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IronPigs sweep major IL season awards; Meneses named MVP

Joey Meneses
Joey Meneses receives his IL Player of the Week award from Lehigh Valley IronPigs GM Kurt Landes on May 11, 2018. (Photo by Cheryl Pursell)

The International League announced its official postseason honor roll, and the IronPigs became the first team in 23 years to sweep all the major awards. Joey Meneses was named both IL Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year, Cole Irvin was tabbed IL Pitcher of the Year and Gary Jones was hailed as IL Manager of the Year. Postseason honors are selected by the circuit’s managers, coaches, media and club representatives.

The last IL club to sweep all major awards was the Norfolk Tides in 1995 when Butch Huskey (MVP), Jason Isringhausen (POY & ROY) and Toby Harrah (MOY).

In addition to the awards, the North Division Champion IronPigs boast a franchise-record four representatives on the IL postseason All-Star team in Pedro Beato (relief pitcher), Irvin (starting pitcher), Meneses (first base) and Mitch Walding (third base). Indianapolis is the only other club with multiple All-Stars, placing two players on the team.

Joey Meneses becomes the second IronPig in two seasons to earn both the MVP and the Rookie of the Year Award after Rhys Hoskins became the first Lehigh Valley player to win either award in 2017. In his first year at the Triple-A level, the 26-year-old has a chance of becoming the first player in the IL to win a Triple Crown — leading the league in batting average, home runs and RBI — since National Baseball Hall-of-Famer Jim Rice accomplished the feat with Pawtucket in 1974. At the time of this announcement, Meneses leads the IL in home runs (22) while being tied for first in RBI (78) and second in AVG (.314). In addition, he tops the circuit in total bases (240) and slugging percentage (.519) while placing second in both hits (145) and extra base hits (150), tied for second in runs scored (71), seventh in on-base percentage (.364) and tied for eighth in doubles (27). He has shattered his personal career high with 22 home runs — previously nine with Double-A Mississippi in 2017 — in addition to setting single-season bests in hits, RBI and runs scored.

Meneses, also selected as an IL midseason All-Star and Home Run Derby participant, has also tied franchise records with 43 multi-hit games, set by Mike Cervenak in 2008 and 2009, and by homering in four-consecutive games (May 16-19), only accomplished by Cameron Rupp (2012) and Collin Cowgill (2018). He became the first IronPigs player ever selected as IL Player of the Week three times in a season (May 7, May 21, August 6).

A native of Culiacan, Mexico, Meneses was signed by the Phillies as a minor league free agent on February 1, 2018, after spending his first seven seasons in the Atlanta Braves system. This marks his first career selection to a postseason All-Star team.

Cole Irvin
Cole Irvin pitches against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders on June 21, 2018 at PNC Park in Moosic, PA. (Photo by Cheryl Pursell)

Cole Irvin becomes the third IronPig to earn IL Pitcher of the Year honors as well as postseason All-Star status, joining Tyler Cloyd (2012) and Jake Thompson (2016). In his first season at the Triple-A level, the 24-year-old has set a single-season franchise record with 13 wins — the highest total by a Phillies’ Triple-A farmhand since Brian Mazone posted 13 victories in 2006 with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons. Earlier this season, he set a franchise record by winning seven-consecutive starts (May 7-June 10) and tied another by winning eight-straight decisions (April 27-June 10) — a feat also only accomplished by Cloyd (2012) and Thompson (2016).

At the time of this announcement, Irvin leads the IL in wins, winning percentage (.765) and WHIP (1.07) and ranks second in both earned run average (2.67) and innings pitched (155.1) and third in strikeouts (126). His total of 13 wins also places him in a tie for fifth in all Minor League Baseball. He was named IL Pitcher of the Week on both May 14 and June 10, joining Justin Lehr (2009) and Ben Lively (2016) as the only IronPigs pitchers all-time to earn this honor twice in the same season.

A native of Yorba Linda, California, Irvin was drafted by the Phillies in the fifth round of 2016 out of University of Oregon. This marks his first career selection to a postseason All-Star team.

Gary Jones
IronPigs manager Gary Jones was named the IL Manager of the Year for 2018. (Photo by Cheryl Pursell)

Gary Jones becomes the first IronPigs skipper to win IL Manager of the Year after piloting Lehigh Valley to its first North Division Championship in its 11-year history. At the time of this announcement, the IronPigs own the best record in the IL (79-54, .594) and second-best in Triple-A behind Memphis (80-53, .603) — despite already shattering the franchise-record with 212 transactions (previous high was 190 in 2017). Lehigh Valley also has a chance to pass its best winning percentage all-time of .594 set in 2016 (85-58).

This also marks the fifth time in his 16 seasons as skipper that Jones has been tabbed Manager of the Year, previously earning the honor in 1991 (Midwest League, A), 1996 (Pacific Coast League, AAA), 1994 (Southern League, AA) and 1997 (PCL). The 57-year-old is also seeking his fifth league title, having guided champions in 1994 with Huntsville (SL), 1996 and 1997 with Edmonton (PCL) and 2004 with Mobile (SL).

A native of Henderson, Texas, Jones holds an impressive career managerial record of 1,118-1,026 (.521) overall and 297-265 (.528) over four IL seasons. He entered 2018 with the 16th-highest win total among all active MiLB managers.

Pedro Beato, a 2017 IL postseason All-Star, becomes the first IronPigs player ever to garner multiple selections in a career. The 31-year-old currently leads the IL with 33 saves — a total that is tied for tops in all of minor league baseball with Nate Greip of Biloxi (AA). The total also ties the Lehigh Valley single-season record he set a season ago, which marked the most ever by a Phillies’ Triple-A farmhand. Beato has matched his impressive save percentage from last year, going 33-for-35 (94.3%) in save opportunities. For the season, he has posted a 3.23 ERA over an MILB-leading 60 appearances.

Arguably the most accomplished reliever in IL history, Beato has 98 saves over parts of nine seasons in his IL career — posting a 30-24 record with a 3.06 ERA over 345 games and three starts with Buffalo (2011-12), Pawtucket (2013), Gwinnett (2014), Norfolk (2015-16) and Lehigh Valley (2017-18).

A native of Santo Domingo, D.R., Beato was signed by the Phillies as a minor league free agent on December 21, 2016. He was drafted by Baltimore in the first round of 2006 out of St. Petersburg (FL) Junior College and has appeared in 85 games in Major League Baseball over parts of five seasons. This marks his second career selection to a postseason All-Star team (2017).

Mitch Walding, who was also a postseason All-Star in the Florida State League (High-A) with Clearwater in 2016, joins Cody Ashe (2013) as the only IronPigs third basemen ever selected to the IL postseason All-Star team. In his first season at the Triple-A level, the 25-year-old has ranked among league leaders in a variety of categories. At the time of this announcement, Walding leads the IL in base on balls (71) while ranking second in slugging percentage (.485), third in on-base percentage (.394), tied for fourth in home runs (19), fifth in runs scored (68) and seventh in RBI (66). His total of 71 walks has shattered his previous high of 63 set in 2016 and ranks third all-time in franchise single-season ranks. He is also on pace to break the Lehigh Valley single-season record for on-base percentage set by Rhys Hoskins in 2017 (.385).

In July, Walding was selected as IL Player of the Month — joining just Andy Tracy (June 2010) and pitchers Phil Klein (August 2016) and Tom Eshelman (May 2017) as the only four IronPigs players to earn this honor all time. He reached base safely in 20 of 22 games in the month, batting .326 (28-86) while leading the IL in home runs (10), runs scored (21) and total bases (63) and ranking second in RBI (26) and OPS (1.147). He also set a franchise record for most RBI in a day, when he drove in 10 runs during a doubleheader against Columbus on July 28.

A native of Lodi, California, Walding was drafted by the Phillies in the fifth round of the 2011 draft out of St. Mary’s (CA) High School. He made his major league debut on May 30, 2018, and has appeared in 10 games with Philadelphia this season. He was also a 2017 Eastern League midseason All-Star and a participant in the EL Home Run Derby.

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