Even with the results from the above, it was the leadoff man that made the Cardinals' offense go. I am proud to name Adron Chambers as our 2009 Palm Beach Player of the Year.
The former highly-recruited football player enjoyed a breakout season during the 2009 campaign. Widely-regarded as a superb athlete, Chambers' potential finally translated to results on the field.
The now 23-year-old hit .283/.370/.400 while stealing 21 bases in 33 attempts. Chambers led the league with an amazing 16 triples while finishing fifth in on base percentage, seventh in hits, and eleventh in batting average.
Chambers led the Cardinals in hits, triples, runs, total bases, steals, walks, OBP, and OPS. Also, he finished second on the team in RBIs with 46.
Not to be forgotten is his play in the field. Chambers played an above-average defensive centerfield, covering lots of ground in the spacious Roger Dean Stadium outfield.
This after a 2008 season in which he hit .238/.322/.345 at the Quad Cities.
Recently, Chambers was kind enough to take time out of his schedule to share his thoughts on his breakout performance.
Dustin Mattison: First off, congratulations on being named the 2009 Palm Beach Player of the Year.
Adron Chambers: I am honored to be recognized as the Player of The Year at Scout.com.
DM: You really seemed to put it all together this season. What was the difference in this season and last?
AC: My preparation and work ethic has become very important in how I train. I want it more. I created better changes physically by getting up early, hitting the batting cages, and working smarter in the weight room. I'm more focused and have concentrated on a speed and agility running program. I know I am more physically fit than last year and stats can show that. I hit .238 last year and this year I hit .283. With all of the additional training work, my endurance improved, taking me through 142 games. I also signed with Axios Sports Management out of Fort Myers, FL and I speak with my agent, Chris McGill, just about every other day. He gives me the support I need and honest guidance as needed. He's got my back!
DM: Can you give me a scouting report on Adron Chambers?
AC: I think of myself as "The Roadrunner". Coaches want me on base all the time, which makes it harder for the defense to plan and make sound decisions, I keep them thinking. I keep a controlled high energy level and I'm the type of player that would stretch a double into a triple.
DM: What are your off-season plans?
AC: To continue my preparation and fitness program. I'm working out daily with my uncle, top boxing trainer L. Roy Jones, who happens to be Roy Jones Jr.'s trainer. Getting to cross train like a boxer has improved my cardio, quickness, mental awareness, and core strength. It motivated me to eat differently and look forward to working out. I'm looking forward to the results and how it affects my baseball.
DM: What are you planning on working on this winter?
AC: I am working on my base stealing technique and on paying attention to details. As a student of the game, I hope to increase my ability to become a five-tool player. Also, I am working on understanding situational play.
DM: Do you miss football?
AC: With my dual athletic abilities, I still throw the football to strengthen my arm. All the (football) drills kept me quick on my feet. The discipline of being a football player prepared my body and mind for the long baseball season. Football makes you mentally and physically tough to keep going when you think you can't anymore, which happens when you play baseball everyday. I intend to be that special player and pinpoint things using my football experience. Sure I miss playing football in front of 70,000 screaming fans, it always gave me an adrenaline rush. I know now I have the mental toughness to survive a full season of baseball.
DM: What should Cardinals fans know about you that they probably don't already know?
AC: I was invited to play in the Columbian Winter League this fall. I am excited to have the opportunity to play baseball during the off-season and the opportunity to hone my skills and just get better. I'm really honored. On a personal note: I'm not superstitious but when I played Little League, I had a new coach named Billy. On the first day, he showed me how to hit the ball a new way and I've not changed my swing since that practice. When I graduated high school, Coach Billy gave me a silver money clip with the initials AD (nickname). It stays in the box, and wherever I go, it comes with me in the box. It's very special to me. I think of how much Coach Billy must believe in me and how far I've come in baseball.
I thank Adron for his time and, once again, congratulate him on his successful 2009 season.
Curt Smith had a solid year at the plate, leading the Cardinals in the Triple Crown categories. Smith finished the season with a .286 average to go with 10 home runs and 56 RBIs. Along the way, he put up a .308/.357/.462 line at Double-A Springfield.
Before being promoted to Double-A and later moving to Oakland in the Matt Holliday trade, Shane Peterson was establishing himself as one of the top bats in the Florida State League. The former Long Beach State Dirtbag put up a slash line of .298/.367/.428 in 76 games for Palm Beach. He was successful on the base paths as well, with 10 steals in 11 attempts.
Aaron Luna was enjoying a solid first full season of professional baseball before being promoted to Springfield. The product of Rice was reaching base at a .374 clip and had posted a fine OPS of .858. In 54 games, he had eight home runs and 90 total bases.
After a fantastic stretch at the Quad Cities, Charles Cutler continued to get on base in Florida State League action. The former California standout reached base at a .406 clip and drew more walks, 25, than strikeouts, 22.
Chris Swauger really struggled after getting promoted to Palm Beach but turned things around to put together a fantastic August. During the dog days, he hit .393/.415/.539 with 11 doubles. His fantastic month would give him claim to the team lead in doubles with 19.
Note: To follow our entire series of Players of the Year at each level of the St. Louis Cardinals minor league system, check back here at The Cardinal Nation daily. To see the roster of winners and article schedule, click here.
Dustin can be contacted at email@example.com.
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