Friday night was supposed to be a night of celebration at Shuttleworth Park, as it was set to be opening night for the Amsterdam Mohawks as they took to the field for the first time in defense of the latest Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League championship it won in 2019.
Instead, Shuttleworth Park was silent, the entire 2020 PGCBL season canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
So, another look back into the Mohawks’ 17 seasons in Amsterdam seemed appropriate. Two weeks ago, sports editor Michael Kelly and staff writer Adam Shinder — who, combined, have covered every Mohawks team since 2009 — highlighted the franchise’s five best seasons since relocating to Amsterdam from Schenectady in 2003.
This week, Kelly and Shinder are playing some fantasy baseball. With the entire pool of former Amsterdam Mohawks at their disposals, each drafted a pickup team of 14 players — a catcher, two middle infielders, two corner infielders, three outfielders, two additional utility players, three starting pitchers and one relief pitcher — made up of some of the biggest names to take the field at Shuttleworth Park. Players were evaluated and selected based on their contributions during their time competing for the Mohawks.
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1: Shinder selects . . . Luke Maile (C, 2011)
Maile’s 2011 season with the Mohawks was technically only a little more than half a season, but it’s so good that he’s certainly worth the first pick.
After playing 23 games for Amsterdam in 2010 and primarily backing up Matt Colantonio at catcher, the University of Kentucky standout started his 2011 summer season in the Cape Cod League. However, he made the decision to come back to Amsterdam around the start of July and proceeded to light the PGCBL on fire. In 26 regular-season games, Maile hit .378 with eight home runs and 25 runs batted in while posting an absurd 1.231 OPS.
Maile — who still has connections to the area as his wife, Paige, is an Amsterdam native that he met while playing for the Mohawks — has gone on to carve out the lengthiest pro career of any Amsterdam Mohawks alumnus. Drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in the eighth round in 2012, Maile played parts of two MLB seasons with the Rays before being claimed off waivers by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2017. He was Toronto’s backup catcher for most of the last three seasons — though he’s developed into more of a defensive specialist as a pro than the slugger he was in his college years — and signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates this past offseason.
2: Kelly selects . . . Chandler Shepherd (SP, 2012)
The 2012 PGCBL Pitcher of the Year led a loaded pitching staff as its unquestioned ace. In leading the Mohawks to that year’s championship, Shepherd put together a 7-0 record with 50 strikeouts in 55 innings and a 1.31 ERA.
In the postseason, Shepherd was stellar. After Amsterdam lost Game 1 of its opening best-of-3 series, Shepherd breezed through seven innings of one-run baseball to help steady the Mohawks. Four days later, he came out of the bullpen in the championship-clinching win to toss 5 2-3 more innings in which he struck out 10.
A University of Kentucky product, Shepherd made his MLB debut last year with the Baltimore Orioles.
3: Kelly selects . . . John Nogowski (1B, 2013)
After securing 2012’s top pitcher, I’m taking 2013’s PGCBL Player of the Year.
In his year in Amsterdam, Nogowski had 18 extra-base hits in 148 at-bats . . . and an on-base percentage of .497. The Florida State University product scored 33 runs and had 24 RBIs during a season that saw him reach base in nearly half of his plate appearances.
Nogowski has played in the minors for both Oakland and St. Louis. He was in spring training this year with the Cardinals, and could debut this year in the majors after batting .295 last season in Triple-A.
4: Shinder selects . . . Josh Gardiner (2B, 2014)
There are five players in franchise history to finish a season with a batting average of .400 or better having played at least half a season. Of those five, Gardiner is the only one who stayed in Amsterdam for the full summer, hitting .415 en route to PGCBL Player of the Year honors in 2014.
A second baseman from Radford, Gardiner played two summers in Amsterdam. He was very good in 2013, hitting .327, but he was the best offensive player in the entire league when he came back in 2014 when he posted an absurd .543 on-base percentage. He reached base 95 times in 41 games, collecting 56 hits while drawing 29 walks and getting hit by 10 pitches.
Gardiner is Amsterdam’s all-time leader in stolen bases and runs scored, and sits second in hits, doubles and walks while ranking third in RBIs.
5: Shinder selects . . . Zach Logue (SP, 2015)
So, we’ve gotten through five picks and Logue is the third Kentucky product to be selected. Spoiler alert, he probably won’t be the last.
I wanted my first starting pitcher in this spot, and after the obvious top name went off the board with Shepherd, there’s a bunch of potential names here.
The PGCBL co-Pitcher of the Year in 2015, Logue went through an unblemished summer in Amsterdam. During the regular season, he was 7-0 with a 2.29 ERA and 50 strikeouts in 51 innings. In the playoffs, Logue won his start in Game 1 of the East Division championship series before Amsterdam lost the next two games to the Mohawk Valley DiamondDawgs and were eliminated shy of the league finals for the first time in coach Keith Griffin’s tenure. A remarkably consistent pitcher, Logue went at least five innings in all 10 of his appearances, never allowed more than three runs in a game and walked just 14 batters over 57 combined regular and postseason innings.
A 2017 ninth-round draft pick of the Toronto Blue Jays, Logue split his 2019 season between Double-A New Hampshire and Triple-A Buffalo.
6: Kelly selects . . . Abram Williams (RP, 2010)
One earned run.
That’s all Williams allowed in his first of two seasons closing games for the Mohawks.
That summer, the Radford right-hander collected 11 saves in 18 appearances, as he struck out 30 batters in 23 1-3 innings and carried a 0.39 ERA.
Williams also closed games for the Mohawks in 2011, recording 10 saves with an ERA of 2.42 in 22 1-3 innings during which he struck out 29.
7: Kelly selects . . . Mark Leiter Jr. (SP, 2012)
In Leiter’s first season with Amsterdam, he actually pitched a bit more than he did in 2012. Leiter had a 4-3 record with a 2.67 ERA in 54 innings, and he struck out 74 during the 2011 campaign.
But Leiter is remembered for his 2012 season with the Mohawks, in which he finished 3-0 with a 1.55 ERA, and struck out 32 batters in 29 innings. In the postseason, he pitched one of the most memorable games in Mohawks’ history. After Chandler Shepherd put together his seven-inning gem in Game 2 of Amsterdam’s postseason series with Mohawk Valley, Leiter went the distance in the deciding Game 3. The right-handed pitcher threw 131 pitches that night, striking out 13 and allowing zero earned runs as the Mohawks advanced to the championship series with a 4-2 win.
Leiter has pitched for the Blue Jays and Phillies at the MLB level.
8: Shinder selects . . . Ed Charlton (OF, 2012)
Another two-season standout, Charlton led the Mohawks in home runs in back-to-back championship seasons in 2012 and 2013, with his 13 career homers standing as the franchise record for a half-decade.
Charlton was excellent in both of his seasons in Amsterdam, but I’m picking his 2012 season, where the centerfielder from NJIT hit .353 and led what may be the best Mohawks team ever with seven homers and 30 RBIs. Charlton finished the 2012 season with 19 extra-base hits and a .590 slugging percentage. He did strike out quite a bit — 39 times in 139 at-bats — but when Charlton made contact, he usually ended up on base. His batting average on balls in play in 2012 was a ridiculous .490.
Charlton was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in 2015, but never made it past Single-A in the minor leagues.
9: Shinder selects . . . Kyle Hunter (SP, 2010)
Between the regular season and playoffs in 2010, Hunter pitched 53 2-3 innings. He allowed a grand total of three earned runs.
A southpaw out of Dartmouth with great control and a devastating change-up, Hunter was basically untouchable throughout the summer. During the regular season, he was 5-0 with a 0.68 ERA, but didn’t win the New York Collegiate Baseball League ERA title because he’d pitched too few innings to qualify. In the playoffs, he tossed eight shutout innings in a first-round playoff win over the Cooperstown Hawkeyes, then threw six more shutout frames in Game 1 of the NYCBL championship series against the Elmira Pioneers.
He ended up with the Los Angeles Angels organization in 2013, but never got past Rookie ball. As a Mohawk, however, few have a resume quite as sparkling on the mound.
10: Kelly selects . . . Joe Genord (C, 2016)
The 2016 PGCBL Player of the Year, Genord set a single-season Mohawks record with 45 RBIs.
Overall, Genord hit .296 with 21 extra-base hits that year, including seven home runs in 152 at-bats.
Genord played last season with the Brooklyn Cyclones in the New York-Penn League.
11: Kelly selects . . . Zak Colby (UTIL, 2012)
Colby played catcher and second base during his time in Amsterdam, but, really, the Mohawks would have played Colby wherever they needed in order to keep his bat in the lineup.
In helping lead the Mohawks to a PGCBL championship, Colby hit .375 and had an on-base percentage of .456. He only hit one home run in 152 at-bats, but had 19 doubles during a season that saw him collect 25 RBIs and score 31 runs.
Colby took an interesting path for his professional career, eventually ending up playing independent baseball in Japan’s Shikoku Island League Plus. He returned to Amsterdam with the league’s all-star team as part of a barnstorming tour in 2016.
12: Shinder selects . . . Maxwell Costes (1B, 2019)
Costes really spent most of his time in Amsterdam as a designated hitter — especially late in the season — but can play either corner infield spot and spent 99 innings at first base last summer, so that counts. More importantly, he’s one of the only players in franchise history whose every at-bat turned into an event that the entire crowd was fixated on.
In 42 games between the regular season and playoffs last year, Costes slugged a ridiculous 15 home runs — a PGCBL and franchise record 12 during the regular season — then three more during the Mohawks’ run to the league championship. He added a .378 batting average, a .516 on-base percentage and 36 RBIs during the regular season, storming to PGCBL Player of the Year honors. He was also named the MVP of the league’s postseason.
Costes was also ridiculously popular thanks to his gregarious nature, and was one of the best interview subjects I’ve ever dealt with on the team.
13: Shinder selects . . . John Valente (3B, 2017)
I’ll couple Costes’ power on one side of the infield with a speedy on-base machine at the hot corner in Valente.
The third baseman from St. John’s didn’t play his first game with Amsterdam until June 20, 2017, then proceeded to claim the PGCBL batting title by hitting .422 in 35 games. Technically, he finished with the second-highest batting average on the team that season to Liam Wilson’s .424, but Wilson’s season ended early due to injury and he didn’t have enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title.
Valente, on the other hand, needed just 35 games to set a new franchise record with 62 hits and racked up 20 multi-hit games in the process. Valente was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in 2018 and has hit .301 in two minor-league seasons while striking out just 42 times in 478 professional at-bats.
14: Kelly selects . . . Jude Vidrine (OF, 2011)
Luke Maile was fantastic in 2011, as Shinder referenced with his first overall pick, but Vidrine was nearly his equal in leading that 2011 squad.
Vidrine had 68 more at-bats than Maile that season, and hit .348 with eight home runs, seven doubles and three triples. His 18 extra-base hits helped Vidrine register a team-high 29 RBIs that year, while he had five stolen bases in six attempts.
15: Kelly selects . . . Zach Shank (SS, 2011)
Back-to-back with 2011 selections.
Shank was awesome in his lone year in Amsterdam, and you could make a strong argument that Maile, Vidrine and Shank combined to form the best Mohawks trio. Shank hit .341 in 170 at-bats, had 14 extra-base hits and scored 38 runs.
Shank was drafted in 2013 by the Mariners and has played at the Triple-A level.
16: Shinder selects . . . John Razzino (OF, 2014)
Razzino came to the Mohawks a little more than a week into the 2014 season from Division II Franklin Pierce University and proceeded to light the PGCBL on fire.
One of the most dynamic players to ever patrol left field at Shuttleworth Park, Razzino hit .370 with five homers and 34 RBIs in 37 games with the Mohawks. In addition to leading the team in homers and RBI, Razzino also set a new single-season franchise record with 23 stolen bases and provided a huge defensive weapon with his arm as he notched six outfield assists.
17: Shinder selects . . . Chris Givin (SS/2B, 2016)
Shank was probably the best pure shortstop available, and out of a big bunch of potential middle infielders to take, I’ll go with Givin, a contact machine who can play both spots up the middle and formed a terrific double play tandem with Tyler Frank in 2016. Givin won the PGCBL batting title that season, hitting .383, then put up a scorching .520 batting average with three doubles and seven RBIs in Amsterdam’s six playoff games.
Givin was drafted by the San Diego Padres in 2019 and hit .306 with 16 extra-base hits over 44 games in the Xavier University product’s first pro season.
18: Kelly selects . . . Braden Kapteyn (UTIL, 2009)
Kapteyn was a true utility player — he played first base and pitched for the Mohawks.
As a hitter, Kapteyn hit .319 with four home runs, eight doubles, 24 RBIs and 23 runs scored.
From the mound, Kapteyn was just as impressive. He finished 4-1 in eight appearances, as he struck out 72 batters in 47 1-3 innings with a 2.47 ERA.
Drafted by the Red Sox in the 2011 draft, Kapteyn played three seasons in the minors.
19: Kelly selects . . . Tommy Warner (SP, 2005)
In 65 innings, Warner struck out 50 batters, recorded a 1.52 ERA and compiled a 7-2 mark.
All these years later, Warner remains the Mohawks’ single-season leader for innings pitched, he’s tied for No. 1 in single-season wins and his ERA ranks as the third-best for a single season.
20: Shinder selects . . . Cameron Enck (SP, 2016)
Lots of choices for the third spot in my starting rotation, but I’ll take the guy who posted the lowest single-season ERA by a starting pitcher in PGCBL history. Enck wasn’t a strikeout machine, but the right-hander from the University of Maryland had ridiculous control of the strike zone, walking just 12 batters in 59 innings between the regular season and playoffs. During the regular season, Enck posted a 0.39 ERA, allowing just two earned runs — both of which came in the same game — in 46 innings.
After allowing those two earned runs on June 15, 2016, against Mohawk Valley, Enck did not allow an earned run in 40 innings over his next seven starts.
21: Shinder selects . . . TJ Collett (UTIL, 2017)
Collett played just 20 games for the Mohawks in 2017, all as a designated hitter, before an injury ended his summer early. In his relatively brief time in Amsterdam, the lefty slugger from Kentucky hit .375 with five home runs and 24 RBIs.
From 2018 to 2020, Collett slugged 25 homers at Kentucky, including five in 17 games before this past season was canceled due to COVID-19. He’s got ridiculous, tape-measure power, and when Collett was in Amsterdam, you could tell the difference between him and nearly every other player in the league based purely on the sound the ball made when coming off his bat during batting practice.
22: Kelly selects . . . J.D. Mundy (1B, 2019)
He only played in 21 games, but Mundy made the most of them during a summer that saw him hit .456 and record a .511 on-base percentage.
In just 79 at-bats, Mundy slugged six home runs, registered nine doubles and recorded one triple. He had 29 RBIs and scored 18 runs.
On the Mohawks last year, Mundy finished tied for fifth in total hits, 10 back from Max Costes — and that’s despite Costes registering 44 more at-bats than Mundy.
23: Kelly selects . . . Kyle Barrett (OF, 2013)
In the PGCBL, Barrett couldn’t be kept off the basepaths.
He hit .343 in 137 at-bats, plus walked 16 times. Once on base, Barrett stole 18 bases and scored 29 runs during a season that saw him collect five extra-base hits.
Later, Barrett played four years in the minors, and made it as high as Double-A after the Marlins drafted him in the 15th round of the 2015 draft.
24: Shinder selects . . . Thomas Hackimer (RP, 2014)
Another personal favorite who had a season cut short due to injury, the sidearm-throwing righty from St. John’s was lights-out during his 17 appearances as the Mohawks’ closer in 2014, going 3-0 with six saves and a 0.98 ERA. Hackimer’s peripheral numbers were just ludicrous, as in 27 2-3 innings he allowed just 13 hits while racking up 44 strikeouts against just nine walks.
As a senior at St. John’s in 2016, Hackimer was the Big East Pitcher of the Year as a reliever. He was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the fourth round that year and spent the bulk of last season at Double-A Pensacola.
25: Shinder selects . . . Kurt Zimniewicz (UTIL, 2003)
Going all the way back to the very first Amsterdam Mohawks team for this one.
Zimniewicz, an infielder from UAlbany, was the top offensive player on a team that captured the NYCBL championship in its first season at Shuttleworth Park. He led the team in batting average (.379), home runs (six), RBIs (41), doubles (11), triples (five), hits (50), runs scored (35), on-base percentage (.451) and slugging percentage (.674). Zimniewicz’s six home runs represent 60% of the entire Amsterdam team total in the 2003 season, his 41 RBIs stood as the team record until being eclipsed by Joe Genord 13 years later and his five triples are still tied for the best single-season mark in club history.
26: Kelly selects . . . Evan Stephens (OF, 2012)
Stephens didn’t have the longest stay in Amsterdam, only playing in 25 games and registering 84 at-bats.
But . . . Stephens had 37 hits in those at-bats, as the outfielder hit .440 and had an on-base percentage of .515. Stephens only had five extra-base hits, but the Wake Forest product scored 31 runs and stole 15 bases in 17 attempts.
27: Kelly selects . . . Chase Green (2B/SS, 2012)
Green hit wherever was needed in the lineup, and nearly always delivered.
A .336 hitter in 143 at-bats, Green produced 14 extra-base hits and 20 RBIs.
28: Shinder selects . . . Marcus Carson (OF, 2014)
I was hoping Stephens might slip to me here, but I waited too long. Still, Carson is more than a good enough consolation prize as the final pick in this draft.
Yep, it’s one more member of the Kentucky-to-Amsterdam pipeline — honestly, you could put together an entire team of Wildcats and be happy with that — as I’ll take the electric 5-foot-8 leadoff hitter from the Mohawks’ 2014 title team. The dynamic Carson hit .346 with a .472 on-base percentage out of the top spot in the order that summer, adding 14 stolen bases and scoring a team-best 38 runs — tied for the second-best mark in franchise history.
There’s a lot of great names left off this list — some who had great summers in Amsterdam, others who went on to excellent college careers and high draft picks — but I like the lineup I’ve put together.
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Team Shinder: Luke Maile, Maxwell Costes, Josh Gardiner, Chris Givin, John Valente, John Razzino, Ed Charlton, Marcus Carson, TJ Collett, Kurt Zimniewicz, Zach Logue, Kyle Hunter, Cameron Enck, Thomas Hackimer
Team Kelly: Joe Genord, John Nogowski, Chase Green, Zach Shank, JD Mundy, Evan Stephens, Kyle Barrett, Jude Vidrine, Zak Colby, Braden Kapteyn, Chandler Shepherd, Mark Leiter Jr., Tommy Warner, Abram Williams