Kalamazoo, Mich. — Three Kalamazoo Growlers players – Ryan Lidge (Notre Dame), Troy Montgomery (Ohio State) and Ryan Smoyer (Notre Dame) – and one broadcaster – Mike Coleman – earned spots on the Northwoods League Postseason All-Star Team, which was released by the league on Sunday. Smoyer was named Co-Pitcher of the Year, and Coleman shared the honor of Play-by-Play Announcer of the Year with two other broadcasters.
Smoyer, a rising sophomore, began the year as Kalamazoo's closer but moved into the starting rotation and established a reputation as perhaps the best starting pitcher in the league. He finished the year with an 8-1 record, good for the league lead in wins, and an even 2.00 ERA. Smoyer only struck out 43 batters in 80 2/3 innings, with his fastball topping out at around 90 mph, but he almost without fault kept his pitches low in the zone and filled up the strike zone with impressive consistency. He threw seven or more innings with no runs allowed twice: Once in a 7 1/3 inning outing against the Battle Creek Bombers on July 19 and again in a complete-game shutout against the Green Bay Bullfrogs on August 1.
Montgomery, also a rising sophomore, had his season cut short by a bone bruise on his leg but was one of the best pure hitters in the league during his tenure. Batting mostly out of the leadoff spot, Montgomery hit .357 with seven doubles, four triples and three home runs, helping him post an astounding .962 OPS. Montgomery ably patrolled center field for the Growlers and sported a cannon of a throwing arm. His speed also translated to the basepaths, where he swiped 13 bases.
Lidge established himself as one of the best defensive catcher in the Northwoods League. His strong, accurate arm and quick release behin
d the plate helped him throw out 21 attempted base-stealers, which led league catchers. The rising sophomore had an inconsistent year at the plate, with his average topping out around .360 towards the end of the first half but plummeting to the .250 range in the second half, but the switch-hitting Lidge's bat was nonetheless an important part of the middle of the Growlers' order.
Coleman's smooth cadence, fact-packed broadcasts and effortless chemistry with broadcast partner Nick Tirro made him an easy choice for Broadcaster of the Year. He made sure that Growlers fans could follow along at home or on the road and keep up with the game while learning more about the wonderful game of baseball.
The list of year-end honors is available here.
The Kalamazoo Growlers are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. Playing its 21st season of summer collegiate baseball, the Northwoods League is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 18 teams, drawing significantly more fans, in a friendly ballpark experience, than any league of its kind. A valuable training ground for coaches, umpires and front office staff, more than 115 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (DET) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (CWS), Jordan Zimmermann (WAS), Curtis Granderson (NYM), Allen Craig (STL) and Ben Zobrist (TB). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League YouTube channel. For more information, visit http://www.growlersbaseball.com