Rays announce minor league award winners
ST. PETERSBURG, FL—The Tampa Bay Rays today named OF Desmond Jennings their Minor League Player of the Year and RHP Jeremy Hellickson Minor League Pitcher of the Year. The Rays also reformatted their minor league awards, announcing one Most Valuable Player for each of their nine minor league affiliates, as well as organization-wide awards for Best Baserunner, Best Defensive Player and Best Relief Pitcher.
This year’s winners will be honored during an awards ceremony prior to tonight’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays. A pregame autograph session will be held on the right field line from 6:30–7:00 p.m. on Friday featuring many of the organization’s award winners.
The following players were named Most Valuable Player for their respective minor league team: Durham Bulls (AAA) – OF Jon Weber; Montgomery Biscuits (AA) – OF Desmond Jennings; Charlotte Stone Crabs (A) – LHP Darin Downs; Bowling Green Hot Rods (A) – LHP Matt Moore; Hudson Valley Renegades (SS-A) – RHP Alexander Colome; Princeton Rays (R) – OF Cody Rogers; Gulf Coast League Rays – RHP Wilmer Almonte; Dominican Summer League Rays – OF Edward Dorville; and Venezuelan Summer League Rays – INF Hector Guevara.INF Shawn O’Malley was named the organization’s Best Baserunner, while C Nevin Ashley was named Best Defensive Player and RHP Matt Gorgen was named Best Relief Pitcher.
Jennings, 22, was promoted from Montgomery to Durham in late July. Overall, he hit .318 (158-for-497) with 11 home runs, 52 stolen bases (in 59 attempts), 62 RBI, 92 runs scored, 31 doubles, 10 triples, 67 walks, 67 strikeouts, a .401 on-base percentage and .487 slugging percentage. Jennings was also named MVP of the Southern League (AA) despite the promotion to Durham, and finished the season ranking second in the SL with a .316 batting avg., third with 37 steals (a club record), fourth with a .395 on-base pct., fifth with a .486 slugging pct. and tied for fourth with eight triples. Upon joining Durham he raised his batting avg., on-base pct. and slugging pct. After missing most of the 2008 season due to injury, Jennings entered the season ranked by Baseball America as the No. 80 prospect in baseball and moved up to No. 18 in the publication’s midseason update.
Hellickson, 22, earned a late-July promotion from Montgomery to Durham, going a combined 9-2 with a 2.45 ERA (114.0-IP, 72-H, 35-R, 31-ER, 29-BB, 132-SO). His .178 opponents’ batting avg. would have led all full-season minor leaguers if he had enough innings to qualify – and his 10.42 strikeouts per nine innings would have ranked fifth – but a right shoulder strain sidelined him for most of May and June. Hellickson led the SL in strikeouts in April (33) and the International League in strikeouts in August (51), and his 132 strikeouts overall ranked third among Rays minor leaguers. After joining the Bulls, he went 6-1 in nine starts, held opponents to a .157 batting avg., and had more than twice as many strikeouts (70) as hits allowed (31). He was named a SL midseason All-Star.
Weber, 31, spent the entire season with Durham and was named an IL postseason All-Star, his first All-Star honor since 2005. He tied for the overall minor league lead with 46 doubles and hit .302 (136-for-451) with 14 homers, 69 RBI, 63 runs, 56 walks, a .387 on-base pct. and .497 slugging pct. He ranked 10th in the IL in batting and tied for second in extra-base hits (60), one shy of the IL lead. Weber ranked fifth in the Rays organization in batting and RBI, despite missing the final week of the season to play for Team USA in the International Baseball Federation (IBAF) World Cup held in Europe.
Downs, 24, spent most of the season with Charlotte and made two starts for Montgomery in August. In addition, he was Charlotte’s finalist for the Erik Walker Community Champion Award (see separate release). In 20 games (19 starts) for the Stone Crabs, he went 12-4 with a 2.00 ERA (121.2-IP, 117-H, 35-R, 27-ER, 23-BB, 111-SO) earning Florida State League All-Star honors. He led all Class-A pitchers in ERA and ranked fourth in the FSL in victories. His combined 2.23 ERA ranked eighth among minor league full-season pitchers. His 12 wins placed second among Rays minor leaguers and 120 strikeouts ranked fifth. Downs’ season ended on August 17, when he was struck in the head by a line drive in Birmingham, Ala., while pitching for the Biscuits. He is expected to make a full recovery for the 2010 season.
Moore, 20, spent the entire season with Bowling Green, going 8-5 with a 3.15 ERA in 26 starts (123.0-IP, 86-H, 51-R, 43-ER, 70-BB, 176-SO). He led all minor league pitchers in strikeouts and led all full-season minor leaguers with 12.88 strikeouts per nine innings and a .195 opponents’ avg. On June 6 at Asheville, he pitched 7.0 no-hit, shutout innings with a career-high 12 strikeouts.
Colome, 20, went 7-4 with a 1.66 ERA in 15 starts for Hudson Valley (76.0-IP, 46-H, 22-R, 14-ER, 32-BB, 94-SO). He led the New York-Penn League in strikeouts, ranked second in ERA and tied for first with two complete games. He led the Rays organization in ERA. Among all minor leaguers, he ranked 10th in ERA, sixth with 11.13 strikeouts per nine innings and third with a .174 opponents’ average. In July he was named the Rays Minor League Pitcher of the Month.
Rogers, 20, hit .303 (60-for-198) for Princeton in his professional debut after being selected in the seventh round of the 2009 June Draft out of Panola (Ariz.) Junior College. He hit six home runs with 37 RBI, 14 steals, seven doubles, six triples, 33 runs and a .490 slugging pct. He played all three outfield positions (primarily center field) and designated hitter.
Almonte, 20, went 3-2 with a 3.32 ERA in 12 games (seven starts) for the GCL Rays (62.1-IP, 62-H, 24-R, 23-ER, 8-BB, 37-SO). He ranked fourth in the GCL in innings pitched, and averaged only 1.16 walks per nine innings. This was the first season spent in the United States for the Dominican Republic native.
Dorville, 20, spent the entire season with the DSL Rays, batting .304 (62-for-204) with nine home runs, 37 RBI, 11 doubles, six triples, 44 runs scored and 11 stolen bases. He led the DSL with a .549 slugging pct. and led his team in hits, homers, triples and runs scored. He played primarily right field and center field.
Guevara, 17, is named MVP of the VSL Rays in his first professional season. He hit .330 (68-for-206) with eight home runs, 36 RBI, 14 doubles and six stolen bases while playing shortstop and second base. He ranked fifth in the VSL in hitting, fourth with a .534 slugging pct. and tied for fourth with 24 extra-base hits.
O’Malley, 21, was the starting shortstop for Charlotte this season. He stole 40 bases (second in the Rays organization and fourth in the FSL) in 54 attempts. He drew 58 walks, led the FSL with a .388 on-base pct., and ranked fourth in the FSL with 73 runs scored.
Ashley, 25, split the season between Charlotte and Montgomery. Overall, the catcher threw out 48 of 101 (47.5 percent) attempted base stealers and compiled a .993 fielding pct. The FSL midseason All-Star gunned down 55.2 percent (32 of 58) of attempted base stealers as a Stone Crab, which would have led the FSL if he had enough games to qualify.
Gorgen, 22, earned a mid-July promotion from Charlotte to Montgomery. Overall, he went 7-1 with 19 saves and a 1.15 ERA (70.1-IP, 42-H, 11-R, 9-ER, 29-BB, 77-SO). The FSL midseason and postseason All-Star held opponents to a .173 batting avg. and finished second in the Rays organization in saves. With the Stone Crabs, he went 4-0 with 15 saves, a 0.57 ERA (47.2-IP, 3-ER) and a .151 opponents’ avg. in 28 appearances.