September 2013

Northwest League All-Star Team

NWLOne thing missing at the end of the regular-season was a Northwest League All-Star Team – selected by the managers.  According to various front-office personnel throughout the league, because the NWL All-Star Game was so late in the season, the two All-Star Teams (North and South Division) served as the postseason honor – though many of us through the league felt those teams were ultra-watered down.

So the eight broadcasters, who besides the umpire crews, have seen every game in the league this summer, decided to get together and vote on who their NWL Postseason All-Stars would be.

And after looking at the list – am guessing that the managers would probably have voted almost identically.

Catcher – Mike Reeves (Vancouver): The former Florida Gulf Coast University product used a great first month of the season to the nod behind the plate.  Reeves, who hit .275 on the season with a homer and 25 RBI, jumped out of the gates this season, hitting .414 in the month of June and was honored as a North Division All-Star.

First-Base – L.B. Dantzler (Vancouver) ***Player of the Year***: After a great spring at South Carolina, the left-handed slugger had a banner summer for the C’s, leading the NWL with nine home runs and 20 doubles, hitting .302 with 35 RBI – earning league MVP honors from the managers.  He had a monster month of July – hitting .322 with seven of his home run, leading Vancouver into the postseason.  Dantzler was also honored by the radio guys as their NWL MVP.

Second-Base – Ryan Jones (Salem-Keizer): A second-year player in the NWL, Jones platooned at second-base with various teammates, but made the most of his opportunity, leading all second-basemen with a .336 batting average in 42 games.  Jones added 12 doubles, nine stolen bases, and 23 RBI – while committing just four errors all season defensively.

Third-Base – D.J. Peterson (Everett): The tightest vote among the broadcasters came at third, where Peterson’s early season prowess earned him the nod.  The first-round pick out of New Mexico had a banner first month in the league, hitting .312 – leading the league with six home runs and 27 RBI when he earned his promotion to the Midwest League.  Combined with his numbers from Clinton, Peterson finished with 13 homers and 47 RBI – helping both Everett and the Lumberkings to the playoffs.

Shortstop – Jeremy Sy (Salem-Keizer): Coming off Tommy John surgery that forced him to miss the entire 2012 season, Sy played two games one, one game off all season for the Volcanoes – but put up monster numbers in his 46 games played.  He hit .294 with eight home runs, 12 doubles, 13 stolen bases, and 41 RBI, helping S-K sweep the first and second half South Division titles.

Outfield – Yogey Perez-Ramos (Hillsboro): The only position player who was a unanimous choice at his position, the second-year player was the heart-and-soul of the Hops – recording four walk-off hits during the season.  He ranked second in the league with a .314 batting average, leading the league with 82 hits, added 16 doubles, 15 stolen bases, and 24 RBI – racking up 22 multi-hit games.

Outfield – Kevin Encarnacion (Boise): The native of the Dominican Republic had a hot start to 2013, earning a trip to the Midwest League – where he struggled.  Once he returned to Boise, Encarnacion dominated, hitting a league-best .370 in August – winning the batting title with a .355 average, recording eight homers and 30 RBI in just 42 games played.

Outfield – Yasiel Balaguert (Boise): In his second year of professional baseball, the native of Cuba had an outstanding year for the Hawks, leading the NWL with 48 RBI, hitting .261 with eight home runs and 15 doubles.  Balaguert earned a starting nod on the midseason NWL South Division All-Star Team.

Designated Hitter – Jacob Rogers (Boise): The 40th round pick earned the nod at DH because of the log-jam at first-base after an outstanding year with the bat.  Rogers hit .278 on the season with eight homers and 47 RBI – leading the NWL with 45 walks, helping himself to a .394 on-base percentage.

Right-Handed Starting Pitcher – Chris Johnson (Salem-Keizer) / Lars Huijer (Everett): Both hurlers split the vote of the broadcasters, as each had outstanding seasons for their respective teams.  Johnson went 6-3 for the Volcanoes with a 2.49 ERA in 83 innings of work – allowing just eight walks and fanning 78.  He had four outings with six or more innings without allowing a run, while striking out 11 vs. Spokane on July 10.  Huijer finished the season with an 8-2 record and a 3.03 ERA in 71.1 innings, striking out 61 men.  He twice took a no-hitter deep into games, tossing seven one-hit innings vs. Tri-City on June 25, followed by eight one-hit innings at Hillsboro – posting a 0.82 ERA during the month of July.

Left-Handed Starting Pitcher – Drew Leenhouts (Salem-Keizer): The southpaw was the class of the NWL pitchers, leading the league with a 9-2 record and a 2.39 ERA in 71.2 innings of work – allowing just 14 walks and striking out 53.  Leenhouts allowed one or fewer runs in nine of his 15 starts and posted a 1.36 ERA in eight home starts.

Right-Handed Relief Pitcher – Jose Valdivia (Everett): The hard-throwing righty had an outstanding year for the Frogs, going 3-0 with a 2.23 ERA and three saves in 20 appearances.  Valdivia struck out 36 men in 32.1 innings of work, allowing just 16 hits in leading the NWL with a .148 opponents’ batting average.  He did not allow a run in 12 of his final 13 outings – dating back to July 13.

Left-Handed Relief Pitcher – Trent Daniel (Tri-City): The lefty from the University of Arkansas posted a 0-0 record with a 1.90 ERA in 23 appearances for the Dust Devils, leading the NWL with 15 saves.  Daniel did not allow an earned run until August 20 – recording saves in his first 14 opportunities.

Manager of the Year – Rob Mummau (Everett): The Aquasox skipper piloted his club to North Division first and second half titles – as Everett has now won three of the last four half pennants in the league.

Final Out to Win South Division Pennant

Here is the final out of the Northwest League South Divisional Series – as Lance Rymel throws out Leo Rojas at third base to give the Boise Hawks an 11-7 win.

Best of the Best (Food in the Northwest League)

HotDogWith just two days left in the Northwest League season – time to talk food one last time, as there has been some outstanding grub around the loop in 2013.

Food Standings (through 74 games): Burgers 12, Hot Dogs 12, Pulled Pork 11, Chicken Sandwich 10, Pizza 7, Cheesesteak 5, PB&J 4, Salad (Caesar/Cobb) 4, Various Sandwiches 4, Other 3, Chicken Strips 2.

I thought it would be fun to talk about the best food option that I’ve found this season.

Boise: I have fell in love with the new Buffalo Chicken Sandwich that Home Plate Food Services has derived this season…it is a lightly breaded chicken filet, with a piece of cheese on it…I like to add onion as well…it is outstanding…and the fries – they are among the best in the NWL

Eugene: The Ems had the strangest option this year – Eggplant Parmesian, but one of the days this season – they had a Pizza Fest…four different kinds of pizza to choose from…it was good.

Everett: The Aquasox always have the go-to meals in their bread bowls (either Clam Chowder or Chili) and their Seattle Dog (hot dog with hot/sweet peppers and cream cheese)…but I love being able to get a Quiznos sub at the park or an iced mocha…both hit the spot.

Hillsboro: Hard to pick a favorite, as the Hops have two of the Top-3 menu items in the league – a Cobb Salad and a Banh Mi Sandwich…the salad has blue cheese crumbles, hazelnuts, cranberries, chicken and cucumbers…while the Pork Sandwich has a thai kick to it, along with a slaw made from cabbage, cucumber, and carrot.

Salem-Keizer: It’s a burger or dog at Volcanoes Stadium, but their burger is very good…and in my book, S-K has the top relish in the league – which makes or breaks a good hamburger

Spokane: I love eating at the Max at Mirabeau Park (best post-game dining option in the league), but at the yard – their chicken sandwich (with BBQ sauce, white cheddar, and a pickle spear) has been my go-to option for years.

Tri-City: Each night it is between a Pulled Pork Sandwich or Chicken Strips at Gesa Stadium…both very good, as are the french fries – which rival Boise’s as the best in the league.

Vancouver: I used to go for the footlong hot or corn dog or even the chicken strips – but this year, it was either a Cheesesteak or a Pulled Pork Sandwich…the Cheesesteak was on a soft roll, with plenty of red peppers and onions and a mound of beef, while the Pork was on the same roll but had a ton of vinegar based slaw on it.

The food in the Northwest League has to rival any other stop in Minor League Baseball.

Final Out of No-No

Here is my call of the final out of Kyle Schepel’s no-hitter against the Hawks – the first-ever no-hitter thrown at Memorial Stadium.  It was the third time in franchise history that the Hawks have been no-hit.

Here is another view, from Hawks official photographer, Scott McDaniel (field view)

High Heels {and} Highlights

from a woman in BASEBALL . . .

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Muskat Ramblings's Carrie Muskat has been covering Major League Baseball since 1981 and is the author of "Banks to Sandberg to Grace: Five Decades of Love and Frustration with the Cubs." You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. Here, she blogs about the Cubs.

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