The 2014 New Hampshire Fisher Cats didn’t have the best year under manager Bobby Meacham, finishing 66-76 but the unique challenges of being a Double-A team didn’t help them when things got rough.
I initially thought that the Fisher Cats would be better this year with some veteran players on the roster to start the year like Brad Glenn, Ryan Schimpf and Kevin Nolan. The pitchers performed as expected but Glenn seemingly only played well in Buffalo and Nolan struggled for much of the season. While we thought that reinforcements were on the way in second half in the form of Dalton Pompey, Kendall Graveman, Matt Boyd and Daniel Norris, anyone who could really help out either struggled at the level or was promoted again. Aaron Sanchez was in Buffalo in June and outfield issues with the Blue Jays forced the Jays to empty the Bisons outfield and guys like Glenn and Schimpf to Buffalo.
Blue Jays from Away Player of the Game Champion
For those of you who followed the minor league reports here, you’ll know that I “awarded” Player of the Game (PotG) accolades on a game-by-game basis. It should comfort you to know that I’ve been keeping track of these daily awards and my rationale for the system is as follows.
The Player of the Game Awards were determined by a number of factors that included who I thought had the most impact on the game and who might have gone “above and beyond.” Most nights, there was just one Player of the Game. If there was, he earned one point. If I thought that either a) no one stood out enough to merit a single PotG, or b) two or more players were outstanding and deserved mention, I split the point up into two, three or four shares. If two players earned PotG mention, they each received 0.5 points and if three players earned mentions, they each received 0.3 points. There were occasions that I felt that no one merited the award and therefore, I did not give out any points.
Here are the final standings for Blue Jays from Away Player of the Game for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats:
It’s a tie! Congrats to Andy Burns and Jon Berti who share the Player of the Game Championship. Both players spent the whole season with the Fisher Cats and were solid contributors. Burns started slowly but found his groove in the second half while Berti was pretty solid throughout the entire season.
Blue Jays from Away Player of the Year
For this award, I’m going with Andy Burns. While Berti won the 2014 R. Howard Webster Award for the team’s MVP from the organization, Burns has a more well-rounded game and can contribute in more ways. Burns led the Fisher Cats in doubles (32), tied for the team lead in home runs (15) and also stole 18 bases, second most on the team while also having the third most triples with five.
Honourable mentions: Jon Berti, obviously. His 40 stolen bases made him a threat to steal every time he got on base. Despite playing only 50 games with New Hampshire this year, I’d almost be tempted to give the award to Ryan Schimpf except for the fact that he doesn’t really qualify as a Fisher Cat since he had more playing time with Buffalo. Canadian Mike Crouse had a very solid year as well.
Blue Jays from Away Pitcher of the Year
It was a two-horse race for Pitcher of the Year seeing as a lot of the sexiest names weren’t with the club long enough to really qualify. Daniel Norris made only eight starts and Aaron Sanchez didn’t post the best numbers with the Fisher Cats. Kendall Graveman, another Fisher Cat to make his major league debut this season, only made one start in Double-A before getting moved up to Buffalo.
The winner of the award, therefore, is Casey Lawrence. Lawrence led the team in innings pitched with 151 1/3 and had a very strong 3.69 ERA and 1.26 WHIP.
Honourable mention: Scott Copeland was the other pitcher that I seriously considered. With 139 2/3 innings, Copeland’s ERA was 3.74 and his WHIP was 1.37. Copeland made four very strong starts for Buffalo (giving him more innings in total than Lawrence) but I felt that Lawrence just edged him out.
Blue Jays from Away Reliever of the Year
The team’s closer, Gregory Infante gets the Reliever of the Year award after saving 22 games, posting a 1.86 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP with 34 strikeouts in 38 2/3 innings. The 27-year-old Infante was reported to have topped out on the radar guns at 101 mph and was a very strong contributor to the Fisher Cats all year.
Honourable mention: Randy Boone was excellent, posting a 2.89 ERA and 1.16 WHIP with almost a strikeout per inning over 56 innings, saving 10 games of his own. Blake McFarland had a 2.04 ERA over 35 1/3 innings with 37 strikeouts and a 1.13 WHIP.
Blue Jays from Away Most Improved Player
This is always a tough award to give out but I’m going to hand it to Dustin Antolin who had his first shot at the Double-A level last year and had his hat handed to him with an 11.41 ERA and 2.23 WHIP after a promising start to the season in Dunedin. This year, given another chance to pitch in New Hampshire, Antolin was very strong, having a 3.38 ERA, 1.34 WHIP and 52 strikeouts in 42 2/3 innings.
Blue Jays from Away Best Newcomer
Outfielder Cory Aldridge came to the Blue Jays’ organization after a stint in the Mexican League and posted some excellent numbers in limited opportunities. The 35-year-old veteran of Independent, Mexican and Korean leagues who also has 13 major league games on his resume was a very positive influence on the younger players around him and also provided some thump, hitting five home runs in just 89 plate appearances while adding another two dingers in Buffalo and 19 in the Mexican League.
Who are these players? Find out in The 2014 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook, now available as an ebook at Smashwords.com for $7.99 US. It’s coming soon to Amazon, Apple iBooks, Kobo and other fine retailers. You can purchase and preview the book at our Smashwords.com page! If you like us here,“like” us on Facebook!
The All-Star Break Supplement to the Minor League Handbook is also available at Smashwords.com for only $2 US! Get an update on how your favourite players have been doing this season as well as a report on the 2014 draft!
All photos are copyright Blue Jays from Away (2013-2014) and may not be used without permission.