Hutch Award Luncheon

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49th Annual Hutch Award® Nominees

Jeremy Affeldt, San Francisco Giants

San Francisco Giants’ pitcher Jeremy Affeldt was drafted in 1997 in the third round by the Kansas City Royals and made his major league debut with the team on April 6, 2002. In 2006, Affeldt was traded to the Colorado Rockies, and in January 2008 he signed a one year deal with the Cincinnati Reds. In November 2008, Affeldt signed a two year contract with the San Francisco Giants, and in March 2010, he agreed to a one year contract extension with the team. He may end his career in San Francisco, having signed a three-year contract in 2012. He has started in more than 42 games to date and has a 3.74 ERA.

Affeldt donates much of his time and energy off the field to working with youth and young adults through the anti-slavery Not For Sale campaign and the Christian charities Feed the Hunger, Generation Alive and Living Waters International, among others. He is also a teammate for All Stars Helping Kids, a philanthropic platform that enables all past and present professional athletes to leverage their brand to address issues that impact children. Affeldt was the Giants’ 2010 and 2011 nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award, is active in his own Jeremy Affeldt Foundation and supports numerous club initiatives throughout the San Francisco community.

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Craig Breslow, Boston Red Sox

Craig Breslow is a left-handed pitcher for the Boston Red Sox. He was drafted out of college by the Milwaukee Brewers and made his major league debut in 2005 with the San Diego Padres. Breslow graduated from Yale University in 2002 and has been dubbed “the smartest man in baseball.” At Yale, he was captain of the 2002 baseball team and earned All-Ivy honors. Currently, Breslow has a1.96 earned run average in 55 innings pitched.

When Breslow was 12 years old, his sister was diagnosed with pediatric thyroid cancer. More than 17 years later, she lives an unrestricted life as a cancer survivor and Breslow is now a strong spokesman for childhood cancer research. In 2008 he founded the Strike 3 Foundation which heightens awareness, mobilizes support and raises funds for childhood cancer research. Since the foundation’s inception, they have raised more than $1.5 million through their annual First Pitch Celebrity Gala and numerous smaller events. During the off-season Breslow conducted a 90-minute clinic for kids from Newton, Connecticut, as well as participated in Red Sox Holiday Caravan and other various Red Sox Foundation events.

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Neal Cotts, Texas Rangers

Neal Cotts is a lefty relief pitcher with the Texas Rangers that provides the team a link between their starters and the end-of-game closers. Cotts was drafted by the Oakland Athletics and made his major league debut in August 2003 after a trade to the Chicago White Sox. In 2005 Cotts won a World Series Championship with the White Sox in 2005, was named Set-Up Man of the Year, and saw a career-high of 69 appearances. Currently Cotts represents a key component of the Ranger bullpen.  

After an elbow ligament injury and Tommy John surgery in July 2009, Cotts became a free agent and started his long journey to return to the mound. Cotts struggled through a number of health issues, mainly related to his hips, missed out on three years of baseball and then did not appear in a professional game again until June 2012, with a return to pitching with the Texas Rangers’ Triple-AAA club. Cotts was finally promoted to the Rangers in May 2013, his first appearance in the Majors in 1,458 days. Cotts never quit, nor did he accept that he would never play again. His tenacity is seen through his remarkable journey over the years.

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John Danks, Chicago White Sox

John Danks is a pitcher with the Chicago White Sox and has become known as a reliable and versatile member of the starting rotation. In 2003 Danks was drafted by the Texas Rangers in the first round, ninth overall. In 2006 he was named Texas Mid-Season All-Star and after being traded to the White Sox for his MLB debut in 2007, he was ranked by Baseball America as the No. One Prospect. In 2011 Danks became the first Sox pitcher to throw a shutout with 10 strikeouts or more since Alex Fernandez in 1994.

Danks, like so many pitchers, has not been immune to injury and in 2012 an injury forced him to undergo season-ending surgery. Danks remained focused on his recovery, not letting the heavy publicity of his injury affect his road to rehabilitation. Danks returned to the mound in 2013 and has made 20 starts since coming off the disabled list.

Danks not only devotes his time to the game, but he is also involved in several White Sox Charity community outreach efforts and his own charitable interests in the community. This year along with the White Sox Charities, Danks and his brother, fellow White Sox teammate, visited a Chicago hospital to sign baseballs for pediatric patients. Additionally, for five consecutive years beginning in 2008, John has served as an ambassador for St. Baldrick’s Foundation and shaved his head in support of pediatric cancer programs. Danks openly quit dipping in 2009 and began educating youth on the dangers of tobacco.

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Sean Doolittle, Oakland Athletics

Sean Doolittle is a relief pitcher for the Oakland Athletics. The Atlanta Braves drafted Sean right out of high school, but he chose instead to attend the University of Virginia, where he played three seasons and became the school’s career RBI leader. Before graduating, Sean was drafted by the A’s. Originally he played first base, but after injuries sidelined his infielding career he converted to pitching. In the 2012 -2013 season Sean has pitched 64.2 innings in 66 games with an ERA of 3.21.

Sean is a nominee for the 2013 Roberto Clemente Award, which recognizes a Major League Baseball player who best represents the game of baseball through positive contributions on and off the field, including sportsmanship and community involvement. With strong military roots, his father retired from the Air Force and his stepmother is Air National Guard, Sean supports the Freedom Alliance, an educational organization that supports military service members and their families. Along with other A’s relief pitchers, Sean created the A’s Relief program which honors local heroes in the community with a monthly donation to a charity of each recipient’s choice.

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Alex Gordon, Kansas City Royals

Alex Gordon is an outfielder for the Kansas City Royals who was drafted in 2005 and made his major league debut with the Royals in 2007. His professional career started with a bang as he became the first player in history to win Baseball America’s College Player of the Year (2005) and Minor League Player of the Year (2006) in consecutive seasons. Gordon is currently batting .267 with 20 home runs and 80 RBIs.

In 2010, struggles and injuries derailed his young career and he appeared in just 74 games for the Royals due to injury and a demotion to the minors. Gordon seized this opportunity to rewrite his career, and returning in 2011 and setting career highs in every offensive category.

Gordon was the Royals’ nominee for the 2011 and 2013 Heart & Hustle Award as well as a member of the 2012 America League All-Star Team. He has been a longtime supporter of Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF), and serves as a local spokesperson participating in public service announcements, welcoming children diagnosed with cancer out to the ballpark and visiting youngsters at local children's hospitals. Despite his longtime support of ALSF, it was another cancer-related cause that recently brought Gordon's giving spirit to the forefront. His mother was diagnosed with breast cancer while Gordon was in college and it was her successful treatment that inspired him to become involved in the Nebraska Diamond Dawgs, a Little League team raising funds for the American Cancer Society. Gordon has hosted the Diamond Dawgs and their families at Kauffman Stadium, donated memorabilia for their fundraising efforts and hosted the Playing for Pink Casino Night which raised more than $120,000. This past summer he signed on as a “Team Jack All-Star” to raise awareness in support of a young pediatric brain cancer patient.

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Raúl Ibañez, Seattle Mariners

Raúl Ibañez is an outfielder/designated hitter with the Seattle Mariners, where he is batting .250 this season, with 29 home runs and 65 RBI. He was drafted by the team in the 36th round in 1992 and is in his 18th year in the major leagues and his third stint with the Seattle Mariners.

Ibañez has always been active in community programs. He was one of the co-chairs of this year's annual Mariners Care Cystic Fibrosis Golf Tournament. During his career with the Mariners, Raul has hosted the charity tournament six times. Over those years, the event has raised over $1.176 million for CF research.
Ibáñez has been nominated for both the Roberto Clemente and Branch Rickey awards this year. 

Ibañez has served as the spokesman for the "Refuse to Abuse" campaign, a program that encourages a commitment to prevent violence in intimate relationships. He also supports Esperanze, a non-profit organization that provides health care and educational opportunities, as well as family assistance and economic development programs for poor families in Latin America. Ibañez’s family is involved with the community as well, as he and his wife, Tery, work with the Page Ahead Children's Literacy Program, which helps at-risk children throughout the state obtain new books.

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Scott Kazmir, Cleveland Indians

Scott was drafted in 2002 (out of high school) by the New York Mets and made his major league pitching debut with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays at Safeco Field in 2004 at the age of 20. Scott was honored as Baseball America's top left-handed minor league pitcher in 2002 and named a MLB All-Star in 2006 and 2008. After a trade to the Angels, several years of injuries, and stints in the minor and winter leagues, Kazmir has made a comeback this year and inked a deal with the Cleveland Indians to start the 2013 season. Kazmir's desire to work hard and make a comeback was evident through in 2013 as he has posted a 7-6 record with a 4.25 ERA.  

Kazmir’s connection to cancer is a personal one. His mother underwent treatment for breast cancer when he was nine years old. The experience is reported to have helped shape Kazmir’s life, taking him through a time of rebellion, a contrast to his well known, easy-going nature of today. Debbie Kazmir overcame her battle with cancer and able to see Scott’s remarkable debut which included five shutout innings against Ichiro Suzuki and the Mariners.

Kazmir’s competitive spirit has been recognized by the team and he is described as a positive veteran presence in the Indian clubhouse. Off the field, Kazmir shows a true commitment to his community through the Scott Kazmir Foundation, which benefits organizations that assist ill children.

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Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates

Andrew Stefan “Cutch” McCutchen was the Pirates’ top draft choice in 2005 and opted to forgo college to sign with the Pittsburgh organization. He was first called up in 2009 and immediately made a name for himself on the team. The next few years he consistently produced for the franchise and in 2012 saw a true breakout year as he helped lead the Pirates to first place in their division at the All Star break. McCutcheon was among the very top of the league leaders in many of hitting categories by season’s end. He has continued this momentum into 2013 and as the Pirates’ star center fielder, is a strong contender for the 2013 National League MVP. Since arriving in the majors, McCutchen has hit .290 with 82 home runs and 98 stolen bases.

Along with several recognitions for his on-field performances—Gold  Glove Award, Silver Slugger Award, multiple NL Player of the Week/Month—McCuthcen was also named the Most Outstanding Player in the National League. McCutchen is also honored as a nominee for this year’s Roberto Clemente Award.

Born in a close-knit community in Florida, McCutchen remains grounded and thankful for the opportunity to play baseball. In 2010 McCutchen created "Cutch's Crew” in Pittsburgh, a mentoring program that allows  inner city at-risk youth to attend games and special clinics at PNC Park. McCutchen is also involved with the Pittsburgh-area Habitat for Humanity and in 2012 he became an official spokesman for the local organization.

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Jason Motte, St. Louis Cardinals

Jason Motte, a well-known St. Louis Cardinals’ closer, was drafted by the Cards in 2003 in the 19th round as a catcher and spent time as a Rookie and in Class A before his conversion to a pitcher in 2006. Motte was called up to the majors in September 2008. In 2011 Motte played a key role in the Cardinals’ World Series run, saving five postseason games and helping the Cardinals earn the World Series Championship. In 2012 Motte was the National League saves leader with 42 saves, received the National League Player of the Week Award, and ranked 9th among National League relievers with a career-high 86 strikeouts.

Motte suffered an elbow injury in May 2013, placing him on injured reserved. Motte underwent Tommy John Surgery and missed a majority of this season. Motte used his summer and recovery time in a positive way, working to make an impact on the St. Louis community. He has a particular interest in helping to "strike out childhood cancer” and helped the St. Louis Cardinals host "Strikeout Childhood Cancer" Day at Busch Stadium. For the patients who could not leave their hospitals to attend, Motte has planned to lead several teammates on visits to, in his words, “take the game to them.”

Additionally, Motte and his wife have created The Jason Motte Foundation that distributes funds to support pediatric cancer research and as a way to give back to the clinic that cared for a family member that passed away from cancer in 2011.

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Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center is a world leader in research to prevent, detect and treat cancer and other life-threatening diseases.