Garner Cleveland: Sports

Mudcats win top League awards

Darren Headrick is the Carolina League's Broadcaster of the Year. He's in his second year as the play-by-play voice of the Mudcats.
Darren Headrick is the Carolina League's Broadcaster of the Year. He's in his second year as the play-by-play voice of the Mudcats.

Carolina Mudcats pitcher Cody Anderson and radio broadcaster Darren Headrick picked up their respective top individual honors from the Carolina League last week.

Anderson, who finished the season at Double-A Akron (Ohio) was named the pitcher of the year in the league, while Headrick is the broadcaster of the year.

Anderson, 22, was the ace of a talented Mudcats pitching staff this summer. The right-hander owned the Carolina League’s best ERA at 2.34 and a 9-4 record before a promotion to Double-A Akron on Aug. 14. A midseason All-Star selection, Anderson finished with 112 strikeouts in 123.1 innings. He owned 10 quality starts, including three straight from May 9-19. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound hurler tossed 26 1/3 consecutive innings without allowing a base on balls from April 27 until May 19.

Anderson was also voted the starting pitcher for the year-end All-Star team.

Headrick, 28, is concluding his second season as the play-by-play voice of the Mudcats. Before arriving in Zebulon prior to the 2012 season, the Maryville, Tenn., native served as the Assistant Director of Media Relations for the Oklahoma City RedHawks, the Houston Astros’ Triple-A affiliate in the Pacific Coast League.

“It is truly gratifying and, at the same time, humbling to be honored by your peers, all of whom do the same job day in and day out,” Headrick said. “I greatly appreciate all of them. It’s a pleasure to work with them throughout the summer.”

A co-creator of the Carolina League’s Broadcaster of the Year award last year, Headrick began his baseball broadcasting career in 2007 with a three-year run as a member of the broadcast team for the Tennessee Smokies, the Chicago Cubs’ Double-A affiliate in the Southern League. He also served as the lead broadcaster for the Wilson Tobs of the Coastal Plain League in 2010.

“I have been blessed with a great team to cover this summer,” Headrick continued. “From manager Dave Wallace to the staff and players, they’ve made it fun to come to the ballpark everyday. I also want to thank Steve Bryant, Joe Kremer and Eric Gardner for believing in me and allowing me the chance to develop as a broadcaster.”

Headrick joins former Wilmington Blue Rocks play-by-play voice John Sadak as the two Carolina League Broadcaster of the Year honorees. The inaugural winner in 2012, Sadak is now the lead broadcaster for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, the Triple-A affiliate of the New York Yankees, after working for the Blue Rocks from 2006 to 2012.

In addition to his six years of work in professional baseball, Headrick has experience broadcasting at the collegiate level with the University of Tennessee’s Vol Network and North Carolina Central University women’s basketball. Darren currently spends his spring announcing Pirates baseball for East Carolina University on the Pirates IMG Sports Network.

Mudcats off to Arizona Fall League: Two position players from the 2013 Carolina Mudcats will participate in the Arizona Fall League. Catcher Tony Wolters and second baseman Joey Wendle will both suit up for the Surprise Saguaros.

Wolters, a 21-year-old from Vista, Calif., has spent his second season at Five County Stadium making the conversion from middle infielder to catcher. A third round pick by the Indians in 2010, Wolters is hitting .283 in 75 games with the Mudcats. He owns three home runs and 29 RBI. Behind the plate, Wolters has caught 29 percent of base runners attempting to steal. Entering last week, he ranked second in the Cleveland farm system with 25 total runners thrown out.

A native of Lincoln University, Penn., Wendle leads the Mudcats with 15 home runs and 59 RBI in his first season in the Carolina League. The Indians’ sixth round pick in 2012 also has a .295 batting average that ranks sixth among league leaders.

This year’s Arizona Fall League includes 33 first-round draft choices. Former Mudcat Tyler Naquin will also play for Surprise this fall. The Indians selected Naquin 15th overall in the 2012 draft. The outfielder is hitting a combined .273 between Carolina and the Tribe’s Double-A affiliate Akron Aeros. He has 10 home runs and 48 RBI to go with 135 hits and 76 runs scored.

Catcher Jake Lowery, who played for the Mudcats over parts of 2012 and 2013, will play for the Peoria Javelinas.

This year’s league also includes players from eight foreign countries – Dominican Republic (12), Cuba (6), Nicaragua (2), Venezuela (2), Colombia (1), Curacao (1), Germany (1), South Africa (1) – and Puerto Rico (3).

“We are excited to welcome the Class of 2013,” Director Steve Cobb says. “We are proud of the role we serve in MLB’s player development process. It is our history that over 60 percent of these players will reach the major leagues. We want fans to know the top young talent in the game still will be playing baseball in October and November in Arizona.”

Colon is Indians’ player of the week: Carolina Mudcats’ right-hander Joe Colon was named the Cleveland Indians’ Player of the Week for Aug. 19-26. Colon becomes the fifth Mudcat to receive the Indians’ weekly organizational award this season.

Colon pitched the Mudcats to an 8-2 win over the Lynchburg Hillcats on Aug. 22. The 23-year-old hurled a season-high seven scoreless innings with seven strikeouts and no walks. He held opposing batters to four hits in 24 at-bats and did not allow a runner past first.

Over the course of his last three starts, the Caguas, Puerto Rico native has surrendered just two earned runs through 20.1 innings, while averaging 6.6 strikeouts per nine innings. In 13 starts for Carolina this season, Colon is 4-3 with a 2.99 ERA (24/72.1 IP) with 62 strikeouts and just 21 walks.