RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Former Felician University student-athletes Ronnie Grant (Burlington, N.J./Burlington Township) and Matt Kleinstein (Marlboro, N.J./Colts Neck) have signed professional baseball contracts with the High Desert Yardbirds of the independent Pecos League of Professional Baseball Clubs.
Grant and Kleinstein are the 19th and 20th ex-Felician baseball players to sign a pro contract. All but one have played for current head coach Chris Langan, who recently completed his 14th season. The complete list can be viewed at www.felicianathletics.com/sports/bsb/pros/#pros.
Grant, 22, was named all-Division II East Region and all-Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) following a 2017 collegiate season which saw him hit .355 and slug .609 in 50 games. He picked up 12 doubles, eight triples and five home runs, scored 44 runs, and drove in 42 while stealing 11 bases.
An outfielder, Grant played two years for Felician after transferring from Rowan College at Burlington County. He hit .309 for the Golden Falcons, who reached the NCAA Tournament in each of his seasons.
"I am blessed and beyond excited to get the opportunity to continue playing baseball," Grant said. "When the (Major League Baseball) draft came and went and I wasn't chosen, I kept working out and going to tryouts and got lucky enough to land a spot on the Yardbirds. I could not have gotten to this point without strong support from my family, friends, and coaches from Little League to college."
Kleinstein, 21, was a four-year starter and two-time All-Region selection at catcher for the Golden Falcons. Felician posted a 119-80 won-lost record and won two CACC championships during his career, with him earning all-tournament honors during Felician's 2016 championship run. Kleinstein amassed 136 collegiate hits and holds the Golden Falcon record of 10 pickoffs.
"It has been a lifelong goal of mine to play professional baseball," Kleinstein said. "It was disappointing not to be drafted, but I used it to fuel myself to work even harder, and I am very excited to play for the Yardbirds. I am thankful for my coaches for always pushing to do better, and my family for always being by my side."
Grant is a 2013 graduate of Burlingtown Township High School, while Kleinstein is a 2013 product of Colts Neck High. Both players intend to return to Felician in the fall to complete their bachelor's degrees – Grant in communications and Kleinstein in business management.
The Pecos League was founded in 2010 and is headquartered in Houston, Texas. The Yardbirds, based in Adelanto, Calif., are a 2017 Pecos League expansion team.
Grant and Kleinstein join Matt Blandino (Class R), Jack Fowler (Ind.) and Jerry Vasto (Class AAA) as ex-Golden Falcons currently playing professional baseball.
Felician University, the Franciscan University of New Jersey, is a liberal arts, coeducational Catholic university founded in 1942 and sponsored by the Felician Sisters. True to its mission, Felician University welcomes a diverse student population and embraces its educational needs. With campuses in Lodi and Rutherford, New Jersey, Felician University currently enrolls more than 2,100 students and offers more than 55 undergraduate and graduate programs, in the classroom and online, in the arts and sciences, business and management sciences, health sciences and teacher education. Felician University also sponsors 14 varsity intercollegiate sports that compete at the NCAA Division II level.