CHARLESTON, S.C. - The Charleston RiverDogs have selected four standout performances from this year's crop of Yankee farmhands in the Lowcountry and are asking the fans to weigh in on their pick for the "Top Dog" of the 2019 season as Charleston's campaign starts to wind down into the final month of the season.
Toolsy outfielders Brandon Lockridge and Canaan Smith along with recently promoted dominant right-handers Luis Gil and Alexander Vizcaino have stood out for fans to select as their favorite outstanding performance this season. Ballots may be cast online (https://tinyurl.com/y6r2rvyr) or in-person by visiting the Riley Park Fan Services booth. Voting is now open and will close on Thursday, August 29. The RiverDogs will honor the "Top Dog" of the season at the club's final regular season game on Labor Day Monday, September 2 and hang their banner at Riley Park next to the names of past recipients.
Previous Top Dogs have included Josh Hamilton, B.J. Upton, Aubrey Huff, Greg Bird, and Jorge Mateo. The fans last season selected Pablo Olivares after a standout campaign when the 20-year-old outfielder batted .338 over 56 games with the Holy City.
Lockridge has set the table for Charleston's offense all season long, making all 95 of his starts from the leadoff spot. The Troy University product has hit .251 while slugging .419 on the season and leading Charleston with 11 home runs; his 41 total extra-base hits rank third in the league at the end of July. Last year's fifth-round pick by the Yankees got out to a particularly hot start to the season, drilling 21 doubles in the first half, the most for a Charleston hitter before the All-Star break since J.R. Murphy collected 23 over the first half of the 2011 campaign. The Pensacola, Florida native finished up a 10-and-10 home run-stolen base campaign before being selected to the All-Star game and is one of just two hitters in the league to have at least ten home runs and 18 stolen bases heading into August.
Smith joined the Charleston club at the tail-end of the season's Opening Week, and after failing to crack the club's Opening Day roster, has become one of the toughest outs in the league. The Rockwall, Texas native finished up the month of July on a tear, going 35-for-89 (.393) to lead the league in batting over that stretch, raising his overall average to .317 on the season that ranked second among all qualifiers heading into August. Over the first three months of the season, he leads the South Atlantic circuit in on-base percentage (.415) while drawing 58 walks. He's also showcased components of an all-around game, adding eight home runs and a career-best 10 stolen bases while leading Charleston's defense with eight outfield assists on the year. He leads the Charleston lineup with 58 RBI on the season.
Gil, 21, has shined amongst the RiverDogs hard-throwing rotation this year, finishing his RiverDogs tenure after 17 in starts before a promotion to Tampa on July 25. Gil left the South Atlantic League ranking third in ERA (2.39) while striking out 112 batters over 83.0 innings, a K per nine-inning mark of 12.3 that was the second-highest in the league at the time of his call up. The Azua, Dominican Republic native flashed a dominant fastball up to 100 mph along with an improved breaking ball that led to a swing-and-miss on nearly 17 percent of his pitches, a league-best rate. The wiry hurler was named the Southern Division All-Star starter in the mid-summer classic and the league's "Pitcher of the Week" after turning in seven shutout frames and a career-high-tying 10 punchouts in a matchup with Dallas Kuechel on Major League rehab assignment on June 10 in Rome.
Vizcaino, 22, also showcased some of the most electric stuff in the SAL circuit this year, opening the season with Charleston and going 5-5, 4.41 ERA while whiffing 101 in 87 2/3 frames this season before his call up. The fellow product out of the D.R. induced a swing-and-miss rate surpassed only by Gil among qualifying arms in the league this season and was also a mid-season All-Star pick. Vizcaino flashed a fastball that touched as high as 99 mph this year, paired with an outstanding changeup, considered one of the best in the system along with a developing slider.
Fans can "Make Fun" with the RiverDogs all season long down at The Joe. Single-game tickets, including options to the Riley Park Club, are now available at riverdogs.com/tickets or by contacting the RiverDogs front office at 843-577-3647 (DOGS). A full schedule and list of game times for the 2019 season are available at riverdogs.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.