauchos in his senior season, including two starts en route to the College World Series in Omaha.  His 13.3 K/9 rate led the team, and he would be named to the Nashville Regional All-Tournament Team after earning a win and a save over two outings. He would make the start against Arizona in the College World Series in the final game for UCSB, allowing three earned runs in three-plus innings, taking the hard luck loss.

Kelly redshirted in 2015 after transferring from Virginia Tech. He would appear in three games for the Hokies in 2014 where he allowed three earned runs in 1.1 innings. Kelly spent two seasons at Bakersfield College in 2012 and 2013. He would go 5-3 in his freshman season with a 3.98 ERA and 5-4 with a 3.80 ERA in his sophomore season. Prior to his college career, he was a three-year starter at Stockdale High School in Bakersfield, California where he also played basketball and football. During his senior season in high school, he went 5-4 with a 2.90 ERA while also playing centerfield. Kelly also has international experience playing for Team Mexico in the 2019 Premier 12 tournament.

Luis De La Rosa comes to Sioux City after being released on March 11 from the Boston Red Sox organization. De La Rosa, a native of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, was originally signed by the Kansas City Royals as a 16-year-old on July 6, 2018. He would play one season with the Royals organization before being acquired by the Boston Red Sox as a player-to-be-named-later in a three-team deal between the Royals, Red Sox and New York Mets in June of 2021.

Last season De La Rosa would pitch in 28 games (six starts) at A level Salem, going 2-7 with a 2.94 ERA. He would pitch 70.1 innings, surrendering 23 earned runs on 53 hits while issuing 40 walks with 88 strikeouts. De La Rosa would finish with a 1.322 WHIP and lead the club in strikeouts while finishing third in innings pitched. His 70.1 innings pitched set a career high for the right-hander.

In 2022, De La Rosa would begin the season with the Red Sox Florida Complex club, logging 14.1 innings with a 1-0 record and a 1.26 ERA. He added 20 strikeouts with a 0.977 WHIP, only giving up two runs in four games. De La Rosa would make three starts in Florida and surrender just five hits. In two starts against the FCL Braves and FCL Twins in late June, De La Rosa did not allow a run over 8.1 combined innings of work. The right-hander struck out 15 of the 34 batters he faced while issuing two hits, four walks, and hitting three. The two outings earned De La Rosa the Florida Complex League Pitcher of the Week for the week of June 27-July 3. His season numbers earned him a July promotion to A-level Salem where he would go 2-2 with a 4.72 ERA in 34.1 innings. De La Rosa would appear in 11 games out of the pen striking out 38 while allowing 12 walks, 31 hits and 18 earned runs.

De La Rosa spent all of the 2021 season with the Red Sox Florida Complex Club, pitching in eight games (five starts) and going 1-0 with one save and a 3.04 ERA. He would allow nine earned runs in 26.2 innings on 19 hits with 21 punch outs. His 2021 numbers are skewed heavily by a single outing where he gave up six earned runs in 0.2 IP. Minus that outing, he gave up just three earned runs in 26 innings.

De La Rosa would miss out on his first season with the Red Sox organization due to the cancellation of the MiLB season in 2020. In his lone season with the Kansas City Royals organization, he would make 11 starts with one bullpen appearance in the Dominican Summer League. He would post a 2-1 record with a 2.33 ERA in 38.2 innings and tie for the team lead in strikeouts with 52. De La Rosa has a four-pitch repertoire with the ability to start or work out of the pen. A native of the Dominican Republic was primarily a shortstop growing up but was converted to pitcher shortly before signing as a professional with Kansas City.

The X’s now have 16 pitchers and 9 position players signed for the 2024 season.

2024 Players signed:

LHP Justin Kelly

RHP Luis De La Rosa

RHP Rayne Supple

RHP Ángel Nesbitt

RHP Sergio Morillo

OF Daniel Montano

RHP Oswald Medina

RHP Nico O’Donnell

RHP Jasseel De La Cruz

LHP Javier Reynoso

RHP Santiago Flores

INF/OF Nick Shumpert

INF Delvin Zinn

LHP Jared Wetherbee

RHP Pedro Gonzalez

INF/OF Brennen Dorighi

RHP Heitor Tokar

RHP Braunny Munoz

RHP Kyle Bloor 

C Jake Ortega

C Wilfredo Gimenez 

OF Scott Ota

INF Daniel Lingua, 

INF Daniel Pérez 

RHP John Sheaks

The Explorers are set to open their 31st season in the Siouxland at home Friday night, May 10th at 7:05 p.m. against the Kansas City Monarchs. Ticket packages for the 2024 season are on-sale now, including Full and Half-Season Tickets as well as 10, 15 and 25 game Flex Packs. More information is available by calling the Explorers front office at 712-277-WINS. Stay tuned to the Explorers social media channels and the club’s website for off-season news and updates.