WEYMOUTH, Mass. (August 3, 2022) -- Two familiar faces took home the Futures League’s July honors as 78 Sports Player of the Month and ChangeUp Pitcher of the Month.
Both players shined during the second and final full month of regular-season league action and represented their respective teams in the Futures League All-Star Game, which was held last Tuesday in New Britain, Conn.
Worcester Bravehearts first baseman/outfielder Gavin Noriega (Marist) crushed the ball all month long and won 78 Sports Player of the Month honors with a .396 average (36-for-91), 16 extra-base hits, 16 RBI, 21 runs scored and nine stolen bases in 25 games.
The second-year Braveheart finished July with three-hit efforts in three of the last four games and 11 total multi-hit games, including going 3-for-4 with two triples, a home run, five RBI and three runs scored in Worcester’s 12-2, seven-inning win over Norwich on July 31. Noriega logged 13 doubles, two triples and one homer to post a 1.106 OPS during the month, walking six more times than he struck out (17 walks, 11 strikeouts) across 108 plate appearances.
For the season, Noriega’s consistent July effort vaulted him into the lead for the league’s batting title as he sports a .372 average entering the final week of the regular season. The Bronx, N.Y., native is among league leaders in numerous other categories, topping the circuit in both total hits (68) and doubles (19).
Vermont right-hander Sean Matson (Harvard) won twice and put up a 1.02 ERA across three July starts to repeat as ChangeUp Pitcher of the Month and help the Lake Monsters reach the 40-win plateau for the second consecutive summer. He struck out 22 batters and allowed just 13 hits, four runs (two earned) and two walks during the month.
After taking a July 6 loss to Nashua despite not allowing an earned run in 6.2 innings, Matson won his next two starts and now ranks in a tie for second in the league with five this summer. He matched his season-high strikeout total of nine for the fourth time in six innings of two-run ball at Worcester on July 14 before tossing five shutout, two-hit innings a week later against Westfield.
Matson was also named the Most Outstanding Pitcher of the All-Star Game, striking out two in a scoreless inning. He was the No. 1 overall selection by fellow Lake Monster and victorious team captain George Goldstein (Middlebury).
For the season, the native of Chadds Ford, Pa., has a 1.61 ERA and continues to lead the league with 68 strikeouts in 44.2 innings. Matson has held opponents to a .189 average, giving up more than two earned runs in only one of his nine starts.
Headlined by Noriega and Matson, the Zorian Team of the Month for July will be unveiled later this week.
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