With Opening Day of their 10th season fast approaching, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs have finalized their official 10th Anniversary Team. The team consists of 13 members who were selected via 4,488 fan votes on Twitter in a process that began on Nov. 28, 2016.
Each member was selected from a field of the top four candidates at each position, as designated by IronPigs officials. Each candidate had to meet certain requirements, which included having played their listed position as a primary position for at least one season with Lehigh Valley.
The team features catcher Erik Kratz, first baseman Andy Tracy, second baseman Cesar Hernandez, third baseman Maikel Franco, shortstop Freddy Galvis, left fielder Darin Ruf, center fielder Rich Thompson, right fielder Domonic Brown, utility player Kevin Frandsen, right-handed starter Jake Thompson, left-handed starter J.A. Happ, right-handed reliever Scott Mathieson and left-handed reliever Mike Zagurski.
More information on the members, as well as a listing of the other candidates at each position, appears below:
Catcher: Erik Kratz
Erik Kratz, who represented the IronPigs on the 2011 midseason IL All-Star Team, is the franchise career leader in many offensive categories among catchers, including games (169), average (.284), home runs (26), RBI (99) and walks (66) accomplished over parts of four seasons from 2011-13, and 2015. In addition, the Telford, Pa., native appears in the IronPigs' Top-10 all-time in AVG (8th), HR (5th), RBI (10th) and BB (10th). Kratz took 68% of the total votes, beating out Andrew Knapp (28%), Jason Jaramillo (5%) and John Suomi (3%).
First Baseman: Andy Tracy
Andy Tracy is the franchise's career record holder in HR (69), RBI (261) and BB (207) as compiled over 378 games during the first three seasons of IronPigs baseball. In fact, he has 30 HR and 99 RBI more than the second-place player on those lists (Cody Overbeck). The 2009 and 2010 IL midseason All-Star is one of just two IronPigs all-time to appear in multiple "midsummer's classics" (Mike Cervenak) and is the only one to appear in a Home Run Derby (2009, 2010). Tracy took 49% of the total votes to top Darin Ruf (34%), Cody Overbeck (9%) and Russ Canzler (8%).
Second Baseman: Cesar Hernandez
Cesar Hernandez posted a .286 career average, which ranks seventh all-time. His .309 mark in 2013 stands as the second highest in single-season franchise history (Mike Cervenak '08, .311). In that season, the Venezuela native also led the IL in triples (9) while ranking third in AVG (.309) and sixth in stolen bases (32). He was named to both the 2013 IL midseason and postseason All-Star teams, making him just one of four IronPigs all-time to receive both accolades in a season. Hernandez earned 43% of total votes, edging Kevin Frandsen (40%), Tyler Henson (14%) and Josh Barfield (3%).
Shortstop: Freddy Galvis
Freddy Galvis finished his IL career with a spectacular .987 fielding percentage (seven errors in 546 total chances). In 2013, the Venezuelan committed just three errors and sported a 40-game errorless streak from June 30 to August 11. He finished the season with a .988 fielding percentage, which was best among all Triple-A shortstops with at least 27 games played in 2013. Galvis received 42% of the votes to beat out J.P. Crawford (39%), Chase d'Arnaud (13%) and Andres Blanco (6%).
Third Baseman: Maikel Franco
Maikel Franco, then just 21 years old, finished at a torrid pace in his first season in Triple-A, batting .324 with 11 HR and 47 RBI over the final 55 games of 2014. His 47 RBI led the IL during that span. By the end of the season, he was the team leader in HR (16), RBI (78), doubles (33) and total bases (223) while finishing third in the IL in RBI and extra-base hits (53) and fifth in total bases. The Dominican Republic native finished his IronPigs career ranked ninth among franchise career leaders in both HR (20) and RBI (102). Franco garnered 52% of votes to out-pace Cody Asche (32%), Mike Cervenak (13%) and Cody Ransom (3%).
Left Fielder: Darin Ruf
Darin Ruf, who played in just 95 games with the IronPigs last season, still managed to lead the IL in slugging percentage (.529) while finishing tied for fifth in HR (20), tied for 10th in RBI (65) and 11th in AVG (.294). In single-season lists, his 20 HR sit fifth and his .294 average is seventh. In all-time career IronPigs ranks, the Omaha native places fourth in HR (28), fifth in RBI (127) and 10th in AVG (.280). Ruf took 48% of the total votes to defeat Brandon Moss (25%), Nick Williams (21%) and Leandro Castro (6%).
Center Fielder: Rich Thompson
Rich Thompson is the all-time franchise leader in games played (469), hits (452), doubles (83), triples (26), runs (244) and stolen bases (134). In addition, the Reading, Pa., native also established single-season records -- and led the IL -- in both runs (81) and stolen bases (48) during the 2011 campaign in which the IronPigs made their only all-time appearance in the Governors Cup. In fact, his 48 stolen bases were most by a Phillies' Triple-A player in 30 years, since Bob Dernier's 72 swipes in 1981 with Oklahoma City. Thompson held 56% of the vote over Cam Perkins (28%), Brian Bogusevic (11%) and Brandon Watson (5%).
Right Fielder: Domonic Brown
Domonic Brown hit safely in 24 of the 28 games he played in to begin his IronPigs career in June of 2010. After a stint with the Phillies, he returned to Lehigh Valley in May 2011 and picked up right where he left off. By August 1st, he extended his string to hitting safely in 38 of his first 42 career games in the IL, and posted a franchise-record, 21-game hitting streak (.364-2-15) that survived an offseason and three promotions. The Stone Mountain, Ga. native also appears on many of the franchise career leaderboards, including fifth in stolen bases (31), ninth in walks (67) and 10th in AVG (.281). In the tightest vote of the process, Brown (43%) edged John Mayberry Jr. (41%), Steve Susdorf (14%) and Jon Knott (2%).
Utility: Kevin Frandsen
Kevin Frandsen spent time at all four infield positions in each of his two years with Lehigh Valley, and currently ranks second all-time in career AVG (.302) and 10th in hits (204). In 2011, the San Jose, Calif., native set a franchise record with seven straight multi-hit games and later provided the game-winning RBI in both Game One and Game Three of the first-round playoff sweep over Pawtucket. Kevin Frandsen (52%) won the nomination over Mike Cevenak (21%), Tyler Henson (17%) and Russ Canzler (10%).
Right-handed Starter: Jake Thompson
Jake Thompson won the 2016 IL Pitcher of the Year by going 11-5 with a 2.50 ERA in 21 starts while recording 87 strikeouts in 129 2/3 innings. He nearly broke both the team single-season wins record (12) and ERA mark (2.35) before his promoted to Philadelphia on August 6th. For the season, his 2.50 ERA was good enough to lead all of Triple-A baseball and to tie him for the franchise career-record with Brian Gordon (2010-11). The Dallas native was in a five-way-tie for most wins in the IL and finished with the second-best WHIP (1.10) in the league behind teammate Ben Lively (0.93). Thompson earned 36% of the votes to beat out David Buchanan (25%), Tyler Cloyd (23%) and Drew Carpenter (14%).
Left-handed Starter: J.A. Happ
J.A. Happ, who won the 2008 Paul Owens Award as the best pitcher in the Phillies system, started the franchise's first-ever game on April 3, 2008 (a 4-0 loss to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre). He went on to rack up 151 strikeouts in 2008, to finish second in the IL and set a franchise single-season record, which still stands. Among starters, the Peru, Ill., native also posted the highest strikeouts-per-nine-innings-pitched ratio in all of Triple-A baseball at 9.77 (139 SO; 128 IP). Happ (85%) dominated the field that also featured Anthony Vasquez (7%), Brian Mazone (6%) and Greg Smith (2%).
Right-handed Reliever: Scott Mathieson
Scott Mathieson holds the single-season records for games pitched (54) and saves (26) in his two years with the IronPigs (2010-11). The Vancouver native is also listed on the all-time career list in multiple categories: ERA (fifth, 3.07), games pitched (seventh, 84), saves (second, 31) and strikeouts (ninth, 166). Mathieson recorded 75% of the votes to surge past Luis Garcia (11%), Michael Schwimer (8%) and Phillippe Aumont (6%).
Left-handed Reliever: Mike Zagurski
Mike Zagurski was a key component of the IronPigs postseason appearance in 2011, as the southpaw went 4-0 with a 2.65 ERA in 54 1/3 IP over 46 games. He also notched 11 saves in 2011, which is tied for eighth on the all-time single-season Top-10 list, and nine holds, which sits in fifth place. The Omaha native also ranks third on the single-season list for most games pitched (52) in 2010. He lists among the best in multiple career ranks, as well, including games (third, 98), saves (ninth, 14) and holds (second, 20). Zagurski (41%) slipped past Jake Diekman (36%), Cesar Jimenez (11%) and Adam Loewen (12%).
The IronPigs' 10th anniversary season begins on Thursday, April 6th, at 7:05 p.m. against the Pawtucket Red Sox and is highlighted by 33 weekend games, home dates on numerous holidays including Mother's Day, Father's Day, Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend as well as a franchise-record 19 home games against either the Yankees or Red Sox Triple-A affiliate.