Clearwater Threshers Player of the Year
Jake Blalock was facing somewhat of a test this season. Could he move up a level and keep up his numbers from Lakewood in 2004 and become a true team leader. The challenge got much tougher when the losses started to pile up for the Threshers. Without a whole lot of support around him in the lineup, Blalock put up good numbers, finishing the season hitting .279 with 11 homeruns and 65 RBI. He led the team in RBI, games (134), at bats (502), hits (140) and walks (60). He also showed some improvement in his plate discipline, which was a huge part of what the Phillies were looking for from Blalock. Last season at Lakewood, Blalock struck out 129 times - once every four at bats - and improved that to one strike out every five at bats this season at a higher level.
Blalock didn't show quite as much power, dropping from 16 homeruns to 11 homeruns, but the Phillies believe that as he continues to improve on his plate discipline and when he gets better hitters around him in the lineup, his power numbers will improve. They hope for Blalock to consistently hit about 20 homeruns a season and it seems very possible that he can reach that goal in time.
Defensively Blalock was again strong. He made just three errors all season and shows strong instincts defensively.
Blalock's closest challengers were Marc Tugwell and Tim Moss. Tugwell (7-43-.295) put up good numbers, but had over 100 less at bats. Moss showed some good things - 17 homeruns, 28 stolen bases - but he continues to strike out at an alarming rate for a guy who is more of a speed type player. The Phillies believe Moss will be a better player if he can strike out less and simply put the ball in play more often. Defensively, Moss is an adventure and he also needs to learn how to better use his speed on the base paths.
Clearwater Threshers Pitcher of the Year
Scott Mathieson (3-8, 4.14) continued to show some good things for the Threshers. While his record wasn't that great, keep in mind that he was pitching on a pretty bad team. Mathieson's strikeout numbers have been impressive and he added another 118 strike outs in 121 2/3 innings this season with Clearwater. Last season, Mathieson's WHIP was 1.4 and he lowered that slightly to 1.2 this season.
The 21 year old right-hander continues to show improvement and should be at Reading next season on a steady course toward the majors.
Coming in a close second were Nick Evangelista (7-6, 3.03) and Gabe Ribas (3-1, 4.53).
Evangelista was the most effective reliever on the Threshers and pitched in 37 games with two saves. The 23 year old pitched in just two games at Lakewood last season after starting the year in the GCL, so Clearwater was a bit of a jump for him and he responded well. Ribas wasn't expected to do too much at Clearwater and his numbers were somewhat average, but he showed a lot of fight even through all of the losing. He also spent some time on the DL, but was a fixture at the ballpark cheering on his teammates. In his first season in the organization, Ribas showed some promise, but he is definitely somewhat of a project.