Charleston started off great this season, but struggled in the second half with a record of just 35-34. Their final record was 74-65. Their struggles in the second half caused them to miss the playoffs.
The team had to deal with injuries and promotions throughout the season. Prospects like Jesus Montero, Austin Romine, Wilkins de la Rosa and Zach McAllister, among others were not on the team anymore, so much of the starpower was gone as well.
This season, there were some highlights that came out of Charleston, but it would be difficult for them to compare to last season's RiverDogs team. Let's take a look at who stood out for the New York Yankees A-level team.
Charleston RiverDogs MVP: Corban Joseph, 2B/3B: .300/.381/.418 with a wOBA of .366 in 427 PA.
Joseph was drafted in 4th round of the Yankees' 2008 draft as a shortstop out of high school. He played 50 games in the GCL last year and showed a good amount of promise with the bat.
The Yankees did not project him to stay at shortstop so moved him to second base last season, where he has struggled.
This season, he has split time between 2nd and 3rd base. According to TotalZone, he was -6 runs at 2nd base this season and +6 runs at 3rd base. I would expect him to continue to play both positions as he moves up the ladder, enhancing his versatility.
Joseph has catapulted himself into the Yankees top 30 prospects with his performance this season. He seems to have good strike zone control, with 69 walks and 85 strikeouts in his career.
His power is virtually non-existent so far; he's hit only 6 home runs in 539 at bats, but he is only 20 years old. I expect him to start next season in Tampa and continue to hit.
Charleston Riverdogs Pitcher of the Year: Manuel Banuelos, SP: 9-5 record, 109 IP, 88 H, 40 R, 32 ER, 4 HR, 28 BB, 104 K, 2.67 ERA, 2.76 FIP.
Before the 2008 season, Banuelos and Alfredo Aceves were signed out of Mexico. What a steal that has turned out to be. Aceves has been an extremely important part of the Yankees' bullpen this season and Banuelos has went from being mostly unheard of to becoming a top 10 prospect in the farm system.
It seemed like he was tiring, as his last few starts were his worst of the season. Innings limits then kicked in, and he has been pitching out of the bullpen in mostly two inning stints. However, he has been phenomenal out of the bullpen, racking up 21 strikeouts and only 3 walks in only 12 innings.
Of all the prospects in the Yankees' farm system, this is the guy whose stock has risen the most in the 2009 season. He will definitely start next season in the Tampa Yankees rotation.
Charleston Riverdogs Surprise of the Year: Hector Noesi, SP: 3-4 record, 75.2 IP, 62 H, 24 R, 20 ER, 3 HR, 11 BB, 78 K, 2.38 ERA, 2.09 FIP in Charleston.
This would definitely go to Banuelos, but he took home pitcher of the year, so I thought it was only fair to give this award to someone else. After posting a FIP of 4.32 in Staten Island in 2008 as a 21 year old, there wasn't too much to like about Noesi.
This season, though, he has posted some spectacular numbers in both Charleston and Tampa. His K:BB ratios stands at a ridiculous 7.87 for the season. He has continued to dominate in Tampa with a 2.57 FIP in 41.1 innings.
I'm very impressed by Noesi this season and look forward to see what he can do in Trenton. If he continues to put up great K:BB ratios, he will definitely become a guy who can make an impact at the major league level.
Another thing to really like: 42.4% of his balls in play have been ground balls while only 34.9% have been fly balls. The combination of striking a lot of batters out, getting a ton of ground balls, and not walking very many people is exactly what I like to see in a pitcher.
Charleston RiverDogs Dissapointment of the Year: Andrew Brackman, SP: 2-12 record, 106.2 IP, 106 H, 79 R, 70 ER, 8 HR, 76 BB, 103 K, 10 HBP, 26 WP, 5.91 ERA, 4.66 FIP
This was definitely the easiest "award" to choose. The hype surrounding Brackman since he has been drafted was huge. I expected him to start this season in Tampa and do very well. Not only did he start out in Charleston, but he struggled mightily and never even advanced to Tampa.
There are a few bright sides to his season. As Bleacher Report colleague Joseph DelGrippo points out, he has been dominant out of the bullpen recently. Also, Brackman got off to a very nice start to the season, which I discussed recently.
In his first 9 games started, he maintained a 3.21 FIP and wasn't walking an exceptionally large number of batters.
After that, he seemingly fell apart. I suspect it was fatigue related to his recovery to his Tommy John Surgery. The good news is that he seemed revitalized this month out of the bullpen.
I am not especially optimistic with Brackman at this point, but I could definitely see him putting it all together any minute. I still have him as a top 10 Yankee prospect. I guess he starts next season in Charleston and will be in line for a quick promotion with any success.