The nominees for minor league player of the year

Every August I start to fully break down the statistical season. The results lead to multiple awards and accolades, but none more prestigious than minor league player of the year. Most Augusts bring a handful of monster seasons to light, but this season has been different. Standout starting pitchers have been promoted to the majors at an alarming rate, and the elite position players have been hit with injuries. Those circumstances result in a cut in production. It will be tough to pinpoint just one player this year.

The candidates for minor league player of the year:

Brian Matusz
Matusz dominated Single-A competition, prompting a bump up to Double-A Bowie. A dominant stint there solidified his status among the game’s top prospects. Over eight starts in the Eastern League Matusz went 7-0 with a 1.55 ERA. In a surprising move, Baltimore brought him up to test his stuff against big league competition this week. If he stays in the big leagues for the rest of the year he will lose rookie status. And, unfortunately, when it comes to awards season, it may be hard to justify handing the minor league player of the year award to a young man that has only pitched 113 innings over 19 starts. He is the front runner, though.

Jesus Montero
Montero will miss the rest of the season, but his impact has been felt. He won’t win, due to the injury cutting into his stats, but he deserves the recognition. He has been playing the toughest position on the field, and been making progress in that regard, while his offense has ascended to a tremendous level. Perhaps most impressive of all, this 19-year-old has just 47 strikeouts in 347 at-bats.

Desmond Jennings
Jennings’ tremendous talent has materialized in 2009. The walks and steals are up, and so is his lead-off hitting potential. He reminds me so much of Dexter Fowler, but Tampa Bay is hoping that his power potential is even higher than Fowler’s. Yet his power is not fully there right now, and that will hinder his shot at award season hardware. But he was recently promoted to Triple-A Durham, and if the stats keep pouring in he could win by default.

Jason Heyward
Various injuries have hindered Heyward’s statistical season, but when he has been on the field few have matched his production. The Braves’ young star may find himself at the top of this list if he can put together a monster August, which is certainly within his capabilities. I have been hankering for more steals out of him, but his power, contact skills, and plate discipline leave little room for complaint.

Madison Bumgarner
Madman successfully carried over his unreal Single-A performance from last year. High-A San Jose didn’t provide much of a challenge, but Double-A Connecticut has at least slowed down his utter dominance. He has a 2.01 ERA over 76 innings there, but his strikeouts are down and his walks have trended upward. The young man just turned 20 years old and has been fantastic, but not the shoo-in minor league MVP some were expecting. Not unless his strikeout rate goes through the roof, which is unlikely this late in the season.

Still in the picture:
Chris Tillman
Christian Friedrich
Eric Young
Travis Wood
Michael Taylor

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  1. Notabravesfan said...

    Are you kidding me?  After 113 PAs for Heyward in AA, this 19 year old is posting .415/.496/.702 for an OPS of 1.198.  17 of his 39 hits were for extra bases, and he has K/BB ratio is 10/15!

    Wow…J-Hey for MLPoY!!

  2. David said...

    Make it 3 in a row, it’s Heyward.

    If he isn’t brought up by the Braves, everyone seems to be promoting these guys quickly.

    Here’s hoping it’s only a September call up.

  3. Matt Hagen said...

    Good responses, guys.  I’m not doubting Heyward’s prospect status, but he is far from a shoo-in.  His 14 home runs look pretty puny when you consider that we are talking about the minor league player of the year award.  He could win it, but he has work to do.

  4. Notabravesfan said...

    Since when is the HR stat a valuable measure of someone’s power.  If you just consider nearly 50% of every hit this guy makes goes for extra bases, that indicates his bat’s got some pop (hopefully not a la Sammy Sosa style).  Did David Wright not deserve the nod of the best 3B in the NL because he only had 3 home runs by the season’s midpoint?

    A .700+ slugging percentage is unreal (combined with a .400+ OBP), his plate discipline is unreal, and this guy is for real.

    What other comparable minor leaguer with drastically more power is being considered?

  5. Metty5 said...

    Its Heyward. He is a pretty easy choice, but the others…. Not big points, but small ones that’ll make Heyward’s road even easier.

    Bumgarner is close to getting shut down, so I doubt that he’ll get it.

    Montero is out for the year.

    Matusz just got called up.

  6. Keith said...

    Why is Jennings on this list?  There have got to be a dozen players performing better this year, and Jennings isn’t even young for his level.  How about Jonathan Gaston? Tyson Gillies? Tyler Flowers?  And those are just a handful of better position players.

  7. Craig said...

    How on earth is Chris Carters name not on this list.  No ones numbers are as impressive as his at this point.

  8. Tyler said...

    I find it funny that people are discounting Montero in this discussion because he is “out for the year.” Heyward has played in 99 games, while Montero has played in 92 games. Only 7 games difference, but just by reading everyone’s responses, you would think Montero missed the entire season. Also, check Montero’s stats in the FSL compared to Heywards FSL stats (same league, best measurement). Montero’s numbers destroyed Heywards.

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