WEYMOUTH, Mass. (August 31, 2023) -- Following the conclusion of a 2023 season that saw the Norwich Sea Unicorns claim their first-ever regular season and postseason championships, the Futures League has revealed its cast of annual award winners.
The recipients were announced on Tuesdays and Thursdays through the end of August via the league’s social media channels. Prior to the public announcement, each of the eight teams’ field managers nominated players from their respective rosters and cast votes before the playoffs began on Tuesday, Aug. 8.
In addition to the awards listed below, All-Futures League first and second teams will be revealed in early September to recognize the league’s top players at their respective positions.
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
Dean Ferrara, Norwich Sea Unicorns, Fairfield University
Ferrara posted a .422 average in 43 games for the champion Sea Unicorns, setting a new single-season league record that had stood since former Bryant University catcher and current New York Yankees prospect Mickey Gasper hit .421 for the Nashua Silver Knights in 2016. The infielder posted 10 doubles and two triples among his 65 hits (the second-most in the league), scored 32 runs and drove in 30 more, and stole 17 bases in 20 attempts. He was the league’s pacesetter with a .461 on-base percentage while posting the second-best slugging clip at .505, which added up to a team-best .974 OPS. Ferrara was even better than his season average in July and August, hitting .430 with 19 RBI during the home stretch as Norwich completed its 39-win regular season by capturing its first-ever pennant. The product of Wyckoff, N.J., was remarkably consistent all summer, never going more than one start without recording a base hit. He finished the year with a whopping 25 multi-hit games, including a pair of four-hit efforts within a three-game span in July. He was also a stalwart defender, committing only one error at his primary third base position while also seeing time at shortstop.
PITCHER OF THE YEAR
Francis Ferguson, Vermont Lake Monsters, Eastern Nazarene College
Ferguson is the third Lake Monster in as many years to be named Futures League Pitcher of the Year, following two of his teammates from Vermont’s first two collegiate summer seasons in Patrick Harrington (2021) and Sean Matson (2022). The native of Jefferson, Mass., tied for the league lead with six wins and posted the top qualifying ERA at 2.25 across his 10 regular-season appearances, nine of which were starts. The left-hander held opponents to a .193 average while piling up the fourth-most strikeouts (50) over the second-most innings pitched (52.0) this summer. After being charged with eight earned runs over his first three outings, Ferguson allowed only five in 42 innings through the remainder of the regular year. He also went 9-for-29 with two doubles, four RBI and five runs scored in Vermont’s batting lineup. Prior to returning to Vermont, Ferguson was the New England Collegiate Conference Pitcher of the Year and became Eastern Nazarene’s first-ever All-American (honored by the American Baseball Coaches Association and D3baseball.com) as a utility player during the spring.
RELIEF PITCHER OF THE YEAR
Brian Hart, New Britain Bees, Hofstra University
A two-time Futures League All-Star who has contributed to New Britain’s first playoff teams in back-to-back summers, Hart finished third in the league and tops among primary relief arms with his 51 strikeouts in 38 innings in 2023. The right-hander made four of his first five appearances as a starter before moving exclusively to the bullpen by late July, ultimately posting three wins, seven saves (tied for second-most in the league) and pitching nine straight scoreless appearances from July 8 through summer’s end. The Bees won 13 of the 17 total games in which Hart appeared, and both of the losses on his record were as a starter. Hart also got out of a bases-loaded jam to save Team Mountain’s All-Star Game win and earned the decision in New Britain’s Aug. 9 playoff victory over eventual champion Norwich.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Matty Warren, Worcester Bravehearts, Palm Beach Atlantic University
The second straight center fielder to earn the Futures League’s Defensive Player of the Year honor, Warren routinely showcased great speed in the outfield and as a leadoff hitter in the batting order during his second summer with Worcester. From the defensive side, he committed only three errors and contributed one assist in 56 total chances across 29 games on the grass. Warren was also a major contributor to Worcester’s second-leading offense, tying for second in the league with his 38 runs scored, driving in 21 more, and stealing the fourth-most bases with 24 swipes in 28 attempts.
TOP PRO PROSPECT (POSITION PLAYER)
Will Fosberg, Nashua Silver Knights, Northeastern University
Fosberg made a strong first impression at the college level this summer, finishing as Nashua’s second-leading hitter with a .301 average and .430 on-base percentage while posting five doubles, two triples, 12 RBI and 12 runs scored in 33 games. The left-handed hitting catcher recorded three of his seven extra-base hits over the final nine games of the summer. Fosberg hit .341 in July, helping the Silver Knights to a 14-11 record during the month. The Natick, Mass., native also showed himself well defensively, throwing out eight attempted base stealers and compiling a .980 fielding percentage in 199 total chances. Fosberg is entering his freshman year at Northeastern and becomes the second-ever Husky to win one of the league’s prospect honors (Dennis Colleran, Worcester, 2021).
TOP PRO PROSPECT (PITCHER)
Dylan Vigue, Worcester Bravehearts, University of Michigan
The No. 5 overall prospect in this year’s Massachusetts high school class according to Perfect Game, Vigue went 2-1 with a 2.56 ERA across eight appearances this summer. Opponents hit .191 against the right-hander whose 34 strikeouts in 31.2 innings ranked third on the Worcester staff. Vigue dominated in the first two of his four starts, fanning 12 and allowing only four hits across 11.2 scoreless frames. He also pitched a 1-2-3 inning in the All-Star Game before drawing a postseason start on the mound for the Bravehearts, who finished the season with a franchise-record 39 wins. Additionally, the All-New England and All-ISL two-way standout out of Groton School and Leominster, Mass., showed off his power at the plate as Worcester’s All-Star Home Run Derby representative and while slugging the Bravehearts to a tiebreaking Derby win June 20 at Nashua in which he had also pitched three no-hit innings of relief.
MANAGER OF THE YEAR
Kevin Murphy, Norwich Sea Unicorns
Murphy is the first Norwich skipper to earn Futures League Manager of the Year honors after leading the Sea Unicorns to 39 wins and their first regular-season championship in franchise history. Norwich finished the summer with the No. 1 offense (.273 average) and pitching staff (3.75 ERA) in the Futures League. Paced by infielder Dean Ferrara (Fairfield) whose .422 average set a new single-season league record, Murphy guided a team offense that scored the fifth-most runs in league history (371) while hitting the most triples (27) and stealing the fourth-most bases (167). Murphy was in his first season as the Norwich manager after spending 2022 as an assistant. A former player at Eastern Connecticut State University and Nichols College, Murphy is the volunteer assistant coach at Quinnipiac University.
ADAM KEENAN SPORTSMANSHIP & SCHOLARSHIP AWARD
Jimmy Gilleran, Brockton Rox, Stonehill College
Shane McNamara, Nashua Silver Knights, Eastern Nazarene College
Billy Mrowka, New Britain Bees, Skyline College
Johnny Knox, Norwich Sea Unicorns, Nichols College
Derek Paris, Pittsfield Suns, University of Maryland-Baltimore County
Antonio Perrotta, Vermont Lake Monsters, University of Virginia
Josh Frometa, Westfield Starfires, American International College
Michael Florides, Worcester Bravehearts, Hofstra University
For the fourth consecutive season, one player from each of the Futures League’s eight franchises was selected to receive this prestigious annual award, which is bestowed upon someone who exemplifies the outstanding attitude, character and sportsmanship that is synonymous with Adam Keenan's legacy. Adam was a former Franklin Pierce University and UMass Lowell player who also played for the former Seacoast Mavericks. Click here for the full release on this year's recipients.
For the latest Futures League news and information throughout the year, visit thefuturesleague.com and follow the league’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.