Minor leagues have begun to wrap up, and many are announcing their end-of-season awards. The Minnesota Twins landed one award for Cedar Rapids.
The Minnesota Twins have enjoyed a very positive season in the minor leagues with all affiliates currently competing for the postseason with roughly 10 days remaining on the regular season for stateside leagues and the Dominican Summer League regular season completed.
The Midwest League announced their end of season award winners significantly earlier than any other league, which is why we didn’t cover it at the moment here at Puckett’s Pond, wanting to get all of the awards more closely placed together. The Minnesota Twins representative in the Midwest League is the Cedar Rapids Kernels, who are the one team currently out of the playoffs in the minor leagues for the Twins due to their being one game back of the wild card currently.
The Midwest League All-Star team was highlighted by MVP and “Prospect of the year” Bo Bichette of the Toronto Blue Jays system and included one Kernels player. Let’s take a look at who was chosen:
Clark Beeker, RHP
Beeker is a late-round success story for the Minnesota Twins, drafted in the 33rd round out of Davidson College in the 2016 draft. He pitched with the Twins’ two rookie level teams in 2016 after a full year of college ball, making 14 appearances, 3 of them starts, totaling 43 2/3 innings, with a 2.47 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, and a 10/52 BB/K ratio.
Beeker opened 2017 with Cedar Rapids, and his time there was impressive, to say the least. He posted an 11-3 record as a Kernel over 20 starts and 128 2/3 innings, even throwing two complete game shutouts on the season. He also had a 0.93 WHIP and a 17/84 BB/K ratio with the Kernels. All those numbers are certainly what got Beeker notice in the awards.
Beeker earned himself a late-season promotion to the Fort Myers rotation, and he’s had one solid start and one really rough one in his most recent start for Fort Myers.
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The most obvious one is a player that has been with the Kernels all season and currently sits in the top 10 of a number of offensive categories in the league in Lewin Diaz. Diaz has hit .292/.330/.448 on the season with 32 doubles, 12 home runs, and 67 RBI. He currently ranks 5th in batting, 2nd in doubles, and 9th in RBI. The choice for first base on the list was Emmanuel Tapia, who is hitting .211 on the season, but leads the league in home runs with 26.
The other spot that could have been argued offensively is the outfield, where Arizona Diamondbacks prospect Marcus Wilson was one of the choices, while Aaron Whitefield had a tremendous season with 11 home runs and 32 stolen bases, but there are also many other outfielders with as good or better arguments for the spot.
The pitching spot that is quite debatable is the relief position. The Midwest League selected two relievers, Wyatt Short of the Cubs system and Tommy Eveld of the Diamondbacks system. Eveld’s numbers were impressive, with a 0.33 ERA and 0.65 WHIP, but he also hasn’t pitched in the league since June, when he was promoted to high-A. Short has much more pedestrian numbers with a 3.25 ERA and 1.38 WHIP, though he is second in the league in saves. However, he’s second to Cedar Rapids closer Hector Lujan, who has had a brilliant season at the back of the Kernels bullpen, with a 3-1 record, 17 saves, a 1.38 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, and a 8/51 BB/K ratio over 52 innings of relief in 41 appearances. How Lujan did not make the list is quite surprising.
More of the Minnesota Twins affiliate leagues should be announcing their end-of-season awards soon, and as the Twins have some very good teams this year, you can bet there will be more players receiving notice!