Position Player of the Year - 3B Clayton Conner
The easiest thing for us to do would be to make shortstop Mark Hallberg and third baseman Clayton Conner co-Position Players of the Year. We've never been ones to take the easy way out, however.
Mark Hallberg wasn't supposed to be a great offensive player. Sure, he hit .360 at Florida State this year, but with limited power and a slight frame. He told us that he was a defensively-minded shortstop, and we believed him.
We won't make that mistake again. Hallberg batted .313, slugged .464, and stole 12 bases in 13 attempts. The 9th-round draft pick had a 17-game hitting streak in July during which he batted .463 before tiring a bit at the end of the year. His defense at shortstop wasn't a disappointment, either.
Clayton Conner wasn't on anyone's radar; he was signed as an undrafted free agent this season. That makes what he did even more impressive than the shortstop's unexpected performance.
And there's no denying that Conner had the better offensive season with the Bears. The third baseman belted 50% more homers and 41% more RBI than the next highest Bear, and he had a higher slugging percentage than anyone else in the Northwest League. Those numbers are even more impressive when you consider that he spent the final few weeks of the season in South Bend.
Conner did struggle at the higher level, at least until he belted a home run against Dayton in the Midwest League playoffs. His performance at Yakima was outstanding enough to land him Northwest League All-Star honors, and terrific enough to win him FutureBacks.com's Position Player of the Year for Yakima.
Pitcher of the Year - RHP Josh Collmenter
Again, consideration for the award came between two players: 25th-round pick William Spottiswood and 15th-round selection Josh Collmenter.
Spottiswood saved 10 games in 10 chances for Yakima by posting a sparkling 2.49 ERA and walking just eight batters in over 43 innings. The Hawaii native could get batters out via ground balls (3:1 GB/FB ratio) or with a punchout (45 - more than one per inning).
Collmenter, however, led all qualified pitchers in the Northwest League with a 2.71 ERA. At 6-3, he was the only Yakima pitcher more than one game over .500. This big right-hander did not allow more than three runs in any his twelve starts, and never failed to throw five innings in his final ten.
As if being a consistent workhorse weren't enough to win Collmenter our award, check out these clutch stats that he managed:
|Runners On/2 Outs||46||.109||.163||.130|
Even when hitters reached base against Collmenter, they rarely went anywhere. Collmenter himself, on the other hand, looks as though he is definitely going places.