CURVE, Pa. - Will Craig was named Most Valuable Player and Cam Vieaux was tabbed as the Pitcher of the Year as the Altoona Curve announced their 2018 team awards on Thursday night in a pregame ceremony before their final home game of the 2018 regular season at Peoples Natural Gas Field.
Other awarded honorees included Defender of the Year Ke'Bryan Hayes, Unsung Hero of the Year Jordan George, Teammate of the Year Logan Ratledge and Fan Appreciation Award recipient Cole Tucker.
Craig leads the team with 20 home runs and has collected 98 RBIs, the second-most in a season in Curve franchise history. An Eastern League Mid-Season and Post-Season All-Star selectee, Craig has posted a .245 bating average over 128 games and leads all E.L. first baseman with a .994 fielding percentage.
"From April to now, Craig has been by far the most improved player," Curve manager Michael Ryan said. "It shows the work that he does and the adjustments he can make during the game. This stadium (PNG Field) is a hard place to hit, and to hit 20 homers with near 100 RBIs, that just shows you how special this year has been for him."
Entering play on Thursday, Craig is tied for the Eastern League lead in RBIs, sits fifth in home runs, second in games played (128) and third in extra-base hits (51).
Vieaux joined the Curve on June 3 and has gone 9-5 with a 3.59 ERA over his 15 starts. His nine wins are tied for the most on the team. Between his time with Altoona and Bradenton, Vieaux leads the Pirates organization with 13 total wins, ranks sixth with a 3.68 ERA and third with 124 strikeouts.
"When you're talking about Picher of the Year, we look for who is going to give us the opportunity to win every night," Ryan said. "Who is going to give us the opportunity if we are going through a losing streak to be the stopper. He's that guy. He's the guy you want on the mound each night, with the way he competes and the stuff that he has. He's special."
Hayes holds a .977 fielding percentage at third base this season, which is the best in the minors and ranks as the highest by a third baseman in the Eastern League since at least 1959, as far back as the stat has been tracked. He was selected as the starting third baseman for both the Western Division in the Eastern League All-Star Game in Trenton and the U.S. Team in the All-Star Futures Game in Washington, D.C. in July.
"Each night, he does something that you don't think you'll see from a third baseman," Ryan said. "He's by far the best young third baseman I've ever laid eyes on. The way he can slow down the game of baseball, which is a very fast game, he is a special defender and this award is deserved."
Hayes also leads all Eastern League third baseman in games played (112), total chances (264), putouts (70), assists (188) and double plays (25).
George is playing his second season with the Curve and has hit .262 with five homers and 42 RBIs. The switch-hitter rotated playing first base, third base, left field and right field this year.
"He was able to play four positions, plus the DH, he was such a weapon," Ryan said. "In National League games, if he wasn't in the lineup that day, he was able to have really good at-bats coming off the bench. He's a guy that put together the most consistent at-bats throughout the whole season for us. He's come up really big."
Ratledge is in his second season with the Curve and has played in 28 games, adding a pair of homers. The infielder has also pitched in three games, posting a 2.08 ERA.
"He has gone from being on the roster to taken off the roster, but he's continued to stay ready," Ryan said. "When he wasn't on the roster, he supported his teammates, and he is the first guy to congratulate somebody when they score. He's the first guy to greet a pitcher when he comes off the mound after a great inning. What he's done for our clubhouse, he's a key contributor for keeping us together and having that team cohesion.
"When you talk about the ultimate teammate, that's Logan Ratledge."
Tucker, playing his second season with the Curve, leads the league in games played (129), stolen bases (33), and he ranks fourth in runs scored (74) and fifth in hits (128).
"This is the fourth year that I've been with Tuck at some point throughout the season," Ryan said. "He's been the same with the fans, especially the young fans. In every stadium that we go to, he's the number-one guy that people ask for an autograph or to have conversations with. The way that he interacts with our fans, that shows you what a special kind of human being he is."
The Curve are heading to the Eastern League playoffs for the fourth consecutive year. After finishing the regular season this weekend in Bowie, the Curve will face the Akron RubberDucks in the Western Division Series next week. Dates and times for home games have not yet been announced and depend on the final division standings, but postseason tickets are on sale now at AltoonaCurve.com, by phone at 877.99.CURVE or at the Peoples Natural Gas Field box office.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.