When Lynchburg was in the midst of its lengthy winning streak in July and vaulting to the top of the Carolina League Northern Division second-half standings, Nellie Rodriguez was at the center of the offensive production. The first baseman was the Hillcats' cleanup hitter and had a knack for coming through with runners in scoring position. When he was finally promoted to Double-A Akron after 108 contests with the Hillcats, he had a substantial lead in several offensive categories and Rodriguez was rewarded Saturday for his prowess at the plate.
Rodriguez was voted the Carolina League most valuable player, which was voted upon by league managers, general managers and media members. Rodriguez is the first Hillcat to win the league MVP award since 2004 (Brad Eldred).
Jose Guillen, Aramis Ramirez and Chris Shelton are the other three players to win the award since 1995, when the Hillcats era began once the Pittsburgh Pirates became the parent club.
Rodriguez became the 11th Lynchburg player to win the Carolina League's MVP award since 1966. His 17 home runs, 84 RBIs, 51 extra-base hits and .495 slugging percentage still lead the Carolina League.
He is tied for second in doubles behind Hillcats outfielder Mike Papi (33) and fellow Hillcat
Clint Frazier surpassed Rodriguez in total bases.
Frazier was named to the postseason all-star team as an outfielder after being named the league's player of the month for July. After Friday's contests, Frazier leads the league with 132 hits and 213 total bases. He's tied for second with 32 doubles, 15 home runs and 82 runs scored.
Myrtle Beach's Mark Johnson was voted manager of the year and Winston-Salem right-hander Matt Heidenreich was named pitcher of the year.