Just like Matt Brazis was named the Seattle Mariners’ relief pitcher of the year, two former Valley Leaguers have been named Los Angeles Angels organization all-stars by milb.com.
Utility player — Sherman Johnson, Inland Empire (136 games): When (Inland Empire manager Denny) Hocking noted in Spring Training that Johnson would be on his roster, he was excited, not just because of Johnson’s baseball prowess but also because of the role model the 24-year-old would be.
On the diamond, Johnson ranked third in the system with 78 RBIs and fourth with 17 homers and 26 steals. The Florida State product provided plenty of flexibility on the lineup card, playing four positions.
“He doesn’t make a lot of mistakes between his ears out there,” (Director of player development Bobby) Scales said. “We’re all going to make mistakes, but very rarely is he not in the correct position; very rarely is he not in the right place on the baseball field.”
The second player is Drew Rucinski (Luray 2009-10), who was named the right-handed starter of the year! Here’s his writeup:
Right-handed starter — Drew Rucinski, Arkansas (26 games), Los Angeles (three games):Since returning from a stint in independent ball last year, the 25-year-old has been a dominant starter for the Angels. He ranked second in the system this season with 140 strikeouts and fourth with 10 wins.
“The work ethic this young man has is unmatched by anybody in our organization. He truly is an absolute warrior when it comes to preparation and not just physically but mentally,” Scales said. “He knows exactly who he is on the mound — he doesn’t try to do anything but what he knows he can do. When he goes out, he will absolutely battle you like he’s in a street fight, as long as he has the ball and he’s on the mound.”
The Angels’ No. 20 prospect notched a 3.15 ERA with the Travelers, then made his first trip to the Majors, where he allowed four runs on nine hits with eight strikeouts over 7 1/3 innings.
I think I’ll have to post some more on Drew at some point, because he’s lived a fascinating story so far. He was undrafted out of Ohio State, signed as a free agent by the Indians, released, threw in Indy ball, signed by the Angels, and then dominated Double-A and made his major league debut!
Congratulations to both!