Oct. 28, 2013
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Purdue baseball alumnus Nick Wittgren has been selected by the staff of MiLB.com as the 2013 Relief Pitcher of the Year in all of Minor League Baseball.
The MiLBYs are the end-of-season awards that honor the best players, teams and performances of the Minor League season. Wittgren was one of 12 finalists in the fan voting for Relief Pitcher of the Year and was selected as the staff pick after the fans chose Richie Mirowski in the Washington Nationals system.
Wittgren is in his second year of pro ball after serving as the Boilermakers' closer in 2011 and 2012. He established a new Purdue all-time record for saves (22), led the Big Ten in saves twice and was a two-time all-conference selection in his two seasons as a Boilermaker. The Lafayette native was one of a program-record seven Purdue players selected in the 2012 MLB First-Year Player Draft.
A ninth-round pick by the Miami Marlins, Wittgren has impressed in his two Minor League seasons. He and former teammate Cameron Perkins are currently playing in the prospect-rich Arizona Fall League.
While serving as the closer for the Class A Advanced Jupiter Hammerheads and finishing the season at the Double-A level, Wittgren compiled a pair of wins and a 0.77 ERA in 52 appearances. His 26 saves (in 30 opportunities) were 10th-most in the Minor Leagues. Of the nine hurlers with more saves, only one posted an ERA (at 1.21) within a run of Wittgren's. The Purdue product struck out 63, walked 10 and allowed only one home run in 58 1/3 innings for a 0.891 WHIP and a .198 batting average against. He led the Florida State League in saves and was named a mid-season and post-season All-Star.
Wittgren was utterly dominant for long stretches of the season. In May, he did not allow a run in 13 2/3 innings over 11 appearances, converting all eight of his save opportunities. He finished up his first full season with nine scoreless appearances for Jupiter in August (9 IP, 0 R, 4 H, 1 BB, 10 K), then jumped to Jacksonville, where he didn't surrender a run, a hit or a walk in four one-inning Double-A stints.
As of Oct. 26, the right-hander has worked 6 1/3 innings of two-hit ball in the Arizona Fall League, striking out 12 over his six appearances for the Glendale Desert Dogs.
Twelve Purdue baseball alumni were active at the Minor League level in 2013. Dan Black, Kevin Plawecki, Perkins and Wittgren were all named All-Stars. Black also helped the Birmingham Barons win the Double-A Southern League title and is currently playing for the Aguilas Cibaenas in the MLB-sanctioned Dominican Winter League.