Thursday, September 25, 2008

Prospect Report: Postseason Awards

Yes, yes, another opinion post, I know. But! I promise I’ll get back to writing actual prospect reports once we move closer to the Arizona Fall League. But in the meantime, seeing as the Orioles recently announced their postseason minor league awards (naming Matt Wieters the Player of the Year and Brad Bergesen the Pitcher of the Year) I felt I would put in my own award picks. While I am in complete agreement with the Orioles on those two picks, I thought I’d throw in some awards of my own to hand out.

Pitcher of the Year Brad Bergesen I felt like possibly going in a different direction, but if I did it would be for no other reason than to be contrarian. Bergesen was outstanding this year, setting the Bowie Baysox team record for wins after coming up from High-A Frederick. No reason to disagree with the organization on this one, however Chris Tillman is a tempting pick simply for his upside.

Player of the YearMatt Wieters Goes without saying; although Montanez won the triple crown in the Eastern League Matt Wieters established himself as possibly the best prospect in baseball. Because of his outstanding play both offensively and defensively, not to mention his consistent improvement throughout the year even through an upward move in competition, Wieters is the clear winner. It is a tough break for Montanez, because any other year he would’ve been bringing home this piece of hardware.

Most Improved PitcherBrad Bergesen Bergesen picks up his second award here, albeit by a very slim margin. Bergesen went 3-6 last year in ten starts at Frederick with an ERA of 5.75 runs per game, and solidified his, well, anonymity. Essentially forgotten, he burst onto the scene this year and (see above) put up the finest performance of any pitcher in the organization. I will mention however, that a strong case can be made for Brandon Erbe. Erbe tweaked his mechanics over the offseason and regained his high prospect status with a resurgent performance this year after a horrendous 2007.

Most Improved PlayerBrandon Snyder What can I say, I’m a huge fan of Brandon Snyder. The topic of my very first Prospect Report this summer, Brandon Snyder had a fantastic season at High-A Frederick which has helped complete his comeback from a serious shoulder injury early in his career. Snyder was essentially dismissed after his lackluster play following shoulder surgery, putting up merely average numbers at Delmarva. He followed that disappointment by leading the Hawaiian League in batting and catching fire at Frederick. He finished the year batting .315 with 13 home-runs and 80 runs batted in for the Keys, picking up the offensive slack once Wieters left for Bowie.

Most Disappointing PitcherTim Bascom Bascom struggled mightily in his second professional year, pitching to a 5.78 ERA with a record of 6-5 in 19 starts. His career started in stunning fashion last season as he impressed mightily at Delmarva and contributed to the Keys’ run to the playoffs late in the year. Bascom raised hopes as being a big-time prospect, but his struggles this year raise serious doubts as to that possibility.
I will note, however, that it was seriously tempting to make this a shared award with Pedro Beato—Beato’s recent shoulder surgery causes me to cut him some slack. All that aside, I will say that Pedro Beato’s significant drop in velocity and performance makes me far more worried than Bascom’s struggles as they indicate more of a serious long-term problem. While Beato was a notable prospect before the season, I’m relatively certain that that run is over for good.

Most Disappointing PlayerBilly Rowell He struggled in every way imaginable this season; his batting average plummeted, minimal power production, poor defense, a lack of effort, and a poor attitude. Rowell has all of the gifts in the world, and that’s what makes his season the most disappointing of anyone in this system. Yes, he is very young, but couple the bad numbers with the arguably worse intangibles and he gets this ‘award’ in a runaway.

Manager of the Year – Brad Komminsk – I understand this is a prospect award segment, but I did want to take a moment to recognize Komminsk for his fantastic work with the Bowie Baysox this summer. He both developed young talent and created a winning atmosphere with a team that hadn’t found themselves in the playoffs for ten years. He did a masterful job handling his pitching staff and he deserves to be commended by all Orioles fans for his performance.

Special Awards:
Melvin Mora Award (or, “the late-bloomer award”)Luis Montanez “Sweet Lou”, they’ve come to call him in Bowie; Luis Montanez has found new life with the Baltimore Orioles. He was first drafted in 2000 as the 3rd overall pick by the Chicago Cubs, and failed to match up to expectations. His early encounters with the higher levels of competition were marked by failure and disappointment. For that reason he was essentially given up on and the Orioles picked him up as a minor league free agent. Fast forward and you have a 26-year old outfielder winning the Triple Crown in a league that he didn’t even play in for a month, batting .305 in the majors with three home runs in 36 games. That’s what we like to call a late-bloomer.

Mark Prior Award (or, “the once-amazing-talent-who-can-never-find-the-field-anymore award”)Hayden Penn This should be relatively easy for any Orioles fan who has had the misfortune of tracking this once top prospect during the past few years. Unlike Mark Prior, Hayden Penn’s injuries do not all stem from the arm, but the comparison still remains. Hayden Penn’s string of injuries makes it difficult to discern whether his lackluster performance is a result of diminished ability or simply not having enough time and opportunity to get into a groove. Whether it is appendicitis, a shattered bat on the leg, or merely a sore shoulder, this prospect can’t catch a break. Here’s to hoping for next year.

Manny Ramirez Award (or, “the fantastic-hitter-but-please-don’t-make-an-error award”)Ryan Adams The good: he has drawn rave reviews for his bat at Delmarva, reflected in an impressive .308 batting average for the 21-year old. The bad: he broke the record for errors in a season at second base. Hence the Manny Ramirez comparison. Unfortunately he’s not a good enough hitter to move to a corner infielder or outfielder position, and is going to have to get things straight to stay at second base. This is why people are very divided on what sort of prospect he will be, and why I personally leave him off of my Top-20 Orioles Prospects.

Jeff Fiorentino Award (or, “the horrendously-overmatched award”)Billy Rowell At 19, Billy Rowell proved that he had no business playing at High-A Frederick in his dismal performance this season. Many Orioles fans remember Jeff Fiorentino, who was rushed up to Baltimore early in his career and was hopelessly overmatched at the major league level. The one difference with Rowell is that I believe the organization had good reason to put him in this situation. With Billy Rowell the problem is with arrogance, and so I believe the Orioles front office might have been looking for him to experience this failure to ‘bring him down to earth’, so to speak.

Jamie Moyer Award (or, "the way-too-old-to-be-still-around award") - Julio Manon - Yes, that Julio Manon, who made a brief appearance with the Orioles last season and got pounded. Probably because of his straight fastball that serves up hits to major leaguers. Nonetheless this 35-year-old pitcher is still going, serving as the closer for the Bowie Baysox this season and accumulating a league-best 32 saves this season. If the man loves the game and can contribute to the Baysox, who am I to argue?

Photo Credits (top-to-bottom): Matt Wieters (; Brandon Snyder (Mike Janes/; Lou Montanez (Will Bentzel/

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