09/19/2008 8:59 AM
Outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis took his role as a leadoff hitter literally. He led the 2008 Cyclones in almost every offensive category, including games (74), at -bats (285), runs (34), hits (79), doubles, (15), triples, (5), extra-base hits (23), RBI (29), walks (29), and stolen bases (11).
"Captain" Kirk's hit total is tied for the most ever by a Cyclone (Ambiorix Concepcion in 2004, and Dustin Martin in 2006), and ranked sixth in the New York-Penn League this season. He logged 18 multi-hit games, including two four-hit performances, and had hitting streaks of six, seven (twice), and eight games throughout the year. Nieuwenhuis played in all but one of the Cyclones' 75 games, patrolling both centerfield and right field, and showcasing outstanding defense, as well.
The 21-year-old from Ripon, CA heated up as the summer progressed, batting .240 (12-for-50) in June, .278 (27-for-97) in July, .288 (34-for-118) in August, and .300 (6-for-20) in September. Nieuwenhuis also stepped up his game in clutch situations, batting .316 (36-for-114) with runners on base, and .325 (13-for-40) with runners on and two outs.
Niweuwenhuis was selected by the Mets in the third round of the 2008 June draft, out of Azusa Pacific University.