Saprosantos lone T-Birds on IBL all-star squads

Hamilton Thunderbirds’ second baseman Jon Saprosantos was selected to the Intercounty Baseball League’s second team allstars. He was the only T-Bird to make the allstar squads announced on Tuesday along with the 2009 winners of the Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year Awards.

The 2009 Rawlings IBL Player of the Year Award winner is catcher Jamie Pogue of the Guelph Royals, who also pitched for the club this season. Pogue takes the John Bell Memorial Trophy home for his efforts.

Pogue had a remarkable season, helping the Royals finish third with a 24-12 record. He hit .400 with an on-base percentage of .534, with 10 home runs and 41 RBI. That placed him fourth in league batting average, with a league leading 31 walks.

He also finished in the top five in the league in hits, doubles, homers, RBI and runs scored while leading Guelph’s high powered offence at the plate, and running the defence as catcher. If that wasn’t enough, he also was an outstanding relief pitcher when called upon by the club! In seven games he pitched seven innings, picking up three saves and posting a tidy ERA of 1.29, along with 14 strikeouts and just one walk.

It’s no surprise considering those numbers that Pogue was just two votes shy of being a unanimous selection. He amassed 38 of a possible 40 votes, including seven of the eight possible first place votes, in voting conducted among the league’s teams. Teams could not vote for their own players, and the scoring was five points for first and three for second.

Ryan Spataro of the Barrie Baycats was second in the voting with 12 points, while Mat Taube of the Kitchener Panthers was third with 11 votes.

Pogue’s teammate, Frank Hare, won the award last season.

The 2009 IBL Rookie of the Year is outfielder Marcus Knecht of the Oshawa Dodgers. He receives the Brian Kerr Memorial Trophy for his efforts.

Knecht, 19, put up impressive numbers in his rookie season and was one of the Dodgers most consistent players all season. The outfielder batted an impressive .349 with a club leading six home runs and 20 RBI, second on the team as well. Knecht led all rookies with his six homers and was at or near the top of just about every category for rookie players, despite appearing in just 21 games this season. Last year’s winner was Randy Schwartz of the Barrie Baycats.

With four first place ballots, Knecht wound up with 26 votes in the balloting, eight more votes than runner-up Branson Joseph of the Mississauga Twins.

The IBL also announced its 2009 All-Star Team on Tuesday, with the three top vote getters in the MVP voting – Pogue, Spataro and Taube – all unanimous selections at their positions.

Pogue got 40 votes at catcher, Spataro got 40 votes for outfielder and Taube received the maximum 40 votes at first base. Again, teams all voted on the 5 points for first, 3 for second system, with teams not allowed to vote for their own players.

The Guelph Royals had the most first team picks with four, followed by the Toronto Maple Leafs, Barrie Baycats and Brantford Red Sox with two selections each. The Leafs had a league best eight picks in all (two first and six seconds), including manager Tim Harkness as first team all-star, while the Baycats had a total of five selections (two first and three seconds), including second team manager Angus Roy.

Only four players were repeat picks from 2008. Sean Reilly was once again a first team outfielder, Josh McCurdy was a second team outfielder this year after being a first team OF last year, Kyle Degrace was first team shortstop this year after being a second team OF selection in 2008, and Paul Spoljaric was the first team left handed pitcher after being the second team selection last season.