Rivets’ Feduccia wins Rawlings “Big Stick” Award
LOVES PARK, Ill. – Rockford Rivets catcher Hunter Feduccia has been recognized as one of the Northwoods League’s best hitters after a summer that prompted his manager to compare him to one of this year’s top major-league rookies.
The NWL announced Wednesday that Feduccia is one of the recipients of the 2017 Rawlings “Big Stick” Award. The award is given to the player at each position who had the best batting average during the 2017 regular season.
Feduccia hit .348, fifth in the league, with eight home runs and 41 RBI for the Rivets, who reached the playoffs for the first time. Feduccia went without a hit in just 10 of the 46 games he played this summer.
“In my opinion, Hunter was in the running for MVP all summer based on his hitting and also how he played defense,” Rivets manager Brian Smith said. “He had two walkoffs, which is huge to put a college kid into a situation like that.”
“I knew what I was getting when he came in, but my expectations weren’t going to be as high because he had just caught 52 games at his junior college.”
During the summer, Feduccia also transferred from Louisiana State University-Eunice to College World Series runner-up LSU. Smith said he carefully crafted frequent days on the bench or designated hitter for Feduccia to minimize the impact of the catcher’s heavy usage in the spring and got maximum results. Eight of Feduccia’s 19 multi-hit games came the day after a day out of the lineup, a scheduled off day for the Rivets or a rainout.
Smith specifically highlighted Feduccia’s July – deep enough into the season that even College World Series participants have made it to summer ball, early enough that most pitchers have not hit an innings cap set by their college coaches – what he said is the best quality of baseball during the NWL season. In July, Feduccia hit .449 (40-for-89) with seven home runs and 25 RBI. That month, he had nearly twice as many extra-base hits (21) as strikeouts (12). Feduccia had a 13-game hitting streak in July and went hitless in just two games the whole month.
“For a 20-game stretch, he was the greatest hitter on the planet,” said Smith, who gave Feduccia eight days off in July. “The kid was exhausted, and he was (still) hitting walkoffs.”
In the 10th inning on July 10, Feduccia hit the first walkoff home run in Rivets history to beat the Kalamazoo Kings, 5-4. Feduccia had previously singled in the winning run in a 7-6 walkoff victory over the Madison Mallards on June 13.
“He was Aaron Judge (in July) and I didn’t even know if he was on the bus,” Smith said. “The kid never talked. He would never ask for a day off.”
For the season, Feduccia hit better than .400 in four key situational categories – with runners on base, with runners in scoring position, with the bases loaded and with runners in scoring position and two out. In the latter category, he hit .480 (12-for-25).
Rawlings has been rewarding the top hitters in the Northwoods League since 2007 in addition to honoring the best fielders since 2002. To honor their achievement, the nine award winners will receive an engraved bat from Rawlings. Kalamazoo infielder Connor Hollis hit .375 to win the league batting title and one of the other awards. The complete list of 2017 Rawlings “Big Stick” Award Winners is below.
|Position||Player||NWL Team||College||Batting Average|
|1B||Ryan Stekl||Wisconsin Rapids||Canisius||.364|
|2B||Matthew Mika||Lakeshore||Central Florida||.335|
|3B||David Villar||La Crosse||South Florida||.312|
|INF||Bryson Stott||Wisconsin Rapids||UNLV||.352|
|OF||Ryan Anderson||Bismarck||UC Davis||.340|
To be eligible a player would have needed to have enough plate appearances to qualify for a batting title. A player must have a minimum of 2.7 plate appearances per team game.
The Rockford Rivets are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League, which will play its 25th season of summer collegiate baseball in 2018. The Northwoods League is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 20 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 180 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including two-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (Washington Nationals), two-time World Champion Ben Zobrist (Chicago Cubs) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (Boston Red Sox), Jordan Zimmermann (Detroit Tigers), Curtis Granderson (Los Angeles Dodgers) and Lucas Duda (Tampa Bay Rays). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League Website, NorthwoodsLeague.com.