Dec. 2, 2013
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Purdue baseball alumni Dan Black, Kevin Plawecki and Nick Wittgren were all honored among Minor League Baseball's Organization All-Stars for their on-field performances during the 2013 season.
MiLB.com recognizes the players who had the best MiLB seasons in their respective organizational farm systems. The Organization All-Star teams were compiled by position and without bias to age or prospect status.
Black (2007-09) was selected as the first baseman on the Chicago White Sox's list. Plawecki (2010-12) was honored as the catcher on the New York Mets' list. Wittgren (2011-12) was recognized as the relief pitcher on the Miami Marlins' list. All three players were also named Mid-Season All-Stars during the summer of 2013 and put up strong numbers throughout the season.
Black helped lead the Birmingham Barons to the Double-A Southern League first-half Northern Division title and league championship. He ranked among the top five in the Southern League with 83 RBI, 91 walks, .411 on-base percentage, .470 slugging percentage and .881 OPS. The switch-hitter batted .360 with runners in scoring position as middle of the lineup run producer all season.
Black was named an Organization All-Star for the third year in a row. Earlier this fall, he was also recognized as the first baseman on the Topps' Double-A All-Star team. Only nine players at the entire Double-A level were selected to that team. He is currently playing for Aguilas Cibaenas of the MLB-sanctioned Dominican Winter League. As of Dec. 1, he was batting .277 with 16 extra-base hits, 25 RBI and 20 walks in the prospect-rich offseason league.
Plawecki helped the Savannah Sand Gnats win the South Atlantic League first-half Southern Division title and was promoted to the Class A Advanced level after starting in the league's All-Star Game in mid-June. He finished the MiLB season batting .305 with 80 RBI, both totals ranking fifth in the Mets' farm system.
"He was a high pick for us in the comp round in the 2012 Draft," Mets' director of player development Paul DePodesta told MiLB.com. "We thought he had a chance to be an offensive player at a premium defensive position. We were certainly thrilled with what he did in 2013 on both sides of the ball. He did well with both pitching staffs he worked with. Offensively, he started hot and never really let up. He did well at two places that are difficult hitting environments. An impressive year all around."
Wittgren was selected by the MiLB.com staff as the 2013 Relief Pitcher of the Year earlier this fall. While serving as the closer for the Class A Advanced Jupiter Hammerheads and finishing the season at the Double-A level, he 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 Lafayette native continued to impress in the MLB-sanctioned Arizona Fall League, where he surrendered only one run on six hits in 13 2/3 innings over 13 relief appearances. The right-hander posted 19 strikeouts vs. only two walks in the prospect-rich offseason league.
"He's been dominant since he came to us in the ninth round last year, and he's excelled at every level we've put him in," Marlins' director of player development Brian Chattin told MiLB.com. "He continued to perform in the AFL this fall, and he's on the fast track to impact our Major League team. He's what you want out of a closer -- he's intelligent, fiercely competitive and he's in attack mode from the first pitch. He throws strikes, he's got deception in his delivery, a good curveball and a developing change. To his credit, he's been as good as you've seen, but he's not satisfied with being a two-pitch pitcher. He's worked hard to develop a change to use against lefties, and he's a bullpen arm I have very high hopes for."
In other alumni news, Matt Bischoff (2007-10) recently joined the Tomateros de Culiacan of the Mexican Pacific League, another MLB-sanctioned offseason league. The four-time All-Big Ten selection pitched in his first Mexican League game on Nov. 27 and has made three relief appearances as of Dec. 1. Bischoff completed his fourth season of pro ball this summer and is a part of the Baltimore Orioles farm system.
Cameron Perkins (2010-12) joined Wittgren in the Arizona Fall League this season while completing his second year of pro ball in the Philadelphia Phillies farm system.
Perkins, Plawecki and Wittgren were all part of the Boilermakers' 2012 Big Ten Championship team and among the program-record seven players selected in the 2012 MLB First-Year Player Draft. Twelve Purdue baseball alumni were active at the Minor League level in 2013.