2022 Eugene Emeralds Season in Review
By Nina-Grace Montes The Emeralds came out on top once again as back-to-back champions after sweeping the Vancouver Canadians (Toronto Blue Jays) in the Northwest League championship. But, the entire season leading up to the playoffs was a joyride. Eugene scored 10 runs on 11 hits during the first game
By Nina-Grace Montes
The Emeralds came out on top once again as back-to-back champions after sweeping the Vancouver Canadians (Toronto Blue Jays) in the Northwest League championship. But, the entire season leading up to the playoffs was a joyride.
Eugene scored 10 runs on 11 hits during the first game of the series to take a 1-0 lead and was followed by a strong sixth-inning performance that included a three-run home run by Marco Luciano in game two.
During the final game of the series, it was a wild finish as the Emeralds took a one-run lead in the bottom of the eighth inning, but Vancouver scored three times to take a two-run advantage heading into the ninth inning.
Grant McCray hit a three-run home run in the ninth that put Eugene three outs away from another championship. Vancouver responded with an RBI double to send the game into extra innings.
Jimmy Glowenke put the Emeralds ahead for good with a two-run home run over the left-center field wall.
After Luis Matos caught a shallow fly ball in right field, the team won their eighth championship in the 68-year history of the franchise (1955, 1974, 1975, 1980, 2016, 2018, 2021, 2022) and became the eighth team in Northwest League history to win consecutive championships. It’s also the second time that the Emeralds have won back-to-back titles after doing it during the 1974-75 seasons.
Offensive Fire Power
Eugene led the Northwest League in five different offensive categories during the regular season including Runs (678), Home Runs (163), RBIs (634), Slugging percentage (.411), and On-base plus Slugging (.741).
On June 28th, Vaun Brown hit his first home run while wearing an Emeralds uniform in a slugfest that included four home runs against the Everett Aquasoxs.
After missing the majority of the season due to a back injury, Marco Luciano hit his second grand slam in two weeks on August 30th to make Eugene’s grand slam season total 10.
In addition to all of the offensive stats that the Emeralds took charge in, Eugene’s pitching staff was hard to hit off of. They led the league in Wins (81), Save Opportunities (58), Strikeouts (1391), WHIP (1.22), Opponent Batting Average (.220), and gave up the least amount of Hits (906), and Home Runs (97).
On May 1st, Nick Swiney, Cole Waites, and Nick Avila pitched a combined no-hitter for the franchise’s sixth and first one since 2015.
At the end of the season, Nick Swiney was named to the NWL All-Star team with a 4-6 record and a 3.84 ERA in 20 appearances.
Prelander Berroa, who spent time in Eugene before being traded to the Seattle Mariners, was named the league’s best pitcher. In 17 games with the Emeralds, he had a 2.06 ERA with 97 strikeouts.
*A Rise in the Rankings *
Before the season started, MLB named Marco Luciano, Kyle Harrison, Luis Matos, and Grant McCray the top four prospects in the Giants’ organization, and all of them spent time in Eugene last season.
Marco Luciano only played in 57 games this season due to an injury, but he made his presence known when he returned. He had two grand slams in the first two weeks of being back and finished the season hitting .263/.339/.459 with 10 home runs across 230 plate appearances. After the Emeralds’ season ended, he was promoted to Double-A.
“I felt really good going into the season,” Luciano said. “But, when the pain started, it wasn’t the same. I was hanging in there as much as I could, but it wasn’t the same. I feel really good now and I’m working well to come back healthy.”
Kyle Harrison’s time in Eugene was really short; seven games at the beginning of the season. But, he made the most of it. In 29 innings pitched, he had a 1.55 ERA, 5 earned runs, and 59 strikeouts. He made an appearance in the NL Futures Game that took place during All-Star Week.
"We expect him to be in our rotation at some point next year," Farhan Zaidi, the President of Baseball Operations for the Giants said. "Could even be relatively early in the season. As we talked about, probably around the All-Star break or immediately after, we wouldn't have even ruled out furthering his progression and getting him to Triple-A to end the season."
At the age of 20, Luis Matos spent his time well with the Emeralds. He had his first professional grand slam on August 21st, and only struck out 16% of the time in his plate appearances. Once the Emeralds’ season ended, he moved to Arizona to play in the fall league and was named Defensive Player of the Year.
Baseball America named Grant McCray the fastest athlete in the Giants’ system before the season started, and he showed off that speed during his 14 games with the Emeralds. He stole 8 bases to go with 2 home runs, 10 RBIs, and a .269 batting average.
Vaun Brown, who was drafted in the 10th round of the 2021 draft, took the Giants by surprise. He started the season with the San Jose Giants and ended it with the Richmond Flying Squirrels. In 43 games, he had a .350 batting average, 9 home runs, 21 stolen bases, and a .611 slugging percentage.
During Will Clark’s jersey retirement tour, he was stunned by Brown’s performance.
"One of the guys y'all don't talk about — and I've had a chance to see him this year, and he's made a huge impression— is an outfielder by the name of Vaun Brown," he said on the Giants Talk podcast. "He was in San Jose, he was leading the team in homers, RBI, and stolen bases, batting average—he was doing a great job, and they bumped him up to Eugene, and he hasn't missed a beat."
Emeralds Lead the Way in Northwest League MiLB All-Stars
For the 2022 season, six Emeralds players (Carter Aldrete, Patrick Bailey, Jairo Pomares, Casey Schmitt, Prelander Berroa, and Nick Swiney) were named to the Northwest League All-Star team in addition to Carlos Valderrama winning Manager of the Year.
Aldrete hit .289 with a .369 on-base percentage. He had 15 home runs and 52 RBIs in the 74 games he spent in Eugene. In the midst of his hot-hitting streak, the Giants promoted him to Double-A in Richmond. Bailey also collected honors this year after posting a .342 on-base percentage with 12 home runs in 325 plate appearances.
Pomares was recognized as one of the best outfielders in the Northwest League after hitting .254 with a .438 slugging percentage. In 95 games, he belted 14 homers to go with 20 doubles and tied for the team lead with 59 RBIs. Schmitt was awarded Best Designated Hitter in the league after hitting .273 with a .363 on-base percentage and a .474 slugging percentage. In early August, he was promoted to Double-A to play with the Flying Squirrels and ended his season with Triple-A Sacramento.
Valderrama won Manager of the Year after leading the Emeralds to an 81-48 overall record and capped off the season with a league championship.
Even though the 2022 season ended in a way that every team wants it to, the season came with its own unique challenges. The Emeralds are on the hunt for a new home, and if you’re interested in learning more about the journey, please visit https://saveourems.com/.
If you’re interested in watching our Emeralds do this again, please call (541) 342-5367 to talk to a ticket sales representative. Stay up to date with the Emeralds by following our team on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.