MOOSIC, PA. (October 29, 2018) - After a comprehensive nomination and review process, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders are excited to move into the final phase of naming the All-Time SWB Team as part of the upcoming 2019 season. Voting is now underway to determine the top players that will be commemorated next season as the best-of-the-best during the celebration of 30 years of professional baseball in Northeast Pennsylvania.
Nominations were submitted via social media and email and were then reviewed by the staff and local dignitaries. The final list of possible candidates was narrowed down based on designated criteria, keying on players that made the most impact while playing for the Red Barons, Yankees and RailRiders. Fans can now vote for their top choice at each of the nine positions online at swbrailriders.com or through the team's social media platforms. During the 2019 season, the RailRiders will have a nine-figure bobblehead series giveaway to commemorate the All-Time SWB Team.
"We are in the home stretch of this exciting process," stated Josh Olerud, the RailRiders Team President and General Manager. "The collaboration of our fans in determining the final list was fun to see play out. The remaining candidates made their mark on N.E.P.A. While many top players were with us on rehab assignments, it was decided that this All-Time Team should be based on those key players that created a lasting impact at Lackawanna County Stadium and PNC Field."
The finalists for pitchers are Jonathan Albaladejo, Brandon Duckworth, Ivan Nova, Joe Roa, Luis Severino and Randy Wolf. Albaladejo went 7-2 over 88 games for the SWB Yankees with a 1.52 ERA and 54 saves, 43 of which came in 2010 to set a franchise record. Duckworth posted a 13-2 mark in 2001 for the Red Barons with a 2.63 ERA, striking out 150 over 147 innings and was the Triple-A Player-of-the-Month in July of the summer. Nova spent portions of five seasons with Scranton/Wilkes Barre, including 22 starts during the 2010 season when he went 12-3 with a 2.86 earned run average. Roa pitched to a perfect 14-0 mark in 2002 with a 1.86 ERA over 17 starts. Severino has gone 15-1 for the RailRiders over two seasons with a 2.79 Triple-A ERA. Wolf pitched in 38 games, starting 37 of them, for the Red Barons and struck out 197 batters over 234 innings pitched.
At first base, the final candidates are Tyler Austin, Ryan Howard, Jon Zuber and Gene Schall. Austin hit 33 home runs over 203 games spanning four seasons. Howard batted .336 over 90 games in two years with the Red Barons with 25 home runs and 83 runs batted in. Zuber played in 454 games for the Red Barons between 1995 and 1999 with a .305 average while playing for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Schall appeared in 588 games for the Red Barons with 86 career home runs while at Triple-A for the Phillies.
The second base candidates are Marlon Anderson, Dave Doster, Jose Pirela and Chase Utley . Anderson played in over 100 games during two separate seasons with the Red Barons. He hit .306 in 1998 with 16 home runs and then batted .305 in 2000 with eight home runs. Doster spent five seasons in Moosic, appearing in 604 games with a career-best .315 average in 1997. Pirela appeared in 195 games over three seasons for the RailRiders, including 130 games during the 2014 campaign when he batted .305 with 10 home runs and 60 batted in. Utley made the leap from Advanced-A in 2001 to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2002. Over three different seasons on the Red Barons between 2002 and 2004, he played in 271 games with 41 home runs, 172 runs batted in and held a .291 average.
At shortstop, Eduardo Nunez, Jimmy Rollins, Nick Punto, and Tyler Wade were tabbed as finalists. Nunez played 118 games for the SWB Yankees in 2010, committing just 10 errors over 101 games at short while hitting .289 with 23 steals and 60 runs batted in. Rollins hit .274 over 133 games in 2000 for the Red Barons with 12 home runs and 69 runs batted in. Punto appeared in 263 games over three years, including 2002 when he hit .271. Wade won the 2017 International League batting crown with a .310 average, hit seven home runs, drove in 31 and stole 26 bases.
Miguel Andujar, Travis Chapman, Scott Rolen, and Rick Schu are the best-of-the-best at third base. Andujar hit .317 in 2017 and launched nine home runs with 30 runs batted in. Chapman, the RailRiders defensive coach in 2018, was drafted by the Phillies and hit .272 over 134 games with 12 home runs and 82 runs batted in during the 2002 season with the Red Barons. Rolen held a .274 average for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 1996 before going on to win National League Rookie of the Year in 1997. Schu appeared in 217 games over two seasons, batting .321 in 1991 and .310 in 1992.
The final candidates at catcher are Mike Lieberthal, Austin Romine, Carlos Ruiz and Gary Sanchez . Lieberthal played portions of four seasons on his rise to the Majors from 1992-1995, including carrying a .281 average during the '95 campaign, before coming back to the club again in 2006. Romine has played for both the SWB Yankees and the RailRiders, paced in part by his last season in the Minors (.260 average over 92 games in 2015). Ruiz hit .300 over 100 games for the Red Barons in 2005 and then .307 during 100 games in 2006. Sanchez has spent a few rehab stints with the RailRiders but also hit 10 home runs over 71 games in 2016 while batting .282. He has 21 home runs in 116 Triple-A games with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
In the outfield, Pat Burrell, Shelley Duncan, Ben Gamel, Brett Gardner, Aaron Judge and Shane Victorino have been tabbed as finalists. Burrell played in 50 games over two seasons and hit .294 for the Red Barons in 2000. Duncan was the I.L. MVP in 2009, his third summer with the SWB Yankees, after hitting .277 with 30 home runs and 99 runs batted in. Gamel earned the 2016 MVP honor after batting .308 over 116 games; one year after hitting .300 over 129 games for the RailRiders. Gardner played for the SWB Yankees in 2007 and 2008 prior to his MLB debut, batting .294 over 94 games in '08 to help earn his call-up. Judge played 124 games for the RailRiders between 2015 and 2016, hitting 27 home runs and driving in 93. Victorino was the league MVP in 2005; the first Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to earn the honor. He hit .310 with 18 home runs and 70 runs batted in during 126 games played.
"This truly is a comprehensive list of our best," Olerud added. "We are excited to see the final tallies on the All-Time SWB Team. 2019 is truly shaping up to be a terrific season as we honor 30 years of players and memories."
The RailRiders open the 2019 season on the road on April 4 and begin their home schedule one week later. Ticket plans are now available by calling (570) 969-BALL.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.