MARION -- The Southern Illinois Miners announced Tuesday that catcher and infielder Chance Shepard has chosen to retire from professional baseball.
Shepard joined the Miners last offseason after two years in the Washington Nationals organization, and proved to be one of the most-powerful bats in the Frontier League. In his lone season with Southern Illinois in 2018, he hit .253 with 23 home runs, 59 RBIs and 56 runs scored, leading the team in all three categories while also playing in all 95 games and earning a spot on the Experienced all-star team.
Shepard became just the third Miner ever (and first since 2009) to hit 20 home runs in a single season, and his 23 dingers tied for second in the league.
The Wilmington, North Carolina native also represented the Miners in the 2018 Frontier League Home Run Derby at the all-star game, advancing to the second round.
"All I can say about my time with the Miners is how thankful I am to have been a part of the organization," Shepard said. "The coaching staff did everything they could to make me a better player. (Team trainer) Brad (Brush) was always there to help me get ready day after day, and the city of Marion was so great to me.
"I really want to thank my teammates for making last year awesome," Shepard added. "It's hard to be successful if you don't have a strong clubhouse, and the cast of guys we had made it fun to show up every day. I'll remember that more than anything on the field. I'm so grateful to be able to finish my career as a Miner."
"Shep leaves as one of the most prolific power hitters in our history," Miners manager Mike Pinto said. "In addition to the many impact at-bats he had for us, he did a great job on the field before taking over full-time catching duties mid-season.
"I will miss his true competitiveness on and off the field. His natural leadership will assure him of success wherever he goes in his future."