Updated October 18 2012
Trio of CPL Alums Headed to World Series
Three Coastal Plain League alums - Justin Verlander, Andy Dirks and Don Kelly (pictured L-R, courtesy of MLBPressbox.com and the Detroit Tigers) are headed to the 2012 World Series after the Detroit Tigers defeated the New York Yankees, 8-1 Thursday night to sweep the ALCS.
Thursday’s win secured Detroit’s 11th American League pennant and first since 2006. Winners of the American League Central, Detroit took five games to defeat the Oakland Athletics in the ALDS before meeting the Yankees. Now, the Tigers will wait to face defending champion St. Louis or San Francisco out of the National League as they look to win their first World Series title since 1984. Offering a well-balanced attack, Detroit will prove to be a tough opponent for either the Cardinals or Giants.
The Tigers pitching staff is an impressive 7-2 with a 1.74 ERA thus far in the postseason. They’ve held opposing batters to a lousy .176 against them and feature a 0.94 WHIP. Anchoring their staff is Verlander, a former Wilson Tobs hurler and the reigning AL MVP and Cy Young winner. Thus far in the postseason, the 6-5, 225-pound righty flamethrower is a perfect 3-0 with a ridiculous 0.74 ERA. In 24 1/3 innings of work, he has surrendered just two runs on 10 hits, while walking five and striking out 25.
Dirks and Kelly have also factored in this postseason, seeing time in the outfield. Dirks is currently batting .257 with a pair of doubles and an RBI through nine games, while Kelly has seen action in a pair of contests and has scored two runs and sports an RBI. Kelly’s RBI is one that launched him into a postseason legend for Tigers fans as it came courtesy of a walk-off sacrifice fly in game two of Detroit’s ALDS series with the A’s. With the win, the Tigers took a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series, which proved key to continuing their World Series run as Oakland won the next two games to force the series to five.
A five-time Major League All-Star, Verlander pitched for the Tobs in the summer of 2002. That summer, he made seven appearances and pitched 40 1/3 innings, coming away with a 2.68 ERA and 1-4 record. Overall, he gave up 14 runs, 12 of which were earned, on 22 hits, and walked 26. But, it was his number of strikeouts that jumps out, as Verlander racked up 54 of them on the season and opposing batters hit only .161 against him.
While in Fayetteville during the summer of 2005, Dirks finished the summer with a .301 average through 51 games. He had seven doubles to go with 12 RBIs and 30 runs scored. He also pitched 13 1/3 innings in relief, going 1-0 with four saves and maintaining a perfect 0.00 ERA. He only allowed seven hits and four walks, while striking out 11 in that time. He also was the starting right fielder for the American CPL All-Stars, and helped the SwampDogs reach the semifinals of the Petitt Cup Tournament that year.
A member of the Petersburg Generals in 2000, Kelly played second base and finished the summer batting a team-best .313 with 57 hits - four doubles and three triples - while racking up 18 RBIs and a team-best 30 runs scored. He also stole 28 bases, another team-best. His .313 average was good for seventh-best in the league that summer, while he led the league in hits, triples and stolen bags. Furthermore, his 30 runs scored put him tied for second-best in the league that summer.
The Coastal Plain League is the nation’s hottest summer collegiate baseball league. Celebrating its 17th season in 2013, the CPL features 14 teams playing in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. The CPL gives college players the chance to refine their skills with the use of wooden bats. Players are housed with local host families for the summer and past experiences have been very positive for both players and hosts. Further more,the CPL has had over 1,000 alumni drafted and 57 alums – including 2011 AL MVP and Cy Young winner Justin Verlander – make their Major League debut thus far. For more information on the Coastal Plain League, please visit the league website at www.coastalplain.com, and be sure to friend us on Facebook (at www.facebook.com/coastalplainleague) and follow us via Twitter (as cpleague).