September 17, 2010 - Florida State League (FSL) - Charlotte Stone Crabs
ST. PETERSBURG, FL-Stephen Vogt (pronounced VOTE) has been named the winner of the 2010 Erik Walker Community Champion Award. The award annually recognizes one Rays minor league player who exemplifies teamwork, sportsmanship and community involvement, attributes exhibited by Rays minor league pitcher Erik Walker, who died tragically in October 2006 in a canoeing accident.
Vogt, who won the Class-A Florida State League batting title with a .345 average in 106 games as a first baseman, catcher and outfielder for the Charlotte Stone Crabs, will be recognized at the Rays minor league awards ceremony at Tropicana Field prior to tonight\'s Rays-Angels game. He will receive a trophy, and $2,500 will be awarded to the charity of his choice. The 25-year-old Visalia, Calif., native was selected by the Rays in the 12th round of the 2007 June Draft out of Azusa (Calif.) Pacific University.
"Stephen is a true professional in every sense of the word," said Charlotte General Manager Joe Hart. "He is the first person to volunteer for any player appearance or youth clinic that we put on. Before and after every game he is seen interacting with the fans and signing autographs. He is certainly a fan favorite and I have great respect for his attitude and willingness to be a team player. He has demonstrated the courage and desire to come back from a season ending injury in 2009 and has worked at his game to become an even better player. He is a very good player but an even better person."
Each of the Rays seven domestic minor league affiliates nominated a candidate for the award. The Rays will recognize the other six finalists by donating $500 in each player\'s name to the charity of his choice. The other six finalists were Joe Bateman (Durham), Paul Phillips (Montgomery), Chris Murrill (Bowling Green), Robby Price (Hudson Valley), Victor Mateo (Princeton) and Eduar Quiñonez (GCL Rays). Nominees embodied the qualities of Walker, recognized as a great teammate and caring person and who enriched the lives of people in need and inspired others to do the same.
Walker was drafted by the Rays in June 2006 and had just completed his first professional season with the Hudson Valley Renegades when his life was cut short on October 26, just 11 days after his 23rd birthday.
Past Winners of the Erik Walker Community Champion Award
2009 Ryan Wiegand, Princeton
2008 Matt Spring, Montgomery
2007 Pat Cottrell, Vero Beach