California and Carolina League Awards

California League

Hitter of the Year
Koby Clemens / C / Houston Astros
Overall, Lancaster had a bad year, but Clemens, as the team’s catcher and best hitter, did his best to get a rise out of the offense while rallying the pitching staff day in and day out. By the end of his journey, Clemens managed to lead the league in batting average, slugging percentage, OPS, doubles and RBIs.

Pitcher of the Year
Craig Clark / LHP / San Francisco Giants
At 25 years old, Clark could be considered an old man among the California League’s general populace, but there is nothing old about contributing a 2.86 ERA, a league-leading 1.13 WHIP and a 16-2 record to a first-place team.

Best Hitting Prospect
Buster Posey / C / San Francisco Giants
Although he only spent two-thirds of the season playing for San Jose, Posey was a main ingredient in its first-place finish. He cemented himself as not only one of the best catching prospects in the game, but also one of its finest overall talents. He has so far justified San Francisco’s investment as the fifth overall pick in the 2008 draft.

Best Pitching Prospect
Christian Friedrich / LHP / Colorado Rockies
Friedrich utterly dominated the California League for a good stretch. Along the way he showed the baseball world his jaw-dropping curveball and often pinpoint control. Friedrich will be, without a doubt, one of the most hyped pitching prospects in baseball come 2010.

Carolina League

Hitter of the Year
Danny Espinosa / SS / Washington Nationals
No one single player stands out from the pack, which closely resembles the league’s final standings, but Espinosa, with his 18 home runs and 29 stolen bases, was an important offensive difference maker who played one of the more important positions on the field for Potomac.

Pitcher of the Year
Paolo Espino / RHP / Cleveland Indians
Espino did what he could to help Kinston compete every time he took the mound. His 9-6 record and 101 strikeouts compared with just 34 walks can’t be ignored, and his 2.59 ERA and 1.04 WHIP are the toast of the league.

Best Hitting Prospect
Mike Moustakas / 3B / Kansas City Royals
Moustakas’ stock took a bit of a nosedive this season after a standout 2008 campaign, but there is no denying his bat speed, swing mechanics and overall ceiling. I’m still a big believer in this young man’s future.

Best Pitching Prospect
Danny Duffy / LHP / Kansas City Royals
Duffy has consistently been one of the more underrated pitching prospects in baseball ever since his brief debut in 2007. He does all of the little things well, including strong control, a solid feel for his secondary pitches and good movement. With more patience, Kansas City may have a top-of-the-rotation starter on its hands.

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