All Aboard Award Week: Stopper of the Year
First, it was Zack Granite taking home the first ever Award Week honor from All Aboard as the season MVP. Stephen Gonsalves followed right behind with the Ace of the Year award, recognizing the lefty as the best starting pitcher of the season for Chattanooga. Now, it’s time for the Stopper of the Year award, given to the bullpen arm that could be counted on all year to come in and slam the door shut on the other team. Quick Note: The selection of the All Aboard awards are made by the Lookouts media department and reflect only the opinions and thoughts of said staff members, not those of the Chattanooga Lookouts players, coaching staff, the Minnesota Twins, Southern League or Major/Minor League Baseball. Now that the above business is taken care off, let’s get in to it.
Stopper of the Year: RHP Trevor Hildenberger
The Chattanooga Lookouts began the year with a blessing in the back of their bullpen, a talented, top prospect, lights out arm attached to one JT Chargois. Chargois was a closer prospect who came to Chattanooga without having ever blown a professional baseball save. But as the baseball gods giveth, the baseball gods taketh away, and Chargois was quickly promoted to Triple-A by the Minnesota Twins leaving a question mark at the back-end of the relief corp.
That question lasted all of a minute.
Trevor Hildenberger, All Aboard’s Stopper of the Year in 2016, arrived from Ft. Myers and promptly began putting up unbelievable numbers as distinct as his sidearm delivery. Unfortunately, injuries intervened and Hildenberger was shut down a month early to preserve his future. Given the early exit, fans may have forgotten just how phenomenal Hildenberger was in his time with the Lookouts. Let me offer you some reminders:
- 32 games pitched. 38.2 innings thrown. THREE earned runs allowed. THREE. THREEEEEEEEEEE.
- That’s good for a 0.70 ERA by the way. Just in case the three wasn’t impressive enough for you.
- Hildenberger went 16-for-17 in save situations with the Lookouts. How any team was able to draw a blown save out of him, I’ll never know.
- Trevor’s success was instant with his call up as he threw hitless innings in his first two outings, striking out two in his debut.
- Speaking of strikeouts, Hildenberger had 45 of them in his 38.2 innings, good for a 10.5 Ks-per-9 rate to go along with a sparkling 7.50 SO/W ratio as well (Southern League batters walked just six times off Trevor).
- After taking a loss in a two-inning, one-run outing against Pensacola, Hildenberger went on an incredible stretch of dominance, keeping Southern League teams scoreless in 19.1 consecutive innings over 15 games, 11 of which Hildenberger finished without allowing a hit. His total stats during that run: 2-0, 11-for-11 in save situations, eight hits allowed, two walked, 20 struck out.
- The scoreless streak ended on June 25th when the Jackson Generals managed a run off the righty. Hildenberger wouldn’t allow another earned run for the rest of his season (11 games).
- Hildenberger was ruthlessly efficient both beginning innings (just four hits allowed in lead-off at bats) and with runners in scoring position. Opposing teams hit .105 with runners in scoring position and were hitless with runners on and runners in scoring position with two outs while Hildenberger was on the mound.
- Can’t get enough Hildenberger facts? Head back in to the All Aboard archives for our feature on the closer posted back in July. His story is an intriguing one and definitely worth reading as Hildenberger continues his climb up prospect rankings and toward the Majors. To make it easier on you, here is the link: Trevor Time: A Look at the Rise of a Closer
Check back tomorrow for the final chapter in the All Aboard Award Week series. The final article will select the Lookouts player that showed the most improvement from half to half.