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Brantley named Heart and Hustle Award winner

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MINNEAPOLIS -- Michael Brantley was named the Cleveland Indians' winner of the Heart and Hustle Award on Tuesday.

The award is given to one player from each MLB organization based on passion, desire and work ethic demonstrated both on and off the field. Currently in Minneapolis to play the Twins, Brantley reflected on his first All-Star Game appearance one week earlier at Target Field.

"It was probably one of the best experiences I've had in a long time," Brantley said. "This field's going to mean so much to me when I look back on my career. We had our first playoff berth here. I had my first All-Star Game here. It's just exciting."

The 27-year-old was able to bring his father, former Mariners outfielder Mickey Brantley, to the festivities.

"He taught me everything I know about baseball, from when I was born to now," Brantley said. "I'll always lean on him. He's seen way more than I've seen. He taught way more players, and I just cherish the memories that we're going to share together throughout this baseball process."

The way Brantley's been playing, there will likely be plenty more memories to make at the big league level.

Brantley is batting .328 entering Tuesday and has been especially hot in July. Over his past 15 games, he's hitting .410 (25-for-61) with three home runs and nine RBIs. The Tribe is 9-6 in those games, and Brantley said that the key to Cleveland's recent run has been teamwork.

"We're just leaning on one another," he said. "We're doing a great job of team chemistry, just picking one another up. And we're getting some timely hits. It's very important. If the team keeps doing that, we'll be just fine."

Fans, alumni and active players will vote to select this year's overall winner. Previous winners include David Eckstein (2005), Craig Biggio (2006, '07), Grady Sizemore (2008), Albert Pujols (2009), Roy Halladay (2010), Torii Hunter (2011), Trout (2012) and Dustin Pedroia (2013).

The winner will be announced on Nov. 18 at the 15th Annual Legends for Youth Dinner in New York City. This event is the primary fundraiser for the series of free Legends for Youth Baseball Clinics. These clinics impact more than 15,000 children each year at 110 clinics, allowing them the unique opportunity to interact with and learn from players who have left a lasting impact on the game of baseball.

Alex M. Smith is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @asmiff. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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