It’s hard to imagine a more action-packed baseball year than the one which Conner Brown enjoyed in 2016. But he has capped it all by being voted the MVP of the Herts National Baseball League (NBL) side, the Falcons.
The Falcons finished with a 6-24 record in what was always going to be a rebuilding year. But Conner’s maturing was perhaps the greatest high point for a side built on youth.
According to BBF statistics, the starting catcher ended with a slash line of .386/.460/.591 — leading the team’s regular players. He’s a pretty formidable catcher, too.
But it wasn’t just about numbers and performance. At a young age, Conner has shown leadership on his team, and has been an integral part of the wider club.
Players on the Single-A Raptors have learned a lot from him, and he was not only first draft choice for the post-season Hunlock Series, but a regular player too. Top talent doesn’t always do that.
It’s hard to imagine how he fitted any of it in.
Conner Brown was one of the only British young players selected to the European All Star roster for the MLB Spring Academies Tournament which took place in Barcelona in March.
Next he went on to captain the Great Britain U18’s at the European Junior Championship in Gijon in July. The team achieved its best-ever result, to stay in their group.
Then on to the MLB Elite camp in Germany. Here, Conner worked with coaches including the Hall of Famer, Barry Larkin, and the World Series-winner, Steve Finley.
Want one more milestone? OK. The man from the Falcons was the youngest player on the GB Senior Team at the European Championship in the Netherlands in September.
Conner was even nominated for the BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year. Of course, that honour pales into insignificance next to a Herts MVP Award but, hey, we don’t like to brag….
The Falcons year was very much about building on the talented youth which has been developed by Herts over recent years. Carlos Casal, Brodie Caress, and Zack Longboy were all chosen for the GB national team development programme this year.
These guys made great contributions for Herts. Zack picked up his first complete game pitching win in the NBL with a victory over the London Capitals at Grovehill, and went 5-6 at the plate that day.
Tyler Badenhorst made his pitching debut in the road trip to the Capitals in July, as did promising rookie Matt Corran. Will Zucker, who pitched in the Single-A playoffs a few years ago and is now tearing it up in university baseball, kept working with Herts too.
The Falcons manager Lee Manning also worked hard this year helping to oversee the youngest Herts group, the Under-8s. So the focus remains on youth, and nurturing more talent like Conner Brown.