The 2012 minor league season officially came to an end for the Yankees’ organization over the weekend, closing out a decidedly negative season for the farm system. Top prospects got hurt, others disappointed, and few stepped up their game and raised their prospect stock. There’s no way to sugarcoat it, this season took a lot of luster out of the minor league system.
Although none of the six domestic affiliates were able to capture their league title, Double-A Trenton did play in the Championship Series. Triple-A Empire State spent the entire season on the road due to extensive renovations to PNC Field in Scranton, but they still managed to win their division for the fifth time in six years. That was particularly impressive. All told, the six stateside affiliates combined for a 366-326 record (.529), at least the 30th consecutive season they’ve put together a combined winning record.
These awards are not intended to be any kind of prospect ranking. It’s just a recognition of who had strong years in the minors regardless of their age or prospect status. Once a year it’s worth it to just sit back and appreciate what the fellas did this season. Here are my 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011 awards post for reference. Just as a reminder, the Player of the Year is disqualified from the Pitcher and Hitter of the Year awards just the shake things up. Nothing personal.
Minor League Player of the Year: OF Tyler Austin
I mentioned earlier that very few players stepped up and raised their prospect stock this summer, but Austin was the overwhelming exception. The club’s 13th round pick in 2010 hit .322/.400/.559 with 17 homers and 23 steals (in 25 chances) while advancing from Low-A Charleston to High-A Tampa, plus he also made a late-season cameo with Double-A Trenton. Among hitters with at least 300 plate appearances, Austin led the system in AVG, SLG, OPS (.960), and doubles (35). The 21-year-old did all of that while learning a new position, moving off third base permanently and settling into right field. A concussion did shelve him for a month, but otherwise Austin dominated the most advanced pitching he’s ever faced and put himself on the fast track to the big leagues. He was simply marvelous from start to finish.