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Marcus Caps Summer With MVP Award

August 20, 2015 ♦ by Patrick Reddick

In the final round of batting practice on Opening Day at Jamestown's Diethrick Park, David Marcus took five swings. He lined one ball off the left field fence. The other four went over. His production did not waver much throughout the season.

On Thursday, Marcus was named the Prospect League's Most Valuable Player and Top Pro Prospect, as well as the top first baseman in the East Division.

One of five players in League history to appear in all 60 games, Marcus made opposing pitchers nervous each time he stepped to the plate. It took him eight nights to clear the fence during a game. The two-run shot in the bottom of the first inning gave Butler a 2-1 lead over Chillicothe.

He hit his second home run four innings later.

All of this came despite playing in the most pitcher friendly park in the League. Marcus had at least five fly outs to center field that would have flown out of any park other than Kelly Automotive Park with its 425-foot perimeter. By the end of the summer, he had hit seven round trippers at home (tying him with Shayne Houck for the most anyone has hit at the KAP) and 11 overall, setting a new high for the BlueSox and more than doubling anyone else in the League. Seven Prospect League teams in the failed to match Marcus's home run total.

He was also the runner up in the Home Run Derby in Richmond.

And while home runs are flashy, Marcus was in no way one dimensional. He also led the League in doubles, in extra-base hits, in RBIs, and in intentional walks. He went 18-for-35 with runners in scoring position and two outs.

Marcus finished fourth in the League in batting average—albeit with 76 more at bats than anyone ahead of him did. Only Chillicothe's Deion Tansel had more hits than Marcus, 83 to 81, though Tansel had 14 more plate appearances.

In early July, Marcus had a 15-game hitting streak, the longest in the League this summer and just two shy of the BlueSox' record. At one point during the streak, he did not strike out for eight games in a row. He reached safely in 22 consecutive games, though he was outdone in that category by teammate Matt Hansen who reached safely in 27.

There was clearly a shift in how pitchers approached Marcus mid-way through the season. Having walked seven times in his first 32 games; he drew 17 free passes in his final 28. Despite getting worse pitches to hit, he was able to maintain discipline, keeping his strikeout rate at 11%, which was well under the League average of 17%.

Defensively, Marcus appeared in 49 games at first base. He committed just four errors in 484 attempts—the second highest fielding percentage among first basemen in the League.

In terms of where Marcus fits into the all-time Prospect League greats, he concludes the season with a Runs Created Plus of 268.3, meaning he produced nearly 2.7 times the runs the average qualified player in the League did. The all-time League leader in the category is Jeff Holm, who played for Chillicothe in 2010. With a similar stat line and 11 home runs as well, Holm also led the League with 38 stolen bases, which was a record that lasted until this summer. Holm's RC+ was 268.5.

When a player reaches the level Marcus did this summer, however, you can throw away the numbers. The fans of Butler will have memories of Marcus at the plate with his unassuming stance and then, next thing you know, the ball in right field. Night in and night out... a few opposing pitchers will probably remember too.

Summer of 2015 Brings the Unexpected

August 13, 2015 ♦ by Jerin Steele

Before the 2015 BlueSox season got underway, my good friend Patrick Reddick and I sat in the office discussing what we might see this summer. With me being around the team for five years and Pat for the entire franchise's history, we weren't sure if we'd see anything new.

We thought we'd seen it all. Boy we're we naive. The BlueSox gave us plenty of moments to remember in 2015.

Before the season started in Jamestown, David Marcus hit four of five balls out of the park in the final round of batting practice. It was a pretty good indicator to what we would see from him all summer.

Marcus led the Prospect League in six categories including home runs (11), doubles (18), and RBI (47). He had several multi-homer games and ended up setting a new BlueSox single-season homer record with a two-run shot at Champion City on August 3.

One of his home runs earlier in the season was a moment fans who were in attendance that night, players, and Marcus himself will remember forever. On July 16 against Jamestown, Marcus crushed an offering to the spacious center field of Kelly Automotive Park, but the Jammers' centerfielder ran it down and made a catch to seemingly take away extra bases. The centerfielder bounced up against the wall and the ball popped out of his glove going over the wall for a homer.

As a broadcaster, it confused me to the point that I started second guessing whether the centerfielder had actually caught the ball. Marcus left little doubt in his next at-bat when he smashed a pitch over the right field fence for his second homer of the game.

While Marcus tore the ball off the cover all summer, Zach Spangler was just as dominant pitching in the closer's role. Spangler set the Prospect League record for saves with 19. Spangler's side-arm delivery baffled opposing hitters for the majority of the summer.

Early in the season on the road in Chillicothe the BlueSox also turned the first triple play in franchise history. Matt Hansen was at the center of it, doubling off a runner on a lineout then throwing to first to get the third out. Hansen also made the difficult look routine in the field.

Hansen had an outstanding summer with the bat, hitting .338, and had a walk-off hit to left field in a wild game with Quincy in front of huge home crowd on a fireworks night.

Another excellent defensive player was Michael Patrick, who patrolled the expansive centerfield in Butler for the majority of the summer.

There wasn't a player on defense quite like Tyler Sullivan though. The term utility player is thrown around quite a bit, but Sullivan was the ultimate example of a versatile fielder.

Sullivan became the first BlueSox player to play all nine positions, finishing off the feat in the final home game against Richmond. He started the bottom of the ninth on the mound, throwing two pitches and recorded a groundout. He went to the dugout and emerged from it wearing catchers gear. Sullivan caught Spangler for the final two outs.

First-year manager Jason Radwan and assistant coach Josh Forbes did an excellent job with the BlueSox, who stayed in the playoff race until there were three days left in the season. Cody Hearld also was an assistant until he signed with the Washington Wild Things with a few weeks left in the BlueSox' season.

This recap would be remiss if it didn't mention Russell Clark. Clark has called the catcher's box at Kelly Automotive Park home for the last three summers. His solid defense and great leadership with the pitchers made him a fan favorite.

The 30 nights every summer that the BlueSox entertain a fellow Prospect League foe are special. It's not always about the result on the field, it's more than that. It's about people coming to the park to have a fun night out.

Our owners, staff, and interns are a big part of making sure the experience is enjoyable. This summer the group we had was exceptional, whether it was on-field entertainment, sitting next to me providing color commentary, or any of the nuances that make the product polished our interns were ahead of the game from day one.

It was a pleasure to work alongside them.

We often get so entrenched with our jobs during the season that before we know it another one has come to a close.

If we're sitting in the office before the season starts in 2016, we will know better now than to ask ourselves "What's left?" We'll be asking "What's next?"

You can follow more of Jerin Steele's work on Twitter.

Sox End 2015 With 400th Game

August 6, 2015 ♦ by Patrick Reddick

The Butler BlueSox completed their 2015 season on Thursday evening, falling 5-3 to the Champion City Kings.

The Sox finished with 33-27 overall record, placing them third in the East division for the fifth time in their seven-year history. The game was their 400th regular season contest.

You can listen to an audio recap of the whole season on our final installment of Sox Talk for the season, linked below. We will have continuing coverage of the season, including the post-season awards, in the upcoming weeks.

Thank You Host Families!

We are extremely humbled to have such dedicated host families year in and year out. Thank you for making the 2015 season one of the best!

A Day in the Life of a Ballpark

July 20, 2015 ♦ by Patrick Reddick

A BlueSox game will last a little over two hours, but it takes a lot more time than that to make sure the ballpark is prepared so that everything runs smoothly each night. On this special edition of Sox Talk we take a tour of the KAP and talk to lots the folks who make it possible for the BlueSox to play in such a great environment.

You can listen below, on the Soundcloud app, or download the episode (with the arrow in the top right) to listen on the mobile device of your choosing. It runs about 25 minutes in length.