The Albuquerque Isotopes have unveiled the 2013 Isotopes Player's Choice Awards, with outfielder Chili Buss earning team Most Valuable Player and Fan Favorite accolades. Catcher Stephen Cilladi joined Buss in taking home two awards that included Most Community Minded and Mr. Hustle. The other honorees included Angel Castro, for Pitcher of the Year, Justin Sellers, who earned Defensive Player of the Year, slugging first baseman/outfielder Scott Van Slyke, who was the winner of the Power Hitter of the Year, and catchers Damaso Espino and Cilladi, who won the Most Community-Minded Award. Cilladi also earned the title of Mr. Hustle. All awards are voted on by Isotopes players and coaches, except Most Community-Minded, which is determined by the Isotopes front office, and Fan Favorite, which is voted on by 'Topes fans throughout the season.
MVP: Chili Buss- OF In his first season at the Triple-A level, Chili Buss has been a standout in the Isotopes lineup. Buss was Albuquerque's lone All-Star this season, leading off and playing left field for the Pacific Coast League All-Stars. The Michigan native leads the Pacific Coast League in RBI with 94 on the season after driving in six during his last two games. The 'Topes outfielder ranks eighth in the PCL in batting with a .310 average in 122 games. The left-handed hitter is second on the Isotopes with 15 home runs on the year. He second in the league with 11 triples, third in the league with a .530 slugging percentage and is tied for third with 52 extra base hits. Buss leads the PCL in RBI (94), as well as leading the team in runs scored (79), hits (131), triples (11), total bases (224) and tied with Justin Sellers for most doubles (26).
Pitcher of the Year: Angel Castro Right-handed starter Angel Castro leads the team in wins after beginning the year in the bullpen before moving over to his starting role. The Dominican import is 8-4 with a 3.51 ERA (43 ER/ 110.1 IP) in 24 games this season. The righty has posted even better numbers as a starter, going 7-3 with a 3.21 ERA over 18 starts. He has had four scoreless outings, 11 quality starts and has gone seven innings in five games, while allowing just six home runs in his 110.1 IP. His ERA is good for seventh in the Pacific Coast League and his innings pitch account for the second most on the Isotopes. The World Baseball Classic hurler has only improved as the season has gone on. His best month of the year has been August, where he holds a 2.43 ERA with four straight quality starts.
Defensive Player of the Year: Justin Sellers- IF Justin Sellers has played in 81 games for the Isotopes this season. The California native has spent time at three different positions in the infield but played the majority of his games, 53, at shortstop. He also combined to play 29 games between third and second base. The 27-year-old infielder is the only Albuquerque position player to not commit an error and the hot corner this season. Sellers is known for flashing his leather around the infield, making sparkling plays and wasn't afraid to get his uniform dirty.
Power Hitter: Scott Van Slyke - IF/ OF Scott Van Slyke slugged his way to earn the Power Hitter award blasting 12 home runs in 56 games with Albuquerque. He also has driven in 47 runs and carries a .358 batting average. The Missouri native has made four stints with the Isotopes and Dodgers this season receiving significant playing time with both clubs. He led the Pacific Coast League in five offensive categories at the time of his first call up on May 10th with nine homers, 85 total bases .733 slugging percentage and a .503 on-base percentage. He took home the PCL Player of the Week award for the week of April 4-14. During that week, Van Slyke tied for the league lead with four home runs and a .574 on-base percentage, and led the league outright in batting average (.500), slugging percentage (.947) and total bases (36). His 16 RBI, 19 hits and nine extra-base hits ranked second in the league. Van Slyke leads PCL with a home run once every 15.5 at-bats.
Most Community-Minded Players: Damaso Espino and Stephen Cilladi - C Leaders on the field as catchers, it is no surprise Damaso Espino and Stephen Cilladi are also leaders off the field and in the community. Espino is a two-time winner of the award (also won in 2011) highlighting stellar work in the community. With the team putting in over 60 hours of community service in the greater Albuquerque area, these two backstops have nearly 20 hours each. In a year that included trips to the multiple libraries for book readings, UNM Children's Hospital, Ability Connection New Mexico - Walk, Roll, Stroll Event, two Youth Skills Clinics (including the largest in Isotopes history) and Carrie Tingley Hospital, the Isotopes and Albuquerque are proud to call Cilladi and Espino hometown heroes.
Mr. Hustle: Stephen Cilladi - C Bullpen catcher Stephen Cilladi made a lasting impression on Albuquerque in and out of the clubhouse in his second season with the Isotopes. The winner of the 2013 Most Community-Minded Player Award also took home the Mr. Hustle Award. The backstop was a part of the longest game in Isotopes franchise history when the club went toe-to-toe with the Iowa Cubs for 18 innings taking five hours and 31 minutes to complete. It was his first game since August 2, 2012 and he caught all 18 innings. He was a staple with the pitching staff this season working with the 25 pitchers who came through Albuquerque this season and threw batting practice on an almost daily basis.
Fan Favorite: Chili Buss- OF With one of the most unique names in sports, Nick "Chili" Buss won the team's Fan Favorite Award determined by the vote of 'Topes supporters throughout the season. The former USC Trojan reached the Triple-A level for the first time in his professional career this season. Buss also has a smile on his face and is the first player to stick around for autographs before and after games. He took the Pacific Coast League by storm and became a household name in the Albuquerque community, playing the entire 2013 season with the Isotopes. Buss has played in 123 games for the Isotopes this year leading the team, and the five-tool player has also stolen 19 bases in 21 attempts.