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SoxProspects News

September 12, 2019 at 2:00 PM

2019 SoxProspects.com Awards: Rookie, Breakout and Comeback players of the year

SoxProspects.com award season rolls on, after All-Star hitters and pitchers were released on Monday and Tuesday, respectively, followed by the Homegrown Player, Ex-Prospect and Graduate of the Year on Wednesday. Thursday's awards focus on the Rookie, Breakout and Comeback players of the year.

Rookie of the Year
A sixth-round pick out of San Diego, Chris Murphy was assigned straight to Lowell and was downright dominant. The 21-year-old hurled 33 1/3 innings to the tune of a 1.08 ERA, which was the lowest in the system of those that pitched more than 30 innings. He also struck out 34 batters to just seven walks for a 4.86 walk to strikeout ratio, which was fifth-best among the stateside affiliates.  The California product also owned a 0.90 WHIP, which paced the system. After pitching 64 frames for San Diego during 2019, Murphy was limited in Lowell, but will likely be given every chance to start during 2020. He possesses a four-pitch mix comprised of a fastball that touches 95 mph from the left side, curveball, slider and changeup.

Breakout Player of the Year
Gilberto Jimenez caught Ian Cundall's eye during the 2018 Fall Instructional League. After earning an aggressive assignment to Lowell as an 18-year-old, Jimenez, who turned 19 in July, proved that it was a wise decision to push the outfielder stateside. The Dominican product was relatively unheralded after being signed in 2017 to just a $10,000 bonus, but he hit exceptionally well and used his speed to his advantage. He slashed .359/.393/.470 in 59 games for the Spinners, with his batting average second in the system behind Keibert Petit, who was 2 for 5 across four games. His slugging percentage was seventh among hitters with more than 150 at-bats.

Comeback Player of the Year
In 2017, Daniel McGrath owned a 4.98 ERA in his second year at Salem. The following year, his ERA in Portland was better, but batters still owned a .268 average against him and he walked 3.7 batters per nine innings. However, the Australian put everything together in 2019. Batters were only hitting .199 against him and he pitched to a 1.98 ERA across 122 2/3 frames, which led the system among pitchers with more than 80 innings pitched. McGrath decreased traffic on the bases dramatically and when combined with an uptick in strikeouts, to 8.58 per nine innings, his performance was one of the best for pitchers in the system during 2019. Nothing in the 25-year-old's arsenal particularly stands out, but he used his four-pitch mix to keep hitters off balance. As a result, McGrath slid into the SoxProspects.com rankings at No. 60 after beginning the year unranked.

Photo Credit: Chris Murphy, Gilberto Jimenez and Daniel McGrath by Kelly O'Connor