Dahl selected as the Pioneer League MVP

The Colorado Rockies saw something special in David Dahl when they made the Birmingham, Ala., 18-year-old their first-round draft pick in June.

The way Dahl has played this season for the Grand Junction Rockies has made believers out of the Pioneer League.

Saturday, Dahl was voted the league’s Most Valuable Player and was one of six Rockies on the league’s All-Star team, three on the first team and three honorable mention picks.

“It’s a great honor to be named MVP, but I couldn’t have done it without my teammates,” Dahl said before Saturday’s game at Great Falls, Mont.

Dahl is the first player from the Colorado farm system to be the Rookie-level MVP since 2002, when first baseman Ryan Shealy was playing for Casper.

Starting pitcher Eddie Butler and relief pitcher Scott Oberg made the all-star team, with outfielders Jeff Popick and Julian Yan and second baseman Juan Ciriaco on the honorable mention list.

Manager Tony Diaz was one of five managers nominated for manager of the year, which was awarded to Pat Kelly of Billings.

Diaz has guided the league’s youngest team into playoff contention, tying for the South Division’s first-half title, but losing the playoff spot on head-to-head competition against Ogden. The Rockies are tied with Orem for the second-half lead in the South.

Dahl, who owns the league’s longest hitting streak this season, 27 games, leads in the league in hitting (.378) with a league-leading 91 hits and 147 total bases. He has 18 doubles, 10 triples, six home runs and 49 RBI, usually hitting second in the lineup.

“David has had a tremendous first year,” Diaz said in a news release. “This honor is well-deserved. He’s been very consistent this season; he brings a nice approach at the plate.”

Butler, the Rockies’ second pick in the draft, is 7-1 with a 2.19 ERA, second-lowest in the league.

“It’s an honor to be recognized as a rookie alongside David Dahl and Scott Oberg as one of the best players in this league,” said Butler, who was taken in the supplemental round out of Radford University.

Butler has struck out 52 and walked only 10 batters (four in one game) in 61 2/3 innings.

“He’s been our workhorse this season,” Diaz said. “A great competitor who pitches aggressive, Eddie exemplified what we look for in a pitcher.”

Oberg, one of two closers the Rockies have used this season, leads the Pioneer League with 12 saves in 14 chances.

Taken in the 15th round this summer out of the University of Connecticut, Oberg has struck out 28 and walked five in 26 1/3 innings. Opposing batters were hitting only .193 against him entering Saturday’s game.

“Scott loves the challenge,” Diaz said, “and has that bulldog mentality when competing.”

Popick, a Colorado Mesa University graduate selected in the 13th round, is hitting .350 with 12 doubles, six home runs and 30 RBI in 41 games, mostly playing left field.

“It feels good to be recognized for what I’ve accomplished this season,” said Popick, who was surprised by the honor. “I was surprised when I found out because I didn’t even know there was an all-star team.”

Yan, the Rockies’ starting right fielder, is hitting .270 with 53 RBI and leads the Pioneer League with 15 home runs in 57 games, and Ciriaco, the club’s slick-fielding second baseman, is hitting .281 with 15 stolen bases.

Both Yan and Ciriaco are in their second season in Rookie baseball after playing last season in Casper. Both were signed as free agents out of the Dominican Republic, Yan in 2008 and Ciriaco in 2009.


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