Overview : We used a simple formula for the awards. Whichever team the player appeared for most is where he is eligible. For the top prospect, we took into account not just what the player did this year, but his age and potential impact in the major leagues.
Level : The Northwest League has existed in various forms since 1901. It features a mix of college talent acquired in the current draft, as well as high school and Latin American prospects who worked their way up from rookie ball. Pitchers are generally ahead of hitters in this circuit since the batters must transition from metal bats to wood. Players rarely go straight from the high school ranks to this level, with most having some experience in either the Arizona League or in college.
Next year the Padres’ short-season affiliate will be located at Tri-City (“Tri-City” are three cities in southeastern Washington; Pasco, Kennewick and Richland). as the Ems elected to go with the Cubs over the Padres.
Player of the Year: 1B Marcus Davis .322/.411/.537
Davis,22, had a monster first two months until a hamstring injury slowed him down in mid-August. The Florida State alum came back for his second year in the Emerald City after hitting .176/.252/.213 in 2013 and was very good. He finished in the top five in the league for batting average, on-base percentage and extra-base hits and led everyone in slugging percentage.
He will be the opening day first baseman for an organization that is short on left-handed power hitters. Davis has a very balanced approach and is adept at hitting the ball the other way with power, always a good sign in a young hitter.
Runner-Up: CF Auston Bousfield .301/.402/.512
After a slow start, Bousfield, 20, came on with a big August hitting .349/.440/.570 to finish off a strong debut season. The fifth round pick from Ole Miss is a solid centerfielder, whom in his words, “kind of does a lot of things well.” He stole 12 bases in 16 attempts and may even have an outside shot of being sent to High-A Lake Elsinore to begin 2015.
Player of the Year: 1B Marcus Davis
An MVP is a player who changes the entire teams’ dynamic just by being in the lineup. For the Ems that was Marcus Davis. When Davis was healthy he was nearly unstoppable and more impressively the rest of the lineup seemed to improve around him. He was hitting .342/.432/.582 before ending the season in a 6-30 slump.
Runner-Up: CF Austin Bousfield
By the time Bousfield reached Eugene, the NWL season was already well underway. Not because of a contract dispute, but rather because he was leading Ole Miss to a deep run in the College World Series. He had a strong August, and as John wrote above, did everything well. He hit for power, walked, stole bases, and didn’t strike out too much. If Bousfield goes to Fort Wayne next year it will be interesting to see if he starts in center field over Michael Gettys.
Others of Note : Franchy Cordero,19, rebounded from a tough April in Fort Wayne with the bat to hit .279/.329/.458 but also made 34 errors in 36 games at shortstop. The Padres claim he has the tools to be successful there and don’t appear to be backing down in their belief. OF Nick Torres,21, was considered coming out of the draft as having the best bat, but nagging injuries seemed to slow him down as he hit .254/.292/.373. He fared better against left-handed pitching at .293/.341/.463. OF Yale Rosen, 21, will have to battle his way onto what should be a crowded outfield in Fort Wayne but showed some promise at .247/.350/.441 but had a .920 OPS in August. 2B/SS River Stevens,22, bounced around a lot but provided some stability for the Ems infield hitting .267/.340/.314. Stevens was out all of last year and look for some better numbers out of him in 2015.
MadFriars’ 2014 Eugene Emeralds Player of the Year: Marcus Davis
Top Prospect: Auston Bousfield Davis, despite a big year with the bat, faces a tough road as a first baseman/corner outfielder where the hit tool has to be off the charts to move up. Cordero, our pick as the top prospect in the Arizona League in 2013, value is wrapped up in being a shortstop and until he proves he can play there defensively is going to have a tough time moving forward. Bousfield has a nice all-around game and advanced feel that should allow him to perform.
He could use a little more size and power but right now you could probably plug him in at about any level and he could play.
Top Prospect: Franchy Cordero There was a good reason why he was the most talked about Padre prospect last offseason. Despite the errors, the Padres believe that he will turn into an above average shortstop with the glove. With the bat he has speed, power, and can hit the ball to all fields. While many people will look to his struggles in Fort Wayne as a reason to knock Cordero out of the Top 20 prospects, it should be noted that April in Fort Wayne is a culture shock for many especially thoughts who have never been any place other than the Dominican Republic and Peoria, Arizona. If and when Cordero can ever get his defense under control he could be a force to be reckoned with in the future.
Tomorrow we take a look at some of the top arms for San Diego in the Northwest League this past season.