2012 TigsTown Awards: Prospects of the Year

After wrapping up the full season teams and awards, it's time to hand out the hardware to the player and pitcher that shined the most in 2012, as TigsTown names the 2012 Ryan DeWitt Minor League Player and Brian Bluhm Minor League Pitcher of the Year awards.

Ryan DeWitt Minor League Player of the Year
OF Avisail Garcia

Lakeland/Erie 481 .299 .333 .455 95 / 18 23 / 8

The Detroit Tigers have long been high on the abilities of Avisail Garcia, leaving fans wondering what they were missing when looking at his statistics in the minor leagues. After being pushed aggressively to the Midwest League at just 18-years old in 2009, Garcia showed marked improvement at the same level in 2010, before regressing after a promotion to High-A in 2011. He repeated Lakeland to start the 2012 season and looked like a completely different player. In 67 games for the Flying Tigers, the 21-year old Garcia hit .289 with eight doubles, five triples and eight home runs; earning a promotion to Double-A in the second half. Garcia took another step forward with Erie, posting a .312/.345/.465 line in 55 games that included nine more doubles, three more triples and six home runs. For the season, Garcia had amassed 17 doubles and 14 home runs to go along with 23 steals in 122 games. His banner campaign didn't stop there as he earned a shot in the big leagues down the stretch. Playing sparingly through the final weeks of the season, Garcia hit .319 with three runs batted in over 51 plate appearances. Making another 25 plate appearances in the playoffs, Garcia batted .261 with his first big-league extra base hit, a double in the American League Championship Series. In total, Garcia finally translated his impressive raw tools to on-field success in 2012 and Tiger fans should now understand what the Tigers saw when he debuted as a 17-year old in Venezuela in 2008.

Brian Bluhm Minor League Pitcher of the Year
RHP Bruce Rondon

Lklnd/Erie/Toledo 2-1 52 / 0 53.0 1.53 66 / 26 .172

Much like Garcia, Rondon debuted with the Venezuelan Summer League Tigers as a 17-year old in 2008, starting 13 games and posting a 3.58 ERA. That was essentially the last of Rondon as a starter in the minor leagues, and after a little hiccup in 2009, he has burned through the minor leagues and raced toward the cusp of the Major League roster. Rondon's 2.02 ERA with West Michigan in 2011 earned him a promotion to High-A Lakeland to start the 2012 season. After just 22 relief appearances and a 1.93 ERA, Rondon forced a promotion to Double-A. During his time in Lakeland he allowed only 12 hits and ten walks while striking out 34 in 23 1/3 innings of work. After his promotion to Erie, the hard-throwing (he consistently reaches triple digits with his fastball) Rondon somehow managed to improve his numbers. In 21 games for Erie, Rondon posted a microscopic 0.83 ERA by allowing just 15 hits and nine walks in 21 2/3 innings; this time striking out 23 batters. Rondon's season didn't end with Erie however, as he was promoted yet again, this time to Triple-A Toledo. In nine relief outings for the Hens, Rondon allowed just five hits and one walk in eight innings, fanning nine hitters. All told, Rondon finished the year with a 1.53 ERA, 32 hits and 26 walks allowed and 66 strikeouts in just 53 innings. Not only is Rondon squarely in the mix for a high-leverage bullpen spot with the 2013 Detroit Tigers, but General Manager Dave Dombrowski has publicly stated that the club considered calling Rondon up to the big leagues for the final month of the season. Rondon is the close of the future in Detroit, and given his 2012 season, the future might be right now.

In 2007, TigsTown named its annual awards after a pair of outstanding Tigers fans. You can read more about Ryan and Brian here: TigsTown Awards Named

Past Award Winners

2011: 3B Nick Castellanos, LHP Drew Smyly

2010: 3B Wade Gaynor, RHP Jacob Turner

2009: 2B Scott Sizemore, LHP Casey Crosby

2008: 1B Ryan Strieby, RHP Rick Porcello

2007: 1B Jeff Larish, LHP Duane Below

2006: OF Cameron Maybin, RHP Jair Jurrjens

2005: OF Brent Clevlen, RHP Justin Verlander

2004: OF Curtis Granderson, RHP Virgil Vasquez

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