Manager Rick Sweet and RHP Justin Lehr have been named to the International League’s post-season All-Star Team today. Sweet is the first skipper to win back-to-back International League Manager of the Year awards since Richmond’s Eddie Haas in 1981-82. Lehr began the season with Lehigh Valley and is the first member of the Bats and IronPigs to be named the IL’s Most Valuable Pitcher. The winners were selected by the League’s managers, coaches, media and club representatives.
Rick Sweet, who will turn 57 on the final day of the regular season, led the Bats to their second consecutive West Division title thanks to an IL-best 79-56 record. Sweet’s Bats clinched the division with a potent blend of power, speed and pitching. Louisville is third in the IL in runs scored (613), homers (126) and stolen bases (126), while the pitching staff is second in the League in ERA (3.49), runs allowed (528) and shutouts (14).
In July, Sweet piloted the IL All-Star team to a 6-5 victory over the PCL squad at the Triple-A All-Star Game in Portland, becoming the event’s first three-time manager in the process. Last year Sweet led Louisville to a club-record 88 wins to become the franchise’s first-ever IL Manager of the Year.
Justin Lehr, 32, dominated the competition this season, going 13-3 while posting a 3.31 ERA in 20 starts between Lehigh Valley and Louisville. Lehr began the season with the IronPigs, earning IL Pitcher of the Week honors twice in the first five weeks of the season. Traded to Cincinnati and assigned to Louisville (where he spent much of the 2008 campaign) on May 23, Lehr went 6-0 in six June starts and was named as the starting pitcher for the IL Team for the Triple-A All-Star Game in Portland on July 15
On July 31, days after winning another Pitcher of the Week Award, Lehr was summoned to the Reds to make his first Major League appearance since 2006. In his second outing with the Reds, he shutout the Chicago Cubs on four hits, and he now owns a 3-1 record with a 4.19 ERA in six starts for Cincinnati.