Bradley Named Carolina League MVP as Six Hillcats Named Postseason All-Stars
Bob Toth | On 28, Aug 2016
Lynchburg’s Bobby Bradley is your Carolina League Most Valuable Player for the 2016 season, as the third-year pro brought home the second consecutive league MVP award for the Hillcats.
The Carolina League also announced its 13-man postseason All-Star roster, nearly half of which was filled by Lynchburg players. In addition to Bradley, outfielders Greg Allen and Anthony Santander, second baseman Mark Mathias, shortstop Yu-Cheng Chang, and catcher Francisco Mejia also were honored by the end-of-the-season accolades. Hillcats manager Mark Budzinski was named the league’s Manager of the Year.
The six players honored with postseason All-Star selections fell just one short of Lynchburg’s record for selections in a year, set in 2002 when the club had seven players picked.
Bradley joined last year’s winner, Nellie Rodriguez, in Hillcats who have brought home the MVP hardware since Lynchburg became an affiliate of the Cleveland Indians. Bradley, 20, is the league’s leader in home runs (29), RBI (101), and walks (71). Through 122 games this season, he is hitting .245 with a .355 on-base percentage and a .494 slugging mark. He has set new career highs in most offense categories during his second full year of play in the farm system, breaking previous highs in runs, hits, doubles, homers, RBI, and walks.
Bradley was a third round pick by the Indians in the 2014 draft out of Harrison Central High School in Gulfport, Mississippi. He is a league MVP and postseason All-Star for the second time in his career (2014 – Arizona League). He was named to his first in-season All-Star team this year with the Hillcats.
Former Hillcats center fielder Allen made quite the name for himself in running wild in the outfield and on the bases for Lynchburg at the start of the season. After making three quick appearances for the Hillcats in 2015, he started the season as a regular in their outfield this year and appeared in 92 games before being promoted to the Double-A Akron RubberDucks. In his time with Lynchburg, he hit .298 with a .424 on-base percentage and picked off 38 bases in 45 attempts. He averaged more than a run scored per game and had 16 doubles, four triples, and four homers before advancing in the system. Despite last appearing for the Hillcats on July 24, he still leads the Carolina League with his 93 runs scored and his 38 stolen bases.
The 23-year-old Allen was a sixth round pick by the Indians out of San Diego State in the 2014 draft. He was a midseason All-Star for the second time in his career this season, and the end of season honor is the first in his three years as a pro.
Shortstop Chang became a prospect to watch in his third season in the Indians system after signing as a non-drafted free agent in June of 2013. After a season in the Arizona League and a year with the Lake County Captains last season, he made a bigger name for himself with an offensive breakout and landed in the tenth spot on MLB Pipeline’s top 30 Indians’ prospects. The 21-year-old out of Taiwan is hitting .268 with a .342 OBP and .482 slugging percentage in his first 101 games this season. He has scored 74 runs and is tenth in the league with 28 doubles and sixth with 13 homers.
This is the second postseason All-Star team nomination for Chang, adding to his efforts in 2014 with the Indians’ team in the Arizona League. Only a recent trip to the disabled list had slowed down Chang, who made the midseason All-Star team and was named a Player of the Week for the first times this season.
Mathias, Lynchburg’s 22-year-old second baseman, has climbed up the doubles list in the Carolina League to fall into a tie with teammate Santander for the most in the eight-team league. He is hitting .273 with a .356 OBP this season with 67 runs scored, 112 hits, a triple, five homers, and 59 RBI in 111 games for the Hillcats.
This is the first full pro season for Mathias, who was selected in the third round out of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in the June draft last season. He appeared in 67 games for the short-season Mahoning Valley Scrappers last season, hitting .282 with a .382 OBP before jumping over Class-A into High-A to start this season.
The postseason All-Star selection is the first mid- or postseason award of Mathias’ professional career.
Mejia caught the eyes of the baseball loving world with his lengthy hitting streak that eventually came to an end at 50 games two weeks ago. It was one of numerous highlights for the 20-year-old switch-hitting catcher, who has split time at two different levels of the Indians system this season.
Mejia started his second consecutive season with the Class-A Lake County team, hitting .347 in 60 games before a midseason promotion. He was named the Midwest League’s Player of the Week in the second week of June and would later win the Player of the Month Award for the same stretch of play. He was selected as the starting catcher for the league’s midseason All-Star Game and was promoted to Lynchburg at the end of the month on a lengthy hitting streak already. Shortly after landing with the Hillcats organization, he was named a member of MLB’s All-Star Futures Game in San Diego during the Majors’ All-Star break.
In 35 games for the Hillcats, he is hitting .322 with a .365 on-base percentage and .490 slugging mark with ten doubles, four homers, and 27 RBI.
Santander, 21, has had a breakout season for the Hillcats as he has been able to stay healthy throughout the year. After spending parts of each of the last three seasons at Class-A Lake County, he earned the trip to High-A to start the season and has steadily performed throughout. At the time of the postseason All-Stars announcement, he had appeared in 120 games for the Hillcats while putting together a solid slash of .296/.373/.499. He was tied for the Carolina League lead with 38 doubles, was second with 91 RBI, and was third with 19 homers.
The switch-hitter from Venezuela is in his fifth pro season with the Indians after signing with the club as a non-drafted free agent in July of 2011. The All-Star nod is his first postseason award of his career. His previous accolades were limited to a pair of Player of the Week Awards won last season at Mahoning Valley and in July this season with the Hillcats.