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2009 A's MiLB Player & Pitcher Of The Year
To view the readers' poll results, click here for the pitchers and here for the players.
Player of the Year
OaklandClubhouse.com pick: Chris Carter
Readers' pick: Chris Carter
Not surprisingly, Chris Carter was the unanimous winner of the A's Minor League Player of the Year award from both OaklandClubhouse.com staff and readers. Our other candidates were Grant Desme, Tom Everidge and Eric Patterson.
Carter takes home the award for the second straight year. In 2009, he put together one of the most impressive statistical seasons for any A's prospect since Jose Ortiz won the Pacific Coast League MVP award in 2000 when he hit .351 with 24 homers and 108 RBIs. Carter's season stacked up well with Ortiz's campaign, as Carter hit .329 with 28 homers, 115 RBIs and a 992 OPS.
Most of Carter's damage in 2009 came as a member of the Double-A Midland Rockhounds, for whom he hit .337 with 24 homers and 101 RBIs in 125 games. Those numbers earned Carter a Player of the Year award from the Texas League. He was instrumental in putting the Rockhounds in a position to make the Texas League playoffs. Although Carter wouldn't be part of the team during the post-season, he certainly played a central role in the Rockhounds' eventual Texas League title. Carter finished first in all of the minor leagues in hits and total bases, 12th in homeruns, ninth in doubles, second in RBIs and extra base hits, and 11th in walks.
Carter might not have been with Midland during the post-season, but he was hardly idle during the playoffs. He was promoted to Triple-A Sacramento for the final two weeks of the season and he hit four homers and drove-in 14 runs for the River Cats in 13 regular season games. He then added four more homeruns in seven post-season games for Sacramento, as the River Cats made the PCL finals.
Since joining the A's organization before the start of the 2008 season, Carter has put together some impressive statistics. In 275 regular season games, Carter has hit 67 homers and has driven-in 219 runs. He has also been a huge force in the post-season, hitting nine homeruns in 19 playoff games over two years. Carter has earned two championship rings during that time, with Stockton in 2008 and Midland in 2009. He will enter the 2010 season as one of the A's top prospects.
Finishing second in both the OaklandClubhouse.com staff voting and the readers' poll was Grant Desme, who put together an outstanding season for Low-A Kane County and High-A Stockton. Desme, who missed virtually all of the 2008 season with injuries, hit .288 with 31 homers, 89 RBIs and 40 stolen bases in 131 games. Desme was the homerun leader for the entire A's organization and he finished second amongst A's minor leaguers in stolen bases.
Pitcher of the Year
OaklandClubhouse.com pick: Anthony Capra
Readers' pick: Mickey Storey
The voting for the A's Minor League Pitcher of the Year was less clear cut. There were a number of pitchers who put together solid seasons, but no one blew away the field with numbers like Carter put up from an offensive perspective. Our candidates were Graham Godfrey, Mickey Storey, Kenneth Smalley, Anthony Capra, Ben Hornbeck and Carlos Hernandez. It was a split decision between our staff and our readers. Our staff gave the award to Anthony Capra, while the readers gave the award to Mickey Storey.
Capra put together a quietly outstanding season in his first full professional campaign. The left-hander from Wichita State split the year between Kane County and Stockton. Despite struggling at times with his mechanics early in the season and receiving little run support from his teammates throughout the year, Capra still managed to post a 3.20 ERA in 152 innings spread over 27 starts. He was the A's minor league leader in strike-outs with 170 and he finished second among all minor leaguers in that same category.
Capra was also extremely difficult to hit throughout the year. He allowed opposing batters in the Midwest League to hit only .197 off of him and California League batters didn't fare much better, posting only a .223 BAA. Perhaps most impressive was Capra's smooth transition from a pitcher-friendly environment in the Midwest League to a more hitter-friendly California League. After allowing five runs in his first 11 innings in the California League, Capra allowed only 13 runs over his final 41 innings. He actually finished with a lower ERA in the Cal League (3.12) than he did in the Midwest League (3.24).
Storey had an outstanding season, as well. The reliever began the year as a forgotten man in the A's system, as he wasn't even invited to regular spring training. However, he fought his way onto the roster of the full-season Kane County Cougars by May. Storey quickly proved that he was too good for Low-A baseball by allowing only one run in 17.1 innings with the Cougars. He struck-out 23 and walked only one and saved nine games before being promoted to High-A Stockton. Like Capra, Storey handled the jump to the California League well, as he posted a 2.28 ERA in 23.2 innings and saved nine games for the Ports. He would make two scoreless appearances for the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats late in the season and finished the year with Double-A Midland, where he threw 7.2 scoreless innings during the regular season before becoming one of the Rockhounds' top relievers in the post-season. His impressive campaign earned him a spot in the Arizona Fall League. Not a bad result for a player who began the year in extended spring training.
Capra finished second in the readers' poll, while Midland starter Graham Godfrey was the runner-up in the staff poll. Godfrey was the top starter for the Midland Rockhounds in 2009, leading the team with a 3.50 ERA and 159.1 innings. He went 11-8 for Midland and the Rockhounds won both of his post-season starts. Godfrey was named to the Texas League's Post-Season All-Star team for his efforts.
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