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 weeks have come and gone, and fans have had their say on who should represent the catcher and first baseman positions on the 20th Anniversary Team. With hundreds of ballots being cast each week, those voting have shown that it hasn’t been easy determining a clear cut winner at each position. Now, we move on to the first of our two middle infielder positions with the second basemen. This week’s candidates feature a trio of different experiences with the Flock. One spent eight seasons with the club, another donned a Ducks uniform for three years and the third has only played one year on Long Island. However, all three certainly have made strong cases for their spot among this exclusive group. Here are the nominees:
The first three seasons of Ducks baseball saw Adonis Harrison man second base primarily. In those three seasons, the California native made a big impact in helping the franchise get off to a strong start. The 2000 season saw him play 87 games with Long Island and register 97 hits, totaling a .307 batting average and a .379 on-base percentage by season’s end. After helping the Ducks to an 82-58 record that still stands as the best regular season in team history, he followed that up by increasing his playing time in 2001 to 110 games. Harrison posted a 100-hit season and played a superb second base as well. Following his final year with the Ducks in 2002, the former Seattle Mariners draft pick had totaled 271 games with the Flock, a .286 batting average, 102 RBIs, 156 runs scored, 36 doubles and 55 stolen bases. Harrison would play four more seasons of professional baseball before retiring, including time in the Angels and Rockies organizations.
Our second nominee’s resume certainly speaks for itself. Ray Navarrete, who played multiple positions throughout his Ducks career but spent the most time at second base, enjoyed an eight-year stint on Long Island. In that time, he earned five Atlantic League All-Star Game selections and a host of other accolades. He became the first player in franchise history to be named Atlantic League Player of the Year in 2009. He set the league record for doubles in a single season with 50 in 2012. Navarrete slugged 25 or more home runs, totaled 90 or more RBIs, and scored 100 or more runs in three seasons apiece. By the end of his time with the Ducks, he had set franchise records in hits (963), home runs (137), RBIs (548), runs scored (599), doubles (245) and games played (863), though that last one has since been surpassed by Dan Lyons. Navarrete’s career ended with him being carried on the shoulders of his teammates after winning the second of back-to-back Atlantic League championships, after he went the six previous seasons without a title despite reaching the playoffs in five of them. He then was bestowed with the greatest honor any player can receive from a team, as he had his #16 jersey retired in a pre-game ceremony, fittingly on the 16th of August in 2015.
Our final candidate has just one season of experience with the Ducks, but the amount of honores accrued in that single campaign certainly make him worthy for this spot. Jordany Valdespin joined the Ducks in 2018 following a four-year MLB career, two of which were spent nearby in Flushing with the Mets. He came out of the gates swinging a hot bat, launching the team’s first home run of the year and earning Atlantic League Player of the Month honors for April/May after leading the league in hits (45), runs (29), total bases (73), extra-base hits (17), and at bats (131). Valdespin represented the Ducks at the Atlantic League All-Star Game, played on Long Island, and proved to be a consistent offensive force throughout the 126-game regular season. The Dominican Republic native ended the year with league-best totals in hits (154), runs scored (94), and triples (7) while ranking second in batting average (.3377), just .0007 behind the league leader. After helping lead the Ducks to a third consecutive Liberty Division Championship, Valdespin became the third player in team history to be named the Atlantic League Player of the Year. He also was chosen as the first Ducks player ever to win Baseball America’s Independent Leagues Player of the Year award.
Three candidates with three outstanding cases, but only one can garner the second base spot on the 20th Anniversary Team. Cast your vote from now through Thursday, December 27th by clicking the button allow. Fans can vote as many time as they would like, but you can only choose one candidate. 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 reveal our three nominees for the shortstop position.