Postseason Awards: Tacoma Rainiers

With the minor-league season coming to a close, we hand out a few postseason awards to the team MVPs, and biggest surprises (and disappointments) in the M's system. Today's team is the AAA Tacoma Rainiers.

With the 2008 season at an end, we'll spend a few days handing out some postseason accolades. We'll start at the top (Tacoma) and move downward through the system. Today, the Tacoma Rainiers.

Tacoma Rainiers (80-64, 2nd in PCL Pacific North)

Offensive MVP: Prentice Redman, OF

At 29 years of age, Redman started the season at AA and clearly is not considered the future of the franchise. Yet, by all objective measures, Redman was the best the Rainiers had to offer this season. Now, had Jeff Clement or Wladimir Balentien played full seasons with the team, they likely would have been battling for this award. But looking at players that spent the bulk of the season with the Rainiers, Redman stands out for what he brought to the table offensively. Among Rainiers with more than 300 plate appearances, Redman led the team in OBP (.388) and SLG (.571). He hit 19 home runs, drove in 51 runs, and scored 73 times. Translated to a full 162 game schedule, Redman was on pace to exceed 35 homers, 40 doubles, 100 RBI, and 130 runs scored.

Pitching MVP: Ryan Feierabend

Due to injury, Feierabend only made 13 starts for the Rainiers, but his results were excellent. His somewhat low strikeout rate (48 in 75 innings) was offset by a miniscule WHIP (1.05). This led to a 7-1 record and 2.04 ERA. No other Rainier who made as many starts had an ERA of lower than 4.75.

Most Pleasant Surprise, Offensive: Tug Hulett, 2B-SS

Hulett had a solid but unspectacular season with the Rangers' AAA team last season and was sent to the M's in the Ben Broussard trade. The way he started out this season, it looked like the trade was a disaster. In April, Hulett hit .122 (5-for-41) with no homers and no RBI. He was in danger of losing his starting job. But as soon as the calendar hit May, Tug warmed up and never looked back. He peaked in July, when he hit .364 with eight homers and an 1.160 OPS in 23 games. The 25-year-old Auburn alum is younger than Yuniesky Betancourt and brings more power and the ability to get on base (he had a .380 OBP with the Rainiers this year).

Most Pleasant Surprise, Pitching: Chris Jakubauskas

It would've been interesting to see how much of a breakout season it could've been for Jakubauskas had he not gotten hurt and missed nearly two months. He was throwing in an independent league last year, and at 29, may have given up on any big-league dreams. But all he did this season was post a 0.83 ERA in six starts at AA West Tenn. That earned him a trip to Tacoma, where he went 5-1 with a 2.59 ERA in 12 appearances (nine of them starts). He had a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 48/14 in 55 2/3 innings with the Rainiers.

Biggest Disappointment, Offensive: Charlton Jimerson, OF

Jimerson actually started the season on the major-league roster, but was sent down soon after. He was so bad in his stint with the Rainiers (and so badly outplayed by Prentice Redman) that he was cut from the team in mid-July. By all accounts, Jimerson is a great guy, so it's too bad it didn't work out for him. But the team couldn't continue to put him in the lineup. In 55 games, Jimerson batted .233 with a horrific .250 on-base percentage, courtesy of just three walks in well over 200 plate appearances. He did hit 11 home runs, but struck out 80 times (nearly 40% of his plate appearances). At 29, it's unclear where his next opportunity will come from. Jimerson was the 2001 College World Series MVP with Miami.

Biggest Disappointment, Pitching: Joseph Woerman

Woerman had a nice season in AA last year and looked ready to parlay that into AAA success, but it never happened for the big 25-year-old righty. The Rainiers gave Woerman 16 starts before finally shipping him back to West Tenn to work out his issues. In 88 innings, he walked 69 batters and struck out only 54. His 7.47 ERA and 2.00 WHIP were by far the worst on the starting staff. He fared better in an August return to AA, but now enters next season as a giant question mark.

Unsung Hero: Rob Johnson, C

Johnson gets little attention because he plays the same position as super-prospect Jeff Clement, but he ran with the opportunity to be a team leader when Clement got the call to the Mariners for good. Johnson put up solid numbers for a catcher (.305/.363/.441) and got himself a call-up to the Mariners (he started yesterday's game in fact). He played more games for the Rainiers this year (112) than any other player, despite being a catcher. He hit nine home runs, drove in 49 runs, and was second on the team with 127 hits and 30 doubles. If the M's decide to carry a third catcher again next season, perhaps Johnson has earned that role.


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