Etzel, Braithwaite earn MLB Draft League weekly honors

Matthew Etzel and Trey Braithwaite named Draft League Hitter and Pitcher of the Week, respectively

NEW YORK -- The MLB Draft League announced that Williamsport’s Matthew Etzel and West Virginia’s Trey Braithwaite were named Hitter and Pitcher of the Week, respectively, for the period of June 20 to June 26.

Etzel, 20, earns his second consecutive Hitter of the Week award after batting .529 (9-for-17) with one home run and two doubles in four games for the Crosscutters. He paced all MLB Draft League hitters during the period in hits (t-9) and RBIs (t-8), ranked second in total bases (14) and steals (5) and third in batting average and on-base percentage (.619), and finished fifth in OPS (1.443). Etzel tallied at least one hit, one run scored, one RBI and one walk in each of Williamsport’s games. He was 4-for-5 with a walk, two RBI and five stolen bases on Wednesday against Mahoning Valley and hit an inside-the-park home run the following day in a 2-for-5, four-RBI performance.

The League City, Texas, native leads the MLB Draft League in batting average (.469), on-base percentage (.547) and OPS (1.281) through 18 games this season. He also paces the Draft League in hits (30), runs scored (18), total bases (47) and RBI (20) and ranks second in stolen bases (16). Etzel has struck out four times in 75 plate appearances, drawing 10 walks. The Southern Mississippi-bound outfielder put up big numbers this past spring as a Panola College sophomore, slashing .433/.509/.711 with 84 hits, 34 extra-base hits including seven home runs, 55 runs, 49 RBI and 20 stolen bases in 51 games. For his performance, Etzel was named the NJCAA Region XIV Player of the Year.

Draft League Data: Etzel feasted on fastballs for a second straight week, batting .500 with a 1.433 OPS against the pitch. He continued to show a patient approach from atop the Crosscutters’ lineup, seeing 3.4 pitches per plate appearance while posting a 22.5% FP-Swing% and 24% O-Swing%, and once again did damage against pitches in the strike zone (41.9% Swing% vs. 80.6% Contact%; 79.2% ZSwing% vs. 89.5% Z-Contact%). Etzel also went 2-for-2 against left-handed pitching to bring his season average against southpaws up to .875 (7-for-8; 2.764 OPS).

Braithwaite, 24, recorded five of his six outs via the strikeout last week, notching one save in two relief appearances for the Black Bears. He struck out the side during a perfect ninth inning against Frederick on June 23, throwing 11 of 14 pitches for strikes en route to his second save of the 2022 season.

Braithwaite has recorded multiple strikeouts in five of his six relief appearances, registering a 3.00 ERA with 13 strikeouts and one walk in six innings as the Black Bears’ closer. The Winchester, Va., native recently garnered All-America Third Team honors, as voted on by the National College Baseball Writers Association, at West Virginia University after he went 3-0 with a 1.70 ERA and eight saves in 37 innings (22 appearances) for the Mountaineers as a fifth-year senior. Braithwaite spent his first four collegiate seasons at Navy, where he compiled 86 strikeouts in 67.1 innings.

Draft League Data: Braithwaite threw 79 percent fastballs in his dominant June 23 outing, averaging 95.4 mph (T96.3) and 2434 rpm with 18-plus inches of Induced Vertical Break. For the week, Braithwaite recorded a 69.9% Strike% with his heater while generating whiffs inside the strike zone at a 33.3-percent clip. He posted a 68.8% Strike% and 45% Chase% with his slider.

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