PBN Awards: Lakewood Pitcher & Player of the Year

Jason Jaramillo and Derek Griffith both took major steps in their progress in 2005. Jaramillo made it through a mid-season slump and finished with strong numbers offensively and gained a lot of respect for his defensive work. Griffith proved he was healthy and also put up strong numbers as part of the BlueClaws' rotation.

Lakewood BlueClaws' Player of the Year

Who better to be the Player of the Year than the man who called the games. This year's 2005 POY for low Class A Lakewood BlueClaws goes to catcher Jason Jaramillo.

Over the course of the 140 game season, Jaramillo started 119 games, gearing up for 105 of them behind the plate. Two of the most memorable moments for J.J., as teammates call him, was when he was selected to start in the South Atlantic League All-Star Game and when he was selected as the Best Defensive Catcher by Baseball America.

"Jason is everything you want from a big league catcher," Phillies fielding coordinator Mike Compton said. "I worked on some things with him earlier in the season and he has improved tremendously. He is a hard worker and I have no doubt in my mind that he will one day be an every day catcher in the majors."

J.J. takes pride in handling his pitching staff and improved tremendously during the season on his game calling. His quickness behind the plate allowed him to pick off players at first base and his blocking ability was a life saver for the pitchers on the team.

"J.J. has done a great job for us," Lakewood pitcher Derek Griffith said. "There have been times where it's been a 1-2 count with runners on base and I've been able to throw a curveball in the dirt because I have so much confidence in him and I know he can block the ball well. In spring training, we weren't quite on the same page, but we got to a point where we got to know each other very well and the results were good."

At the plate, J.J. bats from both sides and ended the season with a .304 average after having slumped mid-season and seeing his .320 average drop to the mid .250s. To go along with his .304 batting average, he also showed some flashes of power. He hit 28 doubles and eight balls out of the park, while racking up 63 runs batted in. His plate discipline was very impressive as well with a 72-44 strikeout-walk ratio in 448 at-bats.

After having gone to Oklahoma College and posting great numbers in his first professional full-season, people feel he may make the jump out of spring training to AA Reading, like Michael Bourn had done this past season.

In all aspects of the game, J.J. had a great season, but we cannot forget to mention his teammate Brad Harman.

It's really tough to say who was the team's Player of the Year since both Jaramillo and Harman had great seasons, so we won't fail to mention either one.

Harman is one of the rising Australian baseball players in the Phillies' minor league system and has represented his country well. Harman ended the season with a .303 average, 23 doubles, 11 home runs, and 58 runs batted in over the course of 105 games before being shipped off to the Netherlands to play in the World Cup.

"Harman is definitely one of the organization's emerging prospects," assistant general manager Mike Arbuckle said. "If I had to name a player who has made the most strides at this point, it would be Harman. Coming out of Australia, he had a lot of things to work on and he has done a great job handling the adjustments and transition of living in America."

Harman's only weakness is his fielding, but it may not be as much of a concern as it had been at the beginning of the season. Most of his 32 errors were committed at the start of the season and after vigorous workouts getting down repetition in his foot work with infield coordinator, Dave Owens, Harman strongly improved towards the close of the season.

Harman is one of several Australians in the Phillies' farm system and gives Philadelphia someone to look forward to seeing play.

Lakewood BlueClaws' Pitcher of the Year

Pitcher of The Year for Lakewood in 2005 goes to the tall 6-foot-6 lefty out of Arab, Alabama, Derek Griffith.

In the 2003 First Year Player Draft, the Phillies selected Griffith in the 17th Round out of Birmingham Southern College. Despite having been chosen during the 2003 Draft, Griffith was unable to see any playing time until the 2004 season due to an arm injury.

In April of 2003, Griffith underwent Tommy John surgery and has bounced back with a solid season as part of the BlueClaws rotation. Griffith only went on the disabled list once for slight inflammation in his elbow, but other than that his arm felt as healthy as can be.

"My arm feels good," Griffith said. "There was only one point in the season around the All-Star break where I was like ‘Oh man, this can't be good' so I gave my arm a rest and it felt better afterwards."

In 26 starts, he went 7-11 and threw a total of 161.2 innings while posting a 3.95 earned run average, better than any other starter in the rotation. His 131-59 strikeout-walk ratio was also very impressive and he held batters to a cool .252 average.

"The thing I'm most happy with is that he has thrown over 150 innings," Phillies pitching coordinator Gorman Heimueller said. "With his physique and command, he has a legitimate chance to be a major league pitcher."

He owes much of his credit for his successful season to the time when he was in the Florida Instructional League in 2004.

"I was able to work on my mechanics with the coaches down in Florida and it gave me some extra time to have an opportunity to improve."

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