The Paul Owens Award goes to the top hitter and pitcher in the Phillies’ minor leagues. The award does not go to the best prospects, nor does it go to the best statistical season. The award serves to both honor players and to showcase them to the fanbase. In the past this has lead to some less than stellar award winners (Luis Garcia 2014), but overall it is a process that puts part of the future front and center during good years. This was one of those good years.
Ricardo Pinto is yet another pitching success story out of Latin America for International Scouting Director Sal Agostinelli. The 21 year old right hander was a complete unknown before dominating in Williamsport last year. He made some Phillies’ Top 10 prospect lists in the offseason, but his name was not well known. He didn’t put up the best minor league pitching line (that honor belongs to Aaron Nola), but across both A ball levels he went 15-4 with a 2.97 ERA and a org high 145.1 IP with 37 walks and 105 strikeouts. It isn’t just numbers for Pinto who features a fastball at 91-94 touching up to 96 with a fringe average slider and a killer plus changeup. Pinto is not afraid to challenge hitters and uses his changeup to devastating effect to both righties and lefties. He should start 2016 in Reading and a late 2016 debut is not out of the question.
Andrew Knapp‘s season is well documented by now. The 2013 2nd round pick finally was healthy for a full year and after an ok first half in Clearwater he exploded in Reading. On the season he hit .308/.385/.491 with 13 home runs, 35 doubles, and 5 triples. He also walked a good amount and limited his strikeouts after his promotion. His defense still needs a lot of work (something the Phillies have really been working on which contributed to his slow start). But he has evened out his platoon splits and his proficient from both sides of the plate showing the potential for a plus hit tool and below average power. If he can work his defense to average he could be a major league regular catcher. He will go to the AFL this year before likely starting in Lehigh Valley next year.
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