Erie Player of the Year: Infielder Chris Maples
Over the last several seasons, Chris Maples has worked diligently to craft himself into something the organization may find useful. He's played nearly any position asked of him, including pitching on occasion. He has put in extra work at the park and in the off-season. With all that work, we may finally be seeing the fruits of his labor. Maples posted an impressive .274/.319/.529 line split between Erie and Toledo in 2006, and he's coming awfully close to becoming a legitimate utility option for the Tigers. Chris finished 10th in the Eastern League in doubles with 27 and tied for 5th in the league (with teammate Kelly Hunt) with 20 homeruns. Chris' biggest month, August, was rewarded with the TigsTown Erie Player of the Month Award and a promotion to Toledo for the playoffs. Look for him to continue his progress at AAA in 2007.
Erie Pitcher of the Year: Humberto Sanchez
Humberto was likely a shoe-in for Organizational Pitcher of the Year Award until his elbow began hurting him, and he made only one start in the season's final two months. Sanchez was dominant throughout 70+ innings at Erie, posting a 1.76 ERA and nearly 11 K/9. With health finally on his side early in the season, Sanchez finally showed the immense talent scouts had been predicting for so long. For his efforts with Erie, TigsTown named Sanchez the Erie Pitcher of the Month in both April and May. His promotion to Toledo barely slowed him, as he went 5-3 in nine starts with an ERA in the 3s, and was named the TigsTown Toledo Pitcher of the Month in June. Provided his elbow is healthy heading into the 2007 season, Sanchez should compete for a slot on the Detroit roster, and he may benefit from a permanent move to the bullpen, where less innings may allow him to remain healthy over the long term.