Awards Season: GCL and Arizona League Honors

Gulf Coast League

Hitter of the Year
Eury Perez / OF / Washington Nationals
Coming off an outstanding 2008 Dominican Summer League debut, Perez has cemented his position as one of Washington’s more exciting young prospects by finishing the year with a 27-game hitting streak on his way to winning the GCL batting title. His all-around offensive game was on display as well, with three home runs, five triples, and 16 stolen bases in 181 at-bats.

Pitcher of the Year:
Matt Fields / RHP / Toronto Blue Jays
Sure, Fields is 23 years old and doesn’t have much overall upside, but lets give the man his moment in the limelight. Over 51.2 innings of work, Fields put together a ridiculous set of stats, including a 1.22 ERA and an otherworldly 0.79 WHIP.

Best Hitting Prospect
Kelvin De Leon / OF / New York Yankees
Yankees fans love when their team shells out big bucks for Hispanic teenagers. Sometimes things work out and sometimes they don’t. In De Leon’s case, the future looks bright. He has thus far justified the Yankees’ seven-figure bonus, and his loaded tool box should have him competing in full season ball next year.

Best Pitching Prospect
Adrian Salcedo / RHP / Minnesota Twins
I haven’t seen Salcedo pitch, but from everything I hear, no one in the Gulf Coast League even comes close. Right now he sits in the low-90s with his fastball, but with his ideal frame, wiry athletic ability, and relatively clean mechanics, his potential is through the roof. And for his age, his command is borderline freakish.

Arizona League

Hitter of the Year
Cody Decker / 1B / San Diego Padres
Decker was a man amongst boys in more ways than one. A 22-year-old is usually expected to dominate a rookie league, but never in this fashion. We would all like to see more walks and less strikeouts, but Decker lead the league in doubles, home runs, RBIs, and finished third in the league in batting average, the only “blemish” on his triple crown bid.

Pitcher of the Year
Carl Webster / RHP / LA Dodgers
Webster was a giant bright spot on an otherwise sub-par group of AZL Dodgers. He struck out more than a batter per inning while posting a 2.08 ERA and 1.03 WHIP. On top of that, the control issues that he experienced last year in the Gulf Coast League may be well behind him, as he walked only 15 in 60.1 rookie level innings.

Best Hitting Prospect
Mike Trout / OF / LA Angels
Fellow Angels first round pick Randal Grichuk deserves to be mentioned, but Trout’s superior contact skills give him a slight edge. Trout isn’t a superstar waiting to happen, but he has a bit of power, has a bit of speed, and has a very advanced approach at the plate. In the long run, I think Trout turns out better than Grichuk.

Best Pitching Prospect
Fabio Martinez Mesa / RHP / LA Angels
He doesn’t have much more than an electric fastball right now, but that should carry him for awhile. His secondary stuff and control are very much a work in progress, but he has a real feel for a curve ball and seems to have the work ethic to turn it into a plus pitch.

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