Ryan DeWitt Minor League Player of the Year Award:
Erie First Baseman Jeff Larish
He certainly has his critics – and rightfully so – but all Jeff Larish does is post impressive numbers. He did it at Arizona State, he did it with Lakeland in 2006, and he has done it again in 2007; this time with AA-Erie. Larish finished by blowing away the competition in the season's final two months, logging a .309/.435/.577 line through 59 games from July 1st through three games in September. Those kind of numbers are enough to make anyone take note. At the close of the Eastern League season, Larish finished ranked seventh in the league in on-base percentage (.390), fourth in slugging (.515), fifth in OPS (.906), seventh in total bases (234), second in walks (87), and first in both home runs (28) and RBI (101). Larish has again cemented himself as the premier power prospect in the Tigers organization, while also putting him in position to compete for a big league job in 2008.
Brian Bluhm Minor League Pitcher of the Year Award:
West Michigan LHP Duane Below
Below was dominant throughout the 2007 Midwest League season; posting a 13-5 record over 145-2/3 innings. Below's performance came as a surprise to many prospect watchers, after he posting solid number in the GCL last summer. After a dominating career at Lake Michigan Community College, Below was expected to be a bit of a project for the Tigers; but that hasn't proved to be the case at all. Making his full-season debut, Duane notched a 2.97 ERA to rank fourth in the Midwest League. In conjunction with his top-ranked 13 wins, Below was easily the top ‘Caps pitcher in the league. Duane's 160 strikeouts paced the Midwest League, serving notice that he had arrived as a legitimate pitching prospect that was going to give hitter's fits for the foreseeable future. Look for Below to continue to make strides towards being the organization's top lefty prospect.