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End-of-Season Minor League Awards

Talent exists!

Kelly O’Connor;

With the minor league season coming to an end, let’s take a look at some of the top performers across every level. The Red Sox may not have the deepest farm in baseball, but it still contains plenty of up-and-comers with the potential to contribute soon. Matt made his end-of-season awards picks earlier this month, and here are my award winners:

Hitter of the Year: Bobby Dalbec

Perhaps one of the most popular names in the minors this year, Dalbec absolutely mashed A+ pitching, slashing .256/.372/.573, to go along with 26 HR in just 100 games. He was finally promoted to the AA squad towards the end of the year, and in 29 games contributed a wRC+ of 126. It is clear Dalbec has the potential to hit at any level. His one flaw has been his K%, which stood at 31% in A+ and up over 37% in AA. The hope is that he turns into a Joey Gallo prototype, a similar power hitter who raked all through the minors despite striking out at similar rates to Dalbec.

Honorable Mention: Josh Ockimey

My personal favorite hitter in the minors is none other than Ockimey, whose swing I fell in love with last year. He was very good in Portland, with an .842 OPS and 134 wRC+ in 90 games. He struggled slightly upon his promotion to AAA, but still finished with an ISO of .183 and a wRC+ of 100 in a small sample size. Ockimey showed significant potential against right-handed pitching, but has been unable to catch up to left-handers. In AA, he hit .183 with a .586 OPS in 106 AB against lefties, however, against righties he hit .283 with an OPS of .968. It’s clear that if he can make adjustments and improve against left-handers, he’d have star potential. However, Ockimey currently appears to be a solid platoon 1B/DH.

Pitcher of the Year: Darwinzon Hernandez

Hernandez, the 7th ranked Red Sox prospect (MLB Pipeline), had a dominant year for High-A Salem. With a 3.17 FIP and an 11.05 K/9, he’s shown some of the best strikeout potential in any affiliate. His arsenal includes a fastball, curveball, changeup, and slider, with his fastball being his best pitch. If he is able to develop his off-speed pitches more and improve control, he projects as a potential 3-4 starter. However, his 5.35 BB/9 is worrisome, and he may end up in the bullpen where he could increase his velocity, focus on his fastball, and fade his secondary pitches.

Honorable Mention: Kutter Crawford

Kutter saw himself rise up the Red Sox’ prospect rankings due to a shockingly solid season in Greenville/Salem. He threw 112.1 innings in A-ball, contributing a 3.12 FIP and 120 strikeouts, and earning himself a midseason promotion. Crawford continued his stellar play upon his arrival in Salem, throwing 31.1 innings, striking out over 10 batters per nine, and finishing with a FIP of 2.53. Kutter’s arsenal consists of a fastball, slider, and curveball, but his curveball has been his most inconsistent pitch. With the presence of 2 solid primary/secondary pitches, Crawford may end up as a future bullpen arm, but if he develops his curveball into a solid 3rd pitch, he has the potential to be a rotation piece. It remains to be seen if he’ll continue his consistency in AA and beyond.

Keep in mind these guys may not be on all top prospects lists, but they each put up noteworthy numbers and earned themselves promotions. A couple of notable names who failed to make the cut are Michael Chavis, who, despite his suspension, raked in his 194 PA, and Travis Lakins, who was awesome after his transition to a reliever, and has received consideration for a bullpen role in the postseason this year.