Level: The Midwest League is the first full season league and one of the more challenging to hitters because of the early cold weather. At this level, batters are still adjusting to wood bats and learning how to cover the plate. Pitchers with so-so “stuff” can succeed as long as they have decent fastball command and the ability to throw a second pitch.
Pitcher of the Year: RHP Dinelson Lamet 105.1 IP, 2.99 ERA, 120K, 44BB .214 AVG Against
There is literally no prospect in recent history who shares Lamet’s trajectory. He didn’t sign in the Dominican until he was almost 22 years old, and he arrived in the Midwest League with a resume that boasted all of four professional innings, all in the Dominican Summer League. Given that, it predictably took him a while to find his footing, especially since he was kept under five innings per start until June. But he was clearly the class of the staff by the end of the year. In the second half, Lamet drastically cut his walks and ERA even as he started working through lineups a third time in many games. He had the best strikeout rate, a strong walk rate, and opponents just didn’t make much solid contact against him.
Runner-Up: LHP Thomas Dorminy 141 IP, 2.94 ERA, 108K, 48BB, .238 AVG Against
The 23-year-old lefty was a cost-motivated 10th-round pick last summer, but he’s given the lower minors plenty of evidence of what he can do. Dorminy was a horse for the TinCaps staff, working a team-high 141 innings and posting an ERA that landed him just outside the Midwest League Top 10. A product of NAIA program Faulkner University, Dorminy surrendered only five homers all year, and was second on the club with 108 strikeouts.
Pitcher of the Year: RHP Dinelson Lamet
Lamet went from virtual unknown to one of the best starters in the Midwest League in the span of a few months. Usually when you hear “22-year-old Dominican in A-Ball,” it indicates a non-prospect. But with Lamet signing so late, it is almost unheard of how he has improved. Lamet did have his innings curbed at the end, pitching a combined six innings over the last 20 days of the season. Batters hit just .214 against him, and despite his low innings total, still managed to finish seventh in the league in strikeouts.
Runner-Up: LHP Thomas Dorminy
Colby Blueberg finishes in a close third after an unbelievable season, but as per usual the contributions of a starter far outweigh that of a reliever, even with a dominant season like Blueberg had. Dorminy led the team in starts and innings, he was second to Lamet on the team in strikeouts, second in wins, and first in ERA. Dorminy was the consistent starter throughout, and was one of the biggest reasons for the TinCaps’ turnaround. In the second half of the season, Dorminy went 6-2, 1.59 ERA, .210 BAA, 50 K in 73 innings.
Pitcher of the Year: RHP Dinelson Lamet
Lamet was the most dominant starting pitcher on a very good TinCaps staff. Lamet opened the season as a piggy-back starter, but eventually was stretched out as the season progressed. Lamet averaged more than a strikeout an inning, and had a 2.05 ERA in his final 14 starts, including a 19 inning scoreless streak in August. Lamet might be one of the best pitching prospects in the entire organization.
Runner-Up: LHP Thomas Dorminy
Dorminy was the horse of the Tincaps’ staff, as he paced the club in innings, with 141 innings. Dorminy was amazing in the second half of the season, and was a big part of the Tincaps’ run to the playoffs. Dorminy had a 1.59 ERA in 12 second-half starts and did not allow a homer in 73 second-half innings. Dorminy doesn’t have the stuff of Lamet, but has been a steady performer in his brief professional career.
Pitcher of the Year: LHP Thomas Dorminy The TInCaps were a much better team in the second half of the season than in the first and a big reason was the improvement of Dorminy. He posted a 4.41 ERA in 67.1 innings in the first half and cut it down to a 1.59 ER in 73.2 in the second. After mid-July he went at least six innings every outing and gave up 13 earned runs in his last 12 starts as the opposition only hit a feeble .210 against him. Dorminy, as much as anyone, was responsible for the TinCaps turning around their season.
Runner-Up: Colby Blueberg 4-1 58 IP 1.07 ERA 62K 15 BB .163 AVG Against
I like Lamet as a prospect as much as the others do, but I couldn’t get past the seasons that Dorminy and Blueberg put together. Colby led the organization in saves with 21, including four in which he went multiple innings. He gave up seven earned runs all year and only four after May. For Blueberg the two metrics that really stood out to me was 62 strikeouts in 58 innings pitched and allowing only 33 hits and 15 walks. A converted middle infielder from Nevada-Reno, Blueberg challenged every single hitter he faced in the Midwest League this summer.
Others of Note: Blueberg wasn’t the only stellar reliever at the back of the TinCaps bullpen. Both lefty Kyle McGrath and righty Jimmy Brasoban dominated throughout the year, posting ERAs of 1.70 and 2.26 respectively. McGrath had a ridiculous ratio of 79 strikeouts to only eight walks while Brasoban, now 21 years old, rode his terrific slider to 80 strikeouts and a .199 opponents’ average. Righty Chris Huffman didn’t arrive in Fort Wayne until mid-May, but wound up being a key component of the rotation. The 14th-rounder out of James Madison posted a 3.28 ERA and worked 107 innings across 18 starts and four relief appearances. Like Lamet, Ernesto Montas was 21 when he signed out of the Dominican in 2013, but he collected 124 innings over two years before coming stateside. More of a finesse arm, Montas put up a 3.50 ERA in 131 innings in his U.S. debut. Pete Kelich had Tommy John surgery in 2014 and didn’t make it back to the TinCaps until early August, but once he got there, the 24-year-old righty just kept doing his thing. Though he rarely reaches 90 with his fastball, the 2013 38th-rounder just gets guys out. He finished the year allowing one run on nine hits over 17 innings in his final three starts.
MadFriars’ 2015 Fort Wayne TinCaps Pitcher of the Year: Dinelson Lamet
Top Prospect: Dinelson Lamet
While Lamet’s history doesn’t look like that of a top prospect, most everything else does. He has physicality, a big fastball with strong secondaries, and he and Dorminy carried their team down the stretch. The organization was aggressive with his placement in Fort Wayne this year, and Lamet rose to the challenge. While he was barely game-ready in his first start (an outing when he walked two, hit a batter, committed a pair of balks, uncorked two wild pitches and allowed four stolen bases, including one of home, in just two innings), he learned very quickly on the job. Trying to project his development from here isn’t straight forward, but he checks all the boxes to become a strong big league starter.
Tomorrow we talk with TinCaps broadcasters Mike Maahs and Kevin Fitzgerald about the club.