Every year, much to ATVL’s delight, milb.com names the players who performed best at each position in each major league organization’s minor league system (that was a mouthful). They call them “Organization All-Stars.”
The reason I appreciate this series is that they name the player with the best stats, not the player with the best pedigree or best major league profile. So, of course, I scour the lists each year to find the former Valley Leaguers. This year, seven alumni were named: three relief pitchers, two left handed starters, an outfielder, and a utility player.
Ready? Let’s take a gander at the players and milb’s writeups on said players….
Meisinger was a force out of the bullpen, often pitching two or even three innings at a time. The 22-year-old right-hander rang up 94 strikeouts in 74 2/3 innings and held opponents to a .212 batting average. Meisinger’s 1.57 ERA between the two levels dropped his career mark over two seasons to 1.65.
As unlikely an Organization All-Star as any, Cardullo made the Majors in 2016 after never having played above the Rookie level in affiliated ball. Discovered by the Rockies in an independent league, Cardullo handled the outfield and a late-season transition to first base, hitting .308/.367/.522 for the Isotopes. The Florida State product and former D-backs draftee made his Major League debut on Aug. 27 and hit his first big league homer four days later — on his 29th birthday.
Not only did Kohlscheen tie for the organization lead with 23 saves with Nate Griep, but his 2.54 ERA ranked second in the system among relievers with 25 or more appearances, he converted 23 of 25 save chances and he struck out 67 batters in 49 2/3 innings. Not bad for a 28-year-old who was released by the San Diego Padres in March before signing a Minor League contract with the Brewers.
With “an innate ability to hit,” Bennie had his best statistical season with 13 jacks and 76 RBIs. The 25-year-old kept his offense up while moving around the field. Bennie saw time at second, third, left and right this season.
“Joe’s an exceptional individual in terms of his work ethic, his dedication, his commitment to the game and his willingness to basically adapt and try to make adjustments and real change in how he plays the game,” [Stockton manager Rick] Magnante said. “And that was reflected this year in terms of the growth and development that he showed. He was definitely a hard worker.”
The fans’ MiLBY selection as Top Relief Pitcher blazed through three levels, dominating every step of the way. McGrath finished the year with a 0.93 ERA, a 0.75 WHIP and 78 strikeouts in 67 innings. Opponents hit just .174 against the Louisville product, who has a 1.45 ERA and a strikeout rate of better than 10 per nine innings in 100 career appearances.
The southpaw complement to [Andrew] Moore, Yarbrough was an anchor for the Generals, putting up a 12-4 record and a 2.95 ERA. The Old Dominion product won six straight starts from April 30 through May 29, kicking off that streak with a seven-inning shutout of Mobile. He wrapped his season with five wins in his final six decisions and a 1.13 ERA in four August starts, capturing midseason and postseason All-Star honors and the Southern League Most Outstanding Pitcher award.
Gomber went 7-8 with a 2.69 ERA and 116 strikeouts over 127 innings, including a 1.40 ERA in 19 1/3 frames with Springfield. The 23-year-old has posted an ERA under 3.00 every season since he was selected in the fourth round of the 2014 Draft.
“He continues to put together quality innings and quality starts,” [Cardinals director of player development Gary] LaRocque said. “He’s worked very hard on his secondary pitches. He’s got a good feel of his off-speed stuff and can pitch with contrast. Austin just continues to move through the system and produce at every level.”
Two from Luray and Staunton; one each from Harrisonburg, Covington, and Strasburg.
Congratulations to all 7 players!