Pirates' Tucker wins AFL sportsmanship award

November 17th, 2018
SCOTTSDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 17: XXX during the Arizona Fall League Championship Game at Scottsdale Stadium on Saturday, November 17, 2018 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/MLB Photos via Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** PLAYERNAMEJennifer Stewart/Getty Images

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Throughout his life, shortstop Cole Tucker has always been able to relate well to a wide variety of people.
"For whatever reason I've always been that 'glue guy' that guy that's friends with everybody," Tucker said. "It's something I take pride in. I want to walk into every clubhouse and be that leader, that guy that the kid from Tennessee can hang out with but also the kid from the Dominican Republic can hang out with and be that bridge and ultimately just bring the team and everybody closer together."
:: Complete coveraege of the 2018 AFL championship game ::
The Pirates prospect was rewarded for his efforts Saturday before the Arizona Fall League Championship Game at Scottsdale Stadium when he was given the Stenson Sportsmanship Award, which was created in 2004 in memory of former AFL player Dernell Stenson, who died the previous year during the Fall League season.
The award is presented annually to the player who best exemplifies Stenson's character on and off the field: unselfishness, hard work and leadership.
Tucker, the Pirates' No. 5 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, hit .370/.442/.457 for Surprise this fall after spending the regular season with Double-A Altoona.
"I had good numbers, obviously, but it was cool because this was a good litmus test for who you are as a baseball player because there's a ton of guys here that have been in the big leagues and guys about to be in the big leagues," Tucker said. "So, to come out here and have success really gives me a lot of confidence going into Spring Training, going into next year."
Tucker grew up in the Phoenix area as a fan of the Arizona Diamondbacks, but his baseball idol was Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, who was also known for his ability to lead his teammates. That's not where the similarities end.
"Derek Jeter just has a spotless reputation in the league and in the [player's] union," Tucker said. "He's someone that I've always looked to. Obviously being a tall, lanky, bi-racial shortstop doesn't hurt, but I always looked up to him in how he carried himself on and off the field. I definitely always tried to model the way I carried myself after Jeter."
The shortstop made it a point throughout the Fall League season of staying after games to sign autographs and pose for photos with fans.
"He's a great guy," said Brewers prospect Keston Hiura, who won the league's Most Valuable Player Award. "I got a chance to know his this Fall League. He's from Arizona and just being able to see him out on the field and then talk to him, he's a great all-around player and good all-around guy. I'm happy for him and couldn't think of anyone better deserving."
Below is the complete list of Stenson award winners:
2018 -- Cole Tucker (Pirates), SS, Surprise Saguaros
2017 -- Eric Filia (Mariners), OF, Peoria Javelinas
2016 -- (Marlins), C, Mesa Solar Sox
2015 -- (Brewers), SS, Surprise Saguaros
2014 -- (Mariners), 3B, Surprise Saguaros
2013 -- (Red Sox), 3B, Surprise Saguaros
2012 -- Cole Kimball (Nationals), RHP, Salt River Rafters
2011 -- (Marlins), OF, Surprise Saguaros
2010 -- Steve Lombardozzi (Nationals), IF, Scottsdale Scorpions
2009 -- Russ Mitchell (Dodgers), 1B, Peoria Javelinas
2008 -- Jason Donald (Phillies), IF, Mesa Solar Sox
2007 -- (Cubs), OF, Mesa Solar Sox
2006 -- (Giants), IF, Scottsdale Scorpions
2005 -- Andre Ethier (Athletics), OF, Phoenix Desert Dogs
2004 -- Mark Teahen (Royals), 3B, Phoenix Desert Dogs