The 2014 Idaho Falls Chukars won’t repeat as Pioneer League champions, but their players sure made an impression on the league this summer.
The Chukars posted a league-high five players on the Pioneer League’s 2014 All-Star team, and also walked away with the summer’s top prize when first baseman/right fielder Ryan O’Hearn earned the Ralph Nelles Award given to the league’s MVP.
Third baseman Mike Hill, shortstop Corey Toups, outfielder Robert Pehl and right-handed pitcher Torey Deshazier joined O’Hearn on the All-Star team.
O’Hearn, a 6-foot-3, 200-pound left-handed slugger out of Sam Houston State, is the first I.F. player to win the Nelles Award since Clint Robinson in 2007.
He started his pro career with a 5-for-5 night in his debut and never stopped hitting. His .372 batting average entering Saturday’s game was second in the league, and he leads the league in hits (87), runs (58) and slugging percentage (.598) while also belting 12 home runs and driving in 50 runs. He’s currently second in the league in on-base percentage at .449.
“I want to thank God first of all, and my teammates and coaches,” O’Hearn said in a news release. “I’ve been so blessed to end up in an awesome organization in the Royals, and to start my career with the Chukars. I have nothing but great things to say about the fans and my time here. It’s an honor to get picked for this award, and it’s something I will always cherish.”
Toups, a teammate of O’Hearn’s at Sam Houston State, shook off a slow start and is hitting .330 with 46 walks and an on-base percentage of .452. He also has 20 doubles.
Hill showed a strong arm at third base and is also hitting .282 with three home runs, 30 RBIs and a league-high seven triples.
Pehl has been the team’s cleanup hitter for most of the summer, batting .339 with 41 RBIs.
Deshazier has been the Chukars best pitcher all summer, posting a 5-2 record and a league-low 2.85 ERA. He’s second in WHIP (1.23) and opponents batting average (.236) while adding 64 strikeouts.
Kyle Pollock was named honorable mention at catcher while Omar Ramirez was an honorable mention selection as Manager of the Year (won by Grand Junction’s Anthony Sanders).