(October 5, 2023, New York) – The Atlantic League of Professional Baseball on Thursday named Gastonia’s Mauro “Goose” Gozzo as the Manager of the Year in voting conducted by the league’s managers, coaches and front office staffs at the conclusion of the regular season. In addition, Lancaster’s Melvin Mercedes was named the league’s Defensive Player of the Year.
Both Gozzo and Mercedes are repeat winners for their respective awards, having each claimed the same honor following the 2022 season.
Gozzo led the Honey Hunters to the ALPB League Championship series this season. Gastonia matched South Division first half records with High Point at 41-22. The Honey Hunters and Rockers were co-champions of the South second half as Gastonia earned entry to the playoffs via the league’s wild card selection. In the South Division Championship series, Gastonia defeated High Point in five games and then took Lancaster to five games in the finals before falling in the decisive final game.
With 41 wins in the first half, Gastonia became just the second team in Atlantic League history to string together three straight 40-win half seasons, joining Somerset (2013-14) in that exclusive club.
Gozzo is the first ALPB manager to earn consecutive Manager of the Year awards.
The former Major League pitcher with Toronto, Cleveland, Minnesota and the New York Mets, Gozzo recently completed his fourth year managing in the Atlantic League. He started with New Britain in 2019 before moving to Gastonia in 2021. The Honey Hunters have reached the ALPB playoffs in each of the last two years.
Mercedes was primarily the second baseman for the Atlantic League champion Barnstormers this season while also seeing action at shortstop and centerfield. In 120 regular season games, Mercedes had 462 total chances and committed just seven errors, a fielding percentage of .985. He was a part of 39 double plays during the regular season.
A native of the Bronx, N.Y., Mercedes was a 16th round pick of the Oakland Athletics in the 2012 MLB Draft. He joined the Barnstormers in 2019 and has spent the last four seasons in Lancaster, winning back-to-back ALPB Championships. He owns a .302 career batting average in the Atlantic League and has a .977 career fielding percentage.
Mercedes is the second Atlantic League player to earn the Defensive Player of the Year award in consecutive seasons, joining former Southern Maryland shortstop Edwin Garcia who was honored in 2018 and 2019.
About the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball (ALPB)
Celebrating its 25th Anniversary season in 2023, the Atlantic League is Major League Baseball’s first Professional Partner League, a player gateway to the major leagues, and a leader in baseball innovation. ALPB has sent over 1,200 players to MLB organizations while drawing more than 45 million fans to its family-friendly ballparks throughout its 25-year history. Please visit www.AtlanticLeague.com.
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