2009 Minor League Players of the Year

Lone Star Dugout announces outfielder Mitch Moreland and left-handed pitcher Martin Perez as its Minor League Players of the Year for 2009.


Player of the Year: Mitch Moreland, OF, Bakersfield/Frisco

In a year where Chad Tracy knocked in a Frisco-record 107 runs and Mike Bianucci led the organization with 30 home runs, Moreland gets the nod for Player of the Year because of his remarkable consistency.

Moreland didn't post a batting average below .296 in any of the minor league regular season's five months. In fact, his next lowest monthly average was .325, which he accomplished in his first full month at Double-A Frisco.

In all, Moreland combined to bat .331 with 38 doubles, 16 home runs and 85 RBIs between High-A Bakersfield and Double-A Frisco.

The 24-year-old had little problem sustaining his success after he was promoted to Frisco. Moreland played in 73 games with the RoughRiders, hitting .326 with 19 doubles, three triples, and eight home runs.

Moreland has a line-drive stroke, but he also has above-average home run power. Even with the power, the Mississippi State product is patient and he doesn't often swing at pitches out of the zone. In 471 official at-bats this season, Moreland struck out just 68 times–seemingly a rarity in today's game.

For the second consecutive year, the left-handed hitter was more than effective against his fellow southpaws. Between the two levels, Moreland posted a .350/.430/.561 slash line against lefties. More specifically, he had 16 walks and 16 strikeouts in 123 official at-bats.

Moreland's outstanding 2009 season turned him into one of the top position prospects in the Rangers' system, and he could get a shot at the Major Leagues at some point next season.

For the time being, Moreland will try to raise his stock even more in next month's Arizona Fall League. As Moreland told Lone Star Dugout in his interview yesterday, he expects to play about 75 percent of his games with the Surprise Rafters as an outfielder.

2009 BAK (A+)/FRI (AA) .331 471 38 16 85 85 2/3 44 68 .391 .527

Honorable Mention: Chad Tracy (Frisco), Mauro Gomez (Bakersfield), Mike Bianucci (Hickory/Bakersfield), Erik Morrison (Hickory/Bakersfield)

Pitcher of the Year: Martin Perez, LHP, Hickory/Frisco

Entering the 2009 season, there wasn't any questioning that Martin Perez was a special talent. The left-hander held his own as a 17-year-old in the Northwest League, posting a 3.65 earned-run average in 61.2 innings.

Now, Perez has cemented himself as one of the best left-handed pitching prospects in all of baseball.

Playing the entire season as an 18-year-old [he won't turn 19 until April 4, 2010], Perez was dominant for Single-A Hickory. He had a 2.31 ERA and surrendered just 82 hits in 93.2 innings, walking 33 and fanning 105.

Perez's strict pitch count limited him to practically five innings per start with the Crawdads. Because he was so consistently effective [he surrendered zero or one earned runs in each of his last seven Hickory outings], Perez pitched exactly five innings in his last seven Sally League starts.

The Venezuela native went 3-1 with a 1.50 ERA in 36.0 second-half innings with Hickory, and he appeared to have the circuit all but mastered.

During the 2008 season, the Rangers pushed top pitching prospect Neftali Feliz past High-A Bakersfield of the hitter-friendly California League. He went from Single-A Clinton to Double-A Frisco.

Perez would do the same thing in 2009.

With approximately three weeks left in the minor league regular season, the Rangers promoted the youngster directly to Double-A Frisco, where he would pitch as an 18-year-old.

Perez struggled in his two initial outings, but his last three starts with the RoughRiders were much more effective. In those outings, he yielded four earned runs on 15 hits in 14.1 innings [2.51 ERA], walking two and striking out seven.

The prospect lost some velocity in his last few starts [he sat between 92-96 mph with Hickory, for the most part], as he was sitting more in the 91-93 mph range, but his command was much improved. He continued to show progress with his curveball and changeup.

That Perez–the system's top pitching prospect in the minors–reached Double-A at 18-years-old is enough to get him Pitcher of the Year honors alone. But, after making some adjustments, he also proved he could hold his own in the Texas League.

Year Team W-L IP H BB SO ERA
2009 HIC (A)/FRI (AA) 6-8 114.2 111 38 119 2.90

Honorable Mention: Guillermo Moscoso (Frisco/Oklahoma City), Kasey Kiker (Frisco), Tanner Roark (Bakersfield/Frisco), Wilmer Font (Hickory), Carlos Pimentel (Hickory)

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