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Old 02-04-2020, 10:57 AM   #1
Big Six
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The Keystone League Returns, Again

Hi, everyone.

The other evening, I was browsing the internet, and found my way back to the OOTP Dynasty Forum. I used to spend a lot of very enjoyable time here, reading stories and, then, writing a few of my own.

It's been a while since I was a regular here, but I've never completely lost touch with my OOTP roots. It was the first sports management simulation I played. While I haven't bought every new edition of the game, I've been a fairly regular customer and a fairly steady player.

I have a lot of fun memories of playing and writing about my OOTP worlds here on the Dynasty Forum. "It was a simpler time" sounds too cliche to be true, but in some ways, that's true of my OOTP experience. I believe I was playing OOTP 4 when I first posted a story here. The experiences of playing and posting were very simple and rewarding.

My first completely fictional league was called the Keystone League. I started it in April 2005, and I had an absolute blast with it. I kept it going until the winter of 2008; it was nearly 500 posts long, and I'm flattered by the fact it had over 33,000 views. It's my second-longest running dynasty, and my second favorite.

I've tried to recapture the fun of a fictional league more times than I care to remember. I've even tried to restart the Keystone League twice before. I'm embarrassed to admit I've never stuck with one of these games more than a few weeks, but I either got too bored, too busy, or both.

So, I'm going to give the Keystone League another go. This will be a simple version: eight teams, three levels of minors. I'm beginning the story in 1890, but we're playing 1985-style baseball. I read somewhere that many fans reminisce about the way baseball was when we were kids; I was 12 that season, and I still like the blend of pitching/hitting/fielding/baserunning that was present then.

I owe immeasurable thanks to knuckler and txranger for the graphics I'm using--logos, caps, and uniforms for all 32 teams in my baseball world. I can't imagine OOTP without their contributions anymore.

I'm probably going to play through a few seasons quickly, to create a foundation for the league, and to make sure it's working the way I want it to. Then, I'll write quick summaries of these seasons, and I'll take it from there.

The path the story follows is still somewhat unknown to me. Maybe one team will capture my attention, and I'll take it over and describe my experiences as its general manager. Perhaps a player will emerge as a compelling choice for a lead character, and I'll follow his story instead. Maybe I'll remain outside the story as its narrator, the Great Baseball Deity who reports on the workings of the universe he's created and maintains. I'm not sure which it will be, but that's part of the fun.

I hope some of you who have enjoyed my stories in the past will give this one a try, too. Comments are always welcome; I really enjoy interacting with any readers who are out there.

Thanks for reading so far, and I hope we'll have some fun.
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Old 02-04-2020, 04:54 PM   #2
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Another of the old guard back! Good to see you back writing, just returned as well. Look forward to seeing what you turn out and hope all is well.

GH
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Old 02-04-2020, 07:52 PM   #3
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Preseason, 1890

If the citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania felt like their world had been rocked in the winter of 1889, they had good reason. The spring before, one of the worst natural disasters in American history had struck their state.

On the last day of May, the rain-swollen Little Conemaugh River wrecked a haphazardly maintained dam and swept down its valley, inundating the city of Johnstown and several nearby villages. The Johnstown Flood killed over 2,200 people and did $17 million in damage, a total that is equivalent to nearly half a billion dollars today.

The remaining residents of Johnstown refused to let their despair overcome them. With the help of thousands of supporters from near and far, they determined to rebuild their city.

A well-to-do businessman named J. Frank Ross was among those who worked to help the Johnstowners reconstruct their city and their lives. Ross lived far from Johnstown, in the Philadelphia Main Line community of Bryn Mawr, but he had relatives living nearby and felt their pain acutely. The good people of Johnstown and the valley need more than physical reconstruction," Ross told a newspaper reporter. "They need things to put smiles back on their faces. They need music and plays and books, and they need base ball."

Ross and his associates first paid for the construction of a clean, modern ballpark for the people of Johnstown. The new grounds were completed by late November, before the worst of a Pennsylvania mountain winter could set in. By then, Ross had come up with a grander plan.

He wanted to create a new base ball league for the Keystone State.

Ross and his fellow founders decided to call their creation the Keystone League. Their plan proved to be a popular one, and within weeks, applications to join the league had arrived from all the good-sized towns in Pennsylvania. Ross's vision was geared toward these cities, rather than the metropolises of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, and even Erie's base ball enthusiasts thought they were too big a town for Ross's local league (although two or three larger cities did put in applications).

"I was pleasantly surprised by the number of cities from which I have received applications to join the new league," Ross told the reporter. "I had envisioned a league of ten or twelve clubs, but the response has far exceeded that projection. Some of the cities and towns who submitted applications are quite small and, as enthusiastic as their backers are, they would not be able to compete with a city the size of Scranton or Lancaster on fair terms. So what we have decided to do is create affiliated leagues that will provide players for teams in the larger cities.

"I believe every city and town in our great state deserves a team of its own," Ross declared. "This way, they may have them."

Johnstown, whose plight inspired Ross's plan, was in fact a bit small to support a Keystone League club. However, their application was enthusiastically approved for the second tier of eight teams, in the Commonwealth League. The Independence League and the Liberty League, the two lower tiers, also contained eight teams each.

By the first of January, 1890, the Keystone League was ready to hold a draft to assign players to its eight teams and their affiliates. Pennsylvanians would have a new reason to look forward to the coming of spring.
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Old 02-04-2020, 08:00 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by G-Force View Post
Another of the old guard back! Good to see you back writing, just returned as well. Look forward to seeing what you turn out and hope all is well.

GH
It's really good to hear from you! I'm doing well, and so are my wife and kids. Neither of my daughters were alive when I began the story of the first Keystone League. They'll turn 10 (!) and 13 (!!) soon. I guess that does qualify me as "old guard," but I like it. I hope I still have some stories to tell.

Thanks for commenting, and I hope you'll keep reading!
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Old 02-04-2020, 08:42 PM   #5
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I want to show you readers the fantastic logos I am using to make this baseball world come alive. These logos, and the uniforms and caps that go with them, were created by txranger and knuckler.



I picked the eight Keystone League teams from a set of logos and uniforms these gentlemen made several years ago. The Bethlehem Steelers, Lancaster Red Roses, and York White Roses were all included in my original Keystone League, and it's a fun bit of nostalgia to see them again.





Some of the Commonwealth League's teams were inspired by the same logo set that I used for the "big league." A few of them were my own inventions, and txranger was kind enough to modify or create graphics for them.



I believe all eight of the Independence League teams were my own creations, with bespoke graphics from the same artists. The Kenilworth Oaks and Ridgecrest Stags are more fictional, with names taken from a league I created with places that have been meaningful to me and my family.

The "M" logo represents the Mansfield Bears.



I had a lot of fun with the teams of the Liberty League. The Boalsburg Memorials get their name for the village of Boalsburg's claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day. The Bryn Mawr Corgis and the Hummelstown Tabbies are inspired by our family pets. The Factoryville Woodmen call Christy Mathewson's birthplace their home.

Again, all the logos are the work of txranger and knuckler.
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Old 02-04-2020, 09:17 PM   #6
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It's nice to see you back here. I always enjoy your writing, and since I live in Pennsylvania I'll be following along. I'm debating Harrisburg or Scranton, but I think I'll pledge my allegiance to the Electric City.
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Old 02-04-2020, 09:39 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Big Six View Post
It's really good to hear from you! I'm doing well, and so are my wife and kids. Neither of my daughters were alive when I began the story of the first Keystone League. They'll turn 10 (!) and 13 (!!) soon. I guess that does qualify me as "old guard," but I like it. I hope I still have some stories to tell.

Thanks for commenting, and I hope you'll keep reading!

Wow, congrats! Glad to hear that. My stepdaughter is getting married in June, my boys are 17 (Austin, this month), 15 and 13.

It's been a long while!

I'll be reading!

GH
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Old 02-04-2020, 09:54 PM   #8
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1890 in Review



The inaugural season of the Keystone League proved to be an exciting, competitive one, with five of the loop's eight teams finishing within ten games of the league-leading Allentown Fleetwings.

The Wings had to wait an additional day to learn whom they would face in the Governor's Cup Series. The York White Roses and the Lancaster Red Roses finished the regular season with identical 82-72 records, making a one-game playoff necessary.

The Whites, behind a strong pitching performance from righthander Bob Blanton, defeated the Reds, 5-2, and advanced to the Series. Then, they dispatched Allentown in six games to win the first Governor's Cup.

Most Valuable Player Award: Dave Petrovsky, 1B, York White Roses
The White Roses surprised many "experts" when they used the fifth overall pick in the Inaugural Draft to choose the veteran Petrovsky, who turned 38 just before Opening Day. Dave proved the skeptics wrong, batting .305 with 41 homers and 117 RBI. He also walked 105 times, contributing to his outstanding 1.027 OPS.

Pitcher of the Year Award: Shane Prentice, LHP, Lancaster Red Roses
Shane, a compact, hard-throwing southpaw, was the league's only 20-game winner (20-9), and he also led the league with a 2.57 ERA. He missed the pitcher's Triple Crown by 17 strikeouts, finishing second with 269. Prentice was drafted right after Petrovsky, proving the wisdom of the Whites' and Reds' scouts.

Rookie of the Year: Dan Vayo, OF, Scranton Electrics
This 23-year-old flychaser, Scranton's second round pick in the Inaugural Draft, hit .260 with 24 home runs and 83 RBI. Usually batting in the leadoff spot, the speedy Vayo also swiped 19 bases.

#1 Overall Pick in First-Year Player Draft: Marc Moses, OF, Lancaster Red Roses
Moses, who turned 19 in June, was born in Corry, PA and moved with his family to Jamestown, NY. After batting .488 as a high school senior there and smacking 11 homers in 20 games, Marc caught the eyes of Lancaster's scouts. He struggled a bit in his first taste of fast competition, batting .242-2-39 in 86 games for the Red Roses' Class A affiliate in Hummelstown. The Reds still think they have a future star in this multi-talented outfielder.
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Old 02-04-2020, 10:11 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by NYY #23 View Post
It's nice to see you back here. I always enjoy your writing, and since I live in Pennsylvania I'll be following along. I'm debating Harrisburg or Scranton, but I think I'll pledge my allegiance to the Electric City.
It's good to have you along for the ride, NYY! The Electrics could use your support, as they finished the '90 season in the second division. They did have ROY Dan Vayo, however, and he was one of six players who clouted at least 20 home runs.

Among their sluggers was 2B Kevin Dawson, who went deep 26 times...but he batted only .202, and he struck out 238 times! That's using league settings from 1985, when Steve Balboni led MLB with 166 whiffs.

Sub-par pitching was Scranton's undoing. They allowed more runs than all but one other team. James Diekmann (13-8, 4.62, 217 K in 220 IP) was their best starter, and they have a fine young reliever in Ernesto Duran, who saved 33 games and struck out 124 batters in 78 innings.

With a farm system that ranks seventh out of eight teams, the Electrics might need to ask you to be patient as they develop a plan for a winning ball club.
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Old 02-04-2020, 10:14 PM   #10
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Wow, congrats! Glad to hear that. My stepdaughter is getting married in June, my boys are 17 (Austin, this month), 15 and 13.

It's been a long while!

I'll be reading!

GH
Congratulations on your stepdaughter's upcoming wedding, and happy birthday to Austin!

Our son, who's our oldest, is about to turn 16. I sometimes wish I could press "pause" and enjoy the moments for a while.
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Old 02-05-2020, 06:42 PM   #11
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1891 In Review



In 1890, the Allentown Fleetwings finished the regular season with the league’s best record, only to stumble at the last hurdle and lose the Governor’s Cup Series to York. This time, the Fleets kept their focus, romping to an easy first place finish and getting revenge on the White Roses with a victory in the seventh game of the Series.

Third baseman Rich Wright (.287-27-103) led the Allentown attack, with help from rookie star Donald Eichler. The team’s real stars resided on the mound, with Rob Grunwald (see below), Eric Melchior (18-12, 3.51) and Josh Shafer (15-8, 3.87) giving the Fleets a chance to win every time they took the ball. Relief ace Ricky Harris (6-8, 39 saves, 1.54 ERA) also had a fantastic season.

Most Valuable Player: Justin Dill, 2B, Harrisburg Senators
Dill barely missed out on this prize in 1890, when he hit .343 with a league-best .465 OBP. The pocket-sized second sacker was even better this season, winning the batting title with a .349 mark and adding power to his game, hitting 15 home runs and driving in 94. One of the bright spots in an otherwise forgettable season for the Senators, Justin hopes he will retain his skills as he approaches his 35th birthday. He was the #4 pick in last year’s Inaugural Draft.

Pitcher of the Year: Rob Grunwald, RHP, Allentown Fleetwings
Grunwald was also in the conversation about post-season awards last year, as he went 20-11 for the Fleets and led the league with 286 strikeouts. This year, the popular righthander with the wicked change-of-pace was more efficient, walking half as many batters and posting a league-best 2.84 ERA. The leader of a deep and talented Allentown pitching staff, Grunwald had a 16-6 record and 166 strikeouts, in a season when the leader had only 180. At age 30, Grunwald should be in his prime.

Rookie of the Year: Donald Eichler, OF, Allentown Fleetwings
Eichler was the #7 pick in last spring’s rookie draft and, despite struggling against Class AAA pitchers last year, he was called up to the big club early in the season. Once there, he adjusted nicely, hitting .285-17-75 with 31 doubles, 10 triples, and 23 steals. A slick fielder, Eichler, 24, should be a solid Keystone Leaguer for the next decade or longer.

#1 Overall Pick in First-Year Player Draft: Matt Hosley, LHP/OF, Bethlehem Steelers
Hosley grew up in Pittsburgh and decided to attend the local university. At Pitt, he starred on the mound (8-3, 2.83 ERA, 119 K in 98.2 innings) and held his own in the batter’s box too (.278-3-27 in 41 games. The Steelers drafted the 22-year-old, a lefty-throwing switch hitter, and assigned him to Haverford (Class AA), where was used both as a pitcher and an outfielder. He went 6-4 on the bump, with a 1.99 ERA and 8.1 K/9 mark, and put up a .322-6-33 line at the plate. Most scouts think he’ll carve out a career on the mound, with a lively fastball that makes him a five-star talent.
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Old 02-07-2020, 06:07 PM   #12
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1892 in Review



After finishing second in each of the first two Keystone League campaigns, the York White Roses took over first place in the second week of May and never looked back, winning the regular season championship by a comfortable seven games. The Allentown Fleetwings, to no one’s surprise, took the other spot in the Governor’s Cup Series, outlasting contenders Lancaster and Harrisburg.

The Yorkmen then completed their championship season by winning the series in five games.

Consistent pitching, both from their starters and their bullpen, was the key to the White Roses’ success. Five pitchers won between 12 and 18 games, and all had ERAs better than 3.70. Jay Moncrief, who struck out 96 batters in 73.1 innings and saved 40 White Roses victories, continues to rank among the league’s top relievers.

The runners-up were inspired by the courage and resilience of 1B Dave Petrovsky, the league’s first MVP. Last year, he suffered a severe concussion in the final days of spring training, and he missed the entire 1891 season. At age 40, would the popular slugger be able to come back?

He did, and with a vengeance, hitting .315 with 30 home runs and 109 RBI.

Most Valuable Player: Danny Tatum, OF, Harrisburg Senators
Tatum has been improving steadily over the past three seasons, and this year he established himself as one of the league’s most consistent, likeable stars. A true five-tool player, Danny hit .331 with 27 home runs and 99 RBI, and he led the league with 123 runs and 208 base hits. His speed enabled him to steal 47 bases, and it allows him to cover enough ground in center field to earn two consecutive Gold Gloves. Tatum, age 26, is leading the way for the resurgent Senators.

Pitcher of the Year: Karl Carnahan, LHP, Bethlehem Steelers
Carnahan made his KL debut in ’91, pitching out of the bullpen and flashing a 97 MPH fastball. This year, he earned a spot in the Steelers rotation and took the league by storm. Karl led the league with 18 wins (18-6), and his 207 strikeouts were also tops. He proved to be durable, tossing 257 innings and pitching to a 2.83 ERA. He will turn 26 during the offseason, so Carnahan’s best might be yet to come.

Rookie of the Year: Matt Warner, OF, Williamsport Loggers
In a season without a dazzling first-year star, Warner, 25, claimed the prize with a .237-19-68 batting line. His best tool is his speed; he stole 31 bases and displays lots of range in the outer garden. Only an eighth round pick in the 1890 rookie draft, Matt’s story is one of tenacity and determination.

#1 Overall Pick in First-Year Player Draft: David Dobson, RHP, Williamsport Loggers
Dobson made his way from the village of Bressler-Enhaut-Oberlin to the University of Alabama, where he overpowered hitters with high-90s heat. The 21-year-old stepped right into the rotation at Montoursville (Liberty League/A) and punched out 163 batters in 141 innings—giving him a season total of 346 in just over 270 innings of work. Will he burn out under the burden of a high workload, or will his country-strong frame be able to handle the job and enable him to become a true ace? We’ll see, and the hapless Loggers can’t wait to find out.
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Old 02-07-2020, 11:18 PM   #13
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1893 in Review



Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

For the fourth consecutive year, the Allentown Fleetwings and the York White Roses met to decide the Governor’s Cup Series. And, since 1893 is an odd-numbered year, it was time for the Wings to lift the Cup.

You’ll read more about Dave Petrovsky in a moment; for now, it’s enough to know that he and 2B Rich Wright combined for 64 homers and 205 RBI. And OF Justin Bleich, whose base-stealing exploits I really should have mentioned earlier, swiped 72 bags. He stole 89 the season before, and 67 as a rookie in ’91.

Ricky Harris, whose 48 saves were a new league record, was the best member of a pitching staff that was solid, if unspectacular. Josh Shafer (17-6) was the best of the starters.

Most Valuable Player: Dave Petrovsky, 1B, Allentown Fleetwings
The first man to win two MVP awards, Petrovsky enjoyed his best season ever at the age of 41. He led the league in all three “slash” categories (.352/.440/.594), and if you prefer more traditional stats, you’ll like his 34 homers and 103 RBI. How long can he keep mashing like he does? His skills are showing no signs of diminishing yet.

Pitcher of the Year: Karl Carnahan, LHP, Bethlehem Steelers
The Steelers were a .500 club in 1893, and Carnahan’s 16-15 record doesn’t cry out “Pitcher of the Year,” does it? Dig deeper, and you’ll see what an asset Karl is. He is the most durable twirler in the league, and he won his second straight strikeout crown. His 2.92 ERA was only a bit higher than last year’s mark. He deserved his second straight POY trophy.

Rookie of the Year: Marc Moses, OF, Lancaster Red Roses
Moses, the #1 pick in the 1890 rookie draft, was still at Lancaster’s Liberty League (A) affiliate in Hummelstown two years later, and some were wondering if he would turn out to be a bust. However, after a very good 1892 season there, ending with a brief, productive stay at AA Ridgecrest, Marc began the ’93 campaign with the big club. His .250 average was nothing special, but he had 66 extra base hits, including 19 homers, and he stole 31 bases. He’s only 22, and I think he’s on his way to an illustrious career.

#1 Overall Pick in First Year Player Draft: Chris Hawkins, RHP, Williamsport Loggers
If you’re a bad team, you often get the first pick in the draft, and that’s basically the situation in Williamsport right now. For the second straight year, the Loggers chose a pitcher, but this time they took a high school righthander from Steelton, PA. Hawkins’s high school stats look like something my son might produce if he maxed out all the ratings for a favorite pitcher on a console game: a 12-0 record, an 0.43 ERA, 226 Ks in 124 innings pitched. Chris returned to mortal status with Montoursville (Liberty/A), but his wicked sinker-slider-change repertoire, delivered from a low sidearm slot, ought to serve him well as he climbs through the Loggers organization.
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Old 02-18-2020, 07:00 PM   #14
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1894 in Review



For the fifth consecutive season, the York White Roses and the Allentown Fleetwings competed for the Governor’s Cup Series, but at least the path the teams took to get there was a bit more exciting.

The White Roses entered the last week of the season with a two-game lead over the Fleetwings, with Harrisburg a close third. However, the Whites were swept by Williamsport, while the Fleets took three straight from Lancaster. In a beautiful scheduling coincidence, the two top teams would face each other in a three-game set at White Roses Ballpark, with Allentown now a game in front. York and Allentown would be in the Series; the teams were now playing for bragging rights.

On September 26, York’s Andrew Patton and Jay Moncrief teamed up to shut out the Fleetwings, 3-0, leaving the teams tied for first. The next day, Allentown scored five times in the first inning en route to a 10-4 triumph.

The visitors sent 20-game winner Rob Grunwald to the mound in the regular season finale, hoping to win the league. However, the White Roses sent him to the showers in an 8-4 victory. A 155th game would be required to settle matters. The extra contest was anticlimactic, as Allentown romped to a 10-2 victory.

Did the Fleetwings use up their magic winning the regular season? It certainly seemed that way, as York swept the Governor’s Cup in four games. Patton set the tone with another shutout in Game 1, and the White Roses extended their pattern of lifting the Cup in even-numbered years.

York’s offense was the best in the league, relying on several key contributors rather than one or two superstars. Veteran OF Joe Nicholson (.310-4-58) set the table beautifully; 1B Brad Kelley supplied the power (.277-28-103). Andrew Patton (16.8, 2.72) and Justin Meloro (15-13, 3.04) were the team’s top starters, with Jay Moncrief (8-6, 2.94, 26 saves) excelling out of the bullpen.

However, each of the players named in the previous paragraph were at least 31 years old at season’s end. Could the White Roses’ outstanding run be coming to a close?

York’s stars are callow youth compared to Allentown’s Dave Petrovsky, who spent another season laughing at Father Time and raking baseballs (.319/.436/.533; 30 HR, 90 RBI). Dave will be 43 when the ’95 season opens, but I wouldn’t bet against him being in the Fleetwings lineup.


Most Valuable Player: Matt Teer, 2B, Williamsport Loggers
The Loggers enjoyed much more success in 1894, and Teer was a huge reason why. The #2 overall pick in the 1891 draft, Matt hit .303 with 75 stolen bases in ’93. That performance should probably have won him the ROY, but Matt had bigger prizes in mind. He built on his impressive debut last year, winning the batting title with a .339 mark, smacking 25 doubles, 12 triples, and 22 homers, and stealing 78 more bases. A decent defender, Teer is just entering his prime at age 25. He's the first of the high draft picks the Loggers have accumulated to make an impact in the KL.


Pitcher of the Year: Shawn Alexander, LHP, Harrisburg Senators
Alexander, 31, had established himself as a reliable, if unspectacular pitcher since the KL’s founding, but he took a big step forward in 1894. He led the league with a 2.57 ERA, and his 18-10 record was second only to Rob Grunwald’s. Shawn’s signature pitch is a deceptive knuckle curve. He is also a very good hitting pitcher, with a career .225 average. Alexander may never be recognized as a Keystone League legend, but any team would like to have him on their pitching staff.


Rookie of the Year: Phil Johnson, OF, York White Roses
Johnson, 23, was drafted in June 1890, and steadily worked his way through the White Roses system. He made his Keystone League debut this season, and did more of everything than he ever did in the minors. He hit an even .300, led the league with 116 runs scored, stole 35 bags, belted 11 home runs, and drove in 76 runs. Phil provided a much-needed shot of youth to the White Roses’ veteran lineup.


#1 Overall Pick in First Year Player Draft: Connor McDonald, RHP, Williamsport Loggers
The Loggers had the #1 pick in the draft for the third consecutive season, and for the third consecutive season, they used it to choose a righthanded pitcher. McDonald, 21, was born in the town of Arnold, up the Allegheny River from Pittsburgh, where he chose to attend college. As a senior, Connor went 9-1 for Pitt, posting a 0.69 ERA and racking up 209 strikeouts in 104 innings. A tall, powerfully-built pitcher, McDonald dominated college hitters with a 100 MPH fastball and a vicious splitter. He doesn’t have a third pitch, however, which might limit him to a bullpen role. Connor was unhittable in that role at Montoursville (Liberty/Class A) and was very solid at Mansfield (Independence/Class AA), saving 21 games between his two stops. McDonald might develop into the most dominant reliever in the league. If he falls short of that standard, will he be considered a bust?
__________________
My dynasties:

The Base Ball Life of Patrick O'Farrell: 2014 inductee, OOTP Dynasty Hall of Fame

Kenilworth: A Town and its Team: fun with a fictional league

Last edited by Big Six; 02-18-2020 at 07:03 PM.
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