The International League announced today that Syracuse first baseman Kevin Barker and Charlotte pitcher Heath Phillips have been named the League's Batter and Pitcher-of-the-Week for the period from May 15-21. Barker is the first member of the SkyChiefs to win an IL weekly award since he did it June 13-19, 2005. Phillips is the third Charlotte player to be so honored this season, following Ryan Sweeney (April 24-30) and Josh Fields (May 8-14).
Since 1961 when the Syracuse club returned to the International League from a brief hiatus, 39 players have achieved a modern franchise record of five hits in a game. All of those men have now had their names erased from the Syracuse record book thanks to KEVIN BARKER. The SkyChiefs' first baseman had an unforgettable performance in a 13-10 victory over Ottawa. The game began on Wednesday with Barker hitting a solo homer in the top of the 1st before rain forced the contest to be suspended and completed on Thursday. The Syracuse slugger didn't miss a beat when the game was resumed the next day. When the dust settled, Barker had gone 6-6 with two home runs, two doubles, seven RBI and five runs scored. In a single game he raised his season batting average from .264 to .299. His five runs scored tied a modern franchise record, and his 7 RBI fell one shy of reaching another. Barker's historic game alone was nearly enough to secure his honor as IL Batter-of-the-Week, but Kevin left nothing to chance as his SkyChiefs visited Buffalo for a pair this weekend. Barker collected five more hits in the two-game series. For the week, Barker led the IL with 8 RBI and six runs scored, an amazing feat considering 7 RBI and five runs came in one game. His .444 average for the week was second in the IL.
The 30-year-old Barker, originally a 3rd-round draft choice of Milwaukee in 1996, has played in 85 Major League games in his career with the Brewers (1999-2000) and Padres (2002). Last season with Syracuse he hit .305 with 23 HR and 87 RBI in 91 games, and led the International League with a .575 slugging percentage. He finished 4th in the IL in RBI.
The Charlotte Knights, owners' of professional baseball's best record (32-11, .744), already have two IL Batter-of-the-Week awards. Now they have their first Pitcher-of-the-Week for 2006, HEATH PHILLIPS. The Knights' lefty turned in two outstanding performances last week in two huge matchups for Charlotte. The first came Tuesday at IL West Division leading Indianapolis. Phillips scattered six hits over 8.0 scoreless innings, never allowing the Indians to dent the plate. He walked one and struck out three, earning the victory as the Knights won 3-0. In his next start yesterday afternoon, Phillips and the Knights hosted their closest competitor in the IL South, the Durham Bulls. One of Durham's best starters, Jamie Shields, blanked the Knights all afternoon. Charlotte countered with Phillips, who matched Shields for 7.0 innings. Phillips allowed only four hits. He walked one batter, Durham's Nick Green, who he subsequently picked off of first base in the 3rd inning. The Bulls ultimately won the game 1-0 in ten innings, but Charlotte had to be pleased with Phillips, who had now thrown 18.0 consecutive scoreless innings. Phillips has been a model of consistency this season, and now finds himself 4th in the IL with a 1.78 ERA. His contribution is a big part of the reason Charlotte leads the League with a 2.67 ERA.
Heath Phillips was selected in the 10th round of the 2000 draft by the Chicago White Sox out of Lake City Community College in Florida where he was a star pitcher and batted .324 with 6 HR and 68 RBI. Last season he got his first taste of Triple-A Baseball, going 0-3 with the Knights in five starts. He was 9-5 with a 4.07 ERA and 78 strikeouts for Double-A Birmingham in 2005.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.