At their best awards are just fun and meaningless. When there are a plethora of good candidates for something like the best minor league hitter in your organization, there really is no losers. In the past few years this has not been the case for the Paul Owens Award, where the winning candidates have been rough at times. The last two years of hitter awards have been runaways by deserving winners (Maikel Franco and J.P. Crawford), but that followed wins by Freddy Galvis and Darin Ruf. The pitching side has been horrible of late with the last 5 winners being Scott Mathieson, Trevor May, Tyler Cloyd, Severino Gonzalez, and Luis Garcia. While some of those years have been very good, you want the very good seasons to correspond with your best prospects.
On the pitching side, the race is over with Ricardo Pinto having a stranglehold on the award (Pinto may not be the best pitching prospect in the system, but he is a really good pitching prospect). On the hitting side, things are just fun, let’s run down the candidates and just go from there. Keep in mind the award is not for the best prospect, but that does play into it some, as well as showcasing a player to the fans.
Andrew Knapp, C, Age: 23 – Clearwater/Reading
Stats: 509 PA – .310/.385/.498 – 35 2B – 5 3B – 13 HR – 1 SB – 48 BB – 103 K
Case For: Knapp is a catcher, has pedigree (former 2nd round pick), is in AA, and has been mashing for a good month and a half now. Knapp’s numbers are among the leaders in almost all categories and while his defense is not premium he is going through the strain of catching everyday.
Case Against: Reading is a favorable place to play baseball and Knapp’s offensive numbers are behind Rhys Hoskins, and while he is out hitting J.P. Crawford he is not the defender that Crawford is (not to mention he is 3 years older than Crawford).
Rhys Hoskins, 1B, Age: 22 – Lakewood/Clearwater
Stats: 549 PA – .315/.392/.521 – 36 2B – 6 3B – 17 HR – 4 SB – 54 BB – 96 K
Case For: While it feels like Knapp leads the Phillies in everything, Rhys Hoskins actually leads the Phillies’ system in almost all offensive categories. He spent the first half of the year playing in one of the worst hitter’s parks in the minors and the second half in one of the worst hitter’s leagues in the minors.
Case Against: He is a first baseman and he is not in AA. Hoskins’ competitors play up the middle positions and are a level higher than him.
J.P. Crawford, SS, Age: 20 – Clearwater/Reading
Stats: 478 PA – .295/.387/.424 – 21 2B – 7 3B – 6 HR – 12 SB – 61 BB – 51 K
Case For: Crawford is 20 years old in AA, he is the best defender, and he is the best prospect in the organization (and possibly the best in baseball). Crawford could win this every year and there would be zero problems with it.
Case Against: He won it last year, he has a month less of counting stats, and his power numbers aren’t there with the other players. Also his AA numbers are less shiny than his overall stats on the year.
Aaron Altherr, OF, Age: 24 – Reading/Lehigh Valley/Philadelphia
Stats: 489 PA – .293/.367/.487 – 32 2B – 5 3B – 14 HR – 16 SB – 49 BB – 84 K
Case For: Altherr is a good defender at a premium position and he put up numbers that nearly match everyone else on this list.
Case Against: The numbers are just a tick less than everyone else and his major league promotion means that his counting numbers are going to be behind the other players here.
Brock Stassi, 1B, Age: 26 – Reading
Stats: 538 PA – .306/.396/.474 – 32 2B – 1 3B – 14 HR – 3 SB – 73 BB – 60 K
Case For: He won the Eastern League MVP and his numbers are in the conservation with anyone on this list.
Case Against: The oldest player and worst prospect on the list. He is also a first baseman so his numbers have to go up against Rhys Hoskins who is slightly better at almost everything (Stassi has a tiny edge in OBP).
Cornelius Randolph, LF, Age: 18 – GCL
Stats: 212 PA – .302/.425/.442 – 15 2B – 3 3B – 1 HR – 6 SB – 32 BB – 32 K
Case For: Randolph led the GCL in OPS and was second in OBP while turning 18 right before the draft.
Case Against: The power numbers aren’t there for Randolph and due to the draft and short season ball his counting numbers are not there.
There is still time for 4 of these players to add to their resumes (Hoskins and Knapp both went deep last night), so this could be a fun raise all the way down to the end.