Offensively, El Paso was a veteran team led by a talented trio of Alex Dickerson, Jake Goebbert and Rymer Liriano in the outfield along with Cody Decker, who led the organization in home runs for the second straight year, and catcher Rocky Gale, who continued to improveme.
In addition to the 23 players who appeared in both El Paso and San Diego, manager Pat Murphy - after four years in the Padres’ system and 21 as a college coach - replaced Buddy Black in San Diego. He was succeeded by Jamie Quirk rising from Double-A San Antonio.
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: Triple-A is a combination of development and a taxi squad for major league teams. At this level, many players are good enough to be in the major leagues but, thanks to roster configuration, organizational need, and perceived or real shortcomings, they are just waiting for their shot.
The Pacific Coast League features some of the more offense-inflating parks in affiliated ball, making it difficult to divine great meaning from many players’ stat lines on the circuit. While El Paso was not as bad for pitching as others in the PCL, notably Las Vegas and Colorado Springs, it is still very much a park where offense is served.
Player of the Year: OF Alex Dickerson .307/.374/.503
The former Poway High star who came over in the Jaff Decker trade with Pittsburgh in 2014 was one of the most consistent players in the PCL all year. He hit .293 in his worst month (May) and posted the best OPS numbers of any Chihuahua who played over 100 games. He was in the top five in the league in extra-base hits with 57 and at six-foot-three 235 pounds, was second in triples with nine.
Dickerson, 25, spent most of the year in left field, but does have the arm to play right and even a little first base. As Jamie Quirk noted, once Dickerson learns to pull the ball consistently he should be even better.
Runner-up: OF/1B Jake Goebbert .294/.392/.454
For the runner-up you can make a pretty good argument for Cody Decker, Rocky Gale or Rymer Liriano but in the end I took Goebbert because of his versatility and he had the best on-base percentage of any regular. The left-hander is better in the outfield corners but can also play first base and center field in a pinch. The statistics that stood out most to me were his 70 to 57 strikeout-to-walk ratio to go along with 33 extra-base hits.
Goebbert, 27, will be eligible for free agency this winter. Because he was not called up to the big club, expect to see him join the fourth organization of his career in 2016. There should be a place in the majors for a left-handed hitter with plate discipline with his defensive versatility.
Player of the Year: Alex Dickerson
Dickerson either led the team or was second in nearly every offensive category. He was the most consistent player on the team, and unlike other players he didn’t strike out 30 times a game. The surprising part of Dickerson’s game was his speed. Despite being 6’3” 230, Dickerson still led the team in triples with nine.
Runner-up: Rymer Liriano .292/.383/.460
Liriano led the team in in stolen bases, home runs, walks, and runs scored. He was also second on the team in RBI, hits, doubles, and extra base hits. Most people look at the year as a disappointment, as Liriano failed to make enough contact (132 strikeouts), and struggled with consistency (hitting .231 in July). Despite that, Liriano is still a top prospect, a plus defender, and has the chance to be a starter in the big leagues in 2016.
Player of the Year: OF Alex Dickerson
Dickerson had a monster year for the Chihuahuas and ranked in the top ten in the PCL in doubles and OPS in 2015. Dickerson never hit less than .293 in any month in 2015, and he showed the ability to hit lefties as well. He got a brief cup of coffee, but an injury limited his opportunities.
Runner-up: OF Rymer Liriano
Liriano had a solid, but not spectacular 2015 campaign. The outfielder had a useful .292/.383/.460, complete with 12 homers and 18 stolen bases. Liriano possesses some of the most intriguing tools in the system, but he will need to cut back on the strikeouts. Still, he could be a cheap solution to the Padres’ outfield puzzle in 2016.
Player of the Year: Alex Dickerson
Largely on the back of his team-best .503 slugging percentage, Dickerson paced the Chihuahuas with an .877 OPS. At 25-years-old, the former third-rounder has yet to hit 20 homers in a season, but his double and triple totals reflect on his ability to make consistent hard power. After the fluke injury that cost him most of 2014, this year’s bounce-back at Triple-A was important both to Dickerson and the organization.
Runner-up: Rymer Liriano
Liriano and Goebbert were separated by one point of OPS, but the 24-year-old from the Dominican put up those numbers in 130 more plate appearances and added more value in the field. Having already used up all three of his option years, it’s not clear what his role in the organization is going forward, but Liriano has top-end talent but has yet to put it all together in one season yet.
Others of Note:
Cody Decker, the powerful first-baseman/third-baseman/catcher/internet-meme-generator, paced the organization in homers for the second consecutive season with 21, but he did see his overall production backslide a bit from 2014 before finally getting a well-deserved call-up for the final few weeks of September. Jason Hagerty, who turned 28 a week after the minor league season ended, had a strong two-month run at the end of the year after struggling through the first half of the season in San Antonio. One of the few remaining players from the club’s 2009 draft class, Hagerty had 15 extra-base hits in 154 at-bats for El Paso. After scraping along with a .535 OPS in the Majors as a utility infielder for Milwaukee through much of the season, shortstop Hector Gomez signed as a free agent in early August and proceeded to hit like he never has before. The 27-year-old, who made his major league debut for the Rockies in 2011, hit a torrid .358/.400/.623 over 29 games, but he’s likely destined for another round of minor league free agency this winter.
2015MadFriars’ El Paso Chihuahuas’ Player of the Year: Alex Dickerson
Top Prospect: Alex Dickerson – John
He’s not the sexiest pick but Dickerson solid left-handed bat in what will probably still be a predominantly right-handed hitting lineup in 2016 should get a look. The Padres simply don’t have many options from the left side internally and the Poway High grad could slide into Justin Upton’s vacated position.
Top Prospect: Rymer Liriano – Ben, Kevin and David
Dickerson put up better numbers but the combination of Liriano’s tools and the possibility of losing him if he is not on the opening day big-league roster swayed the guys.