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September 27, 2022 at 8:00 AM

Minor Notes: Red Sox announce their Players of the Year & Portland's playoff run ends


After finishing up their regular season, the Portland Sea Dogs headed to the playoffs and the Division Series to face Somerset, the affiliate of the rival New York Yankees. On Tuesday, they lost 9-4 in Game 1 and were ultimately eliminated after going down 5-6 in Game 2 on Thursday. Worcester's season also nears an end, after their full week ended on Sunday with their home finale, they head to Rochester for their final three games of the year which began on Monday. The WooSox are not playoff contenders, ending last week at an even 73-73 on the season.

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Red Sox announce their Minor League Players of the Year

On Monday, the Red Sox announced the winners of their awards for the Minor League Players of the Year. They were as follows:
  • Offensive Player of the Year: Niko Kavadas (pictured, right) - The 23-year-old slugger almost got the full tour this year, playing for Salem, Greenville, and Portland, hitting .280/.443/.547 with 25 doubles and 26 home runs. He started the year ranked 46th in the system and his performance has him currently at 22.
  • Defensive Player of the Year: Ceddanne Rafaela - A breakout season for Rafaela in multiple ways, with strong offensive performances at Greenville and Portland. His defense has also garnered praise as he is now a true utility standout, with the ability to impact the game defensively at multiple positions. This season alone he has seen time at second base, shortstop, and centerfield, the latter of which getting the most of his playing time.  His rankings too have jumped, from 19th to start the year up to 6th.
  • Starting Pitcher of the Year: Brayan Bello - Bello seemingly now is starting to settle into the Major Leagues after dominating the minors for just over half a season. This year, he finished his 96 innings in the minors with a 2.34 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, and 129 strikeouts. Currently the third overall prospect in the organization and top pitcher, he is scheduled to graduate from prospect status at the end of the month.
  • Relief Pitcher of the Year: Franklin German - His two major league appearances did not go well, but his minor league performance was outstanding, coming into Monday sporting a 2.72 ERA and 0.90 WHIP with 64 strikeouts over 49 2/3 innings. His performance now leads to a possibility of impacting the majors as a middle reliever with the ceiling of a back-end arm.
  • Baserunner of the Year: David Hamilton - This may have been one of the easier selections among this year's award winners. Hamilton stole an impressive 70 bases with a 90% success rate over 119 games at Portland. Along the way, he smashed the previous Sea Dogs record for stolen bases which had sat at 64 since 1999. His 70 stolen bases were 26 more than any other player to come through the Eastern League this year and tied with Omar De Los Santos in all of minor league baseball. 
  • Latin Program Position Player of the Year: Andy Lugo - In his first season as a professional, the 18-year-old hit .318/.368/.414 with 15 extra-base hits and 21 steals over 56 games. He led the two DSL Red Sox teams in runs and batting average. 
  • Latin Program Pitcher of the Year: Eybersson Polanco - Another first-time pro, the six-foot righty made 12 starts, finishing with a 1.78 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, and 50 strikeouts over 50 2/3 innings. He was top five in the DSL in ERA, WHIP, and batting average against. 
  • Lou Gorman Award: Zack Kelly - The Lou Gorman Award was established in 2011 by the Red Sox honoring a player "who has demonstrated dedication and perseverance in overcoming obstacles while working his way to the Major League team." Kelly underwent Tommy John Surgery over the pandemic and signed with the Red Sox in 2021 finishing that year with a 2.38 ERA over 45 1/3 innings split between Double-A and Triple-A. This year saw him pitch at Worcester with a 2.71 ERA and he even made his major league debut on August 29th, 2022. The undrafted free agent has now made 9 appearances with the big league club, allowing three runs over 9 and 2/3 innings. 

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Links

Unlike the Red Sox organizational awards, Baseball America combined the offensive and defensive impact and named Rafaela (pictured, left) their Red Sox Minor League Player of the Year.

Those two skills are often found in isolation but become much rarer when combined. The Boston Globe's Alex Speier writes about how rookie Triston Casas has it down. While the 22-year-old first baseman got off to a bit of a slow start, Casas hit .214/.450/.643 last week with two home runs and six walks, showing off both those skills in spades.

Speier wasn't the only one at the Globe to take notice, as Julian McWilliams also speaks with the lefty about his adjustments. "Focusing on where I want [the pitch] to start versus where I want it to end has been the biggest adjustment I’ve made.”

MassLive's Christopher Smith takes a deep dive into Lou Gorman Award winner Zack Kelly's unusual development of his very effective changeup.
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Players of the Week

Johan Mieses, OF, Worcester
6 G, 20 AB, 7 H, 1 2B, 1 HR, 5 R, 2 RBI, 1 SB, 4 BB, 3 K, .350/.458/.550

In his penultimate week, Mieses started to put the cap on a very solid season. While he went 0 for 8 on Wednesday and Thursday, the rest of the week saw him 7 for 12 with 11 total bases and four walks. His best game came on Sunday, going 2 for 3 with a walk, a home run, an RBI, and two runs scored. 

The overall numbers this season looked great, hitting a full season-best .265/.386/.514 over 58 games all for Worcester. He only was really able to muster up two months where he was able to play more than 13 games and those were his two best months - hitting .370/.464/.544 in July and /.286/.403/.554 in September. However, the right-fielder is already 27 years old, and the age and toolset likely will relegate him to high-minors depth.  

Victor Santos, RHP, Worcester 
1 G, 0-0, 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 8 K

The 22-year-old righty had an amazing start on Wednesday against Syracuse, throwing 92 pitches of scoreless baseball, but left the game after seven innings in a scoreless tie. The WooSox bullpen was unable to give him any aide, allowing five runs over the final two innings in a game that saw Worcester go down 5-0. The start ended up being his best start of the season, narrowly beating out a start on August 25th where he threw six scoreless innings with a season-best 11 strikeouts.

Santos (pictured, right) was acquired last year in exchange for shortstop CJ Chatham and had immediate success, finishing with a 2.58 ERA and 1.08 WHIP over 10 appearances for Portland after being acquired. This season he has not been able to repeat the success of last season, struggling at both Double-A with a 4.97 ERA before being promoted to Triple-A and through Sunday has a 5.35 ERA, though he will get one more start Monday night. With a fastball that sits in the low 90s, Santos may profile as minor league depth, but if he regains his form, he could be used as an emergency up-and-down type starter. 

Photo Credit: Niko Kavadas, Ceddanne Rafaela, and Victor Santos by Kelly O'Connor

Will Woodward is a Co-Owner and Senior Staff Writer for SoxProspects. Follow him on Twitter @SPWill.