Stanford Announces 2006 Team Awards At Annual Banquet Friday

Dec. 1, 2006

Stanford, Calif. - Stanford Baseball announced its 2006 team awards at the club's annual season-ending banquet held at the Sheraton Hotel on Friday. Chris Minaker earned the highest honor as the squad's Most Valuable Player and also picked up the Jack Shepard Memorial Award given annually to the player with the highest batting average. The team's other awards went to Jeremy Bleich (Most Outstanding Freshman), John Hester (Most Inspirational Player), Chris Lewis (Come Through Award), Matt Manship (Bruce R. Cameron Memorial Award ... presented annually to a player with outstanding proficiency in baseball, leadership and academic performance) and Greg Reynolds (Most Improved Player).

'All of these players deserved the honors that we bestowed on them tonight,' said Stanford head coach Mark Marquess. 'Each and every one of them made tremendous contributions to Stanford Baseball in 2006.'

Minaker had a terrific season in 2006, earning NCBWA Third Team All-American and All-Pac-10 honors. His .364 batting average, 11 homers and 68 RBI led all Cardinal regulars. He fielded at a .968 clip and made just one error in his last 33 games while starting all 60 contests at shortstop. His campaign also included an outstanding postseason when he was named the Most Outstanding Player at the 2006 NCAA Austin Regional. In addition, Minaker was a First Team Pac-10 All-Academic choice for the third time at Stanford. He finished his career with a .311 batting average, 18 homers, 138 RBI and 18 stolen bases to go with a .965 fielding percentage. He made 157 consecutive starts for the Cardinal at shortstop to conclude his career. He was selected in the 10th round of the 2006 MLB First-Year Player Draft and quickly promoted from his initial assignment with the Everett AquaSox (.289, 1 HR, 9 RBI, 2 SB) of the Northwest League (Class A Short Season) to the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers of the Class A Midwest League, where he hit .315 with four homers, 17 RBI and four stolen bases.

Most Valuable Freshman
Jeremy Bleich

Bleich had a promising freshman campaign by posting a 4-4 record with a 4.05 ERA and a team-high seven saves. He struck out 37 batters in his 60.0 innings that ranked fourth on the club, while appearing in a team-best 24 games with seven starts. Bleich began the season as a reliever, collecting all seven saves in his first 12 appearances before moving into the starting rotation in mid-April, where he made seven of his final nine appearances as a starter. Bleich had an excellent summer season in the 2006 Cape Cod Baseball League, earning a spot in the All-Star Game and finishing the season with a 1-1 record a 2.09 ERA while striking out 31 in his 43.0 innings worked.

Most Inspirational Player
John Hester

Hester hit .264 with two homers, 25 RBI and five stolen bases while starting 50 games behind the plate and playing in 52 last season. He arguably provided the team's most inspirational moment of the season when he blasted a key three-run homer in the second inning of a 12-8 comeback win over Texas to lift the Cardinal to a critical winners' bracket game victory on the way to the NCAA Austin Regional title. He finished his Cardinal career a .270 hitter with eight homers, 74 RBI and 14 stolen bases in 138 games played and 115 starts. Hester was taken by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 13th round of the 2006 MLB First-Year Player Draft and hit .271 with six homers, 41 RBI and six stolen bases playing for the Missoula Osprey of Rookie Pioneer League in his first season of professional baseball.

Come Through Award
Chris Lewis

Lewis came on strong at the end of the 2006 campaign to earn honorable mention All-Pac-10 honors and finish with career-bests of a .306 batting average, eight homers (tied career-high) and 48 RBI. Lewis, who started all 60 games, continued his strong play in the postseason when he was selected to the NCAA All-Regional team and was also an honorable mention Pac-10 All-Academic choice. He finished with a lifetime collegiate .267 batting average to go with 21 homers, 100 RBI and six stolen bases, while starting his final 119 collegiate games over his last two seasons with the Cardinal. Lewis was picked by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the 32nd round of the 2006 MLB First-Year Player Draft. He spent his first professional baseball campaign with the Class A Arizona League Angels, hitting .295 with two homers, 23 RBI and nine stolen bases.

Bruce R. Cameron Memorial Award
Matt Manship

Manship closed out his four-year Cardinal career by earning honorable mention All-Pac-10 and Second Team Pac-10 All-Academic honors as a senior in 2006. He was 2-6 with a 5.51 ERA on the mound, striking out 50 in his 67.0 innings that ranked second on the club to Reynolds. Manship was moved to the starting rotation for most of his final collegiate start after spending his first three seasons primarily as a reliever, recording 17 saves to rank tied for second on Stanford's all-time list. He will be remembered at Stanford for a postseason effort at the 2005 NCAA Wago Regional when he earned a spot on the NCAA All-Regional squad by recording saves on both ends of a doubleheader sweep and retiring all 17 batters he faced. He finished his Cardinal career with a 6-10 record and a 3.99 ERA, striking out 154 batters in 198.1 innings. Manship was selected in the 29th round of the 2006 MLB First-Year Player Draft by the Oakland Athletics and had a successful first professional season (1-1, 2.94 ERA, 33.2 IP, 32 SO) last summer with the Vancouver Canadians of the Class A Short Season Northwest League.

Most Improved Player
Greg Reynolds

Reynolds' stock shot up in 2006 as he was selected as the second overall pick in the first round of the 2006 MLB First-Year Player Draft by the Colorado Rockies following the season. The honorable mention All-Pac-10 choice posted a 7-6 record and a 3.31 ERA with 108 strikeouts in 127.2 innings to lead Cardinal regulars in all categories. He also had team-highs of 18 starts and all of his team-best five complete games came in his final seven starts. Reynolds was fantastic in the opener of the NCAA Austin Regional in a complete game victory over North Carolina State to earn NCAA All-Regional recognition. He finished his Stanford career with a 13-10 mark on the hill and a 4.11 ERA, striking out 174 in 206.0 frames. Reynolds was 2-1 with a 3.33 ERA and struck out 29 batters in 48.2 innings in his first professional season during the summer of 2006 with the Modesto Nuts of the Class A California League.

Stanford is scheduled to open its 2007 regular season by traveling to Cal State Fullerton for a three-game non-conference series Friday-Sunday, February 2-4 (7 pm, 6 pm, 12 pm, PT). The first 2007 home series for the Cardinal is slated to take place at Sunken Diamond against Fresno State (Friday-Sunday, February 9-11, 5 pm, 1 pm, 1 pm, PT).

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