After a season of consistently performing with excellence both at the plate and in the field, OF Socrates Brito has been named the 2019 Buffalo Bisons Stan Barron Most Valuable Player. The team tonight announced their end of season player awards that also included RHP Zach Jackson becoming just the fourth reliever to every be named the Warren Spahn Most Valuable Pitcher and INF Andy Burns taking home the title of 2019 Jimmy Griffin Hometown Hero.
From recovering from a broken bone in his hand to breaking records in the Major Leagues, INF Bo Bichette was named the Judge Michael Dillon Comeback Player of the Year and C Michael De La Cruz was voted by his Bisons teammates as their Joe DeSa Most Inspirational Player. OF Jordan Patterson and C Patrick Cantwell were each given 'Fremo' Vallone Community Service Awards
This year's Joe Byron Fans of the Year are long-time season ticket holders Al and Evelyn Hummer of Amherst.
Stan Barron Most Valuable Player - OF Socrates Brito
When Socrates Brito joined the Bisons on May 19, the club was 16-22 and in 4th place in the IL North Division. The Herd's offense, and the season as a whole, turned around when manager Bobby Meacham got to insert the veteran outfielder in the heart of his lineup. Brito drove in 25 runs in the month June as the Bisons rattled off 20 victories in 30 days, setting the club up for a postseason push in the second half of the year.
Video: Socrates Brito 2 Run Home Run
On the season, Brito leads the Bisons with 26 doubles, 5 triples, 46 extra-base hits, 186 total bases and a .495 slugging pct. and is tied for the team's best with a .279 average. He also is 2nd on the club in hits (105), runs scored (61), RBI (60) and OPS (.821) and 4th in home runs (15). A clutch performer, Brito has averaged .323 with runners on base and .305 with runners in scoring position. He also has had a hit streak of at least seven games four different times this season and compiled an on-base streak of 13 games from July 3-16 where he averaged .400 with a .481 on-base pct.
Brito has played all three outfield positions for the Bisons this year and has made just one error while picking up five outfield assists (2nd on team).
Warren Spahn Most Valuable Pitcher - LHP Zach Jackson
With just 99 appearances over the first three seasons of his professional career, LHP Zach Jackson has enjoyed a breakout season with the Bisons in 2019 that has seen him post a perfect 9-0 record along with a 4.09 ERA and one save in 45 relief outings.
Jackson is the only pitcher in the International League with at least seven decisions who hasn't suffered a single defeat. His nine wins are tied for the 5th most in the circuit and are the most for a Herd reliever since RHP Jack Cressend (10-1) in 2004.
Like Brito, the Bisons' season turnaround in June could also be attributed to the work done by Jackson during the calendar month. In that month, the Triple-A rookie was 2-0 with a 0.48 ERA in 11 appearances, striking out 19 and allowing just eight hits to the 66 batters he faced.
For the season, Jackson leads all Bisons pitchers with 45 appearances (8th in the IL) and 8 holds (2nd in IL) and is 4th with 66 strikeouts (in 66.0 innings of work). He has held opponents to a .228 batting average against and a .169 mark with runners in scoring position. Jackson has also not allowed a hit in nine plate appearances with the bases loaded.
Jimmy Griffin Hometown Hero Award - INF Andy Burns
It's only fitting that a fan-favorite player that returned to Buffalo after two years playing overseas would earn the Jimmy Griffin Hometown Hero Award, but Andy Burns also has the stats to back up the honor.
In 62 games at Sahlen Field in front of the fans of Western New York and Southern Ontario, Burns hit a team-best .329 (69-210) while topping the club with 11 home runs, 23 extra-base hits, 29 RBI, 22 walks and a .393 on-base percentage.
Burns 11 home runs hit in Buffalo helped the veteran infielder reach a career-high 16 long balls for the season. Overall on the year, Burns is tied with Brito with a team-best .279 average and also ranks best on the club with 109 hits in 113 games. He is also 3rd with 59 runs driven in on the year. He was the International League Batter of the Week in the first week of August and hit a grand slam at home on August 13 against Toledo.
Video: Andy Burns Grand Slam Home Run
Joe DeSa Most Inspirational Player - C Michael De La Cruz
For his hard work and dedication to playing the game the right way, C Michael De La Cruz was voted on by his teammates as their Most Inspirational Player this season.
De La Cruz only played 11 games over the first two months of the season, but has shined since getting the opportunity for regular playing time in early June. In 49 games with the Herd, the backstop has averaged .273 with 11 doubles, four home runs and 24 RBI and has nearly as many walks (26) as strikeouts (29) at the plate. De La Cruz has also posted a .379 on-base pct. and a .427 slugging pct. to be a threat to get on base or drive in runs each time he comes to the plate.
A favorite signal-caller by the Bisons pitching staff, De La Cruz has made just four errors in 311.2 innings behind the plate this season.
Video: Michael De La Cruz doubles, two score
Judge Michael Dillon Comeback Player of the Year -INF Bo Bichette
The excitement of the Triple-A debut of INF Bo Bichette took an unfortunate turn when the top prospect was hit on the hand with a pitch on April 22 in Syracuse. A broken bone cost Bichette nearly two months of the season, but when he came back, he quickly made his charge to the Major Leagues.
From June 13 to his promotion to the Blue Jays in late July, Bichette hit .284 with 13 doubles, seven home runs, 24 RBI and 12 stolen bases in only 41 contests for the Bisons. He had 15 multi-hit performances during that time, including a four-hit effort on June 23 against the Tides and a five-RBI game three days earlier against Indianapolis.
Once with Toronto, Bichette continued his torrid stretch to cement his name in record books. He became the first rookie in Major League history to record 15 extra-base hits in his first 15 games in the bigs while also becoming the first player ever -rookie or not- to double in nine straight games. Along the way, he also set a Blue Jays franchise record by beginning his career with an 11-game hits streak.
Overall, Bichette has hit .341 with 14 doubles, eight home runs and 14 RBI in 28 games with the Blue Jays.
Video: Bichette cranks second homer
'Fremo' Valone Community Service Awards -OF Jordan Patterson & C Patrick Cantwell
The Community Service Award is named for the late Frank J. Vallone, the Bisons good will ambassador and most celebrated fan who served as a host and ticket salesperson from 1987-1990.
This year, the Bisons organization was extremely fortunate to have two players stand out as tremendous ambassadors for the team, outfielder Jordan Patterson and catcher Patrick Cantwell. Along with their excellence in the field, both players were often seen spending extra time before and after games meeting and talking with fans outside the Bisons dugout. Off the field, both Patterson and Cantwell spent time to share the game they love at the Bisons Youth Camp as well as the team's annual visit to the Miracle League on Grand Island and were the first to volunteer for other community engagement programs.
On the field, Patterson ranked 2nd on the Bisons with 19 doubles and 16 home runs over 102 games played. Overall, he hit .237 with 37 extra-base hits and a .438 slugging percentage while playing first base and in the outfield. Cantwell fought through an injury-shortened season to hit .227 with four doubles and five RBI in 21 games played.
Joe Byron Fan of the Year -Al & Evelyn Hummer
Longtime season ticket holders Al and Evelyn Hummer of Amherst, NY will share in the honor as 2019 Fans of the Year. It's only fitting that the loving couple share this award as the two who rarely miss a Bisons game have also rarely miss the chance to share an embrace on the ballpark's nightly Kiss Cam. Members of the Bisons Booster Club, the duo has shown their love for the team on the road, having represented the great fans of Western New York and Southern Ontario in the stands at all 32 Triple-A All-Star Games.
The Fan of the Year Award is named for the late Joe Byron, who is best known for singing the Canadian and US National Anthems at Buffalo Bisons baseball games and Buffalo Sabres hockey games.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.