2008 Awards: Short-Season Affiliates

With the 2008 season finally in the books, it is time for us to bestow our awards on the best individual performances for the 2008 season. In the first of our series, we hand out the awards for the top players and pitchers for the Oakland A's short-season affiliates.

Vancouver Canadians

It was a rough season for the C's, who finished eight games under .500 and six games out of first place in a weak Northwest League Western Division. Vancouver finished second to last in team offense with a .234 average and a 667 OPS. The C's managed only 28 homeruns and a .334 OBP. The pitching was better, as the C's finished fourth in the league with a 4.18 team ERA. Vancouver hurlers were second in the league in strike-outs.

Top Position Player: Jason Christian

Christian, the A's fifth round draft choice out of the University of Michigan, put together a fine professional debut season. The shortstop finished second on the team in games played and first among the team regulars in batting average (.291) and stolen bases (13 in 14 chances). He finished second on the team in OPS with an 836 mark and in on-base percentage with a .404 OBP while handling an important defensive position. Christian was sent to Kane County for the final week of the season and he continued to hit, collecting eight hits in 25 at-bats for the Cougars.

Other Players Considered: J.D. Pruitt, David Thomas, Jeremy Barfield

Pruitt put up the best offensive numbers of any Vancouver player, but he narrowly missed out on the top award to Christian because he played in 22 fewer games and played a much less demanding positions (left-field). However, his efforts shouldn't go unnoticed. He had a 929 OPS, including a .486 OBP, in 124 at-bats for the C's. He also stole eight bases and had a 39:33 BB:K ratio. Thomas was a steady force for Vancouver, batting .290 with an 813 OPS. He was second on the team with 32 RBIs and first with 18 doubles. Barfield recovered from a slow start to hit .271 with a team-leading 41 RBIs. He hit only three homeruns, but they were tape-measure shots. He also doubled 17 times.

Top Pitcher: Carlos Hernandez

Hernandez was only with the team for seven starts, but he was spectacular during his time with Vancouver. In 39.2 innings, Hernandez posted a 1.82 ERA and allowed only 32 hits. He didn't allow a homerun, walked only seven and struck-out 38 to compile a 0.98 WHIP. Hernandez found similar success when he was promoted to Kane County, posting a 2.29 ERA in 35.1 innings with the Cougars.

Other Pitchers Considered: Jose Guzman, Michael Hart, Pedro Figueroa

Guzman was the C's closer and he managed to save 15 games despite playing for a team with a losing record. Guzman had a 2.25 ERA and he struck-out 38 in 36 innings. Hart was a swingman for the C's, starting six games and relieving in nine. He had a 2.52 ERA, a 1.09 WHIP and 40 strike-outs in 35.2 innings. Figueroa finished second on the team in innings pitched with 68.2 and posted a 3.93 ERA. He struck-out 77, tied for the most on the team.

Arizona Athletics

The A's Rookie League club featured some exciting young players, but struggled to put wins together, going 21-35 on the season and finishing tied for second-to-last. The Rookie A's were in the middle of the pack on offense, posting a team average of .261 and a team OPS of 725. In terms of pitching, the Rookie A's were third from the bottom with a team ERA of 4.81.

Top Position Player: Rashun Dixon

Nino Leyja could have a legitimate claim to this award, as well, but we are giving the nod to Mr. Dixon by virtue of the fact that he was the team's top run producer. Dixon, who was one of the youngest players in the league having turned 18 in late August, compiled one of the most interesting statlines we have seen in awhile. He doubled only three times in 179 at-bats, but he tripled a remarkable 10 times, a sign of his blazing speed. He also homered a team-leading eight times and drove-in a team-leading 42 runs. Dixon was second in the AZL in homers and RBIs, and his .525 SLG was seventh in the league.

Other Players Considered: Nino Leyja and Franklin Hernandez

As we said, Leyja could have easily gone home with the award for top offensive player. He was outstanding, batting .315 with a .383 OBP and an 862 OPS. He swiped 10 bags in 12 chances and had six triples himself. Hernandez tied with Leyja for the highest OPS of any AZL A's regular and was second on the team with 36 RBIs. He hit .316 for the season.

Top Pitcher: Pedro Vidal

Vidal parlayed a good start with the A's Dominican Summer League team 2 into a strong year with the AZL A's. The 21-year-old right-hander from the Dominican Republic allowed only 30 hits in 39.2 innings and he struck-out 32 against 10 walks. Vidal's 2.95 ERA was second among AZL A's regulars and opponents hit only .204 against him.

Other Players Considered: Julio Ramos, Ryan Doolittle, Mickey Storey

Ramos led all AZL A's pitchers with a 1.41 ERA and 51 innings pitched. The Dominican lefty didn't allow a homer and walked only 12 during those 51 innings. He struck-out 36. Doolittle was second on the team in innings pitched with 46.2. He didn't issue a walk over his last 20 innings and had a 1.98 ERA in 27.1 innings as a starter. Storey posted a 3.27 ERA and saved a game in 22 innings pitched. He struck-out 23 and walked six and gave-up only 17 hits.

Dominican Summer League Teams 1 and 2

The A's have suddenly added an influx of higher profile talent to their Dominican program. While some of the most notable A's international signings have not yet made their debut (Michael Inoa and Jose Sayegh are two examples), others have already taken the field for the A's two DSL clubs (Robin Rosario and Diego Ledezma are two). The A's DSL teams were mostly mediocre in terms of wins and losses this season. DSL Team 2 went 31-33, while DSL Team 1 went 27-36.

Top Position Player: Jonatan de la Cruz

De la Cruz demonstrated good speed and the ability to get on-base consistently for the A's DSL Team 1 this season. The 20-year-old third baseman hit .286 with a .384 OBP and 20 stolen bases in 26 chances. He walked more than he struck-out (32 walks versus 30 strike-outs in 59 games) and he drove-in 28 runs. He was only one of the only A's DSL players to go deep this season, homering once. De la Cruz is a strong candidate to make his US debut next season.

Other Players Considered: Robin Rosario, Yeis Garabito, Neudy Clime

Rosario was the A's most expensive Dominican free agent signing until the team inked Inoa this July. Rosario had a strong debut with DSL Team 2, batting .281 with a 762 OPS as a 17-year-old. Like Dixon, Rosario tallied more triples (six) than doubles (five). Garabito led all A's DSL hitters with a .320 average in 50 games. He also posted an 828 OPS thanks to seven doubles and four triples. The 18-year-old DH was in his first season with the A's DSL Team 1. Clime, a second baseman for DSL Team 2, hit .275 with a homer and a .424 OBP thanks to 31 walks against 14 strike-outs.

Top Pitcher: Jose Brito

Brito threw 64 innings and managed a WHIP of 1.00. He walked only 15 and allowed 49 hits, limiting DSL batters to a .211 average and only one homerun. The right-hander, who turns 21 in late October, was especially good as a starter. In 10 starts, he had a 2.86 ERA and one complete game. His ERA for the season was 3.09.

Other Pitchers Considered: Carlos Vargas, Jorge Pena, Mauricio Brujan

Vargas held opposing batters to a .178 average and didn't allow a homer in 46 innings. His 1.37 ERA was best on the DSL Team 2 squad. Pena walked 31 batters in 52 innings, but he still managed a 1.90 ERA thanks to his BAA, which was .191. The 19-year-old struck-out 41 and didn't allow a homer. Brujan, like Pena, walked his share of batters (18 in 40.1 innings), but the right-hander managed a 2.68 ERA by allowing only 33 hits and one homer for DSL Team 1.

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