Biggest Surprise: Kyle Schmidt (6-8, 3.37 ERA, 131.0 IP, 145 K, 38 BB, 12 HR)
Although he was a bit old for the league at 23 years old, Schmidt nevertheless opened eyes with a good showing in his full-season debut. His arsenal isn't overwhelming; with an average fastball at 89-91 MPH and a nice curveball, but his command was way ahead of his largely younger competition. Schmidt was solid at Georgia Tech, but lasted to the 14th round of the 2004 draft when he had a disappointing junior season after transferring to South Florida. He'll have to keep proving himself at every level, but Schmidt is definitely proving to be worth watching.
Most Improved Pitcher: Bradley Bergesen (7-3, 2.19 ERA, 94.1 IP, 73 K, 17 BB, 3 HR)
Bergesen repeated at Delmarva this season but, at 21 years old, was perfectly age appropriate for the level. He had already displayed good command of his heavy low-90's fastball and plus changeup, but with some improvement on his slider, he was finally able to dominate at times. Bergesen earned a promotion to high-A Frederick for the second half of the year and will likely begin 2008 in the Keys' rotation.
Most Improved Position Player: Paul Winterling (29 G, 100 AB, .320/.397/.560, 5/5 SB)
A stocky right-handed hitter that is already 24 years old and spent most of his season in extended spring training, Winterling isn't going to be showing up on any top prospect lists. He lacks the athleticism of his fellow Delmarva outfielders and doesn't have a lot of projection left, but Winterling's season deserves some recognition. A local product out of D-III Johns Hopkins University, Winterling did well two years ago against younger competition in rookie ball, but he struggled last season in an organizational-filler role. Those within the organization praise Winterling more for his intangibles than anything else, but he used an advanced approach to make his power usable this season.
Best Shorebirds Pitcher: Wilfredo Perez (5-3, 1.67 ERA, 81.0 IP, 108 K, 28 BB, 3 HR)
Perez was confined to a swingman role this season after missing part of last year recovering from arm problems, but he was still at the head of a talented crop of Shorebirds pitchers. The skinny southpaw still has detractors that doubt his potential to hold up over a full season, but his effectiveness is unquestioned. With a three pitch arsenal that includes an 88-92 MPH fastball, Perez kept his ERA under 2.00 for every month this season. If his arm holds up, he could move fast in 2008.
Biggest Disappointment: Pedro Florimon (111 G, 371 AB, .197/.257/.272, 16/22 SB)
About the only positive thing that could be said about Florimon's season is that, at 20 years old, he is young enough to repeat the league. After showing advanced plate discipline in rookie ball last season, everything fell apart for the toolsy Dominican. He has the physical tools to stay at shortstop, but his 36 errors tend to come in bunches, leading to some skepticism about his makeup.
Most Valuable Shorebird: Brandon Tripp (104 G, 371 AB, .288/.377/.531, 7/8 SB)
Nicknamed "The Freak" for his athleticism during his college days, Tripp lasted until the 12th round because of his inconsistent production. He looks like a steal now, as the lefty-hitting outfielder made some minor adjustments in his swing and his raw power started showing up in games. Playing right field in deference to Daniel Figueroa, Tripp is actually capable of handling centerfield, and it's possible he'll get the opportunity in Frederick next year. At 22 years old, Tripp is a candidate for the fast track, as his numbers are even more impressive when you consider how pitcher-friendly Perdue Stadium is.
Billy Rowell: The gargantuan left-handed hitter was mildly disappointing, as his power remained more projection than production and he struggled to a .273/.335/.426 batting line after starting late due to an oblique strain. He has few believers in his ability to stick at third base, but if starts tapping into his potential as a hitter, it won't matter. Few doubt his work ethic or his baseball aptitude, so he's a good bet to improve in 2008.
Brandon Snyder: It was a tale of two seasons for Snyder; the former 1st round pick hit .312/.380/.474 in a tough hitting environment to salvage a disastrous start. With Matt Wieters in the fold, Snyder is unlikely to move back to catcher, but he has a better chance of handling third base than Billy Rowell.
Pedro Beato: The 20 year old put up a very middling overall line in his full season debut, but the reason was inconsistency. Beato had a handful of outings where he looked like his dominant self, but his control will have to improve if he wants to retain his top prospect status.
Michael Hollman is the Senior Writer for Inside The Warehouse and can be reached via e-mail at Publisher@InsideTheWarehouse.com