Scranton/WB outfielder named MVP, IronPigs' Thompson top pitcher
2016 IL MVP Ben Gamel of Scranton/Wilkes-Barre was named the league's Rookie of the Year in 2015. (Ken Inness/MiLB.com)
By International League | August 30, 2016 2:00 PM
The International League today announced its postseason All-Star Team and Award Winners as selected by the circuit's managers, coaches, media, and club representatives. The 2016 IL Most Valuable Player is Scranton/Wilkes-Barre's Ben Gamel, who leads the League in runs scored and is near the top in hits, stolen bases, and batting average. The IL's ERA leader, Jake Thompson of Lehigh Valley, has been elected as the Most Valuable Pitcher. The Rookie of the Year plays both infield and outfield for Columbus, Yandy Diaz, whose .322 average is best in the circuit. Rounding out the group of special award winners for 2016 is Manager of the Year Al Pedrique, who has Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in the playoffs with a classification-best record of 84-52.
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Ben Gamel (Scranton/Wilkes-Barre)
24-year-old Ben Gamel is the IL Most Valuable Player for 2016. The outfielder currently leads the League in runs scored (78) and is 3rd in hits (148), 5th in stolen bases (19), and 6th in hitting (.309). Coming off a season in which he was voted the League's top rookie, Gamel is now the sixteenth player in League history to win honors both as Rookie of the Year and MVP. He's the first to ever do so in different seasons. Gamel has his RailRiders on the verge of another division title with his steady leadership. His average versus left-handed (.314) and right-handed (.307) pitchers, as well as his average at both home (.310) and away (.308) are all remarkably consistent. SWB's leadoff hitter batted .306 before the break and is hitting .314 since. He also got his first taste of Major League Baseball earlier this season, appearing in six games for the Yankees. Gamel is the third IL Most Valuable Player from Scranton/WB, joining previous recipients Shane Victorino (2005) and Shelley Duncan (2009).
MOST VALUABLE PITCHER: Jake Thompson (Lehigh Valley)
On the strength of a League-best 2.50 ERA, Lehigh Valley right-hander Jake Thompson has been named the IL Most Valuable Pitcher for 2016. Thompson is also tied for the League-lead in wins (11) and winning percentage (.688), having held the opposition to a mere .225 batting average in 129.2 innings pitched. He lost on May 31 to fall to 3-5 on the season before hitting his stride in June. Over the next two months, Thompson was undefeated with an IL-best eight wins and 1.21 ERA as the IronPigs surged towards a possible playoff berth. He was rewarded in August with his first promotion to the big leagues, joining the Phillies starting rotation and in short order picking up his first career win against the Rockies. The 22-year-old Thompson is in his first season playing above the Double-A level, having joined the Phillies in a trade last July from Detroit. He's the third IL Most Valuable Pitcher from the IronPigs, following Justin Lehr (2009) and Tyler Cloyd (2012).
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Yandy Diaz (Columbus)
Columbus infielder/outfielder Yandy Diaz has claimed the 2016 Rookie of the Year Award. The 25- year-old Cuban native is tied for the League lead with a .322 batting average and paces the circuit outright in on-base percentage at .396. Diaz earned his first promotion to Triple-A late in the 2015 season, playing in four regular season games plus the postseason for Columbus before returning from Double-A to stay this past May. Blossoming into one of the League's top offensive threats, Diaz reeled off a 28-game hitting streak lasting though most of July and early-August. It was the longest hitting streak in the IL since Brandon Watson's all-time record 43-game streak with Columbus in 2007. Since the All-Star Break, Diaz has hit .335 to propel the Clippers to a West Division championship. Diaz is the franchise's seventh IL Rookie of the Year and the first since Kurt Bierek in 1999.
MANAGER OF THE YEAR -- Al Pedrique (Scranton/Wilkes-Barre)
In his first season at the helm of the RailRiders, Al Pedrique has been named the International League Manager of the Year. His playoff-bound club leads the circuit in both batting average and ERA, with the most runs scored and the fewest runs allowed. SWB is an impressive nineteen games over .500 on the road this season, a major factor in the team's Triple-A-best record of 84-52. On Sunday the RailRiders clinched at least the Wild Card and now have their sights set on the North Division title with a magic number of four over Lehigh Valley to clinch. Pedrique is in his fourth season managing in the Yankees organization and eleventh overall in the minors, never having won a division title. He also skippered the Arizona Diamondbacks for part of the 2004 campaign. The 56-year-old joins Lee Elia (1992), Marc Bombard (2002), John Russell (2006), and Dave Miley (2007 and 2012) as IL Managers of the Year from the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre franchise.
In addition to Gamel (OF) and Thompson (SP), ten other players have been named to the International League Postseason All-Star Team. In all, nine IL clubs are represented on the All-Star Team, with Scranton/ Wilkes-Barre leading the way with four All-Stars. No players from the IL South Division were voted to the All-Star Team.
ALL-STAR CATCHER: Gary Sanchez (Scranton/Wilkes-Barre)
He was elected the starting catcher for the IL at the mid-season Triple-A All-Star Game, and now Gary Sanchez has earned Postseason All-Star honors as well. The 23-year-old native of the Dominican Republic hit .282 with ten home runs and 50 RBI for the RailRiders this season, and now is showing off his stuff with the Yankees with whom he's hit .398 with eleven homers and 21 RBI in 23 games in August. Sanchez is the first SWB catcher since Jesus Montero in 2010 to earn honors as the IL Postseason All-Star catcher.
ALL-STAR FIRST BASEMAN: Josh Bell (Indianapolis)
Josh Bell is the first Indianapolis Indian first baseman to make the Postseason All-Star Team since Matt Hague in 2011. The 24-year-old Bell excelled in his first full season playing above the Double-A level, hitting .295 with fourteen homers and leading the Indians in hits and RBI. Bell is 4th in the IL in on-base percentage, despite currently being with Pittsburgh. He's hitting .407 for the Pirates this season, highlighted by the grand slam he blasted against the Cubs on July 9 for his first career big league home run.
ALL-STAR SECOND BASEMAN: Donovan Solano (Scranton/Wilkes-Barre)
28-year-old Donovan Solano leads the League with 151 hits and is in the top five in batting average with a .311 mark. He's split his time this season mostly between third base and second base, where he was elected to the IL Postseason All-Star Team. He's also hit in each of the first eight spots in the batting order and been particularly hot down the stretch for the 1st place RailRiders, hitting .390 in August. SWB last had an All-Star second baseman in 2014 (Jose Pirela).
ALL-STAR SHORTSTOP: Trea Turner (Syracuse)
Another IL All-Star already succeeding at the Major League level is shortstop Trea Turner, who hit .302 with 36 extra base hits, 33 RBI, and 25 stolen bases in 83 games with the Chiefs. He made a transition to outfield shortly before being promoted to the Nationals, with whom he's played center field and second base while hitting .341 with five homers and 17 steals. The 23-year-old is currently 7th in the IL in hitting, 4th in stolen bases, and tied for 1st in triples. The last IL All-Star shortstop from Syracuse was Emmanuel Burris in 2014.
ALL-STAR THIRD BASEMAN: Casey McGehee (Toledo)
The IL's starting third baseman at the Triple-A All-Star Game in Charlotte is also the League's Postseason All-Star at third. The 33-year- old is near the top of the League with a .322 batting average and 37 doubles. The former member of the Cubs, Brewers, Pirates, Yankees, Marlins, and Giants, is now with the Tigers after seeing time in 109 games with the Mud Hens. McGehee is the first Toledo third baseman on the IL Postseason All-Star Team since Mike Hessman in 2007-2008.
ALL-STAR OUTFIELDER: Aaron Judge (Scranton/Wilkes-Barre)
Current New York Yankee Aaron Judge, 24, combines with Gamel to become the first pair of teammate outfielders elected to the IL Postseason All-Star Team since Pawtucket's Jeff Bailey and Chris Carter in 2008. Judge hit .270 with 19 home runs, 65 RBI, and is the top five in the League in runs scored and slugging. He was the IL Player of the Month in June after blasting nine dingers and hitting .343. He got the call to New York in mid-August and homered in each of his first two games as a big leaguer.
ALL-STAR OUTFIELDER: Chris Marrero (Pawtucket)
28-year-old first baseman/outfielder Chris Marrero has been elected to the Postseason All-Star Team in the outfield. The former member of the Chiefs, Tides, and Knights was back in the IL in his first full season in the Red Sox organization. He leads the League with 52 extra-base hits and 234 total bases, plus he's in the top five in hits, homers, RBI, and slugging. He was crowned the MiLB.com Top Star after homering for the IL at the Triple-A All-Star Game in Charlotte two days after winning the 2016 Triple-A All-Star Home Run Derby.
ALL-STAR DESIGNATED HITTER: Jesus Montero (Buffalo)
Buffalo's Jesus Montero is an IL Postseason All-Star for the second time in his career. The former catcher made the squad in 2010 with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The former Yankee and Mariner is in his first season in the Blue Jays organization, where the 26-year-old has played in the field in just 25 of his 119 games with the Bisons. He's in the top four in the League in hits, batting average, and total bases. Montero, also the elected DH on the mid-season All-Star Team, is Buffalo's first Postseason All-Star DH since Mauro Gomez in 2012.
ALL-STAR RELIEF PITCHER: Edward Mujica (Lehigh Valley/Rochester)
It's been a roller coaster season for former National League All-Star Edward Mujica, who leads the IL with 24 saves. He opened the year with Lehigh Valley, saving 23 games and being elected to the Triple-A All-Star Game in Charlotte where he earned the save for the International League squad. He then requested his release and signed with the Royals, pitching in nine games before being released again. The 32-year-old signed with the Twins in mid-August and joined Rochester, with whom he has yet to yield a run in three outings.
ALL-STAR UTILITY PLAYER: Hernan Iribarren (Louisville)
In his third season with the Bats, true utility player Hernan Iribarren is an IL Postseason All-Star. The 32-year-old is tied for the League- lead in hitting with a .322 average. He's played in 95 games with Louisville this season splitting his time between first base (16 G), second base (14), shortstop (13 G), third base (6 G), and all three outfield positions (totaling 42 G). He's even pitched in four games, accumulating 3.2 no-hit innings. Aaron Herr in 2007 was the only prior player from Louisville selected as the All-Star utility player.
2016 International League Postseason All-Star Team