With the conclusion of the 2005 minor league team wrapups, this last edition will be about putting the entire Devil Rays minor league system into perspective by handing out some hardware to players who proved the most worthy candidate in their particular category. The categories today are....
Prospect of the Year
Pitching Prospect of the Year
Most Overrated Prospect
Most Underrated Prospect
Prospect most likely to be a Bust
2005 draftee most likely to make a ML impact
To help me today are some of the foremost Rays minor league experts around....
Dan McAvoy-From RaysBaseball.com and formerly of the Devil Rays blog Rays Prognostications.
David Bloom-Of course you know who he is. The head writer here at DRays Bay and the original Devil Rays blogger.
Jake Larsen-My co-writer here and a frequent contributor to RaysTalk, RaysBaseball, and pretty much any other D-Rays fansite. The former writer of 'The ROCC says".
So without further adieu, here is the exciting conclusion of my 2005 Minor League Wrapup Series. I will state my opinion, and then my two colleagues will state theirs and we will come to a consensus choice.
Live from the Sleazy Motel conference room on Beautiful U.S 19, its the Snake's Bail Bonds DRays Bay 2005 Minor League Awards Show! First, I'd like to thank UPN for picking up the telecast, this would not be possible had those guys not had such a sorry network. Tonight our judges will make the much anticipated decisions you all have been waiting for since I started this series a month ago. Now, here's the awards....
2005 Prospect of the Year
My View-Without question, it has to be Delmon Young. Even if you do consider B.J Upton a prospect and you throw out his defensive miscues, Young had better stats this year. Wes Bankston deserves some consideration for his magnificent performance this year, but no one even comes close to Baseball America's Prospect of the Year.
Dan's View-Delmon Young. On pace for the Southern Leage triple crown before being called up, at the age of 19, is amazing.
David's View-Delmon Young
Delmon young put up remarkable numbers at AA with speed/power/avg. The Rays showed good restraint not promoting him to the big club.
Jake's View-Delmon Young
Consensus-Well, this couldn't be any easier. For formality, we had to ask a question like this, but you knew what the answer was going to be.
2005 Prospect of the Year-Delmon Young
Acceptance Speech-I would like to dedicate this award to those cheap sons of *** in the Rays' front office who didn't call me up like they should have and gave me more time to pad my stats. Thank you very much.
Gives one finger salute as he walks off
Pitching Prospect of the Year
My View-This is a somewhat tougher choice for me. One one hand you've got Jason Hammel, who dominated the Southern League, and while not doing great, held up at Durham. Then you have Mike Woldarczyk and Wade Davis down in the Short Season Leagues. But I can't give this award to anyone other than Andy Sonnanstine.
For him to be the best pitcher statistically on not one, but TWO pitching staffs this year is amazing. What's that you ask? Why yes, he did put up a 3.80 ERA in an extreme hitters league. And yes, he did put up a 2.55 ERA in the MWL. Furthermore, he allowed an average of just one baserunner per inning in the California League, a WHIP even less than his 1.22 average in the MWL. But I prefer to focus on one stat. And that is 178:18. WOW. A K:BB of almost 10 for a full year. 'Nuff said.
Dan's View-This a tougher one. Early in the year, I would have said Hammel, but he struggled after his callup to Durham, and if I only looked at the second half of the year, I'd say Jamie Shields, who obliterated the competition for the last month and a half of the season, and took almost as big of a jump at the end of the year as Hammel did last year. Sonny had an awesome year as well, especially considering that K/BB ratio. Wade Davis, however, was probably the most impressive. I realize he was pitching short season ball, but he was 3rd in the league in IP, 1st in Ks, 7th in ERA, and 2nd in Wins.
David's View-Jason Hammel. He followed last year potential with another year of solid numbers. He could break the rotation in Tampa next year.
Jake's View-Andy Sonnanstine
Consensus-Jake's simple two word response gives Sonny the edge in this one, although this was admitidly a decision that had many choices. What do you think? Our judges were split, so I want to know what YOU think. Click the 'Entry Link' button at the bottom of the page. Scroll down to the bottom of the page, and cast your vote in our poll. If you were linked here from RaysBaseball, you are already in Entry Link. So vote for your choice and maybe drop us a comment explaining your selection.
2005 Pitching Prospect of the Year-Sonny
Acceptance Speech-I would like to dedicate this award to those block heads at Baseball America who didn't even put me in their Top 20 lists. This one's for you guys.
My View-The Rays had a few pleasant breakouts this year, but for me, it has to be John Jaso. Granted, most die-hards knew of him coming into theseason, but he vaulted onto a lot more people's radar screens after the year he had, and up deep into a lot of people's Top 25. He hit .307/.388/.515 for Southwest Michigan to break out, and if you look at his 2004 stats and his AVG ond OBP, the breakout may not seem so big, but it is all in the power. His SLG increased .78 points from 2004, and that was the key to his breakout in my mind. Just imagine what he'll do in the California League.
Dan's View-Shields. He had almost a strikeout per inning, and never got tagged badly once all season, putting together quite a few very nice starts.
David's View-John Jaso .307/.383/.515 A
He was a little under the radar from national rankings. John SIckels mentioned in my interview with him he was on fence on including him in his book last year. Well, after this year their should be no doubt.
Jake's View-John Jaso
Consensus-Man, my last second squeezing of Jake's answers in have really paid off. Dan is left out as the crazy old man out of the mainstream on this one.
Breakout Prospect-John Jaso
Acceptance Speech: What, who are you, where is this? What happened after I was drugged and kidna......
Cut to host
ME: ....Okay, you're welcome for the award John, keep up the good work.
My View-Dan will say that Gaby Martinez is the most disappointing, but I never ranked him as highly as, oh, Jeff Niemann. Wade Townsend and Jason Pridie, in that order, are the runners-up, but you can't be picked much higher than than Top 5 draft pick, and Niemann was just that. He got injured and became a brittle, mediocre Double A pitcher, in essence, and gets the (dis)honor. From the start of the season in the California League, it looked like he way have a good season in line, doing pretty good against a hitter's league. But injuries slowed him, and he returned to the field in Montgomery never lookng quite as good. So injuries give Niemann the nod here.
Dan's View-Gaby Martinez. He regressed majorly this year. Jon Barrat is second, but he gets the benfit of the doubt after being skipped over Low-A and toyed around with in his role.
David's View-Jeff Niemann (only because of the injuries)
Jake's View-Jeff Niemann, all the waiting for the contract signing and he missed more time than he pitched.
Consensus-Jake and I agree more than I would have thought. Anyways, Dan is yet again out of touch with today's society, and he is boxed out three to one.
Disappointing Prospect-Jeff Niemann
Acceptance Speech-You may call me disappointing, but I'm the only one of the Rice trio not to be injured for most of next year right now. BWAHAHAHA!!!!
Most Overrated Prospect
My View-This and the next two questions may have some repeat answers from the previous two as they are similar, yet different enough to warrant seperate questions. Anyways, I'm gonna say Reid Brignac. Maybe the ringing in my ears from Jake's constant PR of him has caused me to think this, but he just is not as great as some (cough) would have you believe. You listen to The Rocc blabber endlessly about Briggy, and you would come to the same conclusion. Jake is like a state-run news agency in that he constantly spews out propoganda in support of his man. You put the Iraqi Information Ministry to shame. So in the end, it is nothing Briggy has done wrong, I just wanted to stick it to Jake.
But no, if you ask me overrated by the mainstream media, probably Niemann for the reasons above.
Dan's View-I think Houser and Niemann are overrated by the general public simply because of their injury histories.
Jake's View-Elijah Dukes
Consensus-What do you mean nobody? I can think of plenty. Bah, to each his own. He's the reason I'm writing this in this space, so I'm not gonna blabber further. But Dan at least gives half of the answer, and it is good enough to propel the good guys to victory. Meanwhile, Jake continues the Dukes' hatin'.
Most Overrated Prospect-Jeff Niemann
Acceptance Speech-Man, I'm taking home more hardware here than Mike Price at a strip club. Ziiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing.
Most Underrated Prospect
My View-You will not see a repeat here like you did with Niemann, as I think Jaso is adequatly hyped after this season. Instead, ho about some love for Chris Nowak? He didn't even make some Top 25 prospect lists and hit .304/.399/.443 for Southwest Michigan this year. Is he too old? Nope, still just 22. So what's the deal? Hell if I know, but it is time to give Nowak the props he deserves.
Dan's View-Chris Nowak might be pretty underrated, at least by me. He won't make my top-25, but he's looking more and more like a Bill Mueller type, and he might be able to have a solid MLB career somewhere.
David's View-Jaso, who was not on many top prospects last season.
Jake's View-Wes Bankston(well, to the national media)
Consensus-Despite STILL not putting Nowak on the Top 25, Dan and I have the same general opinion and Chris Nowak takes the cake.
Underrated Prospect-Chris Nowak
Acceptance Speech-(Insert funny remark here)
Top Prospect Most Likely to be a Bust
My View-It has to be Wade Townsend. I asked this question to my colleagues even before he was sidelined until 2007, and I still got a consensus pick. He is arrogant, he pitched horribly in SHORT SEASON, and he's out for a year. Seems like a bad combo to me.
Dan's View-James Houser. He was healthy this year, but I feel like his arm is going to fall off before he reaches the majors. Niemann comes in second, but I feel like he'll make the majors, even if his arm never does recover to what it was in college.
David's View-It could be our #1 pick from this year. He certainly did not look like a #1 pick this year at Hudson Valley.
Announcer-Our No. 1 pick from this year was Townsend right?
Room Service Attendant-No puedo hablar inglés.
Announcer-I'll take that as a yes.
Jake's View-Um, Wade Townsend?
Consensus-Well, most of us got this one right. But you have to take into account the fact that Dan and David answered even before Townsend was pronounced dead (arm) for next season. So we'll give Dan a break.
Most likely to be a bust-Wade Townsend
Acceptance Speech-Mr. Townsend could not be here today as he is recovering from surgery, but he asked me to read the following.
"I had better hope Andrews doesn't f*** this up."
2005 Draftee Most Likely to Make an Impact
My View-Say what my two colleagues will about Mason, I am gonna go with Hellickson. Both have relatively short sample sizes, though Mason's is bigger, and he has pitched higher up. Still, Hellickson has a high ceiling, and his 11 strikeouts to one walk is amazing. There is just too much talent there for me to ignore.
Dan's View-I'm liking Mason a lot at this point. I think the Tim Hudson comparisons I heard from John Sickels might be a bit overblown, but he seems like he could be a solid #2 or #3 starter down the line. Hellickson and Townsend still have higher ceilings though.
David's View-I love Mason's potential. He went under the radar in most circles. However, I noticed him at UNCC and the guy was a stud pitcher.
Jake's View-John "Tools" Matulia.
Consensus-Well, I trust Dan and David's opinion very much, and their choice is not to be viewed with anything other than respect, as both admitidly know more about prospects than yours truly. BUT I'M STILL RIGHT!!!! Jake meanwhile is high on Jason Pridie....err John Matulia.
Acceptance Speech-Shows what you know, Patrick.
And that wraps up the awards. I asked the three other judges if they would like a forum to express other thoughts about the current minor league system, and two did. Here is what they added.
Dan-Hopefully the new GM, whoever he is, installs someone who moves players up and down in accordance with their skills and performance levels. It's asinine that guys like Pridie, Niemann and Seddon were moved up, while guys like Jaso, Leandro, Sonny and Nowak were stuck at lower levels they dominated. For those older college guys (other than Jaso), there will be no way to tell if they're real prospects until they get to a level which is tougher than what they faced in college, and I think they should have been promoted much more aggressively.
David-It was apparent the Rays brain trust got a liitle smarter this year in how they started nad moved players thru their system. Instead of the rush job they demonstrsted in years past, they took the patient approach. It sure seemed like Orvella to AAA, Niemann to AA as Spring was winding down. Its been my take all along that last season LaMar had taken the approach that they would just let the kids develop durring the first half.
And there you have it. Let's wrap it up by Doing a recap of the Awards and their winners.
Prospect of the Year-Young
Pitching Prospect of the Year-TBA
Draftee Most Likely to Make Impact-Mason
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the participating judges today, Dan McAvoy, David Bloom, and Jake Larsen. All have immense minor league knowledge, and I was very glad to have them offer their insight in this column. Thank you very much guys!
And that will wrap up the Snake's Bail Bonds 2005 DRays Bay Minor League Awards Show. Once again, we would like to thank UPN for television coverage and the Sleazy Motel for hosting us. Good night, and if someone pulls a knife on you in the parking lot, just give them your valuables and don't pick a fight. Thank you, and goodnight everybody!
SERIES: And that too will wrapup my 2005 Minor League end of season writeups. I hope you all have enjoyed my insight into the 2005 Minor League season, and I hope that you learned something in the process about the future Rays. But just because the actual games end doesn't mean the writings do. Check back everyday for a quote, and whenever the Rays make any type of transaction, as I will have full analysis. Also, I guarantee you won't go by a week without seeing some type of in-depth article here, be it Season in Review or Top Position players. So stay tuned for all 12 months at DRays Bay, where the writing never stops.
As for the immediate future, next week on Monday as the 'experts' reveal the baseball awards for this past season, I'll brighten your day with my picks for baseball's hardware, from MVP all the way down to Reliever of the Year. After that, I begin my five part Season in Review series to take us into December. So whether you're feasting on trick or treat candy or feeling bloated after having too much turkey, you'll always have some reading material to occupy your time.
Just in case you missed a week, or want ot reread a pece from this series, here is the entire thing from start to finish.
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