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20th Anniversary Team Voting – Shortstop

Baez-Alfonzo-Lyons

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.

Two infielders down; two to go! We’ve covered the right side of the infield in our voting thus far, with the first base and second base positions being voted upon over the past two weeks, respectively. Let’s head over to the left side now and start off our fourth week of voting with the shortstop spot. The nominees for the position feature some of the most notable players to ever wear the Long Island Ducks uniform. All three account for 11 of Long Island’s 13 postseason appearances in franchise history during their time playing with the Ducks, with 2006 and 2009 being the only two seasons in which none of the three took the field with the Flock. Two of the three shortstop nominees also account for all three Ducks championships. It’s a talented trio to say the least, but it will be up to you to help decide which one gets the spot. Here are the nominees for the 20th Anniversary Team shortstop:


Kevin Baez
Kevin-Baez-20th-Voting

While Kevin Baez has become synonymous with the Ducks managerial role over the past eight years, he endeared himself to fans much earlier when he played for the orange and black. The former New York Mets infielder joined the Ducks in 2002 and proved to be a versatile option in the field. He would play second base, shortstop and third base during parts of four seasons in a Ducks uniform, though most of that time was spent at short. After playing 115 games during his first season with the Flock, Baez truly broke out in 2003. He compiled a .293 batting average and a .370 on-base percentage in 92 games that season and played well enough that the Cincinnati Reds purchased his contract during the year. Some of his signature moments with the Ducks came in 2004. He earned Atlantic League All-Star Game MVP honors that season (the final of three consecutive ALPB All-Star selections), connected for the sac fly during the famous August 9th game in Bridgeport that helped clinch the Ducks their first postseason berth ever, and was part of Long Island’s magical run to their first Atlantic League championship. After beginning the 2005 season as a player, he converted to a coaching role during the year. However, his legacy as a shortstop for the Ducks was cemented forever.


Edgardo Alfonzo
Edgardo-Alfonzo-20th-Voting

Another former New York Mets infielder is also among the nominees for the shortstop position. After enjoying a 12-year Major League career, eight of which was spent in Flushing, Edgardo Alfonzo joined the Ducks for a pair of seasons in 2007 and 2008. He played 105 games with the Ducks during the first of those two years and hit .266 with five homers, 56 RBIs, 53 runs and 23 doubles. The performance with the Flock as well as in the Venezuelan Winter League helped “Fonzie” garner an opportunity with Tigres de Quintana Roo in the Mexican League to start 2008. Following a solid season south of the border, Alfonzo returned to Long Island and continued to sizzle. In 59 games with the Ducks to end ’08, he batted .329 with eight home runs, 27 RBIs, 76 hits, 13 doubles and a .395 on-base percentage. Alfonzo, who played all four infield positions with the Flock but spent most of his time at short, was also a superb defender, combining to make just 16 errors over his two seasons with Long Island. Not to mention, the Ducks earned postseason berths in both of those years as well.


Dan Lyons
Dan-Lyons-20th-Voting

Although our third and final nominee does not have any Major League experience, he has played more games than any other player in franchise history. Dan Lyons has played 888 regular season games as a member of the Ducks, surpassing Ray Navarrete’s 863-game record this past season, a mark that had stood since he retired in 2013. The feat is even more admirable when you consider that Lyons first joined the Ducks in 2011 as a utility infielder on a team that would win more games than any other in the Atlantic League that year. However, “Shorty” greatly impressed during his 86 games that year, hitting .283 and posting a .971 fielding percentage. The Ducks made him their starting shortstop in 2012, and he proceeded to earn an Atlantic League All-Star Game selection. By season’s end, his spot in Ducks history was written in stone when he laid down a walk-off bunt single in the ninth inning of Game Five in the Atlantic League Championship Series to give the Ducks their first title since 2004. His performance in the series was worthy of earning Championship Series MVP honors. Since that point, Lyons has gone on to collect another Championship ring (2013), be named the first-ever winner of the Rawlings Gold Glove Defensive Player of the Year Award in the Atlantic League (2015) and garner two more All-Star Game nods (2015, 2016). Through eight seasons, he has totaled 40 homers, 353 RBIs, 423 runs and 755 hits. Not to mention, he has proven time and time again to be one of the top defenders in the league.


The choices have been revealed, and the time is now to vote! Simply click the button below to head to the balloting page and select your choice for the 20th Anniversary Team’s shortstop. Vote as often as you’d like over the next week, but only one candidate can be chosen when you do. The winner, along with the remainder of the 20th Anniversary Team, will be unveiled at the beginning of the 2019 season!

20th-Anniversary-Team-Voting-Button-Shortstop

Be sure to check back again next week, as we’ll reveal our three nominees for the third base position.

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Mets Come Calling for 2017 Ducks Batting Champ

Alfonzo-NYMets.jpeg

Good things often come to those who wait.

That saying could not be truer for Giovanny Alfonzo. After putting together the best season of his professional career with the Ducks in 2017, the infielder had to wait all offseason for a Major League organization to call. Fortunately, the New York Mets did just that late last week, offering him the opportunity to join the team for spring training in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

“I got a phone call from [Mets Director of Minor League Operations] Ronny Reyes, and he invited me to come to a workout/free agent tryout type of deal,” Alfonzo remarked via telephone this week. “After it was all done, nothing too much was said. Just, ‘Thanks for coming, you looked great, keep up the good work and we’ll be in contact with you if something comes up.’”

The 25-year-old was gearing up for a return to Long Island. He had already signed a contract to play a second season with the Ducks, and he was looking forward to making the trek north in approximately one month. Instead, Alfonzo needed to reverse course and head further south from his home in Tampa to earn a place in the Mets’ system.

“A few days [after the tryout], I got my Ducks uniform on and was ready to do a video to announce that I signed back with the Ducks,” Alfonzo recalled. “Right when I put on my shirt, that’s when my agent called me, and that was pretty cool.”

Alfonzo-Swing

Of all 56 players that put on the Ducks uniform in 2017, few, if any, were more deserving of this opportunity than Alfonzo. He led the team in batting average, hitting .309 over the course of 106 games during the regular season. That average was good for sixth-best in the Atlantic League. He also set career-highs in nearly every other offensive category, many by a wide margin. Yes, last year was just his third in pro ball. However, the dramatic increase in production despite playing against higher-caliber talent was certainly impressive.

“Playing in the Atlantic League, I got the experience of being a Major Leaguer in the sense that I was playing Major League Baseball,” Alfonzo opined. “Most of the pitchers from the other teams were Double-A, Triple-A or Major Leaguers. I learned a lot from the pitchers that threw against me. I’ve played at a high level, and I can say I’ve hit against big leaguers and gotten big hits against big leaguers. That’s something that I’ll use as confidence and take with me to each at-bat that I have.”

Here’s a closer look at Alfonzo’s career progression:

Statistic

2015 – Batavia (A-) 2016 – Greensboro (A)

2017 – Ducks (IND)

Batting Average

.245

.222

.309

Home Runs

0

2

4

Runs Batted In

20

14

45

Runs Scored

17

12

39

Hits

50

46

112

Doubles

6

6

17

Stolen Bases

8

3

10

Games Played

60

65

106

Along with the challenge of facing tough competition and experienced players, Alfonzo also needed to find a way to earn playing time. He came to Long Island in a utility infield role behind the likes of veterans such as Dan Lyons, Cody Puckett and Elmer Reyes. However, some key injuries among his teammates forced Alfonzo into the spotlight early.

“The week that [Nolan] Reimold went down, that was the week that I got my feet wet,” he said. “I was able to play seven days in a row. That’s when I gave myself credit for being able to play in the Atlantic League, because it is high-level baseball.”

During the week he filled in for Reimold, Alfonzo hit safely in every game and compiled a .381 batting average (8-for-21). He then proceeded to collect walk-off RBIs in back-to-back games against the rival Somerset Patriots on May 19 and 20. By the end of the month, Alfonzo became the starting third baseman after Puckett went down with a season-ending knee injury. Thanks to his previous opportunity earlier in the month, the University of Tampa alum was ready to transition seamlessly.

“I wasn’t nervous,” Alfonzo affirmed. “I didn’t stress because I already knew I could play at that level. The only thing was, instead of going all out during practice to try and get my reps to stay in shape, I had to tone it down a little bit. I just took quality [swings in] batting practice and quality ground balls to be ready for each day rather than a thousand of each. That was the only real transition I had to make.”

Alfonzo-Fielding

There were several key factors that Alfonzo was able to point to regarding what made him successful last year. One was certainly the veterans that surrounded him, both in the Ducks clubhouse and that of his opponents. He was able to work with teammates every day on improving his craft and taking his game to the next level. In addition, the experience of those he faced in the opposite dugout forced Alfonzo to prove that he belonged on the same field with such competition.

“Having Delta [Cleary Jr.], Reyes, [Ruben] Gotay, [Marc] Krauss, Quintin [Berry], [Alex] Burg and all those guys with experience that were there for the majority of the season, each one of them taught me something different,” Alfonzo reminisced.

“It was just little things that we worked on throughout the entire season. A lot of it was mental and just not letting the game get to you. Just playing the game. I think that’s the reason why I had such great success.”

Alfonzo-Berry

Along with those playing the game in the Atlantic League, Alfonzo was also able to enjoy some tutelage from another MLB veteran. That person just so happened to be his uncle, too. Former Ducks infielder Edgardo Alfonzo, who played 12 seasons in the big leagues, including eight with the New York Mets, worked with his nephew every day. Edgardo was in his first year managing the Brooklyn Cyclones, a Single-A affiliate of the Mets, and was able to watch Gio play and work with him when not on the job.

“I lived with [my uncle] last year, and he got to experience the season that I had with the Ducks every day,” Gio recalled. “Before I went to the stadium, we would watch my at-bats from the night before, or he’d talk to me about what I did the night before and how I feel.”

Now that 2017 is in his rearview mirror, Alfonzo is focused on what 2018 can bring. His ultimate destination at the culmination of spring training is unknown, as he will need to prove he belongs in the organization. However, he is not worried about what league or what city he might be playing in. He simply is looking for carpe diem; to seize the day.

“Basically it’s just ‘earn a spot,’” Alfonzo noted. “It’s a clean slate for spring training just like how it was when I was with the Marlins. Any player that goes through spring training with an affiliate knows everybody has to earn their spot for that season. They’re giving me an opportunity to prove what I have.”

Alfonzo-Patriotic

Everyone, including his teammates, coaches and fans on Long Island, will be rooting for the popular infielder in his new opportunity with the Mets. They all want to see him playing under the lights at Citi Field one day. If the road leads him there, mission accomplished. Should it bring him back to Long Island, Alfonzo would welcome a return with open arms.

“That was a conversation I had with [Ducks President/GM Michael] Pfaff when I found out the Mets were bringing me to spring training,” he detailed. “I wanted to make sure that I was still a Duck regardless of what happened. He said, ‘D4L man, Duck for Life.’ If things happen, I’ll be coming back up there and playing for the remainder of the season whenever that time comes. I’ll always be a Long Island Duck, and I had the best time of my life last year. I’m going to miss those fans the most.”

Those same fans will certainly miss him. However, you can bet they will be following along, even if it’s from a thousand miles away.

Alumni Continue to Highlight Coaching Ranks

As the calendar now officially reads “2017,” the thoughts of baseball and freshly cut grass are beginning to seep into everyone’s minds around Bethpage Ballpark. Sure, the brand new sod that was laid down earlier this offseason may be covered by eight inches of white powder and the thermometer may read below freezing. However, we are now approximately 12 weeks away from the start of spring training, 14 weeks from the season beginning and 15 weeks from Opening Night on Long Island!

With the arrival of January, the time for teams around the Atlantic League to begin signing players for the upcoming season is just about upon us. News is sure to surface among the eight teams in the coming weeks of roster additions for 2017. Until then, there have been several recent stories about Ducks and Atlantic League alumni involved in coaching ranks around minor league baseball. Let’s take a look at who has been making headlines of late:

ALUMNI DUO TO LEAD BROOKLYN
alfonzo-ring

Local baseball fans here on Long Island will surely remember the name Edgardo Alfonzo. The 12-year Major League veteran spent eight seasons with the New York Mets, earning an All-Star selection in 2000 and helped the Mets to a National League championship later that season. He went on to play just over 1,500 games in his big league career, batting .284 with 146 home runs, 744 RBI and a .299 postseason batting average. Alfonzo would also play for three Atlantic League teams, including Bridgeport (2006), Newark (2010) and the Ducks (2007-08).

Now, the 43-year-old will be managing with the organization he’s best remembered for playing with. The Brooklyn Cyclones announced this past week that Alfonzo will serve as the team’s manager for the 2017 season. He will become the 11th man to lead the New York-Penn League franchise, taking over for the departed Tom Gamboa. Alfonzo has served on Gamboa’s coaching staff for the past three seasons and has developed a strong understanding of both the club and league. After finishing two games under .500 this past season and missing the playoffs, the club is hoping that “Fonzie” will be able to find more success this year while continuing to cultivate a youthful talent pool.

While in the Atlantic League, Alfonzo’s best moments came just down the road from his former office of Shea Stadium. The infielder combined to play 164 games with the Ducks and compiled a .289 batting average with 13 home runs, 83 RBI, 90 runs and 36 doubles. He spent the entire 2007 campaign with the Flock and rejoined the team in 2008 after beginning the year with Quintana Roo in the Mexican League. In each of his two seasons, the Ducks earned postseason berths. Alfonzo would join the Atlantic League again in 2010 with the Newark Bears but hit just .154 in 26 games. He would play three more seasons of winter league baseball in Venezuela before retiring from the game.

Joining Alfonzo on the Cyclones’ staff will be former big league pitcher Royce Ring, who has been hired as Brooklyn’s pitching coach. The left-hander’s name should also ring a few bells for local baseball fans, as he spent time with both the Mets and Yankees in his career. He struggled over 15 games out of the bullpen with the Mets in 2005 but rebounded during their magical 2006 campaign by posting a 2.13 ERA in 11 games. Ring would then make stops with the Padres and Braves before joining the Yankees in 2010. However, he allowed four runs in two and one-third innings of work out of the bullpen, in what would be the final stay of his Major League career.

Ring’s name should also be familiar with Ducks fans, as he spent time on the roster during the 2013 championship season. The southpaw pitched in four games for Long Island and surrendered three runs over three and one-third innings in late May/early June. He was subsequently released and would retire a year later after becoming the pitching coach for the Mets’ rookie-level affiliate in the Gulf Coast League.

Best of luck to Edgardo and Royce in Brooklyn!

HOUSE CONTINUES TO CLIMB THE LADDER
house-leg-kick

J.R. House, whose time with Long Island was short but certainly sweet, continues to advance up the ladder in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization. The former Major League catcher has been named the manager of the Double-A Jackson Generals in the Southern League. He will have the pleasure of managing a squad that just earned the league championship a year ago, albeit while serving as an affiliate of the Seattle Mariners.

The advancement for House continues to impress since retiring from the game of baseball. After serving as a coach for two seasons in the Diamondbacks organization, he held a managerial role with the Hillsboro Hops (2014) and Visalia Rawhide (2015-16). In that time, he has compiled a record of 213-143, good for a .598 winning percentage. He led the Hops to the Northwest League championship in 2014 and earned California League Manager of the Year honors with Visalia in 2015. Although his ballclub did not bring home a title in 2016, he led them to a league-best 46-24 record in the first half and a spot in the league’s Championship Series.

House’s time with the Ducks lasted just one season, but it was one of the best offensive seasons by a catcher in team history. The West Virginia native played 113 games and batted .305 with 19 home runs, 81 RBI, 73 runs, 128 hits and 22 doubles. He did not commit a single error in the field, threw out 20 percent of runners attempting to steal and led the pitching staff to the best ERA in the league at 4.17. He was selected as an Atlantic League All-Star during the season and helped the Flock to their first Atlantic League Championship Series appearance since 2004.

Congratulations on the promotion, J.R.!

HOBSON HEADS TO KANE COUNTY
butch

Although he has never donned a Ducks uniform, fans that have frequented Bethpage Ballpark are sure to know the name Butch Hobson. The 65-year-old has amassed more wins than any other manager in Atlantic League history and most recently served six seasons at the helm of the Lancaster Barnstormers. Despite all of his success, including a championship with Lancaster in 2014, the Barnstormers elected not to bring Hobson back following a 2016 season where they missed out on the postseason. The former big leaguer did not have to wait long though, as the Kane County Cougars have hired him to be their manager.

While it may seem large at times, the baseball world is indeed a small one. According to an article from the Chicago Tribune, Hobson reached out to good friend Buddy Bell, who is the Vice President and Assistant GM of the Chicago White Sox. The team had just signed his son, K.C., who played for his dad in Lancaster a year ago after earning Post-Season All-Star honors. Although the White Sox did not have an opening for Butch, the Diamondbacks did. Buddy’s son, Mike, who is the Vice President of Player Development with Arizona, interviewed Hobson and presented him with the job at Kane County.

We are all happy for Butch to have received an opportunity to continue managing the game he loves! However, we will certainly miss playing his favorite tune at the ballpark:

Coaching was certainly a theme today, but that is not all the news there is to share! Be sure to stay tuned to LIDucks.com and “Quack of the Bat” later this week for an announcement regarding the Ducks’ 2017 coaching staff. In addition, be sure to check out the team’s visit to A.P. Willits Elementary School in Syosset last week where a third grade student was honored as part of the TD Bank “Take a Duck to Class” essay contest. CLICK HERE to see the full story!

15th Anniversary Team: Final Vote

Opening day is upon us, Ducks fans! At long last, April 25 is finally here and the Ducks are ready to begin their quest to become the first team in Atlantic League history to win three straight league championships. While six other ALPB teams got started last night, Long Island opens up tonight in the most fitting of settings: TD Bank Ballpark in Bridgewater, N.J. It was at this very same ballpark some six-plus months ago that the Ducks hoisted the Atlantic League Championship trophy for the second consecutive year. Tonight, John Brownell, last year’s championship series MVP, toes the rubber for Long Island against Somerset Patriot righty Erik Arnesen. Coverage of tonight’s game begins at 6:50 p.m. on 103.9-FM, LI News Radio, with first pitch set for 7:05 p.m. Live streaming audio will also be available at liducks.com.

With it being Opening Day, voting for the Ducks 15th Anniversary Team concludes with the “Final Vote.” Similar to the final vote for the MLB All-Star Game, this week we are taking the second place finishers in each previous position, and pinning them against each other for one final chance to make the “Flock 15” team. Fans can vote for one player, regardless of position, to represent the final member of the 15th Anniversary Team. Here are the nominees:

J.R. House
JR House

House might have been the best hitter and one of the best all-around players Long Island has seen. While he only spent one year with the Ducks in 2011, he certainly made it count. House proved to be an iron man and a defensive stalwart, playing 113 games and not committing a single error. In addition, he threw out 20% of baserunners trying to steal and helped lead the league’s best pitching staff which posted a 4.17 ERA. Offensively though was where House truly shined. He batted .305 with 19 home runs, 81 RBI, 73 runs, 128 hits and 22 doubles. House also rarely swung and missed. His 37 strikeouts were astronomically low for any batter. Not only did he lead the Ducks to the playoffs, but he brought the team all the way to the Atlantic League Championship Series for the first time since 2004. Following the season, House retired and is about to begin his first season as a professional baseball manager, serving as the skipper for the Single-A Hillsboro Hops in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization.

Brandon Sing
Brandon-Sing

Sing, who had an outstanding year with the Bridgeport Bluefish in 2009, was able to put together another impressive season in 2012 with the Ducks and helped Long Island end an eight-year title drought. The durable Illinois native played 119 games, and while his .284 average was slightly lower than normal, he crushed 26 home runs, drove in 78 runs, scored 78 times and added 31 doubles. He would’ve led the team in two-baggers if not for Ray Navarrete’s record-setting 50 that season. Then, he put together one of the best postseasons in Ducks history,  batting .333 (13-for-39) with three home runs (all in the Liberty Division Championship Series) and eight RBI (including a game-tying single in the ninth inning of Game Two in the Atlantic League Championship Series). Sing was outstanding at the plate and provided some of the most clutch hits in franchise history. He now lives at home in Mississippi with his wife and son and provides youth baseball lessons.

Adonis Harrison
Adonis Harrison

Harrison donned a Ducks uniform for the franchise’s first three seasons (2000-02). He played 271 games in his career on Long Island, combining for a .286 batting average. While he wasn’t as much of a power threat, he drove in 102 runs and scored 156 during his tenure with the Flock. The California native also showed good speed on the basepaths, stealing 35 bases in 2000 and 17 the following year while combining for nine triples in his Ducks career. He never made more than 11 errors in a season at second base and provided some versatility as well with his ability to play well at shortstop when needed. Harrison played four more seasons of pro ball after his time on Long Island, reaching Triple-A with the Angels in 2003 and Double-A with the Rockies in 2004. He ended his career by spending two seasons with Long Beach in the Golden Baseball League.

Edgardo Alfonzo
Edgardo-Alfonzo

When Alfonzo was signed prior to the 2007 season, Ducks fans were immediately excited. “Fonzie” had spent eight years with the New York Mets, earning a Silver Slugger Award, an All-Star appearance and a National League championship in the process. After spending the previous year with the Blue Jays and Angels, he came to the Ducks looking to finish out his career in one of the most respected leagues in baseball. In two seasons on Long Island, Alfonzo batted .289 with 13 home runs, 83 RBI, 90 runs and 36 doubles in 164 games. He played solid defense at shortstop as well but also showed some versatility by spending time at second and third base too. In terms of success, Alfonzo helped the Ducks to a pair of playoff appearances, including an outstanding 72-54 record in 2007. The Venezuela native resurfaced in the Atlantic League with the Newark Bears in 2010 before deciding to retire.

Carlos Baerga
Carlos-Baerga

Prior to  joining Long Island in 2001, Carlos Baerga had already been a 10-year Major League veteran, three-time All Star (1992-93, ‘95), and two-time Silver Slugger (1993-94). After spending 2000 out of baseball, Baerga started his road back to ‘The Show’ with Long Island in 2001. Although his time with the Ducks was short, Baerga was able to use the organization (and the Atlantic League) to help reignite his career. In 53 games that season, Baerga posted a .315 batting average, nine home runs, 44 RBI and three triples. These numbers earned Baerga a selection to play in the All-Star Game held in Newark, New Jersey. The Puerto Rico native also earned himself an opportunity to play in the Korean Baseball Organization where he would further impress Major League scouts. The following season, he became the first player in franchise history to make it back to the Major Leagues after playing on Long Island when he took the field for the Boston Red Sox. Baerga would go on to play 350 games with the Red Sox, Diamondbacks and Nationals over four seasons before retiring from the game in 2005.

Joash Brodin
Joash-Brodin-Running

Unlike all of the other outfield nominees, Brodin had never played in affiliated baseball before coming to Long Island. It was not until he parlayed his impressive 2013 season with the Ducks into a contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks organization, making him the fifth Duck to be signed by an MLB team that season. Acquired by Long Island in July of 2012, Brodin made his presence known, batting .369 with seven RBI in the 2012 postseason, earning a hit in all five games during the Atlantic League Championship Series. The Washington native returned for the 2013 season and hit .307 over 106 games with 11 home runs, 48 RBI, and 14 stolen bases. That earned the College of Charlestown alum an All-Star game selection. Brodin hit .300 over 155 games in his two years with the Ducks.

Carl Everett
Carl-Everett

Arguably the most well-known name among designated hitter nominees, Everett had two monster years with Long Island. Playing in 219 games over the 2007 and 2008 seasons, Everett led all DH nominees in batting (.320) and home runs (54) while ranking second in RBI (197). The 14-year Major League veteran finished third in the league in home runs (25) and RBI (97) during his first season with the Ducks. Everett then improved on those numbers in 2008, batting .327 with 100 RBI and 29 home runs, a Ducks single-season record. The Florida native and former 10th overall pick in the 1990 draft retired from professional baseball in 2010 with 1,304 hits, 202 home runs and 792 RBI combined in the Major and Minor Leagues along with two MLB All-Star selections.

Bill Pulsipher
Bill-Pulsipher

A name that resonated well among Ducks fans, Pulsipher certainly made an impact in his time with the Flock. The former ‘Generation K’ member of the New York Mets spent parts of four seasons with the Ducks (2004-07). His first season was where the southpaw truly made made his mark. In 2004, Pulsipher started 17 games (18 appearances) and posted a 9-5 record with a 3.67 ERA. His efforts earned him an Atlantic League All-Star Game selection as well as a midseason contract with the Seattle Mariners organization. Like Davis though, Pulsipher finished the year in championship-fashion with the Ducks, leading Long Island down the stretch and in the playoffs. Overall, the six-year Major League veteran was 17-10 as a Duck with a 4.17 ERA, and the team reached the playoffs each and every one of his four years.

Mike Loree
Mike-Loree

Loree spent two seasons on Long Island (2011-12), but his first year with the Flock was without a doubt the best the franchise has ever seen. That year, the New Jersey native won a team-record 14 games while losing only five, posted a microscopic 1.98 ERA and struck out a league-leading 131 batters, which was also a Ducks record at the time. He also set a Ducks record for most strikeouts in a game with 14 on September 15 against the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs. That magical year was more than enough to earn Atlantic League Pitcher of the Year honors and the starting pitcher spot at the Atlantic League All-Star Game in York. Loree excelled in the 2011 postseason as well, leading the Ducks staff with a 2-0 record in three starts and allowing just three runs over 19 innings (1.10 ERA) with 17 strikeouts and two walks. The righty began the 2012 championship season with Long Island and made 18 starts before he was signed by the Lamigo Monkeys of the Chinese Professional Baseball League. In 42 regular season appearances (37 starts) with the Flock, Loree tallied a 19-12 record with a 3.69 ERA, and 220 strikeouts in 227.0 innings. Those wins, strikeouts and innings pitched totals led all right-handed starter nominees.

Jared Lansford
Jared-Lansford

Lansford represented the only reliever nominee that is currently on the Ducks roster. Brother of teammate Josh Lansford, Jared now enters his third season with the Flock. While his regular season numbers are impressive, it’s his postseason statistics that signify Lansford as a premier reliever in Ducks history. Over two championship runs in the postseason, the California native is 3-0 and has allowed just one run over 12 and one-third innings of work (0.73 ERA). In addition, Lansford has 13 strikeouts compared to just nine hits and one walk in 11 postseason appearances. During the regular season, Lansford is a combined 5-3 with a 3.61 ERA, nine saves and 88 strikeouts in 94 games (104 and two-thirds innings pitched). That includes a 2.98 ERA over 54 and one-third innings of work in 2012 and an All-Star Game selection in 2013.

Leo Rosales
Leo-Rosales-Dealing

Rosales was the only closer nominee that is currently on the Ducks active roster and has been a part of back-to-back championship teams on Long Island. He came to the Ducks in a late-season trade during the 2012 season and immediately filled a closer role the team needed. After tossing three scoreless innings in the regular season, he pitched six more games in the postseason, earning saves in all three victories over Southern Maryland in the Liberty Division Championship Series. The righty went on to earn the win in Game Five of the Atlantic League Championship Series to clinch the Ducks first title since 2004. The Los Angeles native returned again in 2013 and put together an All-Star season, going 2-2 with a 2.34 ERA, 18 saves and 45 strikeouts in 38 and one-third innings. He was even better in the playoffs, earning four saves total, three of which came in the ALCS against Somerset. The last of those saves came in Game Five against the Patriots to seal another championship for the Ducks.

There are your final vote nominees, Ducks fans. We understand that this is quite possibly the toughest decision yet. It is very important, however, as this will be the final player voted onto the 15th Anniversary Team. The official “Flock 15” team will be made available to fans in the Ducks Official 2014 Commemorative Yearbook at the home opener on Friday, May 2 at Bethpage Ballpark. Until then, Ducks fans; let’s play ball!

15th Anniversary Team: Shortstop

The voting treks onward for the 15th Anniversary Team as another weekend is upon us. Fans were casting their ballots in full force for the second base position, and unlike catcher and first base, the winner for this position claimed the spot by a landslide. Who that was though we cannot say just yet. You’ll have to wait until Opening Night at Bethpage Ballpark on Friday, May 2 to find out for sure.

This week, it’s onto the shortstops. This position includes four nominees, some of which are among the most recognizable names in franchise history. The man who helped the Ducks to their first Atlantic League championship makes this list as does the one who was a vital piece of Long Island’s last two titles. Add in a 12-year Major League veteran and a two-year big leaguer and you’ve got a pretty good group of talent that’s played shortstop.  Let’s take a look at the four nominees:

Dan Lyons
Dan-Lyons-Batting

In 2013, Ducks founder/CEO Frank Boulton said of Lyons, “He just has a ‘Bud Harrelson’ quality to him.” That’s the kind of high praise that the Ducks shortstop of the last three seasons has received since coming to Long Island. Originally expected to be a utility infielder, Lyons took over at shortstop when Javier Colina battled an oblique injury in 2011. From the moment he stepped on the field, he made an immediate impact in the lineup and used a combination of speed, a disciplined bat and outstanding defense to stick. Now about to enter his fourth season with the Flock, Lyons has won three Liberty Division titles and two Atlantic League championships, along with being named Championship Series MVP in 2012. That same year, he also earned the starting nod in the Atlantic League All-Star Game. From his waddle-off single to win the First Half title in 2012 to his game-winning double in Game Two of the 2012 ALCS to the “bunt heard ‘round the world” that won the title for Long Island in Game Five, he’s etched himself forever in Ducks history.

Kevin Baez
Kevin-Baez-Shortstop

Baez came to Long Island in 2002 with three years of Major League experience with the New York Mets and 14 years of professional baseball experience. For a player whose career was winding down, Baez proved to be one of the best shortstops the franchise would ever see. Defensively, he was a wizard, especially so in 2004 when he posted a .974 fielding percentage. Speaking of 2004, that season would be the most magical for the three-time Atlantic League All-Star. In the midsummer classic, he went 2-for-4 with two runs batted in and the go-ahead run in the North Division’s 10-8 win. That garnered him the All-Star Game MVP honors at Campbell’s Field in Camden, New Jersey. Two and a half months later, he would bring home the championship-series winning run when he was hit by a pitch in Game Three of Long Island’s sweep of the Riversharks. While he may now be remembered for his success as a manager of the Flock, and he’ll certainly be included in the voting for the “Flock 15” manager, the first memories of him in a Ducks uniform will be as a player.

Edgardo Alfonzo
Edgardo-Alfonzo

When Alfonzo was signed prior to the 2007 season, Ducks fans were immediately excited. “Fonzie” had spent eight years with the New York Mets, earning a Silver Slugger Award, an All-Star appearance and a National League championship in the process. After spending the previous year with the Blue Jays and Angels, he came to the Ducks looking to finish out his career in one of the most respected leagues in baseball. In two seasons on Long Island, Alfonzo batted .289 with 13 home runs, 83 RBI, 90 runs and 36 doubles in 164 games. He played solid defense at shortstop as well but also showed some versatility by spending time at second and third base too. In terms of success, Alfonzo helped the Ducks to a pair of playoff appearances, including an outstanding 72-54 record in 2007. The Venezuela native resurfaced in the Atlantic League with the Newark Bears in 2010 before deciding to retire.

Elvis Pena
Elvis-Pena

Pena spent two seasons in a Ducks uniform (2003 and 2006), earning an All-Star selection in 2003. That season was one of the best in franchise history. With Baez switching over to third base and eventually getting signed by the Reds organization, Pena posted a .316 batting average in 123 games and added eight homers, 54 RBI, 104 runs, 151 hits, 30 doubles and six triples. On the basepaths, he stole 45 bases and was caught just six times. The former big leaguer with the Rockies and Brewers had an incredible combination of an outstanding bat and blazing speed, but he also was strong defensively, posting a .967 fielding percentage at shortstop. While his success wasn’t enough for the Ducks to reach the postseason in 2003, he helped the team to the playoffs in 2006 by playing in 105 games. While his offensive numbers weren’t as strong (.255 AVG, 1 HR, 27 RBI), he still scored 63 runs, had 19 doubles and stole 38 bases. Pena spent the 2007 season in Italy before deciding to retire from baseball.

The time has come to cast your ballots Ducks fans. Which of these four candidates do you feel deserves the shortstop spot on the 15th Anniversary Team? Don’t forget, you can write in a candidate as well on the poll if you feel there is one that deserves the recognition. The infield is almost complete with just this week and next week to go. The “Flock 15” is shaping up to be full of outstanding talent, and your votes will help make it the most memorable group possible.

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