The 2014 Vancouver Canadians went 46-30 under manager John Schneider and made it to the Northwest League finals for the fourth consecutive year but couldn’t make it a sweep of all four championships to keep their streak alive.
The Canadians featured some of the Blue Jays’ best young talents and helped to paint a very bright future for the organization thanks to some great work on both sides of the ball.
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 Vancouver Canadians:
|Michael De La Cruz||1.5|
The winner is Franklin Barreto although Ryan McBroom gave him a good run for his money. If you haven’t heard Barreto’s name yet, get used to it: you’re going to hear it an awful lot as he may challenge more established prospects like Roberto Osuna to be the Blue Jays’ #2 prospect going into next season (I figure that Daniel Norris will be ranked #1 by just about everyone).
Blue Jays from Away Player of the Year
Who could it be? Of course, it’s Franklin Barreto taking another award. All he did was hit .311/.384/.481, playing shortstop as the youngest player in the league (at the start of the season), 3.1 years younger than the league average. Despite being only 5-foot-9, Barreto still put up some impressive power numbers, hitting 23 doubles (tied for the team lead), four triples (tied for the team lead) and six home runs (second on the team). He also stole 29 bases (out of 34 attempts) and walked and struck out at respectable rates (7.9% BB rate and 19.5% K rate).
Honourable mention goes to Ryan McBroom who hit .297 with a league-leading 11 home runs for the C’s.
Blue Jays from Away Pitcher of the Year
Jairo Labourt gets a lot of credit in my mind for bouncing back so well from a difficult start to the season, followed by a demotion to Vancouver from the Lansing Lugnuts. The 20-year-old Dominican went from being a wild liability in Lansing to a dominant ace in Vancouver, leading the team in innings pitched (71 1/3) and strikeouts (82) while having an ERA of 1.77 and a WHIP of 1.18. While you would expect his numbers to improve when moving down a level, his K% and BB% are practically mirror images of each other when you compare those numbers in Vancouver with those in Lansing. Labourt had a 27.5% K rate with a 12.4% walk rate in Vancouver but a 14.9% strikeout rate and 27% walk rate in Lansing!
Honourable mention goes to 19-year-old Dominican Miguel Castro who dominated so much in Vancouver, he was promoted to Lansing and then quickly to Dunedin to finish with the Blue Jays in their playoff run. Chase Mallard also figured into the conversation with a 2.75 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 52 1/3 innings of work.
Blue Jays from Away Reliever of the Year
This is actually a very tough call but I’m going to be a homer and give the award to St. John, New Brunswick native Andrew Case, a 21-year-old righty that the Blue Jays signed after an outstanding performance in last year’s T12 Tournament. Case gets the award thanks to his reliability over a larger body of work than Michael Kraft (see honourable mention). Case led the team in appearances (24) and logged 44 innings with a 2.45 ERA and 1.16 WHIP, walking 13 and striking out 37.
Honourable mention goes to Michael Kraft, the Jays’ 37th round pick out of the University of Texas at San Antonio this year. Kraft, a 5-foot-11 lefty just turned 23 in September and he dominated in Vancouver, allowing only two runs over 21 innings for a 0.86 ERA and allowing only seven hits. His 13 walks, however show potential for control issues while his 25 strikeouts bode well for his results at higher levels. That said, it was a tough call and had he thrown more innings, Kraft would have been our reliever of the year.
Blue Jays from Away Most Improved Player
This award was tough to call because of the the number of new players to the organization (see below). That said, most of the returning Blue Jays farmhands did pretty much what they did last year or regressed. one player who caught my eye a bit was second-year player Alexis Maldonado, a 23-year-old infielder who played 42 games as the third baseman for the Canadians. Maldonado had a decent year in Bluefield last year, hitting .260/.351/.280 but really started hitting with a little more authority this year, slashing .303/.365/.382 with seven doubles, a triple and his first professional home run.
Blue Jays from Away Best Newcomer
As I said about the previous category, there were a lot of new players to the Blue Jays’ organization with the Vancouver Canadians this year and so many of them had great debuts in professional baseball. I can’t look beyond Ryan McBroom though who not only hit .297, but launched 11 home runs, leading the Northwest League.
Honourable mentions: I’ve already mentioned Chase Mallard, Andrew Case and Michael Kraft. Now’s a good time to talk about Roemon Fields, a non-drafted free agent who was signed at the end of the season last year and only made his pro debut this year. Fields hit .269/.338/.350 and tore up the basepaths, leading the Northwest League in stolen bases with 48 (out of 57 attempts). Another player who deserves mention is 23-year-old Chris Carlson, a left-handed hitting outfielder who the Blue Jays drafted in the 28th round this year. The 5-foot-7 outfielder led the club in OBP with a .409 mark, walking 36 times and striking out only 25 times while hitting .312 with 13 doubles and a triple.
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.