Like last season, pitching was the key to the Elizabethton success. Three of the top five in innings pitched were from E-Town, and they had the best closer in the league to go along with their stellar starting rotation. The bats were no slouch either, as Danny Valencia, Garrett Olson, and Danny Santiesteban put up some great numbers for the Elizabethton offense.
Batter of the Year: The award goes to Danny Valencia, who hit the ball hard after being signed out of the University of Miami. Valencia was the only Elizabethton Twin position player to be named to the league's post-season all-star team, and his .311 batting average was a main reason why. He also blasted eight home runs for the Twins, while batting at a .364 clip during the playoffs. His batting average was the ninth best mark in the league, and his home run total was good enough for fourth.
Pitcher of the Year: The Twins most valuable pitcher award could have went to a number of pitchers, but we give the nod to Jose Lugo. After being demoted from Low-A Beloit, Lugo went on to anchor the best starting rotation in the Appalachian League, leading the league with eight wins. He also finished second in the league in innings pitched (73.1), and he posted a respectable 3.56 earned run average. Lugo also notched 70 strikeouts on the season, which was good enough for fourth in the league.
Prospect Plus: The Twins had another successful draft, and it showed in the success of the Elizabethton Twins. Some notable 2006 draft choices who made an impact for the Twins were Valencia, Garrett Olson, Steven Singleton, and Sean Land to name a few. The E-Town Twins also had Santiesteban in their lineup, and he proved once again why he is considered one of the top-25 prospects in the Twins organization. 2005 first round choice Henry Sanchez also made 12 starts for the Elizabethton Twins, though he had his second consecutive lackluster season. Most of these players will make the jump to full-season baseball in 2007, and they should be able to lead the Beloit Snappers, or the Fort Myers Miracle back into the playoffs.
League Leaders: Offensively, Olson's .313 batting average was the eighth best in the season, which was one notch better than Valencia's .311 mark. Steven Singleton blasted five triples, giving him the fifth highest total in the Apply League.
We touched on pitching earlier, as Jose Lugo (73.1), Alex Burnett (71.1), and Jose Castillo (71.0), finished second, fourth, and fifth in the league in innings pitched respectively. Closer Danny Hernandez led the league in both games (28), and saves (18), while Lugo led the league with eight wins. Castillo's 3.17 earned run average was the ninth lowest total in the league, while Burnett (71), and Lugo (70), finished third and fourth in the league in strikeouts respectively.
Overall, the Twins finished the season with the fifth best team batting average (.256), and the league's ninth-worst earned run average (4.26). Those stats can be deceiving, as the staff ate up innings all season long, and were sometimes victimized by some shoddy bullpen help. Still it has to be considered a great season for Manager Ray Smith, who won his 500th game earlier in the year. The goal for 2007 is to once again make it to the Apply League championship, and hopefully win for the second time in three years.