Down the stretch the team showed some character, winning six of their last seven to qualify for the playoffs.They rallied to win their first-round playoff series, but were eliminated in the semi-finals. The starting pitching isn’t what is was last year, but they did have a better bullpen than last season and Kyle Lloyd emerged as a true breakout season.
Approach: We use a simple formula for the awards. A player is eligible with whichever team he appeared for the most. For the top prospect, we take into account not just what the player did this year, but his age and potential impact in the major leagues.
Level: The Midwest League is the first stop in full-season ball. Rosters are a mix of first-time professionals and players with a few years of professional experience. With nasty cold in April and oppressive humidity in the summer, the elements make it a tough environment, especially for young hitters.
Pitcher of the Year: RHP/SP Kyle Lloyd 6-5 3.61 ERA
Lloyd, a late round draft pick in 2013 that didn’t make the team out of spring training, was the best pitcher on the staff by far. He led the team in innings pitched with 119.2 and struck out 155 to lead the team, the Midwest League and the organization against 34 walks.
Lloyd, 23, is good size at six-foot-four inches and least 230 lbs. and relies on a splitter to get ahead of batters. He was particularly effective in August with 45 strikeouts in 31 innings against nine walks for a 2.03 ERA.
Runner-Up: RHP/RP Tayron Guerrero 6-1 1.00 ERA
Guerrero, 23, was promoted in mid-June to Lake Elsinore on the basis of some really good numbers in the Summit City. He held the opposition to a .169 batting average and struck out 42 batters in 36 innings against only 12 walks and 22 hits. The six-foot-nine, 190 lbs. Dominican looks like a mad stork when releasing his upper 90s fastball and showed considerable improvement in his command this season.
Pitcher of the Year: RHP Kyle Lloyd
TinCaps’ manager Michael Collins was asked who he would want to give the ball to in a deciding playoff game. Without a doubt he confidentially said “Kyle Lloyd.” Lloyd, who didn’t even start the season in the rotation, was untouchable the second half of the season. In August he allowed just seven runs in six starts.
Runner-Up: RHP Tayron Guerrero
John summed it up pretty well. There was a reason why he was a Futures Game selection, and looked good in the game as well. Guerrero throws gas and if/when he is healthy he shows why he is one of the most dominant relievers in all of the minors.
Others of Note: RHP/SP Ronald Herrera, 19, came over in the Kyle Blanks trade and showed a capacity to eat innings and had some good numbers in a few months finishing off with a 4.26 ERA, but needs to miss a few more bats. RHP/Closer Nick Mutz, 23, was really rolling along until a mid-season call-up to Lake Elsinore appeared to mess him up. He did rebound in August but lost his closer’s job to Ryan Butler, 22. Butler, a seventh round draft pick out of UNC-Charlotte this year, was electric in his short time with the TinCaps. He had a 0.83 ERA, struck out 30 in 21.2 innings against only 17 hits and six walks. Oh yeah, he consistently throws in the high 90s. Look for him to move up quickly if he stays in relief. RHP/RP Eric Yardley, 23, was also very good coming out of the pen logging 58 innings for a 2.95 ERA. Finally, RHP Cody Hebner, 23, was sent down from LE to become a starter again and showed some promise despite a 4.64 ERA. Key in on Hebner’s peripheral numbers of 46 strikeouts in 42.2 innings against only 14 walks. If his fastball command picks up he could be a sleeper.
MadFriars’ 2014 MWL Pitcher of the Year: Kyle Lloyd
Top Prospect: Ryan Butler. Lloyd has more value as a starter but his heavy reliance on his splitter could be a little scary for the health of his arm no matter how big he is. Butler, who also has good size at six-foot-four, 225 lbs., has the big fastball and command baseball people want to see in a relief pitcher. With some luck Butler or fellow 2014 draftee Zech Lemond should be in San Diego first of this years’ class if he stays in the pen.
If San Diego opts to make him a starter based on how well his secondary pitches are coming along they may have an Andrew Cashner type pitcher.
Either way, it is a very nice problem to have.