Sauget, IL – The Frontier League announced its 2016 postseason awards Thursday, with Evansville Otters’ infielder Josh Allen and Joliet Slammers’ starting pitcher Liam O’Sullivan taking home the Most Valuable Player and the Most Valuable Pitcher, respectively. The Schaumburg Boomers were named Organization of the Year with Windy City’s Mike Lucas voted Executive of the year.
Allen takes home this year’s Morgan Burkhart Award, given annually to the Most Valuable Player in the Frontier League. In his third season with the Otters, has tortured league pitching all year, hitting .350 with a larger 9 home runs and 44 RBI. Allen’s offensive prowess has gone a long way in helping the Otters secure yet another berth in the Frontier League Playoffs. The 25-year-old Fort Meade, FL native played collegiately at the University of West Florida and has only played professional ball in the Frontier League. Allen is the second Evansville player to win the award, following Shayne Houck from the 2014 season.
This season’s Brian Tollberg Award recipient is Liam O’Sullivan of the Joliet Slammers. O’Sullivan, in his second season in the league, has been dominant for the 2016 East Division Champions. Considered by many to be the ace of the best rotation in the league, O’Sullivan dominated hitters for most of the 2016 season, going 11-1 with a minuscule 3.32 ERA in 20 starts. O’Sullivan, 25, pitched in the league for the Frontier Greys organization in 2015 where he went 0-3 in 6 games with a 7.42 ERA. The 6-3 right-hander played college baseball at Saint Leo University and is from South Grafton, Massachusetts. O’Sullivan is currently in first place in the league for win totals and is in first place in the league for leader in strikeouts with 109.
Shane Kennedy of the Southern Illinois Miners takes home this season’s Jason Simontacchi award for the League’s Rookie of the Year. Kennedy hit .345 with 4 home runs and 41 RBI in his first season of professional baseball out of Clemson University.
The Roger Hanners Award, given to the Manager of the Year each season, was awarded to Jeff Isom, of the Joliet Slammers. Isom has leaded the Slammers to a 50-42 record so far, good enough to take home the Eastern Division crown. The division title marks the first playoff appearance for the Slammers since 2011, when they took home the championship. Isom previously was voted Manager of the year in 2002 when he led the Washington Wild Things.
The Schaumburg Boomers are honored with their second Organization of the Year Award in their five-season tenure, also winning in 2013. Schaumburg leads the Frontier League in attendance for the third consecutive season with a franchise-record average of 3,557 fans per game. This figure represents a 16% increase over their 2015 average.
Windy City’s Mike Lucas is the Executive of the Year for the second time, following up on his 2012 honor. Lucas has been with the ThunderBolts since the team rebranded themselves following the 2003 season and is completing his seventh season as their General Manager.
One of this season’s three Commissioner’s Award of Excellence winners is Longtime Evansville clubhouse manager Sam Hartsfield. Sam receives an Award of Excellence for his years of service to the Otters. A former pitcher for storied Negro League clubs the Indianapolis Clowns and Kansas City Monarchs, Sam also attended spring training with the San Francisco Giants. Over his decades in baseball, Sam served as a coach, advisor, counselor, and friend to thousands of ballplayers of all ages. In addition to the Commissioner’s Award of Excellence, the Frontier League’s Clubhouse Manager of the Year Award is being renamed in Sam’s honor.
The league’s second Commissioner’s Award of Excellence recipient goes to The Southern Illinois Miners for on-field performance and their community outreach, highlighted by their Stand Up for Blue Night which led to great public relations for the team, the league, and all of the area law enforcement officials involved. The Miners won their third consecutive division championship in 2016 and became the first club in the Frontier League’s 24 seasons to finish with 60 or more wins in three consecutive seasons.
The Washington Wild Things receive a Commissioner’s Award of Excellence for their outstanding corporate sales and in-game entertainment. The Wild Things annually lead the Frontier League in corporate sales and their interaction between the Wild Thing mascot, PA announcer Bill DiFabio, their on-field emcees, and the video production staff.
River City Rascals’ pitcher Nick Kennedy is the 2016 recipient of the Fran Riordan Citizenship Award. Nick has spent the past five seasons pitching for the Rascals, appearing in over 200 Frontier League games. When not on the field, Nick works with special education and autistic students at Fort Zumwalt East High School in O’Fallon.
The complete 2016 Post-Season All-Star Team and award winners are:
1B – Aaron Dudley – Normal CornBelters (2015 winner)
2B – Josh Allen, Evansville Otters
3B – Steve Marino, Southern Illinois Miners
SS – Santiago Chirino, Normal CornBelters
C – Mike Jurgella, River City Rascals
DH – Craig Massey, Southern Illinois Miners
OF – Nolan Meadows, Normal CornBelters
OF – Shane Kennedy, Southern Illinois Miners
OF – Andrew Godbold – Florence Freedom
SP – Trevor Foss, Washington Wild Things
RP – Randy McCurry, Evansville Otters
Morgan Burkhart Award (MVP) – Josh Allen, Evansville Otters
Brian Tollberg Award (Pitcher of the Year) – Liam O’Sullivan, Joliet Slammers
Jason Simontacchi Award (Rookie of the Year) – Shane Kennedy, Southern Illinois Miners
Fran Riordan Award (Citizenship)-Nick Kennedy, River City Rascals
Roger Hanners Award (Manager of the Year) – Jeff Isom, Joliet Slammers
Darren Bush Award (Coach of the Year) – Randy Martz, Pitching Coach, Gateway Grizzlies
Trainer of the Year – Andrew Gates, Joliet Slammers
Clubbie of the Year (Sam Hartsfield Award) – Nick Creasey/Alex Schlemmer, Gateway Grizzlies
Robert Ford Award (Broadcaster) – Terry Bonadonna, Windy City ThunderBolts
Writer of the Year- Chris Dugan, Washington Observer- Reporter
Newspaper of the Year – Washington Observer- Reporter
Bob Wolfe Award (Executive of the Year) – Mike Lucas, Windy City ThunderBolts
Organization of the Year – Schaumburg Boomers
Umpire of the Year – Mike Fichter
Commissioner’s Awards of Excellence
Sam Hartsfield (Clubhouse manager, Evansville Otters)
Southern Illinois Miners (On-field Performance, Community Outreach)
Washington Wild Thing (Corporate Sales, In-game Entertainment)
Voting for the post-season awards was done by general managers, coaching staffs, and local media in all of the Frontier League markets.
The Frontier League is entering its 24th season in 2016 and features 12 teams stretching from Pennsylvania to Missouri and from Kentucky to northern Michigan. The Frontier League annually advances the most players to MLB organizations of any of the independent leagues, and 29 former Frontier League players have played in the Major Leagues.