2008 Minor League Awards

Yanks set to beef up stadium security for final homestand
Mr. Michael goes to Japan

Another minor league season is in the books, but this year was a bit more tumultuous than last. I’d say more guys underperformed and disappointed than stepped up this year, which is the exact opposite of what happened last year. Graduation, injuries and ineffectiveness have been prevalent, but there have certainly been some bright spots.

Yankees’ affiliates combined to go 485-348 this year, good for a .582 winning percentage, marking at least the 17th consecutive season the affiliates have combined for an above .500 record. I say at least because B-Ref’s data only goes back to 1992, and I’m not going to spend the time to keep digging further. Take a second to get your head around how ridiculous a combined .582 winning percentage is – that’s better than a 94 win pace in a 162-game season. Insane.

Keep in mind that this isn’t some kind of best prospect list, it’s a recognition of the guys who had great years, regardless of prospect status. In order to keep things from getting redundant, the winner of the Player of the Year award isn’t eligible for the other major awards. Fun starts after the jump.

Minor League Player of the Year: Jesus Montero, C/DH, A-
The youngest full-season league player in the organization, Montero came out of the strong and didn’t let up all year. He starting the year off with two homers and 11 hits in the season’s first week, and finished the year with the most hits in the South Atlantic League (171) and the highest OPS on the team (.868). He drove in the game winning run in four straight games in late April, and also had a 15 game hitting streak in early August. Montero cemented his status as the best hitting prospect in the system despite playing the toughest position on the diamond more than half the time.
Honorable Mention: Mark Melancon, RHP, A+/AA/AAA; Zach McAllister, RHP, A-/A+

Minor League Pitcher of the Year: Zach McAllister, RHP, A-/A+
I picked McAllister as my top breakout candidate this year, but he far surpassed all expections. Starting the year as Charleston’s #5 starter, McAllister earned a promotion to Tampa after just two months thanks to a 6.63 K/BB ratio & 2.05 GB/FB rato. He was even better with Tampa, dropping his ERA below 2.00 and his WHIP below 1.00 while maintaining an excellent K/BB rate. Opposing hitters batting just .233 off McAllister, and he finished the season with an ungodly 115-21 K/BB ratio. McAllister’s ascension adds to an already monster 2006 draft haul.
Honorable Mention: Mark Melancon, RHP, A+/AA/AAA; Dellin Betances, RHP, A-

Minor League Hitter of the Year: Brandon Laird, 1B/3B/DH, A-
Almost an afterthought behind Montero, Bradley Suttle and Carmen Angelini in the River Dogs lineup coming into the year, Laird finished with the most homers (21), second most RBI (86) and highest slugging percentage (.498) in the system. Laird capped his campaign for the award with an otherwordly August, a month in which he batted .324-.402-.705 with 7 doubles, 11 homers and 37 RBI in just 29 games. Laird’s defense leaves something to be desired, but his bat will play anywhere.
Honorable Mention: Juan Miranda, 1B/DH, AAA, 1B; Edwar Gonzalez, A+/AA

Minor League Manager of the Year: Dave Miley, AAA
This the second consecutive MiLMOY Award for Miley, who continues to keep the SWB Yanks on top despite seeing his roster ransacked seemingly by the day. He managed far too many games started by relievers and was forced to pick the least defensively challenged left fielder to play center on many occasions this year, but Miley’s greatest achievement was persevering through the tragic death of his teenage son. SWB finished with the best record in all of AAA baseball, and Miley is more deserving of this award than ever.
Honorable Mention: Tony Franklin, AA; Torre Tyson, A-

The Edwar Ramirez Award (Breakout Player of the Year): Wilkins DeLaRosa, LHP, A-/A+
A weak hitting, strong armed outfielder in his first two seasons as a pro, the Yanks moved DeLaRosa to mound after he hit .232-.342-.279 combined in 2005 & 2006, and he took to move instantly. After battling expected bouts of wildness during his first year as a pitcher, DeLaRosa took a major step forward in 2007, posting a .190 BA against and striking out 10.55 batters per 9 IP. He still suffered from bouts of wildness (3.71 BBper9), but he showed that his live left arm was for real.
Honorable Mention: Phil Coke, LHP, AA/AAA; Jairo Heredia, RHP, A-

Best Pro Debut: Pat Venditte, R/LHP, SS
Considered a sideshow act by many, Venditte absolutely shoved it since turning pro. His 22 saves tied the Staten Island Yanks’ single season record, and held opponents to a ridiculous .117 BA against. Venditte didn’t walk a batter after August 3rd, and didn’t allow a baserunner in 18 of his 30 appearances. For a guy that doesn’t get much respect, no one’s been able to touch him for the last four years.
Honorable Mention: Corban Joseph, SS, Rk; Brad Rulon, RHP, SS

Comeback Player of the Year: Mark Melancon, A+/AA/AAA
Drafted knowing that he might need elbow surgery, Melancon went down with Tommy John surgery less than 6 months after turning pro, but he returned this year better than anyone could have expected. Steadily climbing the ladder from Tampa to Scranton, Melancon held batters to a .202 BA against with a 4.05 K/BB ratio, and kept more balls on the ground (1.54 GB/FB ratio) than most power pitchers. He also proved durable, throwing 95 innings thanks to low pitch counts. Melancon’s off-the-charts makeup and work ethic have put him in a position to start 2009 in the Bronx.
Honorable Mention: JB Cox, RHP, A+/AA/AAA; Tim Battle, OF, A+

Bounceback Player of the Year (started out poorly but picked it up in the second half): Dellin Betances, RHP, A-
In a season lacked an obvious bounceback candidate, Betances wins the award because he took the biggest step forward in the second half. Despite allowing just 6.05 Hper9 in April & May, his WHIP still stood at a ghastly 1.40 due to 6.55 BBper9 walk rate. Betances then went down with a minor injury, and apparently something clicked during his rehab stint. He returned to the River Dogs in July, and cut nearly four full walks off his rate the rest of the year, knocking it down to 2.83 BBper9. He still allowed fewer than a hit per inning (7.46 Hper9), and his strikeout rate never wavered from roughly 10.50 Kper9.
Honorable Mention: Steven Jackson, RHP, AA/AAA

Most Disappointing Player: Mitch Hilligoss, 3B, A+
Coming off a season in which he racked up a Sally League leading 161 hits and set a new league record with a 38-game hit streak, Hilligoss’ offensive production dropped off a cliff. His OPS dropped nearly 200 points (182 in reality), and he slugged just .298, which would have been considered a sub par BA for Hilligoss coming into the year. Just a brutal, brutal season. (I gave Alan Horne a pass on this “award” once news of his torn labrum broke.)
Dishonorable Mention: Carmen Angelini, SS, A-; Steven White, RHP, AAA/AA

Individual Level Awards

Triple-A Double-A High-A Low-A Short Season Rookie
MVP Justin Christian Austin Jackson Kevin Smith Jesus Montero Brian Baisley Corban Joseph
Cy Young Kei Igawa George Kontos Zach McAllister Jon Ortiz Pat Venditte Manny Banuelos
Surprise Scott Strickland Phil Coke Tim Battle Wilkins DeLaRosa Mike Lyon Neall French
Disappointment Steven White Cody Ehlers Mitch Hilligoss Carmen Angelini Taylor Grote Chris Smith

All-Minor League Teams

First Team Second Team Third Team
C Jesus Montero Austin Romine Kyle Anson
1B Brandon Laird Juan Miranda Brian Baisley
2B Justin Snyder Luis Nunez Reegie Corona
SS Cody Ransom Addison Maruszack Ramiro Pena
3B Bradley Suttle Chris Malec Mike Lyon
OF Brett Gardner Matt Carson Dan Brewer
OF Austin Jackson Time Battle Colin Curtis
OF Justin Christian Seth Fortenberry Austin Krum
DH Edwar Gonzalez Kevin Smith Shelley Duncan
SP Zach McAllister Wilkins DeLaRosa Al Aceves
SP Dellin Betances Jairo Hereda Phil Coke
SP Kei Igawa George Kontos Jason Jones
RP Mark Melancon David Robertson Scott Strickland
RP Jon Ortiz Pat Venditte Brad Rulon

Lifetime Achievement Award
This year’s recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award just wrapped up his 6th full season with the organization, making his first foray into the Triple-A level. Drafted in the 5th round way back in 2002, this player has been teammates with everyone from Robinson Cano to Eric Duncan to Tyler Clippard to Estee Harris to Phil Hughes to Melky Cabrera to Chien-Ming Wang, with countless others in between.

After spending parts of the last four season with Trenton, he received a midseason promotion to Scranton this year, and had the best season of his career. Setting new career highs in BA (.285), OBP (.343) and SLG (.482), he also picked up 15 homers & 64 RBI while played strong defense at all three outfield spots.

The Newport Beach, CA native has played in 720 games in his career, picking up 677 hits, 130 doubles, 25 triples, 77 homers, 352 RBI, 375 runs scored and 65 stolen bases. This year’s Lifetime Achievement Award goes to … (drum roll)Matt Carson.

Yanks set to beef up stadium security for final homestand
Mr. Michael goes to Japan
  • pat

    well this is certainly an exciting midday development.

    • pat

      ps I always knew igawa had cy young potential

      • Ivan


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  • Ivan

    Good Job mike on the list.

    Zach McAllister being Yankee minor league baseball pitcher of the year is kinda weak considering that the last two were Joba ( or go Co Cy young with Joba and IPK last year) and Phil Hughes in 06. Nevertheless, Z-Mac is a good pitching prospect with pretty upside.

    Montero is just a beast nuff said. I don’t wanna put too much expectations on the kid but I can really see him hitting 20+ HR’s next season. Hopefully his plate disipline improve next season as well.

    My Breakout performer next season is Garrison Lassiter. Just a hunch.

    • Ivan

      Or Carmen Angenili.

      • Reggie C.

        I really hope it’ll be Angellini. That million-dollar signing bonus may have caused him to jump at bad pitches in effort to justify the figure. The hitting talent has gotta be there. Right? It took A-Jax several hundred PA before his promotion to High-A.

        Hopefully, he earns a promotion mid-season.

  • st

    Do you know how good any of these players happen to be in terms of making a difference some day in the majors? For example, the Red Sox can dip down and bring up a Youkilis, Pedroia, Lowrie or Lester. What about the Yanks? Thanks.

    • Ivan

      Guys like Youkilis and Pedroia are having career years and never will be better than they are now even though they are good players. Same can be said for Ellsbury and Lowrie. Guys who projected to produce quickly but overall not type of guys who will get much better in their careers. So yeah they look good now, but couple years later those same players are not gonna look so hot.

      I will admit, Lester is a terrific young arm though.

      • pat

        i agree i see him haunting us for years to come

  • Tripp

    Is that Ron Jeremy in that picture?

    • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      No, that’s Mike.

      • http://riveraveblues.com Mike A.

        Just after I cut my hair.

    • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos

      Stan Van Gundy.

  • radnom

    Wow thanks for that….nice read for my lunch break.

  • pat

    since this is a prospect related thread, with impunity i shall ask you mike joe or ben: Who plays short in charleston next year?

    • Reggie C.

      can i take a stab at that question? its a public post board after all ..

      Can it be anybody but Carmen Angellini? Okay so his first several hundred PA weren’t anything to phone home over. Maybe phone a psychiatrist over , but definitely not Mom and Dad.

      Angellini will repeat Low-A. I think that much is clear. Lassiter may dispel him , but i think he’ll be in ESP for a little bit. Its gotta be said (unfairly so) that Angellini took a million dollar bonus. He’s simply gotta play.

      • yankeemonkey

        Charleston IS low-A, you know.

        • Reggie C.

          uhh .. Yea. I know. Angellini will repeat Low-A is saying that he’ll repeat Charleston. I know.

  • Reggie C.

    Brett gardner was sporting a .400 OBP / .440 slugging before his first call-up after which the numbers tailed off significantly when he got back to Scranton. He could’ve and should’ve had a better season that Justin Christian. Just my opinion.

    In terms of production as a 4th OF … who do people like among the Christian, Gardner, & Melky trio ?

    • Old Ranger

      Brett, with Justin a close 2nd.
      As of right now, Justin is the better hitter (power), but Brett has the speed, eye, and instincts. Brett wouldn’t get caught doing some of the bad things Justin has done. Bretts’ instincts are liken to Jeters and A-Rods…you have it or not.

  • Hitman

    I knew Kei Igawa would live up to that contract.

  • Old Ranger

    One other thing about Brett. The team has taken a very big interest in him, once he learns to use the lower half of his body to hit (along w/bunting), he will be able to drive the ball better into the gaps…not just pop-ups.

    • cult of basebaal

      so, essentially, once he totally transforms his hitting mechanics away from what he’s always had success with, he might become a useful player?

      i like gardner, he’s a blast to watch on the bases, i’m just not sure he’s ever going to be a starting outfielder without a major overhaul in his mechanics and i’m just not very sanguine about the likelihood that that would be a success.

  • Zach

    Hey guys great work!

    I got a little honest question regarding Carmen Angelini. Obviously the guy has a lot of tools and potential. What I’m wondering about and it’s not just limited to Angelini but lots of young players that get drafted. How come he makes so many Errors? This is not meant to be a diss, I have confidence in the kid that he will turn it around sooner than later. I would assume that he was the star player on his High School team and that he probably was one of their best if not the best fielder on the team (at least the most athletic), if not he probably wouldn’t have played shortstop, right? Did he commit lots Errors in High School as well? How come some players commit so many Errors when they first break into pro ball? Is it that the batters are faster when they run to 1st Base or hit the ball harder? I don’t know if he’s committing more fielding or throwing Errors but I guess it evens out.

    • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos

      We all better hope that Angelini does put it together, because…

      Ransom, Snyder, Nunez, Maruzack, Corona… yech. We are seriously lacking in middle infielders of the future…

    • The Scout

      Angelini had to make the big adjustment to playing every day in full season ball, an incredible grind for someone who hasn’t done it before. Often the low A infileds are poorly tended. Add to this any technique adjustments the Yankees may have pushed him to make, which could have confused his fielding mechanics. As others have pointed out, Jeter made a huge number of errors during his comparable season. It is too early to judge what Angelini may become. Not everyone thrives in his first year of long-season A ball the way Montero and Romine did.

  • http://yankeesetc.blogspot.com/ Travis G.

    in Gardner’s defense, it typically takes him 1/2 to a full season to ‘break out’. unfortunately, the Yankees cant really get by with a non-hitting CFer for another 1/2 season. if he had the playing time, i think he’d adjust fine to the Bigs.

  • mo mike

    al aceves doesnt get an award? the guy goes from being a roster filler in A ball to start the year, and now is starting tomorrows game! gotta show some love for the mexican gangstaaa

    • pat

      well he was actually bought outta the mexican league and out in High A tampa where his previous professional expericne in mexico let him dominate until he got up here.

  • dan

    These are always fun to read. McAllister should get the Cy Young in Low-A and High-A like CC in the AL/NL (or Colon winning 10 in each league a few years back). Maybe we’ll see him late in the 2010 season? They’d better be careful with him.

  • http://theenlighteneddespot.wordpress.com NC Saint

    Great stuff. I’d say Angelini was much more disappointing than Hitstreak. He had a great season last year and this was a uge drop-off, but no one really expected Hitstreak to amount to much in the end, did they? Angelini’s struggles – it being his first year – might mean less, but they were still more disappointing, because one has higher hopes for him.

  • http://theenlighteneddespot.wordpress.com NC Saint

    Also: Pat Venditte!

  • ortforshort

    The Red Sox got smart and were investing in their farm system long before it occurred to the Yankees to do so. The Yanks are playing catch up not only with Boston, but Toronto and Tampa, as well. In Tampa’s case, they’ve had so many super high draft picks that its about time its all paying dividends. Anyway, when you look at the Yankees minor league all star team above, you realize that the organization still has a very long way to go. Still, the Yanks are moving in the right direction so you take that with a grain of salt.

  • emac2

    The Yanks did get started after those other teams but a big part of what we are seeing is the result of going 100% (or just about) pitching in the draft for several years.

    I think that the plan was to draft pitching and deal with the offense in free agency both major league and international.

    My only disappointment in our recent approach is that we haven’t been more aggressive in the draft. A 6 or 7 million dollar budget for signing a draft class is nice but why in the world would you ever spend 15 million on an old catcher like Posada and then not spend the same amount or more buying a few potential stars out of college commitments.

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