Lentini Falls Just Short in Player of the Year Race


After announcing its Post-Season All-Star team and Red, White and Blue All-Defensive Team last week, the Atlantic League continued announcing its year-end awards on Tuesday. Four of the most notable awards were unveiled, including:

Player of the Year: Jeremy Barfield (Sugar Land)
Pitcher of the Year: Jonathan Albaladejo (Bridgeport)
Manager of the Year: Stan Cliburn (New Britain)
Rawlings Gold Glove Defensive Player of the Year: Eric Farris (Somerset)

The majority of these were a bit easier to predict, and all four are extremely deserving of these honors. Albaladejo led the league in wins, strikeouts (a league single season record), innings pitched and games started. Cliburn led a first year expansion franchise to a 71-69 record and nearly a postseason berth. Farris played six different positions and committed just six errors in 126 games in the field. However, the Player of the Year competition was not so clear-cut.

While Barfield put together an outstanding year for the Skeeters, leading them to their first-ever Atlantic League championship, it’s impossible to ignore Fehlandt Lentini’s candidacy for the honor. At 39 years old, Lentini put together one of the best seasons of his career and became one of the most important pieces of the Ducks’ lineup. Perhaps most impressively, he appeared in all 140 games during the regular season, as well as each of Long Island’s eight postseason games. The same could not be said for Barfield, who missed five regular season games despite being 11 years Lentini’s junior. Lentini was also recently selected as both a Post-Season All-Star and member of the Red, White and Blue All-Defensive Team.


Following is where both players stood among the Atlantic League leaders offensively, along with their final stats, including their league rank in parentheses (no ranking given if outside of Top 15):

Statistical Category

Jeremy Barfield

Fehlandt Lentini

Batting Average

.306 (T-8th)

.313 (5th)

Home Runs

27 (1st)


Runs Batted In

85 (T-3rd)

75 (5th)

Runs Scored

87 (2nd)

108 (1st)

156 (T-4th)

179 (1st)


31 (5th)

42 (1st)



6 (T-3rd)

Stolen Bases


51 (2nd)

Total Bases

272 (1st)

260 (2nd)

Extra-Base Hits

60 (1st)

57 (2nd)

On-Base Percentage

.382 (8th)

.364 (T-11th)

Slugging Percentage

.533 (4th)

.455 (10th)


62 (4th)


At Bats

510 (T-5th)

571 (1st)

Games Played

135 (4th)

140 (T-1st)

Upon breaking this down, Lentini held the edge in eight of the 15 categories, giving him a slight advantage in that department. In addition, the third-year Duck also held the league’s top ranking in five categories while Barfield led the league in three. Finally, both players were among the Top Five in 11 of the 15 statistics. The comparison is obviously very close between the two sides.

One avid Ducks fan, Terry Dennelly (@BaseballInvest on Twitter), also made a great point recently on why Lentini is deserving of the award. In the graph below, he notes how much he outperformed the rest of the league in three statistical categories. Lentini’s 108 runs were 21 more than Barfield’s total, which ranked second in the league. Lentini’s 179 hits were 19 more than Bridgeport’s Luis Hernandez, who finished second with 160. Finally, his 42 doubles were six greater than Lancaster’s Caleb Gindl, who was second with 36.


When talking about an all-around great player, one must also look at how he performed defensively. Lentini made just two errors in a total of 133 games, good for a .990 fielding percentage. As for Barfield, he played 131 games in the outfield and committed eight errors (.970 fielding percentage). That was actually tied for the most errors by any Atlantic League outfielder in 2016. Barfield did have a big advantage though in assists, posting 14 compared to Lentini’s seven, and he had the edge in putouts with 248 to Lentini’s 199.

While sharing the same position, Barfield and Lentini are two very different types of players. Barfield is the power threat in the middle of the Skeeters lineup, typically batting in the third, fourth or fifth spot of the order. He hits the ball out of the ballpark a lot and drives in a plethora of runs. Lentini also packs a potent swing, but his game is not built on the longball. Instead, he will rack up plenty of singles and doubles and beat you with his speed on the basepaths. It’s impossible though to say which kind of player is better; they are both equally as important in any strong lineup. Combine them though, and you have your prototypical five-tool baseball player. It seems that this year’s voting placed an emphasis on the home runs and RBI totals.


Congratulations to both Barfield and Lentini on putting together phenomenal seasons in 2016. Both were outstanding from start to finish, and both helped lead their team to Division championships, with Barfield going on to win the league title for the first time. In the end, fans can debate for hours upon hours which player was most deserving of the league’s Player of the Year award for 2016. Barfield took home the honor in a tight race, and deservedly so. However, Lentini’s candidacy and overall performance certainly should not go unnoticed.

In case you missed it, CLICK HERE to see the league’s Post-Season All-Star team and Red, White and Blue All-Defensive Team. On Thursday, the league will finish announcing its awards with the Ken Shepard Award for Promotional Excellence, the Joe Klein Executive of the Year, the Ray Cipperly Award for Groundskeeping Excellence, Mascot of the Year, Ballpark of the Year, Promotion of the Year and Outstanding Community Service Award.



The Long Island Ducks have finished off their 17th season of play in the Atlantic League, a year that featured some incredible moments on the field and record-setting milestones off of it. After battling through the adversity of several key injuries and multiple players having their contracts purchased, the team put together a rally to advance to their fourth Atlantic League Championship Series in the past six seasons. Bethpage Ballpark also welcomed its 7 millionth fan since the gates opened in April of 2000, as the Ducks became the first Atlantic League franchise to reach that mark. Although their championship dreams came up a little bit short against the Sugar Land Skeeters, there was plenty for the Ducks and their fans to be proud of this past season.

Let’s take a look back on some of the incredible accomplishments achieved by the Ducks during the 2016 season:

* During the final regular season home game at Bethpage Ballpark, which was also Fan Appreciation Day, the Ducks became the first team in the Atlantic League to welcome their 7 millionth fan through the gates. Victoria Sardegna of Riverhead passed through the turnstiles on that Sunday afternoon to become the lucky fan that helped Long Island reach the milestone. In addition, the Ducks hosted 13 past-capacity crowds during the season and have now welcomed a league record 663 sold out crowds all-time. On July 3, a franchise record 7,602 fans packed the “Duck Pond” to watch the Flock close out the first half with a 5-2 win over the Skeeters. The crowd surpassed the previous mark of 7,582 set on July 4, 2009. Overall, the Ducks led the Atlantic League in attendance for the 14th time in 17 seasons at 5,265 and welcomed a total of 366,117 fans through the gates in 2016 (regular season and playoffs).

* For the second consecutive season, a lucky fan went home $10,000 richer after coming to a Ducks game. On Wednesday, May 25, Tyler Colvin hit a grand slam during the fifth inning of Long Island’s 15-5 win over the Bridgeport Bluefish. Being that the fifth was the designated “grand slam inning” as part of Winning Inning Wednesday, Andrew Kratzer of Wantagh was the lucky fan to take home the big prize. One year earlier, Ducks season ticket holder Ginny Steel of Amityville won $10,000 after the Ducks scored seven runs in the seventh inning of their 10-9 win over the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs on June 10.

* With a first half record of 40-30, the Ducks captured the 2016 First Half Liberty Division title, finishing two games ahead of the Somerset Patriots. The achievement guaranteed the Ducks their 11th postseason berth in franchise history, all coming in the past 13 seasons. It was also the first time the team won the first half since doing so in 2012 when they finished with a record of 39-31. Overall, it was Long Island’s fifth First Half title.

* In the playoffs, the Ducks became just the second team in Atlantic League history to overcome an 0-2 deficit and win a postseason series. Long Island fell behind against Somerset in the Liberty Division Championship Series after dropping Game One, 3-2 in 11 innings, and Game Two, 10-0, both on the road at TD Bank Ballpark. Pushed to the brink of elimination, the Ducks rose to the occasion at home and completely shut down the Patriots’ lineup. The Ducks pulled off 7-1, 2-0 and 5-1 victories to claim their fifth division title in franchise history. Somerset had previously been the only other team to pull off such a comeback, doing so in the 2001 Atlantic League Championship Series against the Newark Bears.

* A grand total of seven Ducks players had their contracts purchased by outside organizations in 2016. Prior to the start of the season, pitcher Bruce Kern’s contract was purchased by the Kansas City Royals while infielder Mark Minicozzi’s contract was purchased by Vaqueros Laguna in the Mexican League. Long Island’s first player to have his contract purchased during the season was infielder Nate Freiman, who went to the Boston Red Sox organization. He would then go on to help Team Israel secure a berth in the World Baseball Classic next spring. In July, four starting pitchers would go on to have their contracts purchased. Among them were right-hander Mark Blackmar (Washington Nationals), Jack Snodgrass (Texas Rangers), Darin Downs (Uni-President Lions, Taiwan) and Kern (Brother Elephants, Taiwan). Finally, Eury De La Rosa’s contract was purchased by the Houston Astros in August.

* John Brownell etched his name even further into franchise history by surpassing three team records, all of which had been held by lefty great Randy Leek. After surpassing Leek for the most strikeouts in team history during the 2015 campaign, Brownell took over the team lead in wins, games started and innings pitched in 2016. The wins that the right-hander achieved to both tie and surpass Leek in that category were vintage performances as well. Brownell threw a complete game on June 5 against Sugar Land to equal the record, yielding just one run on four hits and a walk while striking out seven. Then on July 2, also facing the Skeeters, he pitched eight and one-third innings of one-run ball to overtake the record and lead the Ducks to a 6-1 win. Coincidentally, that was also the victory that secured Long Island’s First Half Liberty Division title.

* Fehlandt Lentini put together one of the best seasons of his professional career, one that has now spanned 16 seasons. The third-year Duck led the Atlantic League in hits (179), runs (108), doubles (42) and at bats (571) while also becoming one of three players in league history to play in all 140 games during the regular season (Lew Ford, Ducks, 2014 and Jovan Rosa, New Britain, 2016). In addition Lentini ranked second in the league in total bases (260), extra-base hits (57), stolen bases (51) and stolen base percentage (.911), third in triples (6) and fifth in batting average (.313) and runs batted in (75). The 39-year-old earned his second Atlantic League All-Star Game selection and went on to bat .281 with two doubles, two RBI, three runs and two stolen bases in the postseason.

* Mike Dowd was voted by fans as the Delmonte-Smelson Team Most Valuable Player. The catcher impressed in his first season with the Flock all around the field. He led all Atlantic League qualifying catchers with a .284 batting average. He has also set career-highs in hits (94), runs (37), at bats (331) and games played (95). His four homers and 43 runs batted in also tied career-highs, set in 2013 and 2012, respectively. Behind the plate, he has helped guide a pitching staff that led the league in earned run average (3.87), strikeouts (1,084) and lowest opponents’ batting average (.260).

Everyone with the Long Island Ducks organization would like to thank each and every fan who came out to the ballpark and showed their support for the team throughout the 2016 season. Without your devotion to the team, both at home and on the road, none of the above accomplishments would have been possible. Before you know it, the 2017 season will be upon us; we can’t wait to see you all back here at Bethpage Ballpark for the 18th season of Ducks baseball!

ALCS Game Three: Ducks vs. Skeeters


GAME TIME/LOCATION: 6:35 p.m. at Bethpage Ballpark (Central Islip, NY)

TONIGHT’S MATCHUP: The Long Island Ducks return home looking to experience déjà vu all over again, needing a repeat of their miraculous performance in the Liberty Division Championship Series in order to claim the Atlantic League trophy. The Ducks trail the Sugar Land Skeeters two games to none just as they did against the Somerset Patriots. Down 2-0 last weekend, the Ducks topped the Patriots in three straight games to win the series. Against Sugar Land at home, the Ducks have posted a 6-4 record, outscoring the Skeeters 47-30 in 2016.

GAME TWO RESULT: With a late-inning home run, the Skeeters escaped the Ducks to win Game Two, 2-0.

Both starting pitchers had tremendous outings. Sugar Land’s Michael Nix fired six scoreless innings, allowing four hits and a walk with five strikeouts. Matt Larkins followed suit, pitching five scoreless innings as well.

However, with two outs in the sixth, Larkins hit Skeeters batter Jeremy Barfield. The Ducks starter was lifted for left-handed reliever Patrick Crider, who came on to face Sugar Land lefty Travis Scott. Crider’s first pitch was cranked over the right-field wall. Scott’s home run gave the Skeeters a 2-0 lead.

Nix grabbed the win, while Larkins suffered the tough-luck loss for Long Island. He yielded just two hits and one run over five and two-thirds innings.

Delta Cleary Jr.’s three hits, along with Tyler Colvin’s double, led the Flock offensively.

ON THE MOUND: Nick Struck finds himself in a familiar situation, looking to pitch well in a must-win playoff game for the Ducks. Struck beat the Somerset Patriots six days ago in the Liberty Division Championship Series, facing an 0-2 hole. The Oregon native tossed seven innings of one-run ball, allowing just four hits and two walks with three strikeouts in a 4-1 Long Island victory. The right-hander faced the Skeeters on August 20 at Constellation Field, a game in which the Ducks won in extra innings, 5-4. In that contest, he worked five and one-third innings, allowing two runs on four hits and a walk with four strikeouts.

Sean Gallagher makes his second postseason appearance for Sugar Land. Gallagher started Game One of the Freedom Division Championship Series but did not factor into the decision. He surrendered one earned run over five innings, striking out two. Against Long Island on September 14, his most recent meeting against the Flock, Gallagher yielded three runs on four hits and two walks, fanning five over five innings in a 4-3 Skeeters loss. Overall, the Texas native has faced Long Island five times, posting a 1-2 record but a strong ERA of 2.03.

FOLLOW ALONG:  Fans can watch live via the Ducks’ official YouTube channel. Streaming video and audio will be available online below. In addition to updates in this post, fans can follow a pitch-by-pitch account of tonight’s game via Pointstreak’s Game Live application by CLICKING HERE.

DUCKS GAME NOTES: For tonight’s full Ducks game notes, please CLICK HERE. For a look at Long Island’s all-time playoff history, please CLICK HERE.

#23 Fehlandt Lentini – RF
#12 Dan Lyons – SS
#5 Delta Cleary Jr. – CF
#20 Lew Ford – DH
#2 Cody Puckett – 3B
#32 Tyler Colvin – 1B
#15 Ruben Gotay – 2B
#29 Mike Dowd – C
#27 Anthony Vega – LF

#24 Nick Struck – RHP

#7 Josh Prince – 2B
#9 Rene Tosoni – CF
#29 Jeremy Barfield – RF
#16 Travis Scott – DH
#24 Delwyn Young – 1B
#14 Lance Zawadski – SS
#5 Wilfredo Rodriguez – C
#26 Jeff Dominguez – LF
#10 Juan Martinez – 3B

#36 Sean Gallagher – RHP

UPDATE (7:00): BOT 1: The Ducks strike first with a double steal! Fehlandt Lentini scores from third base, giving Long Island a 1-0 lead over the Sugar Land Skeeters.

UPDATE (7:29): END 3: Cody Puckett flies out to center field, stranding the bases loaded. Long Island still leads Sugar Land 1-0.

UPDATE (7:39): TOP 4: Lance Zawadski’s two-run double gives Sugar Land a 2-1 lead over Long Island.

UPDATE (8:00): BOT 5: Long Island takes the lead! Ford doubles in a run and then scores on a Skeeters error! The Ducks have a 3-2 advantage.

UPDATE (8:09): TOP 6: HUGE! After a Skeeters leadoff triple by Rene Tosoni, Nick Struck gets the next three to keep the Ducks in front 3-2!

UPDATE (8:26): TOP 7: Sugar Land plates three runs, taking a 5-3 lead over Long Island. Prince’s two-run single highlights the inning.

UPDATE (9:19): FINAL: The Ducks fall 5-3 to the Skeeters in Game Three. Congrats to the Sugar Land Skeeters organization on winning the Atlantic League Championship!


Baez Optimistic as Series Shifts to Central Islip


Special to “Quack of the Bat”

Yes, the Long Island Ducks have been in this exact position before.

But before they can think about a second consecutive playoff series in which they’d have to win all three games at home to come all the way back, they first need to focus simply winning Game Three.

“Right now, it’s just taking it one game at a time,” said manager Kevin Baez. “(Nick) Struck takes the ball tomorrow, and we expect a good outing and to get a ‘W.’”

When the first pitch is thrown at Bethpage Ballpark at about 6:35 p.m., it will be Struck facing the Sugar Land Skeeters; the 26-year-old right-hander will be just six days removed from a pivotal gem against Somerset in which he allowed just one run on two walks and four hits over seven stellar frames to extend a series that Long Island ultimately won.

In the clubhouse after that Game Three performance in the Liberty Division Championship Series, Struck seemed unaffected by the moment, and surely the Ducks are hopeful he can carry that attitude into Friday night, despite stakes that are now as high as they get in the Atlantic League.

“(There was) no pressure, I’ve got 24 guys behind me,” the fast-working Struck said at the time. “I just wanted to set the tone early, make good pitches and give our offense a chance to win.”

Added Baez: “He goes out there and he’s just a great competitor and really wants the ball. He understands that he’s just got to simplify his game; pitch your game, don’t try to do anything out of the ordinary. It’s the old clichés, one pitch at a time and one inning at a time. If he keeps pitching like he’s been pitching, we should be OK.”

More than OK, really.

With a Game Three win, Baez would then have the option of going to ace John Brownell on full rest after a heroic Game Five effort in which he and Patriots southpaw Will Oliver both dueled on three days rest, or turn to Jarret Leverett, who actually one-upped Struck with seven innings of shutout ball in Game Four.

“We’re hoping Struck can give us the outing he gave us last time, and then it gets to Game Four and we move on from there,” Baez said. “We’ve got Struck, Brownie and Leverett in waiting, so we feel good about having them on the back end. But we’ve got to take care of business (Friday).”

With his pitching rotation lined up seemingly perfectly for another chance of achieving the improbable – A completed comeback would win bring Atlantic League Championship trophy back to Central Islip for the third time in five seasons — Baez was asked if he could use last week’s incredible comeback as a rallying point for his players before Game Three gets underway.

“I don’t really have to remind them, but I’m sure I’ll say something when we stretch on Friday,” he said.

“The guys know we’ve got to win or we go home, but we’re going back (to Bethpage Ballpark) where we like to play, and we play well. We hope we get the same results. We have to. We lost two on the road, but in the last series, we did the same and won three. But, it’s a new series and a new team. Hopefully, we can do it again.”

ALCS Game Two: Ducks at Skeeters


GAME TIME/LOCATION: 8:05 p.m. EDT at Constellation Field (Sugar Land, Texas)

TONIGHT’S MATCHUP: The Long Island Ducks look to avenge Tuesday night’s Game One loss in Game Two of the Atlantic League Championship against the Sugar Land Skeeters. The Ducks and Skeeters have now split the past six matchups. With Tuesday night’s loss, the Ducks are now 9-17 all-time in road playoff games, while posting a stellar 20-10 record at the Duck Pond. In the 2012 Atlantic League Championship, Long Island trailed 1-0 on the road against Lancaster and stormed all the way back for the 3-2 series victory.

GAME ONE RESULT: The Skeeters scored six early runs and kept the Ducks’ offense quiet in a 7-1 win in Game One of the Atlantic League Championship Series.

Long Island starter Bobby Blevins allowed two runs in the bottom of the first inning. Delwyn Young and Lance Zawadski teamed up for back-to-back run-scoring singles, doing damage with two outs. Lew Ford scored on a double play ball in the top of the second inning, cutting the Long Island deficit to one run.

However, the Skeeters slammed a pair of two-run home runs off Blevins in the fourth. Juan Martinez and Jeremy Barfield extended the lead to 6-1. Martinez later added a run-scoring single in the seventh against Long Island reliever Daniel Herrera, capping the lead at six runs.

Sugar Land starter Jake Hale fired six strong innings of one-run ball, yielding seven hits and a walk with four strikeouts for the win. Blevins took the loss, surrendering six runs on nine hits and a walk, striking out one over four innings.

Tyler Colvin and Cody Puckett each had a pair of hits for the Ducks.

ON THE MOUND: Matt Larkins takes the baseball for the fourth time in a Long Island uniform. The native Australian lost Game Two of the Liberty Division Championship Series. Larkins surrendered five runs on seven hits, losing his first game as a Duck. The 27-year-old pitched stellar baseball his first two outing with the Ducks. In a pair of games against the York Revolution, Larkins allowed just five earned runs over 14 innings, an ERA of 3.21. He fanned 10 and walked just three over those two starts. Wednesday marks his first meeting with Sugar Land.

Michael Nix makes his seventh start with the Skeeters. Nix spent the majority of the season in the Mexican League, appearing in 107 innings split between Saltillo and Aquascalientes, posting a 7-8 record and an ERA of 5.38. Since returning to the Atlantic League, the Georgia native has posted a 2-1 record and 3.12 earned run average with Sugar Land. The 6-foot-5 245-pound right-hander beat Long Island in his first start back with the Skeeters on August 21. In an 11-1 win, Nix fired six innings of one-run ball, yielding five hits and a walk with six strikeouts.

FOLLOW ALONG:  Fans can watch live via the Ducks’ official YouTube channel. Streaming video and audio will be available online below. In addition to updates in this post, fans can follow a pitch-by-pitch account of tonight’s game via Pointstreak’s Game Live application by CLICKING HERE.

DUCKS GAME NOTES: For tonight’s full Ducks game notes, please CLICK HERE. For a look at Long Island’s all-time playoff history, please CLICK HERE.

#23 Fehlandt Lentini – RF
#12 Dan Lyons – SS
#5 Delta Cleary Jr. – CF
#20 Lew Ford – DH
#2 Cody Puckett – 3B
#15 Ruben Gotay – 2B
#32 Tyler Colvin – 1B
#29 Mike Dowd – C
#27 Anthony Vega – LF

#44 Matt Larkins – RHP

#7   Josh Prince – 2B
#9   Rene Tosoni – CF
#29 Jeremy Barfield – RF
#16 Travis Scott – DH
#24 Delwyn Young – 1B
#14 Lance Zawadzki – SS
#5   Wilfredo Rodriguez – C
#26 Jeff Dominguez – LF
#10 Juan Martinez – 3B

#31 Michael Nix – RHP

UPDATE (7:20): BOT 1: Dan Lyons makes a fabulous leaping catch on a liner by Jeremy Barfield & throws out Josh Prince at first for the double play!

UPDATE (7:49): END 3: Three scoreless innings thus far for Matt Larkins and Michael Nix. Ducks have three hits while the Skeeters have one.

UPDATE (8:18): END 5: Both pitchers still in control after five. Larkins has struck out two & has allowed two hits. Nix has given up three hits & a walk.

UPDATE (8:54): BOT 6: Travis Scott hits the first pitch he sees over the wall in right for a two-out, two-run home run. Sugar Land goes in front 2-0.

UPDATE (9:15): END 8: Back-to-back scoreless innings of relief for Zac Treece and Amalio Diaz! Onto the ninth, with the Ducks looking to rally.

UPDATE (9:24): FINAL: The Skeeters take Game Two 2-0 and now lead the ALCS two games to none. Series shifts back to Long Island for Game Three on Friday.

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