Minor League Players Of The Year
Posted by Jason A. Churchill on September 5, 2006
It seems like yesterday that we opened the 2006 baseball season with hope that the hometown club would accomplish several satisafying feats, such as challenging for a playoff berth, bettering the .500 mark and improving the status of the farm system.
Since the postseason is at least another year away and winning 81 or more games is looking less likely every day, let’s focus on what occured in the minor leagues this summer.
Position Player of the Year – Adam Jones, CF
Jones began the year as the system’s No. 2 prospect after a breakout season in 2005. He spent the majority of this season in Triple-A Tacoma and not only did the former first rounder impress, he took over the top spot on the list, edging out catcher Jeff Clement with a solid showing in the Pacific Coast League.
Jones, who turned 21 just five weeks ago, hit .287/.342/.484 with 16 home runs in 95 games. The right-handed hitting center fielder improved his game in all areas for the second straight season, showing off his ability to crush the fastball, make adjustments on the breaking ball and play a sound center field.
He has work to do both offensively and in the field, but Jones is well on his way to becoming exactly what the Mariners envisioned when they drafted him in the first round in 2003. Well, okay, not exactly – he was scouted as a shortstop whose second position was on the pitcher’s mound, but Jones has moved a lot quicker than originally expected, and has performed well at each level in the minors.
Adam Jones is the 2006 Prospect Insider M’s Minor League Player of the Year.
First baseman Bryan LaHair and outfielder Mike Wilson also received consideration.
Pitching Prospect of the Year – Mark Lowe, RHP
Lowe began the season in the California League and owned inferior competition to the tune of a 2.16 ERA and a 46-11 K/BB ratio. Cal Leaguers hit just .132 off the 23-year-old, quickly prompting the Mariners to challenge the former fifth rounder.
Lowe posted similar numbers with Double-A San Antonio in 11 games and 16 2/3 innings, again forcing the club to find a a way to make things a little tougher for the right-hander.
So, in attempt, again, to challenge Lowe, he was re-assigned to Triple-A Tacoma, where he’d ultimately spend the night in a Tacoma hotel, but never throw a pitch in a Rainiers uniform.
Lowe was immediately summoned to the big leagues, where he’d impress yet again, fanning 20 batters in his first 17 innings pitched, and showing off a fastball in the 97-99 mph range. His nasty slider and plus change were too much for even big-league bats to handle. Only a sore elbow could slow the 6-3, 200-pounder.
Lowe’s utter domination at three stops in the organization – including the big leagues – earned him this award, despite having some legit competition. Combined, the Texas-Arlington product tossed 64 2/3 innings and allowed just 37 hits – only two home runs – and posted 80 strikeouts versus just 20 bases on balls.
He also put up a solid 1.44 G/F ratio and could turn all of this into another shot in the starting rotation somewhere down the line.
Lowe beat out Francisco Cruceta, who finished second in the minors with 185 strikeouts, Robert Rohrbaugh, Ryan Feierabend and Justin Thomas.
Coming up Wednesday Night: Breakthrough Player, Most Disappointing Prospect, Comeback Player and Defensive Player of the Year. The All-Prospect Team will be posted on Thursday night, though it shouldn’t reveal any surprises.