Friday, September 16, 2011

My 2011 Dodgers' Minor League Players of the Year

Now that the Dodgers' minor-league season is over, it's time to unveil my Dodger Minor League hitter and pitcher of the year.

The Dodgers actually named their choices yesterday, going with Double-A OF/1B Scott Van Slyke and RHP Shawn Tolleson.

Van Slyke finished with a .348/.427/.595 triple-slash with 20 HR, 92 RBI and 45 2B. He's a serious candidate for Southern League MVP.

Tolleson pitched across three levels of the minors, putting up impressive numbers at every stop. He finished with 7-2 record, a 1.17 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 5.83 K/BB rate and a most impressive 13.7 K/9.

The pair got consideration from me for each award, but I chose to go in a different direction.

There's stiff competition for hitter of the year, as the award could legitimately go to three players. The pitcher of the year competition is a little more clear-cut.

Hitter of the Year: OF/1B Angelo Songco, High-A
.313/.367/.581, 29 HR, 114 RBI, 167 H, 110 R, 48 2B

- Songco tied Jerry Sands for most home runs by a Dodger minor leaguer this season. Sands spent time in the majors and hit two home runs with the Dodgers (so far, at least), so it's entirely possible he could have finished with 35 home runs again. Songco, however, had a great all-around season for the Quakes. He led the organization in runs scored, runs batted in, doubles, hits and at-bats. At 22 in the California League, his numbers need to be taken with a grain of salt. But there's no denying his extra-base hit ability.

He played a lot of first base down the stretch for the Quakes, which could actually fast-track him to the majors as he's one of the myriad of legitimate outfield prospects. The Dodgers are lacking legitimate first base prospects, though. He played 65 games in left field and 57 at first base, so he might use 2012 at Chattanooga to work on his defense at first base -- though that isn't confirmed.

Songco's performance is encouraging after his disappointing August 2010. Some of it can be attributed to the hitter-friendly Cal League, but some of it can also be attributed to him maturing as a hitter.

While Van Slyke had better numbers at a higher level than Songco, Van Slyke was repeating Double-A and was a tad old for his competition. Songco was at the appropriate of competition for his age.

Runners up: Van Slyke, Alfredo Silverio

Pitcher of the Year: RHP Nathan Eovaldi, AA
6-5, 2.62 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 6.6 H/9, 8.7 K/9

- Eovaldi re-established himself as a prospect this season after falling down lists following his mediocre 2010. His performance led to a call-up to the Dodgers in August and he's been in the majors ever since. He's going to work the rest of the season out of the bullpen (already making two appearances), but held his own as a starter. He should have no problem winning a spot in the 2012 rotation, especially with Rubby De La Rosa set to be out until 2013.

Eovladi needs to work on his off-speed offerings this winter. While his slider has the makings of a solid-average pitch, it's far too inconsistent. His heavy, sinking fastball is his best weapon. He isn't a big strikeout pitcher, but those numbers could increase with the improvement of his secondary pitches. Worse comes to worse, he's an effective late-inning reliever. However, the Dodgers have no reason to move him to the 'pen until he shows he can't handle starting.

Runners up: Tolleson, Garrett Gould, Angel Sanchez

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