In normal times, players would be reporting to Beckley this week for another summer of West Virginia Miners baseball. But since the world as we know it has ground to a halt, the Prospect League season has been postponed until July 1.
This summer would mark the Miners’ 10-year anniversary in the Prospect League. They made their debut June 3, 2010, losing 13-6 at Slippery Rock, then followed with their first victory, 6-4 at Butler the next night.
There have been plenty of victories since then — 317, to be exact. Along the way, the Miners made playoff appearances in seven of their first 10 seasons, played for five league championships and won it all in 2012, 2013 and 2016.
You don’t get that kind of success without having championship-caliber players, and the Miners have had no shortage of those. With that in mind, I took it upon myself to compile a West Virginia Miners All-Decade Team.
Research for this task has been enjoyable, conjuring up a lot of fun memories, but finalizing a team wasn’t easy. The list of players who left their mark is long, especially pitchers.
I narrowed it down to the players I felt made the biggest impact on the program at the time they played. So, here we go.
Jake Belinda, 2015-2016. The right-hander out of Lock Haven was a main cog in the Miners’ third league championship run. He went 5-1 with a 2.06 earned run average, struck out 69 and walked 25 in 52 1/3 innings and opponents hit just .177 against him. He held Kokomo to one run and four hits in a 10-2 win in the East Division playoffs.
David Hess, 2013. I went back and forth on including Hess because he did not pitch the entire season. But he was too dominant while he was here to be ignored. The current Baltimore Oriole started five games and was 4-0 with a 1.89 ERA. He struck out 48 and walked five in 38 innings pitched.
Jaesung Hwang, 2013. This was a struggle, too. Just like Hess, Hwang wasn’t around for the entire summer. It was good news for opposing batters when he left. The Lipscomb right-hander made seven starts and tossed three complete games, finishing with a 5-1 record and a Miners record 0.36 ERA. He struck out 44 and walked five in 50 2/3 innings.
Sam Lewis, 2012. There are two no-hitters in Miners history, and Lewis owns them both. He did it in the season opener against Slippery Rock, then again at Lorain County. He made his last appearance one to remember, striking out a team-record 18 batters in a complete-game 4-2 win over Dubois County in the first game of the league championship series.
Mike Syrett, 2016-2017. Syrett was also big for the 2016 title team, setting a Miners record for wins in a season without a loss with six. He struck out six and walked one and held Kokomo to an unearned run and four hits in a complete-game 3-1 win in the first game of the East Division playoff series.
Dean Wolosiansky, 2010. The first great pitcher of the franchise, Wolosiansky was named the Prospect League Pitcher of the Year in the Miners’ inaugural season. He was 5-1 with a league-best 1.19 ERA, striking out 54 and allowing 44 hits over 68 innings.
Hunter Brothers, 2012. The brother of former Major League reliever Rex Brothers was huge in the team’s run to its first championship. He had 40 strikeouts to 10 walks and converted seven saves in the regular season, then stepped up in a solid start against Chillicothe in a sudden death playoff win.
Chris Metrick, 2016-2018. The Beckley native was perhaps the biggest surprise of the Miners’ first 10 seasons. His top season was 2017, when he was 4-0 with eight saves and a 1.33 ERA. His most memorable outing came in the 2016 title clincher at Quincy, when he entered in the eighth inning with the game tied 6-6. He pitched three scoreless innings, allowing one hit, striking out eight and walking one. The Miners went on to win 9-6 in 11 innings.
Kolin Stanley, 2012-2014. The Marshall product is tied for career saves with 14, including 10 in 2014 when he gave up only one run in 18 1/3 innings, and it was unearned. He turned in a tremendous effort in the 2013 league title win over Quincy, highlighted by inducing a 1-2-3 double play in the tenth inning to preserve a 3-3 tie.
James Woods, 2013. Not only was Woods effective, but being a left-handed submariner made him fun to watch. In 21 2/3 innings, Woods struck out 17 and walked six and finished with five saves.
Clayton Prestridge, 2011-2012. The slam dunk of slam dunks, Prestridge was arguably the greatest Miner of all time. In 2012 he set a team record with a .393 batting average to go with five homers, 14 doubles and 44 RBIs. He also stole 14 bases without being caught.
Pat Kregeloh, 2013. The first baseman hit .271 with seven home runs and 43 RBIs in his only season. He made his biggest impact late in the year, when his two-run homer in the bottom of the 14th helped the Miners beat Chillicothe 4-2 to clinch the East Division. He victimized the Paints again in the playoffs, hitting a solo home run in a 1-0 Game 1 win and another solo shot in a 3-0 win to clinch the series.
Blake Roberts, 2010-2011. One of the originals, Roberts was a big contributor in the Miners’ run to the championship game in 2011, their second year of existence. He led the team with a .350 batting average, hit 17 doubles and five triples, walked 34 times and drove in 33 runs.
Bradley Strong, 2011-2012. Strong’s stay in 2011 was brief, but he kicked the door in a year later. The third baseman hit .359 with 10 doubles, six triples and 37 RBIs and stole 29 bases. Strong, Prestridge and Lewis were all named summer league All-Americans that season.
Dan Ward, 2015-2017. Rivaling Prestridge for greatest Miner, Ward is all over the Miners record book. He is the career leader in hits (172), home runs (15), extra-base hits (54) and RBIs (107).
Dylan Harvey, 2015-2016. The WVU Tech product set a Prospect League record with 41 stolen bases in 2015 while hitting .303, walking 35 times and scoring 42 runs. He also rejoined the team just before the transaction deadline in 2016 and helped the Miners to the championship.
Austin Norman, 2016-2017. The Fairmont native was another big hitter for the 2016 title team, when he .324 with 19 doubles, six triples and 45 RBIs. He is the career leader with 33 doubles and 13 triples, and is second to Ward with 79 RBIs.
Joe Koch, 2010-2011. The Kent State product became the first Miner to ever play in the College World Series. He was one of the toughest outs in the Prospect League during his two years and a standout left fielder. He was a career .303 hitter and walked 66 times in 102 career games.
Brandon Koch, 2013. Koch was an infielder and his offensive numbers were not the greatest. But he also filled a vastly important role as a reliever. With the team losing pitchers left and right, Koch added stability. He made 19 appearances, 17 out of the bullpen, and was 7-3 with a save and 2.77 ERA.
Jonathan Pasillas, 2018-2019. The last two seasons have not been kind to the Miners, who won a franchise-low 18 games last year. Pasillas, who caught, played infield and even pitched a little, was a bright spot. He hit .312 with 17 doubles, seven homers and 37 RBIs.
There you have it. These by far are not the only worthy candidates, but players I certainly feel made the most significant contributions over the last 10 seasons. I would enjoy reading your thoughts.
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