Harris a bona fide MVP candidate
The Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks play the Calgary Vipers at 6:05 p.m. today at Newman Outdoor Field, the last game of the first half. With the 96-game schedule halfway gone, here is the midway take for the top Northern League baseball awards. - Most v...
The Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks play the Calgary Vipers at 6:05 p.m. today at Newman Outdoor Field, the last game of the first half.
With the 96-game schedule halfway gone, here is the midway take for the top Northern League baseball awards.
- Most valuable player: Cory Harris, center fielder, Lincoln Saltdogs.
Harris batted over .400 for most of the half and led the league with a .389 batting average through Friday. He also led the league in extra-base hits (37) and runs (60) and ranked second in home runs (13). Lincoln outfielder Bryan Warner (.342 BA, 12 home runs, 57 RBIs, 46 runs) and St. Paul shortstop Chad Ehrnsberger (.369 BA, 7 home runs, 43 RBIs, 43 runs) have also been impressive.
- Pitcher of the year: Matt Bailie, right-handed starter, Schaumburg Flyers.
Bailie had a 6-0 record through Friday with a league-leading 1.23 ERA. He's allowed just 36 hits in 66 innings and is fourth in the league with 55 strikeouts.
RedHawks starters Brandon Culp, a right-hander, and Joe Sergent, a left-hander, could also make cases as both have had impressive first halves.
- Rookie of the year: Brent Krause, left fielder, RedHawks.
The RedHawks acquired Krause less than a week before the start of the season. The move has paid off. The former Jamestown College standout was batting .310 with 12 doubles, nine home runs, 25 RBIs and eight steals through Friday.
Schaumburg designated hitter Josue Lopez (.293 BA, 5 home runs, 20 RBIs) and Kansas City second baseman Mike Brown (.279 BA, 3 home runs, 22 RBIs, 15 stolen bases) have also been solid.
- Manager of the year: Mike Busch, Calgary Vipers.
Probably the closest race with four teams in the South Division in the running for the first-half title into the final games of the half, and with RedHawks manager Doug Simunic winning his 11th half-season championship with the RedHawks.
But Busch had the expansion Vipers in contention in the North Division heading into the final series of the first half, despite a change in ownership a few months before the start of the season.
The bullpen is one area Simunic would like to address heading into the second half.
The RedHawks have just four full-time arms in the bullpen right now - left-hander Brian Adams and right-handers Doug Young, Mel Spivey and Nick Biron.
Utility man Derek Dormanen, a right-hander, is also an option.
"We are going to have to do some work in the bullpen to get it where I want it to be," Simunic said.
The RedHawks suffered a key blow along those lines with the recent departure of left-hander Brantley Jordan, who had his contract purchased by the Boston Red Sox.
"Losing Brantley Jordan was tough because he was a guy who could throw the ball every day," Simunic said.
Expect the RedHawks to add another bullpen arm in the next few days.
The Sioux City Explorers made two recent moves to gear up for the second half. The Explorers traded third baseman Matt Howe to the Joliet JackHammers for second baseman Gabby Delgado. Sioux City also acquired former RedHawks outfielder Bobby Brown from the San Diego Surf of the Golden Baseball League. ... Starting position players for the Northern League All-Star game, scheduled for July 19 at U.S. Steel Yard in Gary, will be announced Monday. Pitchers and extra position players will be announced Tuesday. ... Former Chicago Bears head coach Mike Ditka is scheduled to attend the Northern League All-Star luncheon on July 19 in Gary. ... The Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks and Newman Outdoor Field are featured in the July 18 issue of ESPN The Magazine in a photo spread of selected minor league ballparks.
Readers can reach Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513 or email@example.com