Friday, September 4, 2009

Yearly Awards: Rochester Red Wings

With the Minor League season coming to an end this weekend I thought it would be interesting to hand out 5 awards for every team in the Twins organization. I will start with the Rochester Red Wings who have underacheived to go 69-70 and in third place in the International League North division. However, you need to realize the Red Wings are the youngest team in the International League and should have a good portion of their team back next year as they should improve. The awards I will be giving out is Hitter of the Year, Pitcher of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Most surprising performance, and most disappointing performance. For the Rookie of the Year award the player could not of spent any time in AAA before this year. I welcome everyone's thoughts on the players I have chosen and you can either leave me a comment in the comment box or send me an email at Thanks and I hope you enjoy.

  • Hitter of the Year: Justin Huber- Huber was signed as a minor league free agent this winter and the 27 year old from Australia did not disappoint this year. When you look at his stats this year you need to also take in consideration he missed the first 2 weeks of the season with visa problems. In 116 games with the Red Wings Huber is hitting .272 with 22 homeruns and 76 rbi's along with 21 doubles and 2 triples for an OPS of .834. The people of Rochester were really disappointed when the Twins let Garrett Jones go as a free agent this winter so they knew they needed to find someone who could replace his production and they found that guy in Huber. Huber played 1st base, DH and the Outfield and put up one of the best years of his career. I would like to see the Twins call him up for September as a bat off the bench, but we knew that was not going to happen when he accepted an invite to join the Australian National team in the World Cup this fall. He definately deserved the call for the Twins and it really is too bad for him, but I hope he does well in the World Cup. I know the Twins will try to resign Huber this winter, but I don't think it will happen and if I was Justin Huber I wouldn't resign with the Twins because his primary position is 1st base and his chances to get a recall up to the Twins are not very good. At 27 years old he needs to go to a team where he has a chance to make the big club and that team is not the Twins. What he did do this summer is won some games for the Red Wings and reestablished himself as a prospect once again and I look to see him in the Major Leagues sometime next year.

  • Pitcher of the Year: Armando Gabino- Going into the season not many people had heard about Gabino because he had very average stats as he went up and as a reliever stats like his are usually overlooked. Gabino really turned his career around this year and even got a cup of coffee with the Twins. He is better served as a reliever, but has been making some starts for the Red Wings. The 26 year old from the Dominican Republic put up a very solid season for the Red Wings. Gabino has appeared in 37 games this year including 6 starts and has gone 6-3 with a 3.03 era along with 1 save and 1 complete game. Gabino worked 92 innings for the Red Wings. He showed good control with a 23/60 walk to strikeout ratio which means he doesn't strike out a lot of guys, but at the same time he also doesn't walk people. Armando Gabino has put himself on the map going into next season and he has the good fortune of being on the 40 man roster now so next year if there is injuries he will be one of the first call ups if he continues to pitch like this. I look for him to be in the Rochester rotation especially after the loss of Kevin Mulvey. He needs to work on a few things down in Rochester, but he changed quite of few peoples opinions of him with the season that he had this season. I could of chosen Anthony Swarzak, but Gabino has been there longer and to be honest he had the better season if you ask me. I expect that Twins fans will see Armando Gabino in a Twins uniform sometime next year and next time he might be here to stay.

  • Rookie of the Year: David Winfree- There was actually quite a few people I could of picked for this award because of how young the Red Wings team is this year, but it was pretty obvious in my mind that the most deserving guy for this award is David Winfree. The 24 year old from Virginia really stepped up to the plate in AAA this year. After spending 2 years struggling in AA Winfree got the call up to AAA and did not disappoint. Winfree is out the rest of the year with a leg injury, but he hit .273 with 14 homeruns and 61 rbi's in 116 games. That is after hitting .252 in AA last year and it was a huge surprise that he was able to get off to such a great start. Many including myself expected Winfree to struggle much like he had at AA. I think that he has positioned himself that next year if there is an injury to one of the corner outfielders that he would get the call up to the Twins. Also he is only 24 years old which is very young for a AAA prospect so he has many years to make it to the Twins and stay there as a backup outfielder. I look for Winfree to spend 1 more year in AAA then in 2011 I expect Winfree to join the Twins and be there for the rest of his career.

  • Most Disappointing player: Trevor Plouffe- Trevor Plouffe really got an opprotunity this year with the Red Wings and he really did not take advantage of it. Plouffe for many years has been viewed as the shortstop of the future for the Twins and many thought that 2009 would be his breakout year and would be the starting SS for the Twins when they opened up Target Field next year. In 2009 he really took a step backwards both at the plate and especially in the field. The 23 year old from California hit .260 with 10 homeruns and 60 rbi's along with 23 doubles and 5 triples in 116 games. Those numbers are not terrible if he had played good defense. However, Plouffe committed an unbelievable 22 errors at shortstop which obviously is way to many. His loosy goosy persona has reached the office of Ron Gardenhire and when the manager of the big league team is questioning how bad you want it theres a problem. There really is no question that the Twins want Plouffe to be the shortstop of the future and athletically there is not another shortstop in the Twins organization that can touch Plouffe, but until he shows how bad he wants it on the field the Twins are not going to trust him to be the shortstop. That said Plouffe is only 23 years old and loads of talent and plenty of time to turn it around. For the Twins going forward with the big contracts for Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Joe Nathan, and Michael Cuddyer as a small market team they really need Trevor to step up and be the player we all know he can be.

  • Most Surprising Player: Steve Tolleson- Tolleson has a lot of talent, but what makes him a surprising player is the start he got off to in New Britain before the promotion to Rochester. It is unbelievable how he turned it on once he got to Rochester and has kept it going the rest of the season. In 38 games at New Britain this year Tolleson hit .258 with 2 homeruns and 13 rbi's. For most of the time in his stay at New Britain this year he was hovering around .200 so he was totally underacheiving. Once he got to Rochester he took off and has been pretty consistant the time he has been there. He went through a small slump, but is still hitting .276 with 6 homeruns and 26 rbi's along with 17 doubles and a triple in 87 games with the Red Wings. Tolleson is so versatile as he can play 2nd and shortstop, the outfield and I am sure he can play third as well. He is 25 years old so he is about the right age to be in AAA. I look for Tolle to compete for a utility job next spring for the Twins and if not be the second baseman for the Red Wings and at some point next season will join the Twins due to injury. Overall, Steve Tolleson has put himself back on the map in the Twins organization and I expect some big things out of Steve Tolleson in the future.