Sunday, September 6, 2009

Yearly Awards: New Britain Rockcats

With the Minor League season coming to the end this weekend I thought it would be interesting to hand out 5 awards for every team in the Twins organization. I will continue with the New Britain Rockcats who have had an up and down season going 70-69 which is good enough for 2nd place 11.5 games behind first place Connecticut. However, thanks to the wildcard they have a chance to make the playoffs. They lead third place Trenton by 1 game with 2 games left against Trenton with only needing to win 1 of those to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2003. The awards I will be giving out are Hitter of the Year, Pitcher of the Year, Rookie of the Year(prerequisite never spent a day in AA before this year), Most surprising player of the year, and most disappointing player of the 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 enjoy.

  • Hitter of the Year: Brian Dinkelman- With the Rockcats most talented hitter Wilson Ramos only playing 53 games the Rockcats needed someone to step up and Brian Dinkelman really stepped up. After struggling last year after his promotion from Fort Myers Dinkelman really stepped up this year. Brian showed his versatility as he not only played 2nd base for the Rockcats, but also spent quite a bit of time in the outfield. Offensively, Dinkelman hit a very good .297 with 8 homeruns and 65 rbi's along with an organization high 38 doubles and 2 triples. He has shown a very good eye at the plate as he had 55 walks while only striking out 73 times in 455 at bats. Dinkelman had a very good .385 on base percentage. He also had a .442 slugging percentage which should not be surprising considering he is not a homerun hitter. That being said his doubles bring his slugging percentage up and brought a very good .826 ops for a top of the order hitter. There were some doubt about his future going into the season after he hit .247 in 52 games with the Rockcats last year. His season has gotten him back on prospect lists where I look for Dinkelman to start next season up at AAA and if there is an injury or ineffectiveness at 2nd base with the Twins you would see Dinkelman making his major league debut next year with the Twins. The reason most people are down on Dinkelman is his age as he is 25 and will be 26 by the start of next season. I think Brian Dinkelman future is still bright and I look for him to reach the Twins next year and be there for stay and wouldn't surprise me if he is the starting 2nd baseman for the Twins sometime next year.

  • Pitcher of the Year: Matt Fox- Matt Fox has turned around his career around with a very good season this year for the Rockcats. Going into the season there was some concern if Fox was ever going to make it because of arm surgery in 2005 and his slow progression through the system. Last year he made 14 starts with Fort Myers and went 7-7 with a 3.37 era. Going into the season this year some said it was a make or break season for Fox as he moved up to AA and got the chance to pitch in the starting rotation for the Rockcats and he did not disappoint. Fox made 26 starts and went 9-9 with a very good 3.58 era in 151 innings. He showed good control walking only 56 batters while striking out an impressive 120 batters. Matt Fox has reestablished himself as a prospect in the Twins organization and should get the promotion to AAA next spring. His future is probably as a reliever with the Twins so I think he would be best to work out of the Rochester bullpen next year. I think that he has a chance to make it to the big leagues if he continues to get better. Because the bottom line is Matt Fox has the stuff to pitch in the big leagues and you can tell he works hard based on the fact that he came back from an injury that many guys have to retire from. His age doesn't help the factor because he will be 27 when next season starts, but after the things Matt Fox has been through I will not put anything past him and I will look forward to seeing him in a Twins uniform.

  • Rookie of the Year: Juan Portes- Going into the season Juan Portes was kind of on the fence going into the season because he really had not done a whole lot going into this season. He had kind of hit a snag in his Twins career as he had spent the last 2 years in Fort Myers and kind of wasn't going anywhere. So I was happy for Juan when he got promoted to AA for this year because I thought he is either going to sink or swim and we would have a better idea of what he is after stepping up in competition. Portes really showed that he is a Twins prospect and someone to keep an eye on. After hitting .270 with 12 homeruns and 54 rbi's with Fort Myers last year he put up good numbers this year at New Britain. Despite missing some time because of injuries Juan played in 99 games and is hitting .296 with 6 homeruns and 40 rbi's along with 21 doubles and 3 triples. He showed very good discipline at the plate with only 44 strikeouts along with 33 walks. He had a very good .365 on base percentage for a middle of the order bat. His slugging percentage is not real great at .435, but his overall OPS was very respectable .800. The 23 year old out of Boston has alot of potential as a outfielder. I view him as a extra outfielder in his future if he can hit good enough to stay in the lineup. I would like to see him hit a few more doubles and a few more homeruns, because honestly his Slugging percentage needs to come up to keep moving up. Overall though Juan Portes has had a very successful first year with the Rockcats and I look for him to start next season back with the Rockcats, but wouldn't surprise me to see him with Rochester sometime next year.

  • Most Surprising Player: Alex Burnett- Alex Burnett really jumped up the prospect lists with the season he has put together this year. Going into the season he was viewed as a back of the rotation kind of starting pitcher. A bulldog type that would keep you in the game, but did not have lights out stuff. The decision this winter changed Alex's career and paved the way for him to have a career with the Twins. The decision was to move Alex to the bullpen as a late inning reliever. At first I thought why would they do that as he was a solid starting pitcher and turn him into a reliever I thought was a waste because Starting Pitchers have more value than relievers. However, I will be the first one to admit that I was wrong on this one. Burnett has established himself as one of the top relieving prospects in the organization and someone to keep track of. Burnett split the season between Fort Myers and New Britain and put up very good numbers. Between the 2 teams Burnett went 3-3 with a 1.85 era in 58 games along with 13 saves. Burnett worked 78 innings out of the bullpen and only gave up 16 earned runs. The most impressive stat for me was his walk to strikeout ratio of 26/78. With his 94 mile per hour fastball he has the stuff to get a lot of strikeouts. He held opponents to a very good .183 average. The 23 year old from Anaheim, CA has really turned heads with this season and I look for him to start next season as the closer for the Rockcats next year and probably get a midseason promotion to Rochester and wouldn't surprise me if he got a September callup next fall to the Twins. Alex Burnett is a shining star whose future appears pretty bright and I look for him to be the future at closer for the Twins.

  • Most Disappointing Player: Matt Moses- This season was probably the last straw for the first round pick in 2003. Moses has played several different positions in his career starting at 3rd base and then finally in the outfield and has struggled everywhere he has played. Most people felt like this was going to be a make or break year for Moses as he probably needed to get up to AAA this year if he was going to stay in the organization. Truthfully, if he wasn't a first round pick and had been paid what he was paid he wouldn't still be in the organization. With that being said he is very talented in that he has good power at the plate and someone that has the talent to be a everyday player, but likely it will have to be with someone else. Matt Moses suffered a serious finger injury late in the year so here is hoping that he can recover from this and get a job with someone else because I expect the Twins to part ways with him after the season. Moses played 78 games with the Rockcats this year and hit just .224 with 7 homeruns and 43 rbi's along with 10 doubles and a triple. He posted a .274/.353/.627 (obp/slug/ops) line this year. I really expected Moses to take off this year with all the marbles on the table and disappointed he could not get it done, however I really hope his finger injury is not too serious and he is able to continue his career next year.
  • I would like to congratulate the Rockcats on their first playoff appearance since the 2003 season and heres hoping they can bring a championship back to New Britain.