Oakland A's MLN: Awards Day

On Saturday, the Oakland A's celebrated the outstanding efforts of their minor league players in 2009. Kyla Hill reports on the festivities, which included a visit from A's GM Billy Beane.

As the 2010 spring training season winds down and final rosters are taking shape, Saturday was a day to reflect on the accomplishments of many players and each of the Oakland A's affiliates over the 2009 season. Players were welcomed with words of encouragement and leadership from the A's Vice President and General Manager Billy Beane, something he has done for more than 10 years.

In his message, Beane reinforced the fact that the A's deeply value their development system and assured the players that he follows each and every minor league game, whether at the ballpark or listening to the games via Internet or radio. He also offered words of encouragement reminding the young players that each of them has the opportunity to advance to the next level and that many of the players currently in the big leagues were at one time sitting in the same room listening to the same message as they were.

"Not many Vice Presidents and GMs will come down to the minor league complex and go one-on-one with these guys. He spent a lot of time talking about the organization and the young youth movement we have here," Keith Lieppman, Director of Player Development, said.

"Billy is outstanding and it's fun to have a GM that is willing to do this."

For each of the A's affiliates there are three awards presented to players – Most Valuable Position Player, Most Valuable Pitcher and the Community Service award. Each manager is given the opportunity to speak about each of his players and reviews the highlights and outstanding moments of the previous season.

The Community Service award was named after Karl Kuehl, the A's former farm director who instilled in his young players the need to give back to their communities in a variety of ways, including organizing camps and outings to local community schools and hospitals. The award is now one of the most sought-after recognitions a player can receive from the organization.

Right-handed, power-hitting first baseman Chris Carter was the recipient of the organization's overall most valuable position player of the year award. Carter was a 15th round draft pick by the Chicago White Sox in the 2005draft and in 2007 was part of the trade that sent former A's right-hander Dan Haren to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Carter spent the 2009 season with Double-A Midland and Triple-A Sacramento and hit a combined .329 hitting average in 138 games, with 115 RBIs and 28 HRs. He was also named the Texas League MVP. Carter was ranked as the A's number two prospect by Scout.com for 2010.

The organization's most valuable pitcher of the year award was presented to hard-throwing left-handed starter Pedro Figueroa. In 2009, Figueroa spent time with Low-A Kane County and High-A Stockton finishing the year with a 3.38 ERA in 27 games with 145 strikeouts. Figueroa was added to the A's 40-man roster this fall and participated in his first big league spring training, throwing four scoreless innings.

Below is as complete list of the award winners from each of the A's affiliates.

2010 Minor League Awards
Triple-A Sacramento River Cats
MVP Player – 2B Eric Patterson
MVP Pitcher – LHP Brad Kilby
Community Service Award – LHP Brad Kilby

Double-A Midland Rockhounds
MVP Player –1B Chris Carter
MVP Pitcher – RHP Graham Godfrey
Community Service Award – SS Josh Horton

High-A Stockton Ports
MVP Player – OF Grant Desme
MVP Pitcher – LHP Ben Hornbeck
Community Service Award – 1B Steve Kleen

Low-A Kane County Cougars
MVP Player – 1B Steve Kleen
MVP Pitcher – LHP Anthony Capra & RHP Kenny Smalley
Community Service Award – C Michael "Dusty" Napoleon
RHP Kenney Smalley – MWL All-Star Team

Short-Season A – Vancouver
MVP Player – OF/INF Conner Crumbliss
MVP Pitcher – LHP Julio Ramos
MVP Pitcher –RHP Paul Smyth
Community Service Award – CF Tyreace House

Rookie League – Arizona
MVP Player – C Chris Affinito
MVP Pitcher – RHP Argenis Paez
Community Service Award – RHP Michael Ynoa

Dominican Summer League
MVP Player – OF Kelvin Rojas
MVP Pitcher – LHP Reme Mertistil

Instructional League
MVP Player – OF/INF Conner Crumbliss
MVP Pitcher – RHP Justin Souza
Overall MVP – OF Rashun Dixon

Strength Award
MVP – RHP Jason Ray

Player of the Year – 1B Chris Carter
Pitcher of the Year – LHP Pedro Figureoa

Roster Note
The A's announced on Sunday that catcher Anthony Recker was reassigned to minor league camp. Recker had a strong stay in big league camp, batting .333 with a 1333 OPS in 12 at-bats. He homered twice, including one off of former A's starter Rich Harden.

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