As the season comes to a close, fans of playoff-contending teams and eliminated teams alike will look forward to what's ahead. Not only to playoff baseball, but to a winter of intense hot stove action, when teams will look to improve their rosters for another long campaign in 2014.
Some teams need not look any further than their minor league system, as every team, no matter how barren a farm system it has, possesses a bright spot in the way of a young, up-and-coming player.
The Baltimore Orioles don't have the greatest farm system in the majors, but they do have some players that the franchise and their fans should be excited about seeing.
With that said, let's take a look at some of the standouts with the minor league awards list.
MVP: Henry Urrutia, Baltimore Orioles
I went into this award analyzing the stats of minor league players in the O's system while having the mindset of "Tell me why Urrutia isn't the MVP of the O's minor league system in 2013."
Nothing could show me he wasn't.
Though he didn't spend all season in the minor leagues, when he was there, he put up the best all-around numbers by far.
His batting average of .347 between his two minor league stops is fantastic, with a ridiculous .365 in 52 games in Bowie, and .316 in 29 games at Norfolk.
A .406 OBP in the minors is great, and he swatted nine homers while driving in 50 runs. He got 159 total bases and scored 49 runs.
In the bigs, Urrutia has hit .276 in 58 at-bats, but of his 16 hits, only one was for extra bases, and he has yet to take a walk. However, it's a solid enough start to his big league career, and he should only get better.
Cy Young: Mike Wright, Norfolk Tides
23-year-old Mike Wright won the Jim Palmer Minor League Pitcher of the Year award in the Orioles organization, and with good reason.
Wright spent the majority of his season at Double-A Bowie, where he made 26 starts and pitched 143.2 innings. Wright went 11-3 with a 3.26 ERA there, with 136 strikeouts and 39 walks given up.
He also made one start for Triple-A Norfolk, going 6.2 innings and not allowing a run.
He'll likely start next season at Triple-A, and if he continues to pitch as well as he has been, it wouldn't surprise me to see him in Baltimore soon.
Most Improved: Matt Hobgood, Frederick Keys
This is something that O's fans will be glad to see.
Matt Hobgood had a very solid season in 2013, after a very rough start to his professional career which called into question the O's drafting him so early in the first round in 2009, when they took him fifth overall.
With Single-A Delmarva in 2013, Hobgood went 7-3 with a .371 ERA, with 47 Ks and 28 walks in 63 innings pitched.
He didn't find as much success at Single-A Frederick, where he posted a 5.58 ERA in 30.2 innings, but he did go 2-1.
The fact that Hobgood is healthy, as he missed all of 2012 due to rotator cuff surgery, is a great thing to see. If he can grow and show the ability he demonstrated in Delmarva over the next two or three years, he could be a solid reliever for the Orioles in the future. He's still just 23, so he's fairly young.
Obviously you'd like to see a first-round draft pick become something more than a solid reliever, but in Hobgood's case, O's fans would gladly take what they can get. And Hobgood is taking steps in the right direction.
Best Baserunner: Gregory Lorenzo, Delmarva Shorebirds
Gregory Lorenzo was a true base bandit in the minor leagues.
The 22-year-old played 126 games for Delmarva, batting .241 with just a .281 OBP. But when he got on base, he sure made the most of it.
Lorenzo was able to tally up 40 stolen bases in 48 attempts, hit 18 doubles, a huge eight triples and accounted for 158 total bases. The speedy outfielder also scored 65 runs.
If Lorenzo can grow as a batting average-oriented hitter and get better at getting on base, he could become a useful tool for a big league team.
The Baltimore Orioles lack incredible minor league depth, but they're not bare down there, either. The team has some good pieces to build for the future, whether that means holding on to the players for themselves or using them in future trades.
Whatever they decide, they have some pieces to work with.
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