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Flying Squirrels Announce 2022 Team Awards

September 18, 2022 - Eastern League (EL) - Richmond Flying Squirrels News Release


RICHMOND, Va. - The Richmond Flying Squirrels announced their 2022 team awards on Sunday afternoon. The award winners were recognized in a pregame ceremony prior to the regular-season finale against the Erie SeaWolves at The Diamond.

Infielder Tyler Fitzgerald was named the 2022 Flying Squirrels Most Valuable Player and left-hander Kyle Harrison was selected as the 2022 Flying Squirrels Pitcher of the Year. Utility player Shane Matheny won the Puritan Cleaners "Dirty Squirrel" of the Year and reliever Chris Wright was selected for the 2022 Flying Squirrels Community Service Award.

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER - TYLER FITZGERALD

This year, Fitzgerald became the first 20-20 player in Flying Squirrels history, clubbing 21 home runs and stealing 20 bases. Heading into Sunday's season finale, he leads the team with 58 RBIs, a .424 slugging percentage, 104 hits, 20 doubles, 44 extra-base hits, 193 total bases and 74 runs scored. After hitting .194 in his first 83 games of the year, Fitzgerald has posted a .286 average in his last 42 games since July 28. In one of the most remarkable games of the season on May 29 at The Diamond against the Hartford Yard Goats, Fitzgerald set single-game team records with 13 total bases and five runs scored while also tying the team record with five hits.

"Once he starts adapting and evolving to the surroundings, he is virtually unstoppable," Flying Squirrels manager Dennis Pelfrey said. "He is one of the best players in our organization. The way he plays the game, he never takes a play off. He never takes a play off. It doesn't matter if he's having a good day or a bad day. He plays hard."

PITCHER OF THE YEAR - KYLE HARRISON

Harrison arrived in Richmond as an emerging player to watch in the minors and finished the season as one of the premier prospects in baseball. After starting the season with the High-A Eugene Emeralds, Harrison joined the Flying Squirrels in late-May. At 20 years old when he debuted, Harrison became the youngest pitcher in the history of the franchise. In the time frame since his debut, he leads the Eastern League with 127 strikeouts and a .201 opponents' batting average. He is also second in the league with a 3.11 ERA and third with a 1.18 WHIP. Heading into play on Sunday, Harrison ranks second in the minors with 186 total strikeouts in 2022. He has posted 14.8 strikeouts-per-nine-innings, the highest rate for a pitcher in the minors (min. 100 IP) in a season dating back to 1960. He is currently rated by MLB.com as the top left-handed pitching prospect in baseball.

"He walks around here like he's a vet in the way he goes about his business every day and the way he puts the work in," Pelfrey said. "It's no surprise he's having a wonderful season. He's going to continue to move through the system very fast. He's very sharp. His mind works like a computer. He soaks things in very quickly. He's only going to get better. He's pretty much dominating this league every time he goes out, and I don't foresee him slowing down any time soon."

PURITAN CLEANERS "DIRTY SQUIRREL" OF THE YEAR - SHANE MATHENY

Matheny returned to Richmond for a second season in 2022 and had a breakout offensive season, adding to his already stellar defensive play. Heading into play on Sunday, Matheny leads the team in batting average (.251), on-base percentage (.376), OPS (.791) and walks (58). He also ranks third in the Eastern League in on-base percentage and sixth in walks. After playing exclusively on the infield in previous seasons, Matheny played added time in the outfield to his resume for the first time in his professional career. Quickly adjusting to the new position, Matheny made two stellar catches that landed him on ESPN's SportsCenter's Top-10 plays.

"He's really fun to watch no matter where you put him on the field," Pelfrey said of Matheny. "The nickname we gave him when he started playing outfield was 'The Hawk.' He goes and runs everything down and makes plays. It's really fun to watch him play. There are several guys on this team who play hard, but I think a lot of that is from watching Shane and how he plays. He's a natural leader. He doesn't have to say a lot. The way that he plays the game is how I'd want my son to play the game. It's really something special."

COMMUNITY SERVICE AWARD - CHRIS WRIGHT

In his Double-A debut season, Wright was one of the Flying Squirrels' top bullpen arms. Off the field, he spent his free time giving back to members of the Richmond community. Wright worked with youth baseball players in the Flying Squirrels' FUNNdamentals Baseball Camp, the Nutzy's All-Stars Baseball Camp and helped with the ASK Childhood Cancer Foundation 5K & Fun Walk.

"It's really special when you have guys like (Wright) on your ball club," Pelfrey said. "Chris Wright is one of the first ones, basically any time we do anything with the community, to want to go out and give back. It shows a lot of high morals, high character and high values. The guys around him get to see it as well. He has this personality where people are drawn to him, and other players jump in there with him."

PREVIOUS FLYING SQUIRRELS TEAM AWARD WINNERS

2010

Most Valuable Player: Thomas Neal

Pitcher of the Year: David Mixon

Puritan Cleaners Dirty Squirrel of the Year: Thomas Neal

2011

Most Valuable Player: Roger Kieschnick

Pitcher of the Year: Eric Surkamp

Puritan Cleaners Dirty Squirrel of the Year: Skyler Stromsmoe

2012

Most Valuable Player: Juan Perez

Pitcher of the Year: Chris Heston

Puritan Cleaners Dirty Squirrel of the Year: Gary Brown

2013

Most Valuable Player: Javier Herrera

Pitcher of the Year: Jack Snodgrass

Puritan Cleaners Dirty Squirrel of the Year: Ryan Lollis

2014

Most Valuable Player: Matt Duffy

Pitcher of the Year: Jack Snodgrass

Puritan Cleaners Dirty Squirrel of the Year: Kelby Tomlinson

2015

Most Valuable Player: Rando Moreno

Pitcher of the Year: Joe Biagini

Puritan Cleaners Dirty Squirrel of the Year: Myles Schroder

2016

Most Valuable Player: Hunter Cole

Pitcher of the Year: Tyler Beede

Puritan Cleaners Dirty Squirrel of the Year: Steven Duggar

Community Service Award: Eliezer Zambrano

2017

Most Valuable Player: Miguel Gomez

Pitcher of the Year: Tyler Cyr

Puritan Cleaners Dirty Squirrel of the Year: Myles Schroder

Community Service Award: Jeff Arnold

2018

Most Valuable Player: Ryan Howard

Pitcher of the Year: Dillon McNamara

Puritan Cleaners Dirty Squirrel of the Year: Matt Lipka

Community Service Award: Dan Slania

2019

Most Valuable Player: Johneshwy Fargas

Pitcher of the Year: Ryan Halstead

Puritan Cleaners Dirty Squirrel of the Year: Jalen Miller

Community Service Award: Matt Winn

2021

Most Valuable Player: David Villar

Pitcher of the Year: Ronnie Williams

Puritan Cleaners Dirty Squirrel of the Year: Simon Whiteman


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