Thursday, September 20, 2007

Rays to name minor-league award winners

The Devil Rays are scheduled to announce their organizational minor-league awards next week. They pick the system's top hitter and pitcher, plus a hitter and pitcher for each of their farm teams. To spread the love, the system's top players won't also be a team MVP.

If I had a vote, here's how it would read:
(As always, feel free to tell me where I'm wrong, just provide an explanation of your view.)

Pitcher Heath Rollins, Class A Columbus -- 17-4, 2.54 ERA, set Rays minor-league record for wins, was 9-1 with a 2.09 ERA after July 1, also won two postseason starts.
Outfielder Ryan Royster, Class A Columbus -- won organizational Triple Crown with a .329 average, 30 home runs and 98 RBIs.

Pitcher J.P. Howell -- was 7-8 with a team-best 3.38 ERA and a league-best 145 strikeouts, held hitters to a .229 average.
Outfielder Justin Ruggiano -- led Bulls in average (.309), homers (20), RBIs (73), runs scored (78), stolen bases (26). Jason Pridie was also a tempting choice. Pridie hit .318 but didn't have enough at-bats to qualify for the league leaders.

Pitcher Chris Mason -- 15-4, 2.57 ERA, named Southern League's top pitcher.
Third baseman Evan Longoria -- .307, 21 homers, 76 RBIs, Southern League MVP.

Pitcher Jake McGee -- despite a 5-4 record and an early-August promotion to Montgomery, his 2.93 ERA ranked second in the Florida State League and he totaled a league-best 145 strikeouts.
First baseman Rhyne Hughes -- won the FSL batting crown with a .329 average, also had 12 homers, 57 RBIs and 65 runs scored. This was the toughest choice of the ballot because Sergio Pedroza hit .286 with 22 homers, 70 RBIs and 59 runs scored. Their OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) were identical .907s.

Pitcher Jeremy Hellickson -- was 13-3 with a 2.67 ERA, lost only once in the season's final two months when he allowed four hits and one run in six innings.
Center fielder Desmond Jennings -- had a .401 on-base percentage, scored 75 runs and was 45-of-60 on steals, played in one game in the last month due to a knee injury.

Pitcher Jason Ragan -- 5-6 record, 2.80 ERA in 11 starts, .224 average against.
Outfielder Emeel Salem -- led team with .311 average, was 28-of-36 on steals and scored 41 runs.

Pitcher Jeremy Hall -- was 4-1 with a 1.56 ERA in 12 starts, walked 11 and struck out 59 in 69 1/3 innings.
Shortstop Omar Luna -- .289 average was tops among Rays who played at least 20 games. Tough choice for all the wrong reasons.

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