Postseason Awards: Everett AquaSox

Continuing our recap of the 2008 minor league season, we look today at the Everett AquaSox of the short-season Northwest League. The Frogs finished last in the division, but there are some talented players who should be moving up through the organization next year. Read on to find out who they are.

With the 2008 season at an end, we're spending a few days handing out some postseason accolades. We started at the top (Tacoma) and are move downward through the system. Today, the Everett AquaSox .

The AquaSox finished in last place in the Northwest League's West Division, with a record of 32-44. The team could never get much forward momentum going this year. They did have a seven-game winning streak in early August, but never really threatened for the division title, even though they finished just eight games out of first.

Everett AquaSox (32-44, 4th in Northwest League West)

Offensive MVP: Tyson Gillies, OF

Gillies was able to do something that many low-level minor leaguers are not able to do --- draw walks and get on base. Tyson ranked second in the entire league with a .439 on-base percentage, and fifth with an .866 OPS. While Gillies didn't have a whole lot of home-run power (he hit just two), he used his speed to tie for the league lead in triples with five. He also stole 22 bases, which was good for second in the league behind teammate Nate Tenbrink. His .313 batting average ranked fifth in the league. At just 19 years of age, Gillies looks ready to be a contributor for Wisconsin next year.

Starting Pitching MVP: Bobby LaFromboise

Starting pitching was not a particular strength for the Sox this season, but the most consistent performer was probably the 6'4" lefty out of the University of New Mexico. He allowed just about a hit an inning in posting a 3.46 ERA over 41 2/3 innings. He walked only 12 batters while striking out 35. This year's eighth-round draft pick is probably headed to the Timber Rattlers next season, and perhaps beyond if he finds success there. At 22, LaFromboise is at an age that will earn his aggressive promotion if he performs.

Relief Pitching MVP: Matt Renfree

Renfree dominated in the months of July and August, when he allowed just five earned runs over a stretch of 32 2/3 innings. He gave up only 20 hits during that span, and only 34 in 44 2/3 innings on the season. His 2.42 ERA was the best on the team, and he also collected a team-high seven saves. He struck out more than a batter per inning and led the team with a 1.16 WHIP.

Most Pleasant Surprise: Travis Howell, C

Howell was the M's 18th-round pick this year, but he showed good plate discipline and gap power. He was second on the team with 12 doubles despite getting only 163 at-bats. He also was second on the team with a .395 on-base percentage. Howell will be looked to in the future as a source of power, but he did only hit two home runs. Already 23 years old and playing a position at which the organization is very deep, Howell faces long odds but he seems to have potential.

Biggest Disappointment: Nate Tenbrink, 3B

Tenbrink was the seventh-round choice of the Mariners in the 2008 draft, and expected to be one of the centerpieces of the Everett club, but he never really got going. He did lead the team with 38 walks, and the 15 he had in August kept him from becoming a huge liability. He batted just .135 (7-for-52) in the month, and .198 for the season. He drove in only 21 runs in 61 games and made 17 errors at third base. A star at Kansas State, the M's had hoped that Tenbrink would be a little further along and perhaps ready for a promotion mid-season. He's still 21 years old, so there's time, but it's unclear whether Tenbrink will be up at Wisconsin next year or if he'll repeat in Everett. One positive for Nate was his speed --- he led the Northwest League with 24 steals.

Incomplete Grade: Dennis Raben, OF/1B

Raben, the organization's second-round pick out of the U of Miami, dominated out of the gate when he was signed in early July. It looked like he was headed for a quick promotion, but then his season was derailed by a lingering hand injury that kept him out of the lineup for several stretches. He limped home, hitting just .130 (3-for-23) in limited action in August. But in 27 games, he still posted a .956 OPS, hitting five homers and doubling 11 times in only 91 at-bats. A healthy Raben is probably too good for this league, and he should begin next season perhaps at the A+ level.


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