Blue Jays 2013 Minor League Awards
The Toronto Blue Jays may still be playing games, but for the farm system, the 2013 season has come to a close.
The Buffalo Bisons, New Hampshire Fisher Cats, Dunedin Blue Jays, Lansing Lugnuts, Vancouver Canadians and Bluefield Blue Jays have all packed it in for the season. Some players have joined the Toronto team, some have begun preparing for winter baseball and some will be enjoying their offseason.
We have already ranked the Blue Jays' top 10 prospects this season and given you an update on their performance this season, so there is only one thing left to do.
Here are the 2013 Toronto Blue Jays minor league awards including Most Valuable Player, Most Improved Player and Cy Young. Let me know who you think should win these awards in the comments section.
The Tom Brady Diamond in the Rough Award
The Tom Brady Diamond in the Rough Award is presented to the player in the Blue Jays organization who has shown great potential despite his low draft position.
Tom Brady was drafted by the New England Patriots in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL draft. After winning three Super Bowl rings, two MVP awards, two Super Bowl MVP awards, scoring the most touchdowns in a single season and recording the longest consecutive win streak, it is safe to say the Patriots found a diamond in the rough with Brady.
So who in the Blue Jays organization could emerge from the depths of the draft board to contribute to the MLB club? Christian Lopes.
Lopes was drafted in the seventh round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft out of high school. He played second base for the Single-A Lansing Lugnuts this year and started the season swinging a hot bat. He hit .274 before the All-Star break and finished the year with a .245 average.
Second base has been a revolving door of inconsistency for a number of years for the Blue Jays, and I am sure they are watching Lopes' development closely. He is just 20 years old but may factor into the Blue Jays plans as early as 2016.
The Cy Young Award is presented to the best pitcher in the Blue Jays organization this season.
It was a bit of a tumultuous season for Marcus Stroman, but when he played, he played extremely well. He started the season serving the majority of a 50-game suspension for using a banned substance, and his return was marked with more questions than answers.
How would he fare as a starter after a year coming out of the bullpen? How would he pitch after returning from his suspension? Can he handle Double-A hitters?
Stroman quickly provided enough answers to put all doubts aside. In 20 games this season, he had a 9-5 record with a 3.30 ERA. He logged 111.2 innings while walking only 27 and striking out 129 batters.
Stroman is 22 years old and is on track to be MLB-ready as soon as next year. He will most likely start the year in Triple-A and get a promotion quickly if he continues to pitch well.
The Most Improved Player Award
The Most Improved Player Award is presented to the player in the Blue Jays organization who has shown the most improvement in his overall game.
There was a player in the Blue Jays organization who spent all of last season in Double-A. He hit .257 in 27 games and looked to be on the right track but spent the majority of the season injured. This season, that same player returned from injury in Single-A, where he played so well he warranted a promotion after only nine games. In Double-A, he hit .276 with an on-base percentage of .327 before being promoted to Triple-A to finish the year.
A.J. Jimenez has always been considered a defense-first catcher, but this season he has proven that he can handle the bat as well. Without losing anything from his defensive game, Jimenez has improved immensely at the plate.
Catcher is a relatively shallow position within the Blue Jays organization, so do not be surprised to see Jimenez continue his meteoric rise through the farm system.
The Best Fielder Award
The Best Fielder Award is presented to the player in the Blue Jays organization that has shown a distinct ability to make plays defensively and has gained a reputation as a solid defender.
Ryan Goins spent the majority of his 2013 season with the Buffalo Bisons before being promoted to the Toronto Blue Jays in late August.
In 29 games with the Blue Jays, Goins has committed one error in 69 attempts and completed a number of highlight reel plays.
The emergence of Goins as a defensive presence in the Blue Jays infield has been a welcome addition to the struggling Blue Jays. He is 25 years old and will get a solid look next year in spring training to be the team’s starting second baseman.
The Best Baserunner Award
The Best Baserunner Award is presented to the Blue Jays player who has shown immense skill on the basepaths during the 2013 season.
D.J. Davis spent his entire 2013 season with the Bluefield Blue Jays in Rookie Ball and at just 19 years old had a great initial season. He hit .240 and managed to steal 13 bases in 58 games.
According to MLB.com, Davis is the only Blue Jays prospect in the top 20 who has plus speed on the basepaths and projects to be a true offensive threat if he can find a way to continue getting on base. Davis has a number of years in the minors before he will earn a spot on the Blue Jays, but his lightning speed on the basepaths—and in the outfield—is working in his favor.
Most Valuable Player
The Most Valuable Player Award is presented to the prospect in the Blue Jays organization judged to be most valuable to his team and the organization as a whole.
The No. 1 ranked prospect in the Blue Jays organization was also the Dunedin Blue Jays most valuable player. Aaron Sanchez appeared in 22 games this season in Single-A and had a 3.34 ERA over 86.1 innings pitched. He held opponents to a .202 batting average, struck out 75 and walked 40 batters.
When the Blue Jays traded away a small fortune of prospects this offseason, they elected to keep Sanchez in the organization, which speaks volumes about their belief in his ability to develop into an elite pitcher.
Although he was on a strict pitch count all season, Sanchez still put up great numbers in Single-A. Expect the Blue Jays to trust him with a heavier workload moving forward.