Eugene Emeralds Hitter of the Year

Summary: Eugene tied Salem-Keizer for the best record in the Northwest League but lost the tiebreaker and did not go to the playoffs. They won six more games than the year before, ending the year with a 40-36 mark.

Eight different players had five or more homers, as the team finished first in the Northwest League in homers, hitting 17 more than the closest competition, first in walks (384) by a wide margin, and second in batting average and runs scored.

The 21 runs they scored against Salem-Keizer on August 27 was the top mark in the league this season but the team actually hit two points lower than they managed last season, .270 to .272.

Overview: We used a simple formula for the awards, whichever team the player appeared at the most determined their eligibility. For the top prospect we took into account not only what the players did this year, but their age and potential to get better.

Savage Sub-Rosa

Hitter of the Year: Dan Robertson
Outfielder - .377/.443/.497

Runner-Up: Sawyer Carroll
Outfielder - .299/.403/.548

Robertson began hitting on the second day of the season and didn't stop until the end, netting a 30-game on-base streak from July 28 through August 29 that saw him hit .389 with a .456 on-base percentage. In 73 games, Robertson had 37 multi-hit games, as he led the league in hits, batting average (.377), on-base percentage (.443), and runs scored (59), placing second in RBIs (45), third in stolen bases (20) and doubles (21) and fifth in slugging (.497).

League MVP. New Northwest League record with 114 hits – breaking a record that stood since 1972. There was little that Robertson didn't do. A hard-nosed grinder that plays great defense and gets his jersey dirty, Robertson has a clean approach and swift, compact stroke that lends well to hitting the gaps with regularity. More importantly, he hits his pitch with authority and has plate awareness that allows him to wait for one he can drive.

Before he was promoted to Fort Wayne, Carroll was leading the league in extra base hits with 25, and slugging percentage (.548) while sitting second in home runs (8). He still managed to adorn the leaderboard at the end of the year despite playing in as many as 25 games fewer than the competition. Carroll had a 26-game on-base streak from June 17 through July 19 – a span that saw him drive in 25 and score 20.

Carroll is a powerfully built man that still has room to grow. Despite working on getting a better load in his swing and tinkering with his mechanics, the outfielder has the ability to put solid wood to the ball and drive it into the gaps consistently. He also thrived with men on base, knowing the pitcher had to give him something to hit and waiting for that offering.

Conniff Confidential

Hitter of the Year: Dan Robertson
Outfielder - .377/.443/.497

Runner-Up: Sawyer Carroll
Outfielder - .299/.403/.548

There are not many more superlatives to add on Robertson. An undersized 33rd-round pick out of Oregon State, he didn't even merit a profile in draft databases and still outshined everyone in the Northwest League this year.

Before everyone starts seeing him as a scrappy David Eckstein clone, it's important to remember that he finished third in the league in OPS; he can and will shoot the ball into the gap.

Carroll slowed down once he got to Fort Wayne, hitting .219/.296/.266, but the numbers he put up in Eugene should be good enough to earn him an everyday position in Lake Elsinore for 2009. The left-handed hitting Carroll should do some serious damage in the desert.

Others of note: Matt Clark has incredible power and smacked five homers with 32 RBIs across 38 games. James Darnell made an instant impression with his .373 average and .462 on-base percentage. Cole Figueroa is an athlete that can drive the ball, collecting 11 extra base hits in 32 games with seven steals. Emmanuel Quiles is raw both offensively and defensively but has the raw tools that the Padres are enthralled by. Blake Tekotte showed more pop than he was given credit for, notching 21 extra base hits, and flashed solid defense in centerfield while scoring 43 runs in 47 contests. Jeudy Valdez is still raw offensively but finished third on the team with 17 extra base hits while hitting .227 overall. Beamer Weems struggled offensively with a .186 average but is one of the best defensive shortstops in the system already.

Manager Commentary: "He was the best outfielder in the league defensively. Maybe one of the best defensive centerfielders I have ever seen in a long time. This kid can really play." - Greg Riddoch on the defensive prowess of Dan Robertson.

Top Prospect: (Denis) James Darnell

Darnell signed days before the August 15 deadline but wasted little time getting acclimated to professional ball. He reached base safely in all 16 of his games with the Emeralds, reaching an average of 2.25 times per contest and netting a hit in all but one of those. The Padres thought enough of him that they moved him up to Lake Elsinore for the California League playoffs when Kellen Kulbacki was lost to injury.

Darnell is a smooth defender with a powerful stroke at the dish. Seven of his nine extra base hits came over his last eight games as he settled in and began turning on balls. Armed with an excellent eye and ability to make contact, Darnell is a deadly combination that has the potential to collect extra base hits with regularity.

Top Prospect: (John) Blake Tekotte

The former Miami Hurricane may be one of the Padres best defensive outfielders in the system. What surprised the Padres was not that he could hit, but the amount of pop that was in his bat with a .285/.379/.456 line. There are some questions about his arm strength, but his speed and defensive instincts make him a plus defensive outfielder.

He showed more power in each of his three collegiate seasons in Miami, adding over 100 points to his slugging percentage from his previous two years. He just missed finishing in the top 10 for OPS in the Northwest League and should have a chance at becoming the starting center fielder next year in Lake Elsinore.

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