Washington Nationals' 2013 Minor League Awards
Award season is upon us!
Well, for minor league baseball, at least.
To honor the end of the MiLB season, I am unveiling the Washington Nationals' 2013 Minor League Awards. This six pack of accolades toasts the best performer in the field and on the mound, respectively, while also acknowledging the best at specific skills and the one player who made the most impressive comeback from last season.
So, without further ado: The envelopes, please!
Note: All statistics courtesy of MiLB.com unless noted otherwise.
POSITION PLAYER of the YEAR: Michael Taylor
Michael Taylor didn't just do a little bit of everything for the Single-A Advanced Potomac Nationals. He did a lot of everything, and that's why he is being selected as the Nationals' Minor League Position Player of the Year.
Taylor hit .263 in 509 at-bats over 133 games, with 41 doubles, six triples and 10 home runs, while driving in 87 runs and scoring 79. The 22-year-old Florida native had a .340 on-base percentage and a .426 slugging percentage while racking up 217 total bases, and stole 51 bases in 58 attempts.
According to the Nationals' affiliates stats at the team's website, Taylor was fourth in hits and second in RBI among all minor league players in the Nationals' organization. Despite his impressive power numbers, Taylor also ranked second among all Nationals' farm hands in stolen bases.
A well-rounded star, indeed.
STARTING PITCHER of the YEAR: Robbie Ray
In his first three seasons as a member of the Nationals' franchise, Robbie Ray was overshadowed by other starting pitchers within the system, despite being ranked seventh among the Nationals' top 20 prospects, according to MLB.com.
This season, Ray was the one who overshadowed all other starting pitchers in the Nationals organization.
In 27 starts at both Single-A Advanced and Double-A, Ray finished with a 11-5 record and a 3.36 ERA. Ray walked 62 and struck out 160, while giving up 13 home runs and a .224 batting average against.
According to the Nationals' affiliates stats at the team's website, Ray finished tied for second in wins, first in strikeouts and tied for third in batting average against among all pitchers in the Nationals' organization.
After a season like this, Ray will cast a large shadow of his own.
RELIEF PITCHER of the YEAR: Wander Suero
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Yes, the Nationals have a player named Wander Suero in their organization. In fact, the 22-year-old Dominican was the best relief pitcher in Washington's farm system during the 2013 season.
Suero did make three starts for the GCL Nats, but he was used mostly as a long man out of the bullpen, throwing 49.0 inning in 13 total appearances. He finished with an 8-1 record and a 1.65 ERA, while walking 13 and striking out 46. Suero had a .156 batting average against, and only surrendered two home runs.
Among all Nationals' minor league pitchers, Suero ranked first in ERA, WHIP and batting average against, according to the team's website.
As you can see, Suero deserved to be named the best relief pitcher in the Nationals' organization. Besides, do you really think I would pass up the chance to talk about a guy named Wander Suero?
SLUGGER of the YEAR: Zach Walters
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Zach Walters has been used mostly as a pinch runner in his short time in the major leagues this season.
While playing in the minors, however, Walters was an out and out slugger.
Here now is a list of Walters' power numbers, and his rank within the Nationals' organization for those categories:
My guess is that Walters will be used more as a pinch hitter the next time he joins the big club.
BASE STEALER of the YEAR: Billy Burns
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But Burns leads a double life. You see, he is an expert thief, with a growing reputation.
Burns stole 54 bases in 91 games with the Single-A Potomac Nationals. That total actually would have represented the most in the organization. But Burns' crime spree was not complete.
He stole 20 more bases once he was promoted to Double-A, while playing 30 games with the Harrisburg Senators.
The thing to know about Burns, though, is that he does not simply steal a lot of bases. He does so with the efficiency of a master jewel thief.
Here is a look at the top three base stealers in the Nationals' organization during the 2013 season, with an emphasis on their stolen base percentage:
Someone should arrest Billy Burns. But they would have to catch him first.
COMEBACK PLAYER of the YEAR: Taylor Jordan
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Jordan will finish the season having thrown 142 innings between high Single-A Potomac, Double-A Harrisburg and the majors, significantly more work than he's had in any other season as a pro. The 24-year-old's previous season-high was 94 1/3 innings in 2011 before he tore his UCL and needed Tommy John surgery. With the Nats this season, Jordan went 1-3 with an impressive 3.66 ERA in 51 2/3 innings over eight starts.
While pitching in the minors, Jordan compiled a 9-1 record with a 1.00 ERA in 90.1 innings over 14 starts, split between Single-A Advanced and Double-A. Jordan struck out 72 versus only 15 walks, while giving up a .208 batting average against and only one home run. Jordan finished his remarkable year as the Nationals' Minor League Pitcher Of The Year, according to a team press release.
Perhaps Taylor Jordan should be shut down every season.