Tyler Minges was the man in 2003.
Nathan Panther came out of nowhere to claim MVP honors in 2005.
If the Aeros are to go on and win their third Eastern League Championship by clinching the title in Game Three of the Eastern League Championship Series tonight at Canal Park, this year's post-season MVP has got to be left fielder Jerad Head.
While fans won't find Head's profile in any prospect books, his clutch hits have helped propel the Aeros to a franchise-best 13-game winning streak and a two-games-to-none advantage over Connecticut.
"I can't say enough about what Jerad Head has meant to this team this year," Aeros manager Mike Sarbaugh said. "He practically carried the team offensively in April when so many others got off to slow starts."
Now, the 6-foot-1, 205-pounder leads all players in the post season in doubles (six), extra-base hits (seven) and RBI (nine).
"I don't know what it is or that I'm doing anything differently," Head said before the team left for Reading last week and swept the Phillies in the E.L. Southern Division Series. "I guess I'm just seeing the ball really well right now."
Signed by the Tribe as an undrafted free agent in 2005 out of Kansas's Washburn University, Head is the quinessential utility man every team covets - for his versatility alone.
But for the Aeros, Head is so much more than a warm body who can fill just about any hole in a lineup. He's played left field, right field, center field, first base, second base, third base and designated hitter for the Aeros this season. Amazingly, he committed just eight errors in 98 games.
In the regular season Head also hit .282 with 23 doubles, four triples, six home runs and 47 RBI - with splits nearly identical whether facing right or left handers.
"Jerad has such a consistent approach to hitting," Sarbaugh said. "It is such a luxury to someone with a little pop in their bat in the nine hole for us."
Head isn't the only hot-hitting Aeros player right now.
Second baseman Josh Rodriguez has found the groove he was in before injuring a hamstring that forced him to miss 101 games during the regular season while rehabbing in Goodyear, Ariz.
Upon his return to the Aeros lineup late in the regular season, Rodriguez went 1-for-23 with 13 strikeouts before finally getting his timing down. In five games in the postseason, Rodriguez is risig a 13-game hitting streak and is batting a healthy .333 (8-for-24) with four doubles and seven RBI.
Rodriguez even hit his first home run of the season - his ninth-inning three-run homer Wednesday night handing the Aeros a 7-6 victory at Connecticut's Dodd Stadium. NOTES: NO MORE CAMO: The Aeros alternate camouflage jerseys that are so favored by the players have been banned for the E.L. Championship Series. Traditionally designed to be worn as an occasional third jersey, the fact that the Aeros wore them in the Southern Division Series against Reading riled up the big wigs at minor league baseball.
In an email to the Aeros brass this week, Tim Brunswick, the executive director of baseball operations at Minor League Baseball wrote: "The camo jerseys are a specialty jersey, and are to only be worn for a special promotion one game a year or possible few games a year with prior approval from Minor League Baseball." THE SCHEDULE: If the Aeros do not clinch the title Friday, Game Four is scheduled for Saturday and (if needed) Game Five Sunday - both games beginning at 7:05 p.m. at Canal Park. STATISTICALLY SPEAKING: The Aeros own the best team batting average (.335) in the playoffs and are also tops in pitching with a 5-0 record and 3.00 ERA. PITCHING MATCHUPS: The Aeros are expected to send left-handed pitcher Eric Berger (1-0, 1.80 ERA) to the mound against Connecticut lefty Craig Clark (0-1, 5.40 ERA) Friday.
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