Rays Minor League Award Winners

So now that we’ve had some time to digest the Bulls’ loss in the Governors’ Cup Final (ugh), let’s reflect on some of the standout players throughout the Rays’ entire Minor League organization. Last week, Tampa Bay announced their Minor League award winners, so we’ve decided to break down the 2014 season for some of the players that could end up in Durham in 2015 (and some you already saw).

Player of the Year: OF Johnny Field – Bowling Green (A) / Charlotte (A+)

In just his second year of professional baseball, and first full season, Field split the season between Single-A Bowling Green (82 games) and Advanced-A Charlotte (40 games). Between the two levels he combined to hit .300 with 12 homers and 58 RBIs, while swiping 23 bags in 31 attempts. Drafted in the Fifth Round in 2013 out of the University of Arizona, he excelled when he was promoted to Charlotte in mid-July, hitting .320 with the Stone Crabs over the final month and a half of the season.

Pitcher of the Year: LHP Blake Snell – Bowling Green (A) / Charlotte (A+)

Like Field, Snell split the season between Bowling Green and Charlotte, but made just eight starts with the Hot Rods before a promotion to Charlotte at the end of May. In Single-A he was dominant, going 3-2 despite a 1.79 ERA, striking out 42 in 40 1/3 innings. With Charlotte he went 5-6 with a 3.94, but still posted strong strikeout numbers, fanning 77 in 75 1/3 frames. Snell, who compares his repertoire to Matt Moore’s, was a First Round pick (52nd overall) in 2011 out of Shorewood H.S. in Washington, is the No. 13 prospect in the system according to MLB.com.

Baserunner of the Year: INF Tommy Coyle – Charlotte (A+)

If Coyle’s name is familiar to you, don’t be surprised as he was an infielder at UNC from 2010-2012. This season with the Stone Crabs, the 16th round pick in 2012 went 30-for-34 in stolen base attempts, and is now 90-for-106 over his three-year career. He hit .249-5-37, while also tallying 13 doubles and eight triples.

Defensive Player of the Year: C Justin O’Conner – Charlotte (A+) / Montgomery (AA)

O’Conner, the No. 14 prospect in the system according to MLB.com, spent the majority of the season with Charlotte (80 games) before a late-season promotion to Montgomery (21 games). Between the two levels the 2014 Futures Game selection was fantastic behind the plate, throwing out 33-of-60 runners, good for a 55% clip. With Charlotte, the 22-year-old threw out 24-of-48 attempted base stealers, which would have been best in the league, but his promotion to Montgomery made him fall short of the amount of games needed to qualify.

Reliever of the Year: LHP Adam Liberatore – Durham (AAA)

Liberatore’s 2014 accomplishments have been documented by the Bulls already, but as a refresher, the southpaw was dominant out of the bullpen, going 6-1 with a 1.66 ERA in a career-high 54 games. 44 of his 54 appearances were scoreless, while he allowed just 8.17 baserunners per 9 innings, the best among all Triple-A relievers. His K/BB ratio was 5.73/1 (86/15), averaging 11.91 K/9 (86 K in 65.0 IP).

Durham Team MVP: OF Mikie Mahtook

In his first season at the Triple-A level, Mahtook excelled, leading all Tampa Bay farmhands with 68 RBIs, while ranking fourth in the IL in total bases (224) and fifth in hits (143). The 24-year-old, ranked the No. 11 prospect in the Rays’ system by MLB.com, set career highs in home runs (12), doubles (33) and walks (46), while he reached base safely in 59 of his final 72 games.

Montgomery Team MVP: INF Ryan Brett

In 107 games with the Biscuits this season, Brett hit .303, cracking eight homers and driving in 38. His .303 average was the fourth-best in the Southern League, while his 27 steals were the third-best on the circuit. Additionally, his 25 doubles and six triples were each career-highs, despite missing time in early August because of an injury.

Charlotte Team MVP: INF Patrick Leonard

After joining the organization in the blockbuster trade that sent James Shields and Wade Davis to Kansas City, Leonard had a solid season, hitting .284-13-58. His .448 slugging percentage was the third-best in the Florida State League, while his career-high 79 runs scored was good for fourth-best on the circuit. He was a perfect 14-for-14 in stolen base attempts, while also setting a career-high with 126 hits, 49 walks, a .359 OBP and tying a career-high with 26 doubles.

Bowling Green Team MVP: INF Kean Wong

The younger brother of St. Louis’ Kolten Wong, Kean proved himself to be a valuable young player in his first full season of professional baseball. Just 19, he ranked second in the Midwest League with a .306 batting average while stealing 13 bases and smacking 15 doubles. Additionally he was sharp in the field, playing 97 games at second base and committing just seven errors.

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