Six out of eight ain’t bad. Of course, I’m referring to my predictions for the Toronto Blue Jays’ in-house R. Howard Webster Awards, annually handed out to the minor leagues’ MVPs at each level.
If you check out my prediction article, you’ll see that I correctly predicted six of the eight awards and gave consideration to the other two. And now, ladies and gentlemen, your 2014 R. Howard Webster Award winners.
Kevin Pillar earns his first award for the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons. This was a no brainer but because this was actually the first time that Pillar spent a full season at (mostly) one level, it’s his first award.
In Double-A New Hampshire, Jon Berti took the award for his second consecutive win (he won last year with the Dunedin Blue Jays). My thinking is that Berti’s contributions when the game is on the line and his overall reputation as a hard-nosed, team-first player gave him the edge over Andy Burns who I thought would win.
In Advanced-A Dunedin, Dwight Smith, Jr. took the award and there really wasn’t much competition. Showing improved power, Smith also had another very consistent season (like he did in Lansing last year) and he was one of the few Dunedin players to really excel throughout the full season without getting promoted midseason.
In Lansing, Mitch Nay won what was probably a close call between him, Matthew Dean and Derrick Loveless. All three posted statistically similar years but a far lower strikeout rate and better at bats in run-producing situations probably pushed Nay over the top.
In Vancouver, the winner was 18-year-old shortstop Franklin Barreto whose excellent all-around offensive game made him a force in the Northwest League. While I’m sure Ryan McBroom was considered, Barreto’s overall ability and youth make this a well deserved award for a very impressive season.
For the Bluefield Blue Jays, Richard Urena, another international shortstop, was named the MVP. Urena, also 18, hit better than he could have been expected in the Appalachian League while providing very good defense. I thought that catcher Dan Jansen should have won the award but the Blue Jays do tend to give this award to a player who plays most of the season with the team and Jansen’s season-ending injury probably hurt his chances.
My second “miss” was with the GCL Blue Jays. I thought that 2014 fifth-round draft pick Lane Thomas would win the award but it went to Dominican 1B/C Juan Kelly who also had a very good season. Kelly was my “honourable mention” and I wrote, “If Thomas doesn’t get the award, I’m throwing my support behind Kelly.” ‘Nuff said.
Finally, I correctly predicted the R. Howard Webster Award winner for the Dominican Summer League Blue Jays in slugging first baseman Enmanuel Moreta.
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!
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