MoonDogs Prominent in Postseason Awards
Mankato, Minn. – The Northwoods League announced their 2011 Postseason All-Star Team and award winners on Saturday afternoon. MoonDogs outfielder Shaun Cooper (Utah) was named the Northwoods League Most Valuable Player and starting pitcher Blake Schwartz (Minnesota St.-Mankato) was named the Pitcher of the Year. MoonDogs assistant coach Jason Ramos (Seminole St.) was named Coach of the Year, and MoonDogs broadcaster J.J. Hartigan was named Co-Play-by-Play Announcer of the Year.
With the MVP award, Cooper caps off a record breaking season with the MoonDogs. Cooper is hitting .336 this season and had been vying for the Triple Crown award for most of the season. Cooper will end the season leading the Northwoods League in home runs and RBIs. He broke the 16 year old home run record this season by hitting 20 home runs, he surpassed Jason Washam (Rochester ’94) who set the record in the league’s inaugural season. He has also set the MoonDogs single-season record for RBIs (61), runs (55), and triples (4). Cooper also has 15 stolen bases in 16 attempts, which ranks him second in the league in stolen base percentage (.938). In the Northwoods League, Cooper is second in runs, third in hits (78) first in total bases (158), extra-base hits (36) and slugging percentage (.672). Cooper said the biggest factor contributing to his success has been focusing on the mental aspect of his at-bats and not letting a bad at-bat or bad game get in his way. "At the beginning of the season I was just looking for fastballs to hit hard, and now I know pitchers might pitch differently to me, give me a first pitch curveball and just pitch to me differently”.
Blake Schwartz also brings the Northwoods League Pitcher of the Year award to Mankato. Schwartz leads the NWL with a 1.71 ERA in 63 innings pitched. He has an outstanding strikeout-to-walk ratio (5:1), with 75 strikeouts and only 15 walks. Schwartz was also the starting and winning pitcher for the North Division in this year’s Northwoods League All-Star Game. Schwartz has a 6-1 record on the season. This is Schwartz’ second season in the Northwoods League and he credits his success this season to what he learned his first season in the league. When asked about what he would take away from this experience, Schwartz said, "everything, this is the perfect minor league experience.” He said has become a much better pitcher, all thanks to his experience with the MoonDogs, "I became a better pitcher, my pitches were more effective and the players in this league made me better, especially the pitchers on our team, we have a lot of pitching talent and being around them, I feel, has rubbed off on to me and made me better.”
MoonDogs first-year assistant coach Jason Ramos was recognized as the Coach of the Year in his role in leading the MoonDogs to their third postseason appearance since 2008. Ramos primarily deals with the MoonDogs offense as the hitting coach and also was the stand-in Field Manager for the first five games of the season and led the team to a 5-0 record.
Third-year MoonDogs broadcaster J.J. Hartigan was recognized by his peers as Co-Play-by-Play Announcer of the Year with Wisconsin Rapids’ J.W. Cox. Hartigan hails from Sioux Falls, South Dakota and has been the voice of the MoonDogs for three of the past four seasons.