Pulaski Blue Jays: Offensive Player of Year

With the minor league season having concluded it is time for the end of the year awards. InsideTheDome will reveal two awards per each minor league team. The Most Valuable Hitter, and the Most Valuable Pitcher. Those awards will be followed by the grandest of all, the 2005 Minor League Offensive Player of the Year, and the 2005 Minor League Pitcher of the Year. The first award which ITD will hand out will go to the Most Valuable Hitter of the Pulaski Blue Jays.

Pulaski finished the season 34-33 and 13 games behind first place in their division. Despite not making the playoffs the team features some solid offensive players. Paul Franko, a non-drafted free agent was outstanding for Pulaski with 8 home runs, 44 runs batted in and hit .301 in 49 games. Zach Kalter led Pulaski at the top of the order with 49 runs scored and a team high 45 walks. His .402 OBP was the best on the club, and exactly what the Blue Jays front office wants to see. Although the Jays rarely draft high school players in the draft, they took one early on this season in Wesley Stone. The second baseman had a good professional debut as he scored 23 times in 43 games and hit .272 while walking 22 times for a OBP of .358. With the high's come the lows.

One player that had a disappointing season was Leance Soto, the infielder the Jays signed out of Latin America this past winter. Soto played in 42 games and hit just .153 with 4 home runs and 10 RBI.

Although Franko, Stone and Kalter had solid seasons, they were outdone by another 2005 draft selection, which clearly deserves the 2005 Pulaski Blue Jays Offensive Player of the Year Award. That player is none other than Jacob Butler.

Butler played in 55 games with Pulaski and hit .290 with 14 home runs and 52 RBI. Butler exploded during his last 20 games with the club and proved his slow start was nothing other than a fluke. Over his last 20 games he hit .342 with six home runs and 23 runs batted in. He hit eight doubles during that span and scored 21 times in 20 games. The right-hander hit both type of pitchers well. Against southpaws he had a .314 average with 3 home runs in 51 at bats. Against right-hand pitchers, he hit .282 with 11 home runs and 40 RBI. The bottom line was that Butler was tremendously clutch in his first professional season. With runners in scoring position he hit .324 with six home runs and 40 RBI. The outfielder hit ten of his fourteen home runs with runners on base, leading to forty-eight of hit RBI.

Butler was given a promotion to the NY-Penn League as the Pulaski season was winding down, and he was a big force in their lineup late in the season. Butler will be one of seven outfielders that the Jays invited to their Instructional League, which begins next week. Instructs is the mini-camp which features some of the top prospects in the organization.

ITD will attempt to catch up with Jacob in the near future and talk with him about his outstanding professional debut. If you would like to submit a question to Jacob please contact the site.

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