The Sugar Land Skeeters have not only won the 2018 Atlantic League of Professional Baseball championship, they have won several other post-season awards as well.
Last week the league announced its annual awards and the Skeeters were well represented. Outfielder Anthony Giansanti and first baseman Matt Chavez scored double honors, as both made the Atlantic League Post-Season All-Star Team and the Atlantic League Red, White and Blue All-Defensive Team. Joining them as a post-season all-star is closer Felipe Paulino. Catcher Derek Norris was honored as a member of the Atlantic League Red, White and Blue All-Defensive Team.
Manager Pete Incaviglia was named the 2018 Atlantic League Manager of the Year. The Skeeters also took home two club honors. Constellation Field was named the Atlantic League’s Ballpark of the Year. Additionally, the Skeeters claimed the Ray Cipperly Award for Groundskeeping Excellence.
The Post-Season All-Star Team players were selected through voting from league club managers and executives.
“There was an abundance of talent throughout the Atlantic League this season,” said League President Rick White. “There were several deserving candidates at each position, and this year’s voting demonstrated that high level of competition.”
Like the all-stars, the Red, White and Blue All-Defensive Team players were selected through voting from league club managers and executives.
“We continue to be impressed each season with the defensive prowess of our players,” White said. “While there were many outstanding candidates, these nine players stood out for the work they did on the field this past season.”
This year marks the fourth consecutive season in which the Atlantic League has selected the Red, White and Blue All-Defensive Team among its post-season awards. The honor, based on a player’s defensive abilities during the regular season, commemorates the red and blue stitched Rawlings baseball that was adopted as the league’s official baseball in 2015.
Paulino and Chavez were also named regular season all-stars and played in the all-star game in Long Island.
Incaviglia, in his first season as the Skeeters manager, led the team to its second-ever Atlantic League Championship. The Skeeters compiled an 81-45 regular-season record, which was the second-most regular-season wins in team history and was the second-best winning percentage in team history.
Fourteen players from the Skeeters’ 2018 roster had their contract purchased by an outside professional baseball organization, including 12 with their contracts purchased by Major League Baseball organizations. The 14 contracts purchased, along with the 12 contracts purchased from MLB organizations, were both franchise single-season records. Thirty players with Major League service time appeared with the Skeeters in 2018, which was also a franchise single-season record.
Under Incaviglia, the Skeeters accumulated 52 home wins, surpassing the team record of 50 home wins in 2013. The Skeeters also set team single-season records in batting average (.273), on-base percentage (.349) and ERA (3.11) in 2018. Left-hander James Russell became the first player in team history to win the Atlantic League ERA title (2.36) and Matt Chavez’s batting average of .320 was the highest single-season qualifying batting average in team history.
The 2018 Atlantic League championship was the second league title that Incaviglia has been involved with throughout his illustrious career. He was a member of the 2000 Nashua Pride, which also went on to win to the Atlantic League title.
Incaviglia was in his first season managing the Atlantic League but he also managed the Laredo Lemurs to an American Association Championship in 2015. Incaviglia began his managerial career in 2008 with the Grand Prairie AirHogs of the American Association and had eight seasons of managerial experience in the American Association prior to joining the Skeeters.
Dating back to his stint in the American Association, Incaviglia has led his teams to the playoffs in three of his last four seasons, including two trips to the semi-finals. He owns a 506-405 career record as a manager at the independent level and has only finished a regular season with a losing record once.
Incaviglia played 12 seasons in the Majors after being selected by the Montreal Expos with the eighth overall pick of the 1985 MLB Draft. He still owns NCAA Division I records for single-season home runs (48), RBIs (143) and slugging percentage (1.140) from his time at Oklahoma State. He also still owns the NCAA Division I career home run record (100) and was named college baseball’s Player of the Century by Baseball America in 1999.
Head Groundskeeper Brad Detmore, Assistant Groundskeeper Robert Croteau and the entire grounds crew kept the playing surface at Constellation Field in superior condition all season long in the wake of various operating circumstances. These included weather, field traffic, financial resources and non-baseball event impact on the playing surface.
After serving as a shelter a year ago in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, the ballpark this year saw the opening of the brand-new Sport Court of Texas. The area, located beyond the left-center field fence, featured two basketball hoops along with a state-of-the-art Sport Court playing surface that provides active fans with a safe and enjoyable experience. That, along with the many other amenities featured at Constellation Field, have helped make it one of the premier ballparks in minor league baseball.