The Kansas City Royals announced today that outfielder Whit Merrifield has been named the George Brett Minor League Player of the Year, while right-handed pitcher Christian Binford earned the Paul Splittorff Minor League Pitcher of the Year for the 2014 season.
Merrifield, 26, split last season between Northwest Arkansas (AA) and Omaha (AAA), where he hit a combined .319 (154-for-483) with 41 doubles, four triples, eight home runs and 79 runs scored. His 41 doubles were tied for sixth-most among all minor league players last season. The right-handed hitting outfielder earned Texas League All-Star honors, after starting the year with the Naturals, but was promoted to Omaha in June, where he hit .340 (109-for-321) over the final three months of the regular season. He earned Omaha's Player of the Year Award, helping the Storm Chasers win their second-straight Triple-A Championship. Merrifield hit safely in all 10 of Omaha's postseason games, batting .386 with two doubles, three homers and six RBI. He was originally selected by the Royals in the ninth round of the 2010 June Free Agent Draft.
Binford, 22, also continued his assentation up the Royals' minor league ranks, opening the year at Wilmington (A-Advanced) with a stop in Northwest Arkansas, before ending the season with Omaha. He posted an 8-7 record with a 2.88 ERA (45 ER in 140.2 IP) with 22 walks and 139 strikeouts in 26 appearances (22 starts) overall. The right-handed hurler was named a Carolina League All-Star and also pitched a scoreless inning for the U.S. Team in the SiriusXM Radio All-Star Futures Game at Target Field in July. At the time of his promotion to Double-A (June 30), he ranked 10th among Class A hurlers in ERA (2.40) and fifth in WHIP (1.00). He also helped the Storm Chasers during their run to a Triple-A Championship, making three postseason appearances, which included starting the championship game against Pawtucket. Binford was originally selected by the Royals in the 30th round of the 2011 June Free Agent Draft.