Blue Jays 2014 R. Howard Webster Award Predictions

By Ryan Mueller
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With the minor league season behind us and the Major League season drawing to a close, I thought it would be a good time to make my R. Howard Webster award predictions. I am going to offer up one pitcher and one position player…so lets get to it.

Buffalo Bisons: Triple-A

The choice for the Herd’s position MVP is an easy one, but the most valuable arm was a little more tricky. If Liam Hendriks was still around than it would be a no-brainer. I wanted to hand it to Bobby Korecky and his 22 saves, but thought that I should give it to a 24 year old instead of a 34 year old.

OF Kevin Pillar (25) 32nd round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft

Pillar lead the International League in doubles despite playing more than 20 games less than the three players who ranked behind him. He lead the Bisons in stolen bases, AVG, OPS, SLG, Total Bases, RBI, Triples (tied with Jonathan Diaz), and Hits.

Kevin Pillar’s 2014 Stats (includes MLB stats)

Sean Nolin (24) 6th round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft 

Sean had some injury issues to deal with in 2014. I am certain that he would have spent time in Toronto, had he been healthy. He wasn’t dominant with Buffalo, but he is still the most deserving.

New Hampshire Fisher Cats: Double-A

This award could have gone to Andy Burns (led NH with 32 doubles) and Gregory Infante (led NH with 22 saves).
Jon Berti (24) 18th Round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft 

The 2014 Eastern League All-Star trailed only Kelby Tomlinson for the league lead in stolen bases. Berti didn’t just hit triples and steal bases, but he also provided NH with flexibility on defense. Berti played 2nd (84G), 3B (6G), LF  (30G), and DH (15).

Casey Lawrence (26) non-drafted free agent 

Casey led NH in innings pitched, strike outs, earned runs, and hits allowed. He had a rough month in May and August with a 2-7, 6.14 ERA. If we remove those two months Casey had a 7-2, 1.78 ERA. Casey had a decent 3.51 FIP, .308 BABIP, and could have stranded more base runners but finished with a 66.9LOB%.

Dunedin Blue Jays: Class A Advanced

The MVP’s for the D-Jays were by far the easy to pick.

Dwight Smith Jr. (21) 53rd overall pick of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft.

I was a little too critical of Smith at times this season, but at the end of the year he was a very good outfielder for the D-Jays in 2014. He ended up being the team leader in every offensive category except stolen bases. Smith hit over .330 in April and July, with June being his most unproductive month with a .229 batting average. Smith only hit one home run and he didn’t show a lot of patience either 8/17 (BB/K). 

Taylor Cole (25)  29th round pick of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft 

Cole had a great year by leading the Florida State League with 171 strike outs…just shy of setting a strike out record. Cole’s 2.22 FIP and 31.6 K% was outstanding. Cole’s June and August resulted in a 2-8 6.91 ERA, two losses were in New Hampshire where he allowed 7 ER over 12.1IP.

Lansing Lugnuts: Class-A

Had Mitch Nay not been promoted this award was all his. Another position player that I strongly considered was Derrick Loveless who played in over 119 games and finished with a .264/.363/.390 slash, 6HR, 55RBI, 66BB, 120K, 9 triples, and 17 SB.
Matt Dean (21) 13th round pick of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft

With the exception of August, Matt Dean was the Lugnuts most consistent batter. In July, Dean hit 5HR which made me hopeful that his power stroke finally showed up….well it hasn’t yet. Dean was still the team leader in HR and Total Bases.

Brady Dragmire (21) 17th round pick of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft.

Dragmire posted a 3.20 FIP, .270 BABIP, and a 62.8 LOB% as an excellent reliever for the Lugnuts. He had 3 amazing months and 2 terrible months, but that’s baseball. Brady was 1-4, 5.46 ERA in May and July, and 2-2, 1.02 ERA in the other months. What impressed me the most about Dragmire is the control, even in the months he struggled.

Vancouver Canadians: Class A short season

I strongly considered Ryan McBroom for this award, after all he led the league in HR and near the top of all other offensive stats.
Franklin Barreto (18) Signed as International FA out of Venezuela in 2012

Barreto led the Northwest League in R, H, 2B (T-1st), RBI, TB, and was 3rd in SB and 3B…..enough said.

Jairo Labourt (20) International FA out of DR in 2011.

Jairo started the season in Lansing, but was sent to Vancouver after a rough start. This turned out to be the right choice as Labourt mowed down the competition and led the league in ERA, games started (t-1st), and was 2nd in K. As a memeber of the C’s, Labourt posted a 3.41 FIP, 81.5 LOB%, and a .275 BABIP. What really impressed me was the his 1.37 GO/AO, .188 opponent average, and zero HR allowed. Hopefully this years success will result in 2015 success.

DSL Blue Jays: Rookie
Rodrigo Orozco (19) International FA signed out of Panama

Orozco main competition for this award would be Enmanuel Moreta who led the team in RBI, H, 2B, 3B, and TB. I gave it to Orozco because of the position he plays, his plate discipline, and speed game. Orozco led the team with SB, HR (T-1st), R (T-1st), H (2nd), and RBI (3rd). I am a sucker for any player that walks more than he strikes out.

Denis Diaz (19) International FA out of Honduras

The 6’1″ RHP posted a 3.63 FIP, 62.8 LOB%, and held opponents to a .231/.300/.359, while allowing 4 HR in 53IP.

GCL Blue Jays: Rookie
Juan Tejada (20) International FA out of DR in 2011

Tejada is a guy that projects very very well. Big frame. Speed. Plays a premium position (CF). Power. He led the team in HR, RBI (T-1st), 3B (T-1st), SB, and SLG%. He set career highs in ISO and batting average. Maybe he will look back at 2014 as the year it all starts to come together.

Angel Perdomo (20) International FA out of DR in 2011

Perdomo is a tall LHP who set career highs in 2.81 FIP and 79.9 LOB%. He led the team in IP, K, and wins. It could have gone to Grayson Huffman, Jacob Brentz, and Sean Reid-Foley…each of whom were very impressive. Grayson was very very impressive, but I still like Perdomo.

Bluefield Blue Jays: Rookie
Josh Almonte (20) 22nd round pick of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft 

Josh played the most games on Bluefield. He collected the most hits, runs, triples, and stolen bases. Josh will need to become more selective at the plate if he wishes to find success  in Vancouver next year.

Joey Aquino (24) drafted in the 35 round of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft

Aquino was over aged for the Appy League. He posted solid numbers across the board, including a solid 1.59 GO/AO and held opponents to a .229/.272/.341. He didn’t post the most impressive FIP (4.01), but he did post an impressive 74.9 LOB%.

I really wanted to give the award to the former outfielder, recently converted  reliever, Carlos Ramirez.

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