Garner Cleveland: Sports

Former Carolina Mudcat Jason Kendall picked for Southern League Hall of Fame

Jason Kendall of the Pittsburgh Pirates on February 29, 2004 in Bradenton, Florida.
Jason Kendall of the Pittsburgh Pirates on February 29, 2004 in Bradenton, Florida. MLB Photos

Former Carolina Mudcat Jason Kendall has been named to the Southern League Hall of Fame.

Kendall played in 117 games and scored a team-high 87 runs for the Southern League Champion Mudcats in 1995. That Mudcats team won a club record 89 games and their league title was the first of two won in the Southern League before the team moved to the Carolina League in 2012.

In 1995, Kendall led the Southern League in on-base percentage (.414) and was second in batting (.326). He was also the toughest Southern League batter to strikeout as he averaged just one strikeout per 23.09 at-bats during the season.

The then 21-year-old catcher helped lead the Mudcats to the first half championship and was named to the Southern League All-Star team in 1995. He would later go on to earn the same honor while with the Pittsburgh Pirates during his rookie season in 1996. Kendall batted .300 for the Pirates in 1996 and was named the MLB Rookie of the Year.

The Pirates selected Kendall in the first round of the 1992 June draft. He was the 23rd overall pick in 1992 and made his major league debut on April 1, 1996.

Kendall batted .309 and posted a .387 on-base percentage over nine seasons with the Pirates. He also played for the Oakland Athletics, Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee Brewers and Kansas City Royals before retiring after the 2012 season. In all, he finished his 16-year major league career with a .288 average and 2,195 hits.

The Pirates were the original MLB affiliate of the Mudcats after they started play at Five County Stadium in 1991. The Mudcats remained Pittsburgh’s Double-A club from 1991 through 1998.

Currently, the Mudcats are the Class-A Advanced affiliate of the Atlanta Braves. The 2015 season marks the 25th straight for the Mudcats at Five County Stadium in Zebulon. It is also their fourth straight season in the historic Carolina League.

The Mudcats open their 2015 season on April 9 at Five County Stadium.

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