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Mat-Su Miners create all-decade team

on May 04, 2013
Mat-Su Miners create all-decade team

Posted: Saturday, April 27, 2013 10:17 pm

PALMER — There was a time when Pete Scott hardly followed baseball at all. Now the Valley man is among the biggest fans of the Mat-Su Miners, and for home games at Hermon Brothers Field, he can always be found in his spot; high up the bleachers along the third base line.

Earlier this year, Scott was one of a handful of Miners fans brought together by Mat-Su general manager Pete Christopher to put together the Miners’ first all-decade team.

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Christopher, in his 11th year as the general manager of the Valley-based Alaska Baseball League organization, wanted to create a new tradition for the team, while recognizing some of the top talent to wear the Miners’ green and gold from 2000 through 2009.

To help chose the team, Christopher brought together a select panel that included Scott, Chuck Griffin, Erwin Easter and Frontiersman sports editor Jeremiah Bartz.

“I thought it was great,” Scott said of the all-decade team. “The players that come up here, they might not go on to the next level. This might be a highlight for some of them, playing in the ABL. I think it’s a great experience for somebody.”

For Christopher and the Miners fans, it was also designed as a way to help pay back a group of Miners who provided so many memories and moments for local baseball fans. Scott his time as a regular fan at Hermon Brothers came just about the time Christopher took over as general manager in 2003.

“Since the Christophers took over, there’s more of a family atmosphere. It’s a real community event. Every home game, to draw that many people to anything in the Valley is a huge success, whether it’s a concert or a sporting event. They do it consistently,” Scott said. “I wasn’t really a baseball fan to begin with. I was more of a football and basketball fan.”

Scott said when he started going to Miners games, he could tell it was something special.

“It’s like the basketball shootout,” Scott said, referring to UAA’s Great Alaska Shootout. “You could tell immediately these guys are on a different level. It’s the same with the ABL.”

Griffin has been a regular at Hermon Brothers and a staunch supporter of the team, since the first days of ABL baseball in the Valley. Griffin said at one point, former Miners general manager Stan Zaborac had put together his all-time team, but this is the first time someone has put together an official all-decade list.

A great decade, in which the Miners won three ABL titles and finished with 20 or more wins for six straight years, produced a myriad of Miners talent for the committee to choose from.

“There were some great clubs in there,” Griffin said.

When thinking of the Miners and the decade, Griffin said pitchers are among the first players to come to mind, one season in particular.

“The pitching we had in 2004,” Griffin said.

Mat-Su won an ABL title in 2004, and finished runner-up in the National Baseball Congress World Series in Wichita, Kan. A big part of the Miners’ success was due to a pitching staff that included San Joaquin Delta Community College right-hander Chris Malone, North Carolina-Greensboro right-hander Chris Mason and Stanford righty Jeff Gilmore.

All three were selected by the committee and placed on the all-decade team.

“Gilmore stands out. He gave you something on the mound every time. That was almost a given,” Griffin said. “Mason impressed me. Malone was kind of a silent killer out there.”

Mason finished the summer 7-1 with a 2.09 earned run average, while Malone was 6-0 with a 1.99 ERA. Both fanned 56 hitters. Malone tossed a no-hitter during a win over the Alaska Goldpanners.

Gilmore posted a 0.67 ERA in 27 innings of work. He was 3-1 with 40 strikeouts.

Scott said Lehigh catcher Matt McBride, who is currently in the Colorado Rockies organization, was among the first players he thought of.

“He’s the best catcher I’ve seen up here,” Scott said.

McBride, Mason, Malone and Gilmore are among 20 players and a manager selected to the all-decade team. Four honorable mentions were also named.

Baylor lefthander Josh Scott (2000), Washington right-hander Jason Erickson (2007, 2008) and Washington State lefty David Stilley (2009) were named all-decade starter pitchers, along with Mason and Malone.

Erickson made a combined 15 starts during his two summers in Palmer. In 2007, the Washington product was 3-3 with a 1.56 ERA in 52 innings. The following summer, Erickson was 7-1 with a 2.62 ERA in 48 innings.

Stilley was 4-1 with 43 strikeouts and a 1.95 ERA during eight starts in 2009. Scott was 5-1 with a 1.41 ERA in 2000.

Gilmore, California right-hander Alex Trafton (2005), College of Charleston righty Josh McLaughlin (2005), Oklahoma right-hander Michael Rocha (2008) and San Diego Mesa Community College southpaw Max Peterson (2007, 2008) were named all-decade relief pitchers.

The 2005 pitching staff included a pair of Major Leaguers (Marc Rzepczynski and BJ Rosenburg), but McLaughlin and Trafton were among the standouts that summer. McLaughlin finished with an impressive 11 saves for the 28-win Miners. He also had 33 strikeouts in 22 innings. Trafton was 5-1 with a 1.72 ERA. Trafton made one start, but the majority of his 36.67 innings came out of the bullpen.

Rocha and Peterson both pitched for the Miners in 2008. Rocha led the Miners with five saves, and was 3-0 with a 0.32 ERA in 29.33 innings. Peterson was 3-2 in 35 innings. He fanned 32 hitters in 2008.

In 2007, Peterson was 5-0 with a 1.31 ERA in 34 innings.

McBride, Northern Illinois first baseman Scott Simon (2004), Louisville second baseman Nick Haley (2005), Central Florida third baseman Shane Brown (2009) and Stanford shortstop Tobin Swope (2002) make up the all-decade infield.

McBride and Haley were both on the 2005 squad. Haley led the team in batting average (.329), runs (29) and hits (51). McBride hit .283 with 43 hits, 11 doubles and 21 RBI.

Simon was the top hitter for the ABL champs in 2004, finishing with a .323 batting average. He also led the team with 53 hits, and finished with 18 runs and 29 RBI.

Brown hit .284 with 27 runs and 25 RBI in 2009. Swope was second on the team with a .330 average in 2002.

Blake Gill led the team with a .336 average in 2002, and was named to the all-decade team as a utility player.

Mat-Su’s all-decade outfield includes Florida State left fielder James Ramsey (2009), UC-Riverside centerfielder Brett Bigler (2004, 2005) and Stanford right fielder Michael Taylor (2005).

Ramsey, a first-round draft choice of the St. Louis Cardinals in 2012, helped Mat-Su win the ABL crown in 2009.

Ramsey hit .314 with 43 hits, 14 doubles, 25 runs and 26 RBI.

Bigler scored 26 runs and stole 14 bases in 2004. The following summer, Bigler added 29 runs and 13 stolen bases. He also hit .282 in 2005, and collected 46 hits.

Taylor, a highly-touted Stanford product, led the ABL with 25 stolen bases in 2005. Taylor also hit .317, scored 20 runs and drove in 25.

DJ Gentile, who hit .345 in 2009, was named the all-decade designated hitter.

Jeff Pritchard was named all-decade manager, for leading his team to an ABL title in 2007.

Lehigh outfielder Joe Ercolano (2006, 2007), Notre Dame utility player Matt Bransfield (2005), Long Beach State lefty Abe Alvarez (2001) and UC-Davis right-hander Luke Steidmayer (2000, 2001) were named honorable mentions.


Mat-Su Miners All-Decade Team


Position    Player    School    Year

Catcher    Matt McBride    Lehigh    2005

First base    Scott Simon    Northern Illinois    2004

Second base    Nick Haley    Louisville    2005

Third base    Shane Brown    Cen. Florida    2009

Shortstop    Tobin Swope    Stanford    2002

Left field    James Ramsey    Florida State    2009

Centerfield    Brett Bigler    UC Riverside    2004-05

Right field    Michael Taylor    Stanford    2005

DH    DJ Gentile    Cal Poly    2008-09

Utility player    Blake Gill    Louisiana State    2002

Starting pitcher    Josh Scott    Baylor    2000

Starting pitcher    Chris Malone    San Joaquin CC    2004

Starting pitcher    Chris Mason    NC-Greensboro    2004

Starting pitcher    Jason Erickson    Washington    2007-08

Starting pitcher    David Stilley    Washington State    2009

Relief pitcher    Josh McLaughlin    Co. of Charleston    2005

Relief pitcher    Alex Trafton    California    2005

Relief pitcher    Jeff Gilmore    Stanford    2003-04

Relief pitcher    Michael Rocha    Oklahoma    2008

Relief pitcher    Max Peterson    San Diego Mesa CC    2007-08

Head coach    Jeff Pritchard    Santa Clara    2007

Honorable mention

Outfield    Joe Ercolano    Lehigh    2006-07

Utility    Matt Bransfield    Notre Dame    2005

Pitcher    Abe Alvarez    Long Beach State    2001

Pitcher    Luke Steidlmayer    UC-Davis    2000-01

** Miners All-Decade Team chosen by a committee, which included Erwin Easter, Pete Scott, Chuck Griffin, Miners general manager Pete Christopher and Frontiersman sports editor Jeremiah Bartz.

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