2006 Pitcher of the Year: Jason Windsor

Now that the minor league season has come to an end, it is time for us to take a look back at the season that has past. We begin our review with our annual post-season awards. Our second award is the OaklandClubhouse Pitcher of the Year award, given to the A's minor league hurler who had the best season in 2006. The winner of our 2006 Pitcher of the Year award is starter Jason Windsor.

Coming into the 2006 season, right-hander Jason Windsor was a bit of a question mark. The former Most Outstanding Player in the 2004 College World Series was coming off of a poor second half to his 2005 season, a season which ended early thanks to a sore right shoulder.

Windsor began the 2006 season where he ended the 2005 campaign, in the AA-Midland Rockhounds' starting rotation. He was the team's Opening Day starter after a strong showing in the A's minor league camp during spring training.

Windsor's season didn't get off to the greatest start. He lasted only 5.1 innings on Opening Day, allowing four runs and two homeruns. He was also stuck with the loss. That would be the last time Windsor would see himself in the "L" column until late July.

After that Opening Day loss, Windsor ran off four wins in his next five starts for Midland, allowing only seven earned runs in 28 innings. That performance earned him an early promotion to AAA-Sacramento, where he became the youngest pitcher in the River Cats' starting rotation.

Despite being only 23 years old when he arrived in Sacramento, Windsor immediately became the anchor in a River Cats' staff that was rocked by injuries and inconsistencies for much of the season. He recorded wins in each of his first five AAA starts and was 8-0 for the River Cats before being called up to Oakland on July 16 (which, coincidentally, was his 24th birthday). He became the second member of the A's 2004 draft class to make it to the major leagues (Huston Street was the first draft pick to arrive in Oakland).

Windsor's stay in Oakland wasn't a long one. For the first time this season, Windsor struggled with his control and after a mediocre start against Baltimore, he was hit around at home versus Boston and was sent back to AAA for more seasoning.

Windsor took the demotion in stride, stating that he had learned a lot during his first two major league outings and vowed to get better down at AAA. He lived up to that vow, going 5-1 to finish out the season, including one complete game. He finished the minor league season with a 17-2 record and was tied for the most wins in the minor leagues.

Perhaps most impressive for Windsor was his strikeout-to-walk ratio at AAA. Despite not possessing an over-powering fastball, Windsor still struck out more than one batter an inning, whiffing 123 batters in 118 innings. Even better, Windsor walked only 32 batters. He averaged six innings a start and proved that he could last a full season without injury.

The A's rewarded Windsor for his fine season by making him a September call-up. Since arriving in Oakland, Windsor has worked out of the bullpen and has appeared in only one game, throwing a scoreless inning of relief on Monday versus the Cleveland Indians. He may see some action on Thursday in relief of A's starter Rich Harden, who is expected to go only four innings in his return from the disabled list.

In any case, Windsor is already being mentioned as a strong candidate for the A's fifth starter role in 2007. Not bad for a guy whose future was uncertain coming into the season.

Windsor is our second OaklandClubhouse Pitcher of the Year. Last season, left-hander Dallas Braden took home the inaugural award.

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