However, there were some offensive standouts, most notably Cory Spangenberg, who has a shot at making the opening day lineup with the Padres in 2015 and Rymer Liriano, who is getting closer to filling his immense potential.
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: Double-A baseball is where the rubber meets the road and you find out who can really play. Anyone who succeeds at this level has the talent to play in the major leagues. Those who can replicate their top performances frequently and make adjustments effectively keep advancing from here.
As will be noted often in any discussion of the San Antonio club, Nelson Wolff Stadium’s swirling winds make it one of the more pitcher-friendly parks in professional baseball.
Player of the Year: 2B/CF/3B Cory Spangenberg .331/.365/.470
Spangenberg, 23, incurred a concussion sliding into third base on April 15 that kept him out of the lineup until July 2 - which is especially scary since the same type of injury cost him most of 2012 - when he was hit on the head by errant throw in pre-game.
However, when he did come back it appeared that he never left as hitting .385/.419/.533 in July.
He needs to improve his base stealing percentage with 14 stolen bases in 23 attempts but did lead the Texas League in triples with eight. Also this year Spangenberg saw extensive time in center field and at third base, where he played the majority of his time when he was called up to the big leagues.
He has a good chance to break with the big club next spring, probably at second as opposed to third when the team moves Jedd Gyorko over to his more natural position.
Runner-up: RF/CF Rymer Liriano .264/.335/.442 After sitting out all of last year recovering from Tommy John surgery, Liriano, 23, got off to a slow start in April but made up for it in May hitting .315/.391/.550 with seven home runs. He struggled in June but was heating up again in July before being promoted to El Paso where he destroyed the competition in his brief 16 game stint hitting .452/.521/.661 before getting the call to the big leagues.
Liriano finished third in the Texas League in slugging, which is impressive considering his home stadium is not a great place to hit to say the least. He led the team in home runs with 14 and RBI with 53 and showed an ability to play all three outfield positions.
Player of the Year: INF/OF Cory Spangenberg When Spangenberg came back after suffering yet another concussion no one really knew what to expect. He didn’t tear the cover off the ball in rehab, and no one knew if/when he would suffer another concussion that could end his season and possibly career. Instead he just came back and hit .343/.378/.494 while playing any position that was asked of him.
Padres’ fans are already seeing what he can do with his speed and versatility as he has probably already made a bigger name for himself than Liriano in his time with the big club in September.
Runner-up: OF Yeison Asencio .284/.323/.409
Asencio, 21, seems to always be forgotten. He was second on the team in extra-base hits with 34, third in home runs and second to Spangenberg in batting average. He also only a strikeout every eight at-bats, which is nearly unheard of.
Possibly, and most importantly, was that Asencio didn’t miss a game. Between AA and AAA Asencio appeared in 138 of a minor league clubs 141 games. In an age when a player goes down every other inning, it was really pleasant to see consistency. Also, he hit .333/.372/.568 in his 21 AAA games.
Others of note: The good news is that C Austin Hedges, 21, may have been better defensively the year than in his previous two professional seasons as he threw out thirty-eight percent of runners attempting to steal against him. Pitchers continued to rave about how much they loved to throw to him. All of this is great, but Austin also has to hit and didn’t do so this year at .225/.268/.321. Most people are willing to write this off as a bad season playing in a tough park. If he is moves up to AAA El Paso, as he should next year, he will likely put up much better numbers in a better offensive environment but his bat has to catch up with his glove. 1B/C Jason Hagerty, 26, was fifth in the league in on-base percentage at .368 but has a long slog ahead unless he can go back to catching more. A broken ankle costs RF Alex Dickerson, 24, most of his season but in 34 games he was impressive with a .321/.367/.496 slash line. Dickerson can also play first base and along with Jake Goebbert are the top left-handed power bats in the system.
2014 MadFriars’ San Antonio Missions Player of the Year: Cory Spangenberg
Top Prospect: Rymer Liriano Cory Spangenberg has a better chance of sticking on the opening day major league roster, but Liriano is truly a rare talent. As with Hunter Renfroe in Lake Elsinore, both of these players are the rare five-tool outfielders that have been so difficult for the Padres to develop in years past.
Liriano is not a finished product, and there is a good chance he will begin the year in AAA El Paso, but he’s close. Rymer can play all three outfield positions, run, hit and hit with power. The progress that he made after sitting out a full year with injury has been remarkable and with another half-season in the minors under his belt he should be prepared to embark on the final phase of his development in the major leagues.