After an astonishing rise through the season, Goldeyes starter Nick Hernandez is now the American Association’s reigning pitcher of the year.
He’s not alone, on the league’s list of year-end awards. The Fish’s top two hitters, first baseman Casey Haerther and shortstop Tyler Kuhn, were also named to the American Association’s honorary All-Star team.
Hernandez is the first hurler to have won the pitcher of the year honour since the Goldeyes joined the American Association in 2011 – before that, Ace Walker earned the Northern League’s honour in 2009, and Rafael Gross in 2003. Meanwhile, only one other Goldeyes position player has been named to the American Association year-end all-star team, that being centre fielder Chris Roberson in 2012.
The league announced the honours on Monday afternoon, as the Fish were preparing for their 100th and final game of the regular season. Hernandez, 26, is slated to take the mound against the Gary SouthShore Railcats tonight.
Hernandez was a newcomer to independent ball this season, after an injury-plagued career with the Philadelphia Phillies organization. After a lackluster first two outings with the Fish, he locked down and proceeded to pitch a stand-out season, including two complete-game shutouts. On the road, he went 7-0 with a brilliant 2.44 ERA in 11 starts; overall, he is 12-2 with a 3.11 ERA in 19.
That makes him the first Fish pitcher to win 12 games in a season, since Walker completed that feat in 2009.
On the hitting side, Kuhn is now second in the league with a .361 batting average, and Haerther right behind with .360. Both were among six Goldeyes chosen for the Team North roster at the 2014 league all-star game, which Shaw Park hosted in July.
The Fish finish out their season at home tonight against the Railcats, with first pitch slated for 7 p.m. After that, they get a one-day break on Tuesday, before the Lincoln Saltdogs roll into town to open the first round of the playoffs at Shaw Park on Wednesday and Thursday night.