Brock Peterson, 1B
Peterson was at the top of his game for most of the season, and established himself as one of the better position player prospects in the organization. Not only did he hit for power, but he also had clutch hits all season long for the Miracle. Peterson tied Garrett Jones for the organizational lead with 21 home runs, and his 75 runs batted in were the fourth highest total. Overall, he batted .291 on the season, giving him the ninth best batting average among all players, and the fifth highest mark amongst full-season guys. He should add consistent pop to the New Britain lineup in 2007.
Pitcher of the Year:
Kevin Slowey, SP
This award could have went to a number of players, as Matt Garza, Slowey, Anthony Swarzak, and Kyle Aselton all had stellar years in the starting rotation for the Miracle. The only thing separating these players is that Slowey was the best pitcher in the Florida State League for a longer amount of time than Garza, and with Swarzak, he was inconsistent at the beginning of the season. In Slowey's 14 starts, the young right-hander was nearly unhittable, and he was named to the Florida State League All-Star Game, where he was the Pitcher of the Game. Slowey went 4-2 for the Miracle, posted a 1.01 earned run average, and held batters to an unbelievable .164 batting average. Slowey was promoted to New Britain after his stint in Fort Myers, and he finished the year as the organizational leader in earned run average with a 1.88 mark.
Moving On Up: It is no secret that the Twins have one of the best organizations in baseball, and most of their talent comes from within. Some of the biggest breakout seasons came from Fort Myers Miracle players. Matt Garza made the move from High-A Fort Myers all the way up to the Major Leagues. Kevin Slowey tore up the Florida State League en-route to being one of the best pitchers on the New Britain Rock Cats staff. Alexi Casilla, like Garza, made the jump from High-A to the Major Leagues. Garrett Guzman, coming off a broken neck, played so well in Fort Myers that he was promoted, and placed right in the middle of the New Britain lineup. Brian Duensing made a quick stop in Fort Myers before joining the Rock Cats, which were his third team in the year.
Keep Working: One player who was supposed to have a breakout season in 2006 was Trevor Plouffe, the high-ceiling shortstop of the future. After another sub-par season, it seems like the Twins have looked elsewhere for infield talent, and the emergence of Alexi Casilla is a testament to that. Casilla and Plouffe began the season at the same level in the eyes of nearly every scout I have talked to. But as Casilla blossomed, Plouffe struggled, and will need a solid 2007 season to get himself back on track. He is an incredible talent, and with more experience, he should be able to right the ship. This season, the shortstop batted only .246, smacking four home runs, and driving in 45.
So as we head into the Fall season, some of the Miracle players will be headed to the prestigious Arizona Fall League, including third base prospect David Winfree. Winfree has established himself as possibly the best third base prospect in the organization, which is saying a lot considering how highly touted Matthew Moses is. Next season, I fully expect the Miracle to be back in the playoff hunt, and with a Beloit class that had nine All-Stars, it should be a fun ride in Fort Myers.