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SoxProspects News

September 13, 2019 at 11:49 AM

SoxProspects.com Awards: Offensive Player of the Year and Pitcher of the Year

This week was SoxProspects.com award week, with several accolades being handed out over the last few days. We have announced the All-Star pitchers, All-Star position playersHomegrown Player, Ex-Prospect, and Graduate of the Year, and the Rookie, Breakout, and Comeback Player of the Year.

The biggest awards were saved for last. The SoxProspects.com Offensive Player of the Year goes to Triston Casas (pictured, right) and the SoxProspects.com Pitcher of the Year is awarded to Thaddeus Ward (pictured, below).

Offensive Player of the Year

Expectations were high for the 2018 first-rounder, and Casas did not disappoint as he led the system in RBI with 81 and finished third with 20 home runs. He had exactly 500 plate appearances in the regular season, with seven of those coming with Salem at the end of the year, and he hit  a combined .256/.350/.480 with the two teams. He flashed the plus-plus raw power that helped him get ranked as the top prospect in the system, with this pull-side home run and this home run to center field showing how much pop he has in his bat.

It seemed far-fetched that he would win this award after he hit .208/.284/.364 while striking out in over 40 percent of his at-bats in April, but after that rough month he went on to hit .267/.364/.506 the rest of the way while striking out in a little less than 25 percent of his at-bats.

On defense Casas played 94 games at first base and eight games at third base. He committed only six errors on the season, with two of them coming in his eight games at third base. As a first baseman he had a .995 fielding percentage, and it looks like he can develop into an above-average defender at that position.

Casas was named a 2019 South Atlantic League Season-End All-Star and was also named the Red Sox 2019 Minor League Player Of The Year by Baseball America as he sees his name slowly climbing the top prospect listings.

Pitcher of the Year

Ward had a solid debut for Lowell last season after being drafted in the fifth round out of the University of Central Florida. He was ranked as the 38th best prospect in the system coming into the 2019 season, and he opened the year with a decent seven-game stretch that saw him pitch to a 3.50 ERA over 36 innings with Greenville, striking out 44.

Beginning with his start on May 14, Ward went on an incredible hot streak that never ended. He did not allow more than three runs in any of his final 18 appearances, and his ERA was 1.59 over that stretch while batters hit only .191 against him. He was promoted to Salem in the middle of June, but the advanced competition could not slow him down either. In all over his final 90 1/3 innings, Ward struck out 113 and walked 40.

Now ranked eighth in the system, Ward was by far the biggest riser in the top 10, and his late-season domination in Salem has him in line to debut in the upper minors next season as a member of Portland's rotation.

Photo Credit: Triston Casas and Thaddeus Ward by Kelly O'Connor