2011 Cards Minors Rookie Starter of the Year

Seth Maness selected as The Cardinal Nation/Scout.com's top first-year starting pitcher in the St. Louis Cardinals minor league system.

Right-hander Seth Maness was the St. Louis Cardinals' 11th round selection in the June 2011 First-Year Player Draft. Despite being their fourth hurler taken, he became the organization's most-traveled newly-signed player this season. Maness also was the system's best first-year starting pitcher in our view.

The 22-year-old, now 23, had pitched for East Carolina this spring and picked up his fourth consecutive Conference USA first-team berth. During the summer, he went on to wear the uniforms of three different Cardinals minor league clubs before heading home for the winter.

The reason for the moves was a good one – solid performance on the mound.

His manager at his first stop, the Batavia Muckdogs, Dann Bilardello, explained why Maness was so successful in the New York-Penn League.

"Maness is a strike thrower and was able to use his secondary pitches behind in the count for strikes," the manager noted. "That enabled Seth to create strikeouts and kept the hitters guessing."

Bilardello didn't get to enjoy Maness long. Right after he threw a scoreless inning in the August 16 NYPL All-Star Game, Maness was promoted to A-Advanced Palm Beach. With Batavia, he had appeared in ten games, including seven starts. Despite a 0.91 ERA, he had a 0-1 record.

"Every time out, Seth gave us a chance to win," Bilardello said. "His record did not reflect they way he pitched, but his numbers sure did."

Maness fanned 31 and walked just three in 39 2/3 Batavia innings. His ground out to fly out ratio was 4.56:1 and he limited NYPL batters to a collective .185 average.

In just ten days in the Florida State League, he was called upon three times in relief by Palm Beach manager Luis Aguayo. Maness pitched scoreless ball in two of three outings, including picking up his first professional win. Overall, he allowed four runs in 8 1/3 FSL innings, fanning eight and walking just two.

His next stop was the playoff-bound Quad Cities River Bandits of the Class-A Midwest League. Maness appeared in two regular season games, yielding just one run in five innings. He fanned three and walked none.

In 53 regular-season innings across the three levels, Maness struck out 42 and walked just five while holding opposing batters to a collective .194 average. His ERA was 1.53 and he induced over three ground ball outs for every fly ball out.

Congratulations to Seth Maness, The Cardinal Nation/Scout.com Minor League Rookie Starting Pitcher of the Year for 2011. Earlier, he was named our Batavia Starting Pitcher of the Year as well.

Note: Link to article with links to all articles about previous award winners across the system club by club, schedule for upcoming announcements as well as 2011 team recaps, much of it exclusively for The Cardinal Nation subscribers. Not yet a subscriber? Join now!

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnationblog.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Look for his weekly minor league column on Thursdays at FOXSportsMidwest.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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