2009 Awards: Short-Season Squads

With the 2009 minor league season finally in the books, it is time for us to bestow our awards on the best individual performances for 2009. In the third 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 down year as a team for the Canadians, who finished well out of the playoff race with a 36-40 record that left them 13 games off of the pace set by division-winner Salem-Keizer. Scoring was an issue for the Canadians, who managed only 349 runs, third-least in the league. Vancouver's pitching staff fared better, posting a 4.41 ERA, which placed them smack-dab in the middle of the pack for the league.

Player of the Year: Conner Crumbliss

Crumbliss, the A's 28th round pick in 2009, did a little bit of everything for the Canadians, playing both the infield and the outfield, getting on-base, stealing bases, hitting for some power, driving in runs and hitting for average. In 205 at-bats, Crumbliss hit .293/.425/.405 with 11 stolen bases and a team-best 49 walks. He struck-out only 28 times and scored 40 runs for a low-scoring Vancouver team. Crumbliss spent the final few weeks of the season in Kane County, leaving a sizeable hole at the top of the Canadians' line-up. The 22-year-old also acquitted himself well in Kane County, batting .280 with an 838 OPS and 11 runs scored in 14 games (50 at-bats).

Other Players Considered: Ryan Ortiz, Kent Walton, Tyreace House

Ortiz finished second behind Crumbliss in OPS with an 818 mark in 151 at-bats. The back-stop also led the team with four homers and posted a solid 29:26 K:BB ratio. Ortiz was the A's sixth round pick in 2009…Walton was limited to DH duties thanks to a shoulder injury he was still rehabbing, but he made an impact with his bat, hitting .296 with a .400 SLG. He led the team with 36 RBIs and scored 28 runs…House managed only three extra-base hits for Vancouver, but he hit .291 with a .365 OBP. He scored 31 runs and stole a team-high 19 bases. House batted .400 in 20 games in July.

Pitcher of the Year: Julio Ramos

Ramos, a 21-year-old left-hander from the Dominican Republic, was the unquestioned staff ace for Vancouver in 2009. In 13 starts, he posted a 2.38 ERA, good for second in the Northwest League. In 72 innings, Ramos struck-out 64 while walking only 18. He also impressed in two late-season starts with High-A Stockton, allowing five runs in 12 innings and striking out 11 against three walks. Ramos was an Arizona Rookie League post-season All-Star in 2008 when he had a 1.41 ERA in 51 innings. He was signed by the A's out of the Dominican Republic in February 2006.

Other Pitchers Considered: Paul Smyth, Connor Hoehn, Bo Schultz, Daniel Straily

If Ramos wasn't so impressive, Smyth would have walked away with the award. The reliever was nearly flawless with the Canadians, not allowing a run (earned or unearned) in 29.1 innings. He saved nine games and posted a 37:4 K:BB ratio while allowing only 12 hits. Smyth carried his scoreless streak to Kane County, where he finished the regular season with five more scoreless appearances for the Cougars (seven innings)…Hoehn took over as the C's closer when Smyth was promoted to Kane County. Hoehn, a hard-throwing right-hander, allowed only two earned runs in 18 innings and he saved seven games. He struck-out 25 and walked seven, while allowing only nine hits…Schultz, a non-drafted free agent out of Northwestern University in 2008, was a workhorse for Vancouver, appearing in 26 games out of the bullpen. In 44 innings, he had a 2.66 ERA and he allowed only 29 hits, while striking out 48 and walking 19. He also didn't allow a homerun…Straily finished second on the team with 66 strike-outs, which he netted in 59 innings. He also walked only 18 and was particularly strong in August, when he posted a 2.59 ERA and won three games in six starts (31.1 innings). He struck-out 39 and walked eight in August and was named the league's Pitcher of the Week for the final week of the season.

Arizona Athletics

The A's Rookie League team also struggled, finishing in last place in the AZL Eastern division with a 22-34 overall record. As with the Canadians, the A's Rookie League squad struggled at the plate. The A's finished last in the league in batting average, runs scored, slugging percentage and OPS. The A's pitching wasn't much better, posting a 5.10 ERA, second-worst in the league.

Player of the Year: Chris Affinito

Affinito was signed as an undrafted free agent in July after a distinguished career at Seton Hall University. The backstop quickly made a name for himself with the A's Rookie Ball team, batting .300 in 180 at-bats with a team-best five homers and 36 RBIs. His 823 OPS was also tops on the light-hitting AZL A's team. Affinito's fine season did not go unrewarded. He was invited to the A's Instructional League camp after the conclusion of the regular season.

Other Players Considered: Jeremy Wells, Gernaldo Castillo

Wells, a 36th round pick from Patten College in Oakland, was a sparkplug for the A's Rookie club. In 148 at-bats, he hit .291 with a .398 OBP and had an even 1:1 K:BB ratio. He collected only five extra-base hits (three were triples), but he stole a team-best 15 bases in 18 opportunities…Castillo was the Rookie A's everyday shortstop. The 20-year-old infielder posted only a .302 SLG, but he used 43 walks to get on-base at an impressive .408 clip. He also drove-in 20 runs, second-most on the team.

Pitcher of the Year: Argenis Paez

Paez, at 18 years old, was one of the youngest players on the AZL A's roster. Despite going 0-5, he was the team's most consistent pitcher, posting a 3.68 ERA in 51.1 innings. He made nine starts and six relief appearances for the A's, and he held AZL batters to a .235 BAA. He was particularly effective in August, when he had a 2.73 ERA and struck-out 22 while walking seven in 26.1 innings. Paez was signed by Oakland out of Venezuela before the 2008 season and appeared in 12 games for the A's DSL squad in 2008 and three more in 2009 before making his US debut this July with Arizona. He is currently working at the A's Instructional League camp.

Other Pitchers Considered: Chris Mederos

The AZL A's didn't have a lot of pitchers who compiled a lot of innings, so the candidates for this award were relatively limited. Mederos, the A's 25th round pick, didn't make his debut in Arizona until mid-July, but he made his 21 innings with the AZL A's count. The right-hander posted a 3-1 record and a 2.14 ERA in nine relief appearances and two starts. He allowed only 14 hits and two walks and he struck-out 26.

Dominican Summer League A's

Things weren't much better for the A's Dominican Summer League team. In past years, the A's had two DSL teams, but this year, the organization combined both teams into one squad. It didn't produce many wins, as the DSL A's finished the year with a 19-51 record. Offensively, the A's finished in the bottom third of the league in OPS and runs scored. The pitching staff was also near the bottom of the DSL in ERA.

Player of the Year: Reynaldo Mateo

Mateo, a 20-year-old catcher, ripped through the Dominican Summer League to the tune of a .364 average and a team-best 1042 OPS. He drove-in 21 runs, walked 18 times and collected 39 hits in 41 games. Mateo was particularly effective against left-handed pitching, batting .536 with a 1470 OPS. He was a DSL mid-season All-Star and by far the DSL A's most effective hitter.

Other Players Considered: Miguel Marte, Kelvin Rojas

Marte, another catcher, batted .304, good for second-best on the DSL A's. He also posted a .407 OBP, also second only to Mateo's .481 mark. Marte, who was 19 for most of the season, is in his second season in the A's organization…Besides Mateo, Rojas was the only DSL A's player with an OPS of 800 or better (Rojas had an 801 mark). He also led the team with five homers and was third on the club with 20 RBIs. The outfielder's .457 SLG was second-best to Mateo's .561 and, like Mateo, Rojas was a DSL mid-season All-Star.

Pitcher of the Year: Rene Merestil

Merestil suffered from his team's lack of an offense, posting only a 1-6 record. However, his record was not reflective of his performance, as he had a sterling 2.10 ERA in a team-high 60 innings. He also led the team in strike-outs with 58 and was particularly effective as a reliever, holding batters to a .151 average in 15.1 relief innings. The 22-year-old left-hander was a DSL mid-season All-Star in his second year in the A's organization.

Other Pitchers Considered: Andres Astacio, Luis Jose, Robinson De Los Santos

The 19-year-old Astacio was terrific before landing on the DL in late August. In 13 appearances (11 starts), Astacio posted a 3.65 ERA and struck-out 42 while walking only 13 in 56.2 innings. He did allow 68 hits, but only three left the ballpark…Jose was the DSL A's team-leader in ERA with a 1.93 mark in 21 relief appearances. The 22-year-old righty also led the team in wins (3) and saves (2). Jose walked 20 batters in 42 innings, but he held opposing hitters to a .189 average…De Los Santos finished third on the team behind Merestil and Astacio in strike-outs with 41, which came in only 34.1 innings pitched, all in relief. De Los Santos also had a 3.15 ERA and the 19-year-old held opposing batters to a .200 average. He converted from being a shortstop to pitching in 2009.

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