By Gary Fauber
Assistant Sports Editor
The West Virginia Miners’ dominance in this year’s postseason was unquestioned. A nearly unhittable pitching staff allowed only three runs in four games, and an offense that struggled much of the year came up with runs at every clutch moment.
But when the Prospect League postseason all-star team was released late Sunday night, only one player from the two-time league champions was on the list — and he wasn’t even around to see the championship.
Jaesung Hwang, who at times seemed to be toying with opposing batters this summer, was honored by the league as its right-handed pitcher.
Miners manager Tim Epling was less than thrilled with the team, which is voted on by league managers. He really felt Pat Kregeloh should have been honored. Kregeloh led the league with 44 runs batted in and was tied for second with seven home runs.
Kregeloh etched his name into Miners’s lore with his two-run homer in the bottom of the 14th inning of a 4-2 win over Chillicothe that clinched the East Division title. He also homered in each of West Virginia’s two wins over the Paints in the division playoffs.
“If Pat Kregeloh is not the Player of the Year of this league, I don’t know who is,” Epling said. “With the walk-off home runs he hit. He was our go-to guy, played first and third and pitched. He deserves to be on there.”
Hwang, now a junior at Lipscomb University, was an obvious choice for the postseason team. He was the league’s ERA champion, and it wasn’t even close — his 0.36 was more than a run better than Butler’s Adam Aldred (1.59).
Hwang, who started in the midseason all-star game and would have been the winning pitcher if not for a quirky scoring decision, was 5-1 with 44 strikeouts to only five walks in 50 2-3 innings. He held opponents to 28 hits — two doubles, the rest singles — and a league-low .163 batting average.
After a July 21 start against Lorain County, in which he went a season-low 4 2-3 innings in a no-decision, Hwang decided to call it a summer. He remained in Beckley and caught a few of the team’s games before leaving for college the day after the Miners beat Chillicothe to win the East Division playoffs.
“J’s stats speak for themselves,” Epling said. “If stats are what they base it on, then he deserves it.”
The Miners’ also had the league batting champion for the second straight year. Kaeo Aliviado, the University of Hawaii product who left the team July 29, did not make the team despite hitting .370 with 10 doubles and 15 runs batted in primarily from the leadoff spot. He also stole 11 bases in 40 games.
The league’s four playoff teams — West Virginia, Chillicothe, Danville and Quincy — combined for five all-stars. Chillicothe had two — shortstop Stuart Eisler (.317, 10 doubles) and designated hitter Dan Zuchowski (.251, 6 home runs, 35 RBIs).
Quincy, which was swept by the Miners in the league championship series, was represented by right fielder Thomas Richards (.347, 8 HRs, 33 RBIs). Danville left-hander Troy Conyers was an all-star and was named the Roland Hemond Pro Prospect of the Year after posting a 5-1 record, 1.53 ERA and 60 strikeouts in 41 innings.
Danville’s Jason Watson was named Manager of the Year after leading the Dans to the West Division regular season championship. Danville was ranked 11th in the country by Perfect Game before it was swept by Quincy in the West playoffs.
Hannibal’s Wes Judish was named the Galen Woods Fireman of the Year. He was 3-1 with a 0.94 ERA and six saves for the Cavemen.
The Mike Schmidt Player of the Year Award went to Slippery Rock first baseman Matt Calhoun, who hit .358 with seven homers and 26 RBIs.
The other all-stars were: Richmond second baseman Jason Blum (.300, 7 doubles, 14 RBIs); Terre Haute third baseman Atlee Schwab (.278, 6 doubles, 21 RBIs); Hannibal left fielder Zach Nichols (.289, 10 doubles, 21 RBIs); Terre Haute center fielder Kyle Kempf (.336, 17 doubles, 25 RBIs); and Lorain County catcher Rey Carrion (.287, 9 doubles, 27 RBIs).
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