20th Anniversary Team Voting – Right-Handed Reliever
19 seasons of Long Island Ducks baseball have come and gone. Players from all around the world and of all varieties of baseball experience have worn the Ducks uniform since the first pitch on April 28, 2000. In that time, they have played in front of nearly 8 million fans in Central Islip, and millions more around the rest of the country. Those players and coaches have also earned three Atlantic League Championships, seven Division Championships, 13 half-season Division Championships and over 1,300 victories. As the Ducks 20th Anniversary Season, presented by Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center, approaches, it is time to determine which members of the Flock have stood above the rest.
The starting rotation is now set for our 20th Anniversary Team after thousands of fans voted over the past five weeks for starters over different eras of Ducks baseball. With five outstanding starters locked in, it’s time to shift gears towards the bullpen. The Ducks have enlisted many strong arms into their relief corps since beginning play in 2000, with many being vital parts to long postseason runs. Over the next three weeks, we’ll add three different relievers to this exclusive team: a right-hander, a left-hander and a closer. We’ll begin with the righties this week, and this trio of candidates includes an Atlantic League veteran, a former Major Leaguer and a set-up man that pitched in two Atlantic League Championship Series. Let’s take a look at the nominees:
Our first reliever in this week’s voting had already established himself as a top bullpen arm in the Atlantic League before joining the Ducks. Ben Grezlovski had turned in back-to-back impressive seasons out of the bullpen for the Atlantic City Surf in 2005 and 2006 before he was signed by the Ducks in 2007. His success continued with the Flock, as he posted a 7-2 record with a 3.39 ERA in 61 innings of relief. His 58 appearances were the second-most in the Atlantic League, trailing only teammate Danny Graves’ 62. The former Angels draft pick was selected to play in the Atlantic League All-Star Game for his efforts. Grezlovski returned to Long Island in 2008 and made 67 more appearances, a total which led the league and still stands to this day as a franchise single-season record. He finished the year 6-2 with a 3.70 ERA and struck out 69 batters over 87.2 innings of work. In both seasons with the Ducks, the Michigan native helped lead the team into the postseason. Grezlovski went on to spend two more seasons in the ALPB with the Somerset Patriots before retiring after 2011.
The only ex-Major Leaguer among this week’s nominees is Jeremy Hill. The righty spent two seasons with the Ducks, leading Long Island to a Championship Series appearance in 2011 and then to the Atlantic League title in 2012. In that time, he compiled a record of 13-9 with a 3.20 ERA and 97 strikeouts over 135 innings of work. The former Kansas City Royals reliever was lights-out during the 2011 campaign, going 8-2 with a 2.91 ERA in 48 games, a total which ranked third among Ducks relievers. One year later, he earned an All-Star Game selection and made 63 relief appearances, which was tops among Ducks pitchers and second in the Atlantic League behind only York’s Adam Thomas (67). The Dallas native combined that with a 3.49 ERA and 49 strikeouts over 67 innings of work. Hill added seven postseason appearances to his resume with the Ducks before retiring following the end of the 2012 season.
Our final nominee for the position was a vital piece of Long Island’s bullpen for three seasons (2015-17). Amalio Diaz, who quickly became a fan favorite with the Ducks, appeared in 169 games as a member of the Flock, all out of the bullpen. He posted an ERA under 3.00 in each season, compiling a 2.39 ERA overall. Though not primarily the closer, he filled in well when needed to jump in the role and recorded 34 saves over those three seasons. The Arizona resident also induced a lot of swings and misses, totaling 204 strikeouts and walking only 49 batters over 166 innings of work. Diaz represented the Ducks at the 2017 Atlantic League All-Star Game in Somerset, though he very well could have been an All-Star all three seasons. Long Island reached the playoffs in each of Amalio’s three seasons with the team, and he combined to appear in nine postseason games. His totals? Nine and one-third innings, five hits, no runs, two walks, 11 strikeouts.
The nominees have been chosen, but now it’s up to you to help pick the winner. Voting is now open for the right-handed reliever spot, so be sure to cast your ballot by clicking the button below. You can vote as many times as you’d like over the next week. The winner, along with the remainder of the 20th Anniversary Team, will be unveiled at the beginning of the 2019 season!
Be sure to check back again next week, as we’ll unveil the three nominees for our left-handed reliever spot on the 20th Anniversary Team.
Posted on March 29, 2019, in 20th Anniversary Team and tagged 20th Anniversary Season, 20th Anniversary Team, Amalio Diaz, Atlantic League, Ben Grezlovski, Bethpage Ballpark, Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center, Jeremy Hill, Long Island Ducks, Relief Pitcher, Right-Handed, Voting. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.