This year, All Things Valley League has decided to add another “award” to the arsenal- a hitter and pitcher of the year from each level of the minor leagues.
For this award, only stats compiled at that specific level will be considered, so if Matt Brazis, for example, pitches at two different levels, only the stats from the level considered will be counted.
So let’s get started. I’ll start at Triple-A, work down to Rookie ball, and then look at the majors.
AAA Hitter of 2014
The Triple-A hitter of the year is Clint Robinson (Harrisonburg 2005-2006)!
Clint played most of 2014 at Triple-A Albuquerque, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ affiliate in the Pacific Coast League. Clint has hit at every level of his minor league career, and 2014 was no exception. He hit 312/401/534 in 119 games and 429 at-bats. He had 77 runs scored, 31 doubles, 5 triples, 18 home runs, 80 RBIs, and a very strong 64/84 BB/K ratio.
Clint was a minor league free agent in the offseason, and eventually signed a minor league contract with the Washington Nationals. This spring, Clint is crushing the ball for the Nats- even though the odds of him making the parent club are slim, he’s doing his best!
Others to consider:
|Eric Campbell||Las Vegas||PCL||33||141||39||50||15||0||3||24||20||20||3||1||0.355||0.442||0.525||0.967|
|Rico Noel||El Paso||PCL||109||333||49||86||11||1||2||27||41||81||32||6||0.258||0.343||0.315||0.658|
Eric Campbell (Luray 2006) had a fantastic year, and actually spent much of it in New York with the parent club. If he had played in Las Vegas all year, he may have won the prize (which is nothing but this post, but still). Rico Noel (Covington 2008) didn’t hit for much power, but that’s not his game anyway- his game is all about speed.
AAA Pitcher of 2014
This is a really tough call. Most of us can agree that starters and relievers do not have the same job, even though the stats can be compared. Generally speaking, pitching more innings is more valuable for a team, as well as being more difficult to do. (I’ve been listening to the Baseball Prospectus podcast for several years, and they say over and over that most starters in the majors, even poor ones, would be excellent relievers.) Ok. Enough of this. There are SIX pitchers who were in the running for my “award,” and I had to choose one, so….
The 2014 AAA pitcher of the year is Adam Liberatore (Waynesboro 2007-2008)!
Adam had a fantastic year in Triple-A Durham in the Tampa Bay Rays’ system. He went 6-1, 1.66 in 54 games, all in relief, along with 4 saves, a 2.1 BB/9, and 11.9 K/9 in 65 innings pitched. He walked only 15 batters, struck out 86, and gave up only 1 home run all year.
Adam was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the offseason, and most pundits seem to believe that he will make the opening day roster for the Dodgers. So far in the spring, Adam hasn’t given up a run yet, so hopefully he will make the trip to Los Angeles, and not Albuquerque! Maybe this next year Adam will be in the running for major league pitcher of the year.
Others to consider:
I think you can see, brilliant reader, why this was such a tough choice. All five of these pitchers had fantastic seasons in Triple-A. In fact, all of them, minus Kevin Munson (Covington 2008- Rico Noel’s teammate!), also pitched in the major leagues in 2014. I think you could make the case that any of them could be the pitcher of the year.
So, coming up will be the Double-A hitter and pitcher of 2014….