Baseball: Perth Heat’s Jake Fraley named ABL MVP

Jake Fraley has been named the ABL’s Helms Award winner for 2017-18. Picture: SMP Images
Jake Fraley has been named the ABL’s Helms Award winner for 2017-18. Picture: SMP Images

PERTH Heat outfielder Jake Fraley has been named the 2017-18 Australian Baseball League (ABL) Helms Award winner after a standout campaign.

The Tampa Bay Rays prospect beat out Perth teammate Luke Hughes, Canberra duo Jay Baum and David Kandilas and Sydney slugger Chih-Hsien Chiang to win the league’s top honour.

The 22-year-old hit a staggering .361 with a team-high 13 home runs, 39 RBIs and 115 total bases.

“It would not have been possible to win this award without having such an awesome and talented group of coaches and guys around me the entire season,” Fraley said.

“Picking the brains of guys like Luke Hughes, Tim Kennelly and Warwick Saupold who have been around the game for so long was very humbling.”

In his first year in Australia, Fraley took the league by storm, breaking the ABL single-season records for runs scored (50) and stolen bases (39).

“I learned so much in my time here and I’m forever grateful for the wide open arms from the fans,” he said.

Fraley’s performances earned him both Perth’s Player of the Year and Offensive Player of the Year Awards, as well as a spot in the ABL All-Star Game.

Heat manager Andy Kyle says the former LSU graduate was a pleasure to coach.

“It’s hard to compare Jake to guys from previous generations, but he’s up there in the top five guys I’ve played with or coached,” Kyle said.

The centre-fielder is just the second Heat player to win the award after Tim Kennelly in 2011-12.

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