Bridgewater, NJ – Second baseman Emiliano Escandon has been named #5 on the Patriots Top 15 list, a part of the team’s 15th Season Anniversary, designed to celebrate the best players in team history as voted on by fans, Patriots players and coaches, and team officials.
“To be remembered after seven years removed from the team is an honor. The Patriots are a tremendous organization and the fans were always very supportive of me during my time there,” Escandon said.
Escandon joined the Patriots in 2001 after spending the start of his career in the Kansas City Royals organization, where he reached as high as Triple-A. Escandon had a championship pedigree before his time in Somerset, winning two times in the Royals’ minor league system.
In his first year with the Patriots, he helped the team set a then Atlantic League record of 83 wins on the way to Somerset’s first ever championship. During his All-Star season, Escandon hit .286 with 80 runs scored, 114 hits, 28 doubles, and 38 RBI. Though he started the season as the team’s third baseman, Escandon became the Patriots’ everyday second baseman and it was a spot he didn’t vacate over the next five seasons.
By the 2004 season, Escandon’s leadership on and off the field made him an obvious choice as the Patriots’ first ever team captain. It was also the first time an Atlantic Leaguer received the designation of captain from his team.
“It speaks volumes for the bond that was created in Somerset. It wasn’t only about what happened on the field, but also about staying active in the community. To have the organization think that highly of me was very special,” Escandon said.
Escandon took on the role of community ambassador for the team, speaking to dozens of schools in a program called “Strike Out Drugs,” teaching kids the harms of drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and the need to live a clean and healthy life. He took his job in the community as the face of the team just as seriously as he did his position on the field.
“A lot of great players have come through Somerset, but if you don’t embrace the community you play in, you miss out. I wanted to get the full experience and take in everything that the area had to offer. I always felt it was part of our duty and an opportunity to experience everything we could through baseball,” Escandon added.
Escandon was one of the most consistent performers the team has seen, finishing his Patriots career with a .281 average, 587 hits, and 275 RBI in 582 games played. He remains among the team’s career leaders in several offensive categories.
During his time with the team, Escandon became the first Patriot to win three championships, capturing the 2001, 2003 and 2005 titles.
“What’s great about the rings is that they all stand on their own. The first one we dominated and expected to win, but ended up having to come back in dramatic fashion to earn it. The second one, we had to win six in a row just to get to the playoffs and we ended up shocking everyone,” said Escandon. “ The last one in 2005, I knew was my last year, and it was kind of everybody getting together to win it for the old guys. That year became a passing of the torch to the next core group of Patriots. It was just awesome to be able to win it all so many times in Somerset.”
Escandon went out a champion, retiring after 2005 and focusing his time as a baseball instructor. However, he will always be remembered in Patriots history for his leadership on the field and in the clubhouse. Escandon is not only one of the best all around players the team has ever seen between the lines, but also one of the best individuals the team has ever known off the field. There was never a time Escandon wasn’t available to do a community event, meet fans at the ballpark, or spread an important message on behalf of the team. For that, and many other reasons, Escandon will always embody what it takes to be a Somerset Patriot and will always have a special place in team lure.
Throughout the 2012 season, the Patriots will be counting down the Top 15 players in team history and then highlight the chosen players on baseball card giveaways and a special lithograph during the year.