Tampa Bay Rays' 2013 Minor League Awards
Helping the Rays accomplish their postseason goal are players called up from the team’s minor league affiliates in September. This includes pitcher Enny Romero, who came up and had a very impressive start in his major league debut against the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday.
Romero was available to the Rays, due to the season already being over for its minor league affiliates.
The Rays saw some great team performances from its farm teams, including three playoff appearances.
The Triple-A Durham Bulls won the Governor’s Cup, before falling to Omaha in the Triple-A National Championship.
Behind these great team performances were individual efforts that are also worth rewarding.
Here are my selections for the 2013 Minor League awards for the Tampa Bay Rays.
All statistics courtesy of baseball-reference.com unless otherwise noted.
Most Improved: Tim Beckham
Tim Beckham's narrative was on the verge of being the top overall pick that never lived up to the hype.
Beckham served a 50-game suspension in 2012 for a second failed drug test in the minor leagues. With this off the field incident, coupled with his struggles on the field, it seemed as though there was no hope he would ever make it to the majors.
It is still absolutely possible that he may fall short of expectations, though, he has made tremendous strides in 2013.
Beckham’s .276 batting average marked the first time he finished a season above .275 for a year in his minor league career. He finished second in the International League with a career high seven triples.
With all of the drama surrounding Beckham, he is still only a 23-year-old prospect. So, of course, there is still plenty of time for him to have a productive major league career.
One sign of hope came on September 18, when the Rays called Beckham up to the majors for the first time to join the team for the remainder of the season.
Best Baserunner: Andrew Toles
Andrew Toles has hit the ground running in his first full season of professional baseball.
Not just running, but running really fast.
Toles led the Midwest league and Rays organization with 62 steals in 2013. The 21-year-old outfielder broke the franchise record for steals as well this season.
It would be hard considering another candidate for this award. Toles stole 22 more bases than the next player in the Rays organization.
Best Fielder: Kevin Kiermaier
Defensively, Kevin Kiermaier had a solid season in 2013.
The 23-year-old outfielder had a .992 fielding percentage with eight outfield assists for Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham. He committed three errors in 89 games in Montgomery but did not record any in his 38 games in Durham.
Kiermaier was named a mid-season and post-season Southern League All-Star.
Cy Young: Dylan Floro
Dylan Floro had a dominant year pitching for Single-A Bowling Green and High-A Charlotte.
It takes an incredible season to be the top pitcher in the Rays organization, as they are known for developing top starting pitchers.
He finished the year with an 11-2 record over 23 starts. His 1.77 ERA was the lowest of any starting pitcher in the Rays minor league organization. Floro’s also recorded 99 strikeouts in 137.1 innings.
He was most impressive after his promotion to High-A Charlotte on August 13.
In his first start with the Stone Crabs, he recorded his first complete game.
Floro was named a midseason and postseason All-Star by the Midwest League in 2013.
MVP: Andrew Toles
Andrew Toles was the most impressive player in the Rays organization in 2013.
Toles finished 2013, his first professional season, with a .326/.359/.466 line. His batting average was the highest among Rays minor league players that played in more than 65 games.
Toles led set Single-A Bowling Green franchise records in batting average, hits (169), triples (16) and stolen bases (62). He also led All Midwest League hitters in those categories and finished fourth with 35 doubles.
Toles was also named a Midwest League Mid-Season and Postseason All-Star.
If he can continue to develop at this pace as he progresses through the minor leagues, this will not be the last MVP award he receives.