While the Big Train may have fallen short of a sixth straight league championship, it was still a talented team who performed up to the Big Train's traditional high standards. In fact, Manager Sal Colangelo could have easily chosen any number of players for the 2022 Big Train Manager's Awards. Check out the winners below.
Most Valuable Player: Nick Del Prado (Florida Atlantic)
For everyone who came out to watch the Big Train in 2022 and saw him pitch, it should come as no surprise that Nick Del Prado is the 2022 Big Train MVP.
In the words of Coach Sal: "Every time Nick stepped on the mound, we had a good chance to win. He set the tone. Nick's tempo and his ability to throw strikes and command his pitches was a key to our team's success."
Nick was dominant on the mound this season. He appeared in 8 games and started 4. Over 26.0 innings, Nick allowed only 2 runs and 8 hits. He walked 6 batters while striking out 37 and had an ERA of 0.69, which tied for best in the Cal Ripken League. Del Prado also rocked a ridiculous WHIP of 0.54 and a K/9 of 12.8 and finished the season with a record of 3-0 and 1 save. Each of Nick's appearances was fun to watch as he led the Big Train to key win after key win.
Nick was also named the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League's Pitcher of the Year. Even with all the great pitching across the league, Nick stood out.
Golden Spikes Award: Emilien Pitre (Kentucky)
This award is given to the player who best showcased his abilities in each facet of the game. From that perspective, Emilien Pitre is the deserved winner of the 2022 Golden Spikes Award!
Coach Sal says it best: "With his timely hitting, outstanding defense, and high baseball IQ, Emilien did it all for us this season."
Emilien showcased his abilities for the Big Train every night. On the season, Pitre hit .405, which was good for second in the Cal Ripken League. Additionally, he had an OBP of .510 and slugged .463, good for a .973 OPS. Pitre ripped 7 2B, scored 24 runs, drove in 17, and stole 6 bases, while walking more times than he struck out (20-12). He also played a strong defensive shortstop, highlighted by excellent range and an impressive arm.
It is going to be exciting watching Emilien take on the SEC for the Wildcats in 2023.
Most Outstanding Hitter: Luke Nowak (East Carolina)
Luke Nowak may have come to the Big Train late due to ECU's run through the College World Series, but he made a huge impact once he arrived and is this season's Most Outstanding Hitter.
Coach Sal on Luke: "As our leadoff hitter, Luke put huge pressure on our opponents with his blazing speed. He was Mr. Consistent at the plate and always seemed to be on base."
Big Train fans enjoyed watching Luke every night. On the season, Nowak hit .360, which was sixth-best in the Cal Ripken League. He also had an OBP of .467, which was top 10 in the league and an OPS of .847. Luke scored 22 runs in only 26 games, drove in 9, stole 10 bases, and walked more times than he struck out (19-16). All in all, Luke's ability at the plate and on base skills put the Big Train in a position to score runs regularly.
Watching Luke work his way on base and then motor around the bases was exhilarating for the Big Train faithful. Luke is a worthy winner of this award.
Most Outstanding Starting Pitcher: Ryan Sanders (St. Mary's)
Big Train fans are a dedicated bunch and they know excellence when they see it, and they saw excellence every time Ryan Sanders took the mound in 2022. That is why he is this season's Most Outstanding Starting Pitcher.
Coach Sal: "Ryan was Mr. Competitive, AKA Big Train's Bulldog. Ryan was a leader and a 5th coach in the dugout when he wasn't pitching. You want a team full of Ryan Sanders."
Sanders was an innings-eater for the Big Train and he ate those innings in dominant fashion. Ryan started 5 games and went 4-0 with an ERA of 1.67, which was fourth best in the Cal Ripken League. He averaged over 5 innings per appearance as well, which gave the Big Train important length. Sanders had the league's third-best WHIP at 0.70, only allowing 12 hits and 7 walks in 27.0 innings. He also had a K/9 of 12.0. The numbers highlight how well he pitched throughout the season.
And not only was Sanders a joy to watch, but everyone who interacted with him when he wasn't in "Bulldog Mode" enjoyed it. It was an honor having Sanders with the squad this summer.
Most Outstanding Relief Pitcher: Jordan Little (East Carolina)
Baseball fans love a fireballer, and that's what Big Train supporters got to see every time Jordan Little took the mound in 2022. Jordan's late game dominance is why he is this season's Most Outstanding Relief Pitcher.
Coach Sal on Jordan: "One of the most poised, coachable young men I've ever coached. When the game was on the line, Jordan was the man to call to finish the job."
Jordan was fun to watch every time he came into a game, especially in close ones at Povich with his warmup music blaring over the sound system. For the season, Jordan appeared in 10 games and threw 22.1 innings with an ERA of 0.80. He struck out a ridiculous 34 while walking only 8 and allowing just 11 hits. That's good for a WHIP of 0.85. Jordan's batting average against was a miserly .138 and his K/9 was an excellent 13.7. Jordan finished with a 2-1 record and 3 saves, which was second best in the Cal Ripken League. As you can see, it is obvious Jordan was the Big Train's best bullpen arm.
Jordan was a fireballer on the mound and an absolute gem off of it. The Big Train were lucky to have him this season for both his on-field and off-field performances.
Most Oustanding Defender: Jason Schiavone (James Madison)
Measuring defensive excellence is something baseball has not quite figured out. But if you know anything about catching, it is obvious Jason Schiavone is an amazing catcher. He showcased it often in 2022 and is why he is this season's Most Outstanding Defender.
Coach Sal: "Jason is one of the best catchers I have ever coached. He was an absolute brick wall behind the plate and threw out everybody. Having a catcher like Jason makes my job easier."
Defensive metrics are hard to calculate, especially for catchers, but the fact that Jason caught a team-high 119.1 innings shows how important he was to the team and how much the Big Train pitching staff trusted him. Jason contributed 7 assists from behind the plate while only committing 1 error, and had a fielding percentage of .994. He also threw out would-be basestealers with tremendous regularity, displaying a knack for squelching opposing teams' rallies. Jason also showcased his defensive versatility this year by playing 65 innings in right field, making no errors, and contributing 2 outfield assists. Solidity and calmness behind the plate, a ridiculously strong arm, and versatility to play multiple positions are why Jason is perfect for this award.
Jason was a fan favorite throughout the summer and his performance on the field was a big reason why.
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