INDIANAPOLIS – The Indianapolis Indians today announced that outfielder/first baseman Miguel Andújar has been named the team’s 2023 Most Valuable Player after he consistently ranked among the top sluggers in the International League in multiple offensive categories. Right-handed pitchers Quinn Priester and Hunter Stratton, southpaw Cam Alldred, outfielder Ryan Vilade and infielders Josh Bissonette and Chris Owings were also recognized as award-winners.
Team MVP – Miguel Andújar
Andújar, 28, was one of the IL’s best hitters during the heart of his 2023 campaign, which led to him having his contract selected by Pittsburgh for the second time on Sept. 1. At the time of his return to the big leagues, he ranked among league qualifiers in RBI (2nd, 86), batting average (3rd, .338), hits (3rd, 140), total bases (4th, 222), OPS (4th, .940), slugging percentage (5th, .536), doubles (T-6th, 30), on-base percentage (8th, .404) and extra-base hits (T-8th, 48) in 103 games with Indy.
After being outrighted by Pittsburgh on May 22, Andújar immediately became the Indians’ most feared slugger with a career-high 20-game hitting streak. The streak is tied with Todd Haney (1991) for the fifth-longest hitting streak in franchise history and is one game short of the longest hitting streak in the Victory Field era (Rajai Davis, 2007). During that stretch from May 24-June 18, he led the league with a 1.228 OPS and 61 total bases while hitting .427 (35-for-82) with 20 runs, 15 extra-base hits and 19 RBI. That streak sparked his first of two team Player of the Month honors in June and July, making him the first Indian in Victory Field history to earn the award in consecutive months and the second to be given the award twice in a season (also: Roberto Petagine, 1998).
In the field, Andújar led the Indians with eight assists while committing just one error in 96 total chances (.990 fielding percentage) in the outfield. He also appeared in 34 games (29 starts) at first base and registered a .995 fielding percentage (one error in 207 total chances).
Pitcher of the Year – Quinn Priester
Priester, 23, logged a career-high seven-game winning streak from May 4-Aug. 25 to sandwich his major league debut on July 17 and first of two stints with Pittsburgh. During that stretch, he registered a 3.04 ERA (26er/77.0ip) with 74 strikeouts in 15 games (14 starts). In 22 total appearances (20 starts), he went 9-4 with a 4.00 ERA (48er/108.0ip) and team-high 116 strikeouts, fifth-best in the International League.
His season was highlighted by a pair of double-digit strikeout performances. On June 24 vs. Columbus, he fanned a season-high 11 batters across 6.0 shutout innings, the most by an Indians pitcher in a single outing this season. His final Triple-A start prior to being recalled by Pittsburgh came on Sept. 7 vs. Toledo, and he struck out 10 batters over 5.2 relief innings to set a Victory Field era record for strikeouts by a reliever.
Reliever of the Year – Hunter Stratton
Stratton, 26, appeared in 47 total games (two starts) with Indianapolis this season and went 4-4 with a 3.99 ERA (25er/56.1ip) and 74 strikeouts. He led all Indians relievers in strikeouts and tied with Colin Selby for the team lead with six saves.
The right-hander had his contract selected by Pittsburgh on Sept. 4 after logging a 13.1-inning streak without allowing an earned run from Aug. 1-Sept. 2. During that streak, he registered a 0.60 WHIP and .070 batting average against (3-for-43). He was named the Indians August Player of the Month after converting four saves to tie for the league lead, highlighted by a 2.0-inning save with a season-high tying five strikeouts at Gwinnett on Aug. 3.
Gold Glove – Ryan Vilade
Vilade, 24, primarily saw time in center field, where he compiled a .984 fielding percentage (two errors in 123 total chances) in 65 games (58 starts). He committed just two errors in 175 total chances (.989) spanning 102 games (91 starts) in the outfield. He was a utility player for the Indians early in the season, also appearing at first base in five games (four starts) and third base in 16 games (14 starts).
On June 25 vs. Columbus, Vilade made a leaping over-the-shoulder snag that came in at No. 3 on ESPN SportsCenter Top 10. The catch came nine days after he made a full-extension diving grab in left-center at Iowa, and throughout the season continued to pad his highlight reel with catches to rob batters of base hits.
Community Champion – Josh Bissonette
Bissonette, 26, consistently served the Indianapolis community not only during the 2023 season but in his entire tenure as an Indian. While splitting time between Indianapolis’ active roster and development list, he volunteered to catch numerous pregame first pitches and helped ensure a positive first pitch experience for fans. He also participated in two Q&A sessions with students from the Indianapolis area, answering a variety of questions and afterwards engaging with kids for photos or autographs.
On Saturday, July 8, Bissonette was part of the first post-pandemic group of Indians players to visit and participate in an Indy Thunder Beep Ball practice for the visually impaired. He learned how the Thunder play baseball with a Beep Ball and engaged with the players by wearing a blindfold while at the plate and running the bases.
Unsung Hero, Position Player – Chris Owings
Owings, 32, appeared in 86 games with the Indians and hit .241 (76-for-316) with 15 doubles, three triples and 15 home runs – five of which came in September. In the field, he filled any role asked of him, appearing at five different defensive positions (second base, third base, shortstop, left field and center field) over the course of the season. In 693.0 total innings (228 total chances), he committed just five errors for a .978 fielding percentage.
Off the field, his veteran leadership was second to none. He led by example and showed young players what it’s like to be a professional by putting in his work each day.
Unsung Hero, Pitcher – Cam Alldred
Alldred, 27, split his season between the starting rotation and bullpen. In 31 appearances (17 starts), he went 8-8 with a 5.20 ERA (61er/105.2ip) and career-high 98 strikeouts. His season also led to multiple single-game career highs, including his first four career quality starts and a pair of eight-strikeout appearances on June 29 at Louisville and Aug. 11 vs. Nashville.
In addition to his performance on the field, Alldred was a leader in the clubhouse and as a member of the pitching staff. He consistently volunteered to catch pregame first pitches and fulfilled whichever role was asked of him on a daily basis.