Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Press Release: Riverdogs Ask Fans to Vote for 2016 “Top Dog”

RiverDogs Asking Fans to Vote for the
“Top Dog” of 2016
Five candidates announced for fan voted Player of the Year



CHARLESTON, SC – Josh Hamilton, B.J. Upton, Delmon Young, and Jorge Mateo, just some of the names of the RiverDogs greats that once called Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park home. With the 2016 season nearing a close, the RiverDogs will once again open up the floor to the fans to decide who will be elected as Charleston’s “Top Dog” as the fan-voted player of the Year for 2016.

The RiverDogs are having one of their most successful seasons in history, securing the Southern Division first half title with a 42-27 record at the All-Star break to clinch their first playoff berth in over a decade. The club’s success has also been highlighted by a number of stellar individual performances. The RiverDogs are asking fans to vote between five finalists for the RiverDogs’ “Top Dog” of 2016, awarded to the most outstanding player of the season by using the web link HERE. The finalists are LHP Nestor Cortes, first baseman Chris Gittens, center fielder Jeff Hendrix, RHP Christian Morris, and RHP Andrew Schwaab.

Cortes, a 21-year-old lefty out of Hialeah, FL, dominated South Atlantic League hitters since a midseason call up to Charleston on May 6. After yielding one run in a five inning effort against Lakewood on July 18, just his second run allowed in his last 37.2 innings with Charleston, the RiverDogs lefty fell to a 6-2 record while raising his ERA to a 0.79 mark before getting the call up to High-A Tampa. The Yankees’ 36thround pick in 2013 has struck out an impressive 75 batters in 68.1 innings, an average of 9.9 per nine innings, while walking just 15 and opponents hitting a measly .210 against him. Across 13 appearances, eight of those starts, with the RiverDogs, Cortes allowed just six earned runs and never allowed more than one unearned run in any given outing.

After representing the RiverDogs as a South Atlantic League Mid-Season All-Star, Cortes was also called up for a spot relief appearance with Double-A Trenton, logging four innings to pick up the save on June 26 allowing two runs on just a hit before rejoining Charleston. The Cuban-born, native Floridian was also named the South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Week after striking out 12 batters in six innings, giving up no runs, two hits, and one walk in a start against Columbia on May 19.

Gittens, 22, has been the heartbeat in the middle of the RiverDogs’ lineup since opening day. As of August 8, The 6’4”, 250 pound slugger out of Sherman, TX has hit .255/.361/.487 with 17 home runs that ranks second in the league while driving in a team leading 61 runs on the season in 87 games. Also a solid defender at first, the Grayson County College product is also fourth in the league in slugging and averages a home run every 19 at-bats, the best rate in the league.

Gittens’ most impressive game came on the road in West Virginia on June 16 when he smashed three home runs, one of just two three homer performances in the league this year, while going 3-for-5 with a career-high six RBIs. Along with his eye-popping power, the Yankees’ former 12th round pick in 2014 has shown solid plate discipline, reaching base safely in a league high 33 straight from April 21-June 2.

Hendrix, 23, stood in as the spark plug at the top of the RiverDogs order since Opening Day, and impressed enough in his time in Charleston to garner promotion to High-A Tampa. With an already polished defensive game, the Corvallis, Oregon native hit .299/.397/.389 with 16 doubles, a home run, and 25 RBI in 36 games with the RiverDogs before getting the call up on July 17.

The former Oregon State Beaver was named the South Atlantic League Player of the Week when he went 15-for-24 (.625) at the plate with three doubles and five RBIs in six games from May 30-June 6 that included a 5-for-5 day at the plate in Greenville on June 1. Already a polished center fielder, Hendrix went on a tear to finish out his time with the RiverDogs, hitting .427 (38-89) since June to raise his average just a shade under the .300 mark before his call up.

Morris, 22, another mid-season call up to Charleston, has posted All-Star worthy numbers while rounding into form in the second half as the staff’s ace. Morris is having a breakout season in his second year as a pro, boasting a 7-2 record with a 2.45 ERA that ranks first among all qualifying pitchers in the league with 76 strikeouts in 88.0 innings.

The former Indiana Hoosier was named the South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Week for the week of June 6-12 for his performance against the Asheville Tourists on June 9 when he tossed six innings, giving up no runs, just a lone hit, two walks, and 7 strikeouts. The 6’4” righty made his debut with Charleston on April 30, after spending last season in rookie ball and one game with Advanced-A Tampa.

Schwaab, 23, was the linchpin of the dominant Charleston bullpen as the closer since Opening Day before getting a call up to High-A Tampa in mid-July. The former Missouri Tiger went 4-1 with a 1.85 ERA and his 18 saves still ranks second in the SAL. A non-drafted free agent signee by the Yankees in 2015, the side winding closer out of O’Fallon, Missouri struck out 38 batters while walking just eight in his 34 innings with Charleston. The 6’1” righty was named a SAL Mid-Season All-Star and was one of five RiverDogs representatives at the Midsummer Classic in Lexington.

Ticket information for the upcoming homestand and any of the remaining home games can be secured by contacting the box office at (843) 577-DOGS (3647) or online at www.riverdogs.com. RiverDogs playoff tickets for Game 2 of the SAL Divisional Series on Friday, September 9 are now available. Those that can’t make it to the park can follow every pitch of the RiverDogs season on WTMA 1250 AM and streaming online at riverdogs.com.

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