Rays announce 2014 Minor League Award winners

The Tampa Bay Rays today named OF Johnny Field Minor League Player of the Year and LHP Blake Snell Minor League Pitcher of the Year. Additionally, RHP Jake Faria was named the Erik Walker Community Champion. The Rays also announced the Most Valuable Players for each of their nine affiliates, as well as organization-wide awards for Baserunner of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and Relief Pitcher of the Year.

This year's winners will be honored during an awards ceremony prior to tonight's game against the Chicago White Sox. A pregame autograph session will be held along the right field line from 5:45-6:30 p.m. tonight featuring many of the organization's award winners.

The following players were named Most Valuable Player for their respective minor league teams: OF Mikie Mahtook (Durham Bulls, AAA); INF Ryan Brett (Montgomery Biscuits, AA); INF Patrick Leonard (Charlotte Stone Crabs, A); INF Kean Wong (Bowling Green Hot Rods, A); OF Hunter Lockwood (Hudson Valley Renegades, Short-Season A); RHP Brent Honeywell (Princeton Rays, Rookie); RHP Henry Centeno (Gulf Coast League Rays, Rookie); OF Angel Perez (Dominican Summer League Rays, Rookie); and OF Oscar Rojas (Venezuelan Summer League Rays, Rookie).

Baserunner of the Year honors went to INF Tommy Coyle, while LHP Adam Liberatore was named Reliever of the Year and C Justin O'Conner was named Defensive Player of the Year.

Field, 22, was tabbed the Rays Minor League Player of the Year after batting .290 (92-for-317) in 82 games with Bowling Green before making his Charlotte debut on July 17. Field left his mark on both squads, leading the Hot Rods in runs (62) and stolen bases (18). With the Stone Crabs, Field hit at a .320 (48-for-150) clip in 40 contests. A fifth-round pick in the 2013 June Draft, Field ranked No. 5 among all full-season Rays minor leaguers in both stolen bases (23) and batting average, hitting .300 (140-for-467) in 122 games between the two levels. Field finished his first full season with 56 extra-base hits (36 doubles, 8 triples and 12 home runs) and 58 RBI.

 

Snell, 21, was named Rays Minor League Pitcher of the Year. He opened the season in Bowling Green, where he lost his first two starts before going undefeated in his next six outings to earn a promotion to Charlotte. Snell was 3-2 with a 1.79 ERA (40.1-IP, 8-ER) over eight starts for the Hot Rods before posting a 3.94 ERA (75.1-IP, 33-ER) and a 5-6 record in 16 starts with Charlotte. On August 2, the 2011 first-round pick hurled the first no-hitter in Stone Crabs history when he threw 5.1 innings, picking up the complete-game victory in a contest shortened by rain.

Faria, 21, took home the Erik Walker Community Champion Award. Named after former Rays minor league pitcher Erik Walker, who died tragically in 2006 following his first season in professional baseball, the award annually recognizes a Rays minor leaguer who exemplifies teamwork, sportsmanship and community involvement. Bowling Green's nominee for the award, Faria was selected from a field that included nominees from each Rays affiliate. The Rays Baseball Foundation will make a $2,500 donation in Faria's name to his chosen charity, Sammy's Superheroes, to fund pediatric cancer research.

Coyle, 23, led all Rays minor leaguers with 30 stolen bases and was caught just four times, leading to his recognition as the Baserunner of the Year. He hit .249 (115-for-461) in 117 games with Charlotte, where he was second on the team in runs scored (72). He was also tied for the Florida State League lead with eight triples.

Liberatore, 27, was named Reliever of the Year after posting a 1.66 ERA (65-IP, 12-ER) over 54 contests working exclusively out of the bullpen for Triple-A Durham. He finished the season 6-1 and earned four saves in five opportunities. The lefty pitched to a 1.80 ERA (5-IP, 1-ER) in four playoff appearances, converting two saves in three opportunities. His 11.91 strikeouts per nine innings ranked third-best among International League relievers while limiting opponents to a .187 (43-for-230) average, fourth-lowest among IL relievers.

O'Conner, 22, was named Defensive Player of the Year as the catcher threw out 24 of 48 potential base stealers in Charlotte before being promoted to Montgomery on August 6, where he caught nine of 12 runners on the basepaths. At the time of his promotion to the Biscuits, O'Conner had also picked off 14 runners over 68 games behind the plate with the Stone Crabs. The Indiana native had a triple off fellow Rays prospect Enny Romero in the Futures Game at Target Field and was named both a Florida State League Postseason and Midseason All-Star. He finished fourth in the FSL in doubles (31) and was named FSL Offensive Player of the Week for the week ending July 27.

Mahtook, 24, ranked fifth in the International League in hits (143) and fourth in total bases (224) en route to the Durham MVP nod. The IL Midseason All-Star led all full-season Rays minor leaguers in RBI (68) and hit .292 (143-for-489) in 132 games with Durham. Mahtook paced the Bulls with 18 stolen bases and tied for second with 12 home runs.  

Brett, 22, paced the Biscuits offense all season, leading the team in hits (128), runs scored (64), and stolen bases (27). His .303 (128-for-422) average ranked fourth in the Southern League, and he finished third in the league in stolen bases (27) while earning both Midseason and Postseason All-Star honors. He recorded Montgomery's longest hitting streak of the season (12 games), while recording three different streaks of at least 10 games.

Leonard, 21, appeared in 122 games with Charlotte and recorded 129 hits, 44 of which went for extra bases (26 doubles, 5 triples and 13 home runs). His .448 slugging percentage was good for third in the Florida State League and he finished fourth in the league with 79 runs scored. Leonard hit .284 (129-for-455) and led the team in home runs while driving in 58 runs. Playing primarily at first base, Leonard was twice named FSL Player of the Week, in addition to making the Midseason All-Star squad.

Wong, 19, who was named the MVP of the Gulf Coast League Rays in 2013, hit .306 (129-for-422) for Bowling Green en route to earning Midwest League Midseason and Postseason All-Star nods. His average was the second highest in the Midwest League, and he scored 56 runs and stole 13 bases. 

Lockwood, 22, led the New York-Penn League in extra-base hits (31), runs scored (47) and total bases (134). The outfielder ranked among the league leaders in RBI (third, 46) and slugging percentage (fourth, .494) and was named a Midseason All-Star. He hit .266 (72-for-271) in 70 games for Short-Season Hudson Valley and led the team with 13 home runs.

Honeywell, 19, was selected in the second round of this year's June Draft and compiled a 1.07 ERA (33.2-IP, 4-ER) in nine outings (eight starts) for Princeton where he finished with a 2-1 record. He amassed 40 strikeouts while issuing just six walks. He was 1-0 with a 0.53 ERA (17-IP, 1-ER) in four home games (three starts).

Centeno, 20, was 4-2 with a 1.50 ERA (54-IP, 9-ER) in 11 starts for the Gulf Coast League Rays and made his Princeton debut in the first game of a doubleheader on August 27, picking up the win with five innings of two-run ball. His 1.50 ERA ranked first in the GCL while his 0.91 WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched) and .203 opponents' batting average also led the league.

Perez, 19, returned to the Rays Dominican Summer League affiliate after logging two games there last season. He hit .290 (76-for-262) with 12 doubles, four triples, one home run and 37 RBI while drawing 29 walks in 66 games.

Rojas, 18, appeared in 55 games during his second stint with the Rays Venezuelan Summer League team. He hit .282 (62-for-220) with 21 RBI and 18 stolen bases, fourth-best in the league. Rojas finished third in the league with 18 doubles.