OaklandClubhouse’s 2016 Minor League Position Player of the Year
Stats: .326/.382/.558 with 14 homers in 85 games between Double-A Midland and Triple-A Nashville
Ryon Healy played his last minor league game this season on July 14, but the impact that he had in those 85 games before his promotion to the big leagues was so great that he walks away with this award.
Healy’s dream season got off to a disappointing start when he was assigned to Double-A Midland to begin the year. The A’s 2013 third-round pick hit .302 in the Texas League in 2015, but he was forced to repeat the level thanks to the A’s backlog of top corner infield prospects in Triple-A. Healy didn’t let the disappointment bring him down. Instead, he forced the A’s front office to move him to Triple-A by blistering Texas League pitching to the tune of a .338/.409/.628 line in 36 games. The promotion didn’t slow Healy’s assault on opposing pitching. He went 3-for-5 in his first game in Triple-A on May 17 and never looked back. Healy would hit .318/.362/.505 in 49 games for the Sounds.
Healy’s work with the RockHounds and the Sounds didn’t go unnoticed. He was named the A’s only representative at the MLB All-Star Futures game. Healy had a huge game on the big stage, going 2-for-3 with a walk. One of his hits was a ringing double against one of the top pitching prospects in baseball, Alex Reyes. That Futures game performance was all the A’s had to see to decide it was time to bring Healy up to the big leagues. He played one more minor league game after the Futures Game and made his major-league debut on July 15.
http://www.scout.com/mlb/athletics/story/1710912-oaklandclubhouse-s-2016... While Healy’s work with the A’s wouldn’t usually count for a minor league player of the year award, it did receive consideration. Since Healy debuted, he has been one of the top rookies in the American League. Through Sunday, Healy is batting .303/.336/.519 with 12 homers over his first 65 big league games. He is nearly a 2 WAR player already and he has easily been the most dynamic player in the A’s line-up during the second half.
Healy’s success in the big leagues could help usher in a new era for the Oakland A’s. Since 2013, he has been part of a group of A’s prospects who – for the most part – have moved up together through the system. The A’s have had trouble in recent years turning successful minor league position players into successful major league position players. Healy’s success should breed some confidence in the A’s front office that the talent that they see in the minor leagues can translate to the big leagues. That could help shape the direction of the A’s off-season and jump-start a much needed commitment to a youth movement at the major-league level.
Matt Chapman: Chapman took home the Texas League’s award for top position player and he led the A’s minor league system with 36 homeruns and 96 RBI. Chapman also wowed coaches and scouts with his glove-work at third base. A member of the RockHounds for most of the season, Chapman finished the year in Triple-A and may be only a half-season away from being ready to contribute at the big league level. His glove is ready now and the power should play at any level. Chapman’s next task will be to cut down on his strike-outs. If he can do that, Chapman has a chance to be a star at the big league level.
Jaycob Brugman: Brugman’s season began just as Healy’s did, with a surprise return trip to Double-A. Like Healy, Brugman hit his way into a Triple-A promotion by mid-May. Brugman’s arrival in Nashville coincided with the Sounds’ emergence on offense as a team. He provided stability at the top of the Nashville line-up and a reliable glove in centerfield. Brugman was named the Nashville team MVP at the end of the season. He isn’t flashy, but Brugman contributes in all facets of the game and could be a factor for the A’s sometime next season.
James Harris: In his second season in the A’s organization, Harris made his mark with an All-Star campaign with the High-A Stockton Ports. The Oakland native hit .297 in 130 games between Stockton and Midland and posted a .370 OBP. He also stole 23 bases and collected 42 extra-base hits. Harris was a force at the top of the Stockton line-up. After plenty of work during the off-season, Harris showed significant improvement with his base-running in 2016. He raised his profile within the organization quite a bit with his standout campaign.
Chris Iriart: Iriart missed five weeks after being beaned in the face by a pitch on June 3. If not for that errant offering, Iriart may have challenged Chapman for the homerun lead within the A’s system. Iriart was in the middle of a tear at the time of the injury and he picked up right where he left off when he returned to the field. From July 13 until September 5, Iriart hit 13 homeruns for Low-A Beloit and High-A Stockton. He finished the year with 22 homers in just 97 games. All told, Iriart had a .250/.340/.503 line in his first full professional season. Like Chapman, Iriart needs to cut down on his strike-outs, but the University of Houston product has legitimate power and he showed a lot of resiliency in bouncing back from a scary injury this season.