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2012 Tony Awards: Rookie of the Year

2012 Tony Awards: Rookie of the Year
October 1, 2012
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Today we kick off the IPI’s year-end awards with the announcement of the Rookie of the Year.

In the coming days the Defensive Player of the Year, Biggest Disappointment, Biggest Breakthrough, Reliever of the Year, Comeback Player of the Year, Pitcher of the Year, Offensive Player of the Year and All-Tony Team will be announced.

The Rookie of the Year Award is given to the Indians minor leaguer who had the best professional stateside debut this year. If a player had logged any time in previous seasons, even just a game or one at bat they were not eligible. As a result some players who saw limited action at the end of 2011 like catcher Eric Haase, left-hander Shawn Morimando, right-hander Shawn Armstrong, shortstop Francisco Lindor and others were not eligible. Also, there were a lot of candidates so the nominees were limited to only ten which meant outfielder Tyler Naquin, catcher Nelson Rodriguez, right-handed pitcher Nicholas Pasquale and others just missed the cut.

As always, prospect standing is not considered with these awards as they are 100% awarded based on performance.  Please keep that in mind as just because a guy is or is not listed does not mean anything from a “prospect” status.  These awards are simply for fun to hand out at the end of the year.  Also, the Cleveland Indians in no way whatsoever had any input in these awards.

Onto the nominees...

Rookie of the Year Nominees

(in alphabetical order)

Mitch Brown (RHP – Arizona)
2-0, 3.58 ERA, 8 GS, 27.2 IP, 20 H, 3 HR, 10 BB, 26 K, .204 BAA

Brown was the Indians’ 2nd round pick in the draft this year and lived up to the hype as a high profile draft pick by displaying a nice power arsenal with tons of projection in his stuff and body while pitching out in the desert this year. Due to his limited innings he did not qualify as a league leader in any statistical category, but he would have been 7th in the Arizona League in ERA (3.58) and 2nd in WHIP (1.08) had he qualified.

Geoff Davenport (LHP – Mahoning Valley)
2-3, 3.41 ERA, 15 G (7 GS), 60.2 IP, 62 H, 3 HR, 20 BB, 33 K, .267 BAA

Davenport was selected in the 43rd round of the 2011 Draft but did not make his professional debut this season because he missed last season due to Tommy John surgery. He rehabbed all last offseason and this spring and made a fine debut with short season Single-A Mahoning Valley this year when they started play in June. He got stronger as the year progressed, although suffered a left elbow fracture on the last pitch of his season on September 2nd.

Louis Head (RHP – Mahoning Valley, Lake County)
2-2, 3.28 ERA, 22 G, 3 SV, 46.2 IP, 48 H, 6 HR, 8 BB, 43 K, .257 BAA

Head was selected in the 18th round of the Indians’ draft this year and quickly asserted himself as an interesting bullpen arm to follow. He dominated at short season Single-A Mahoning Valley (2.03 ERA, 13.1 IP, 1 BB, 15 K) and was moved up to Low-A Lake County after just seven appearances. He did well at Lake County (3.78 ERA, 7 BB, 28K) showing some power stuff and an ability to throw strikes. His 5.38 K/BB ratio on the season was outstanding.

Jeff Johnson (RHP – Lake County, Carolina)
4-5, 3.99 ERA, 45 G, 16 SV, 58.2 IP, 45 H, 2 HR, 21 BB, 75 K, .210 BAA

Johnson was selected in the 10th round of the 2011 Draft and signed quickly, but did not pitch last season due to a strained UCL. He had a very good pro debut this season pitching most of the season at Low-A Lake County (3.92 ERA, 41.1 IP, 18 BB, 57 K) and has solidified himself as a good second level relief pitching prospect for the Indians. At the time of his promotion his 12.4 K/9 as a reliever ranked 1st in the Midwest League and he still finished 6th in the league in saves (15).

Jacob Lee (RHP – Mahoning Valley)
4-2, 3.12 ERA, 16 G (8 GS), 43.1 IP, 36 H, 1 HR, 12 BB, 47 K, .221 BAA

Lee was the Indians’ 9th round pick in the draft this year and had an electric debut at short season Single-A Mahoning Valley. His innings were monitored because he logged so much time as a starter for Arkansas State this year, but in his limited showing he flashed an intriguing power arsenal that the Indians really like and want to develop him as a starter going forward. His 9.8 K/9 rate was one of the best in the league this year.

Joshua Nervis (RHP – Arizona, Lake County)
1-0, 2.34 ERA, 17 G, 4 SV, 34.2 IP, 23 H, 2 HR, 14 BB, 40 K, .189 BAA

Nervis was the third to last pick in the Indians’ draft this year (38th round), was an older player (23), and came from a little known college (Sonoma State), but he was lights out in his pro debut. He dominated the Arizona League raking 1st in K/9 for relievers (12.9) and 3rd in batting average against for relievers (.167) before he was moved to Low-A Lake County late in the season. Even though he dominated a league filled with much younger players, this is a showing that could give him some momentum into a big 2013.

Dorssys Paulino (SS – Arizona, Mahoning Valley)
.333 AVG, 47 R, 19 2B, 6 3B, 7 HR, 38 RBI, 18 BB, 45 K, 11 SB, .938 OPS

Paulino was signed in July of 2012 as the Indians’ top prize during the International Signing Period. Even though he missed the last week of Arizona’s season because of a promotion to short season Single-A Mahoning Valley, he still finished 2nd in the AZL in batting average (.355), 7th in hits (61), 8th in doubles (14), 4th in triples (6th), 6th in home runs (6), 3rd in slugging percentage (.610), 4th in extra base hits (26), 4th in runs scored (42), 5th in total bases (105), and 3rd in OPS (1.015).

Cody Penny (RHP – Mahoning Valley, Lake County)
4-3, 2.39 ERA, 22 G, 2 SV, 37.2 IP, 27 H, 1 HR, 12 BB, 34 K, .203 BAA

Penny was selected in the 16th round of this year’s draft and ended up splitting time between short season Single-A Mahoning Valley and Low-A Lake County. As a result, he did not figure as a league leader into any statistical categories, but his overall performance was outstanding. He was good at Mahoning Valley (3.05 ERA, 20.2 IP, 8 BB, 18 K), but was brilliant after his promotion to Lake County (1.59 ERA, 17.0 IP, 4 BB, 16 K). He’s a priority bullpen prospect for the Indians going forward.

Anthony Santander (OF – Arizona)
.305 AVG, 27 R, 15 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 32 RBI, 13 BB, 37 K, 6 SB, .874 OPS

Santander is another byproduct from the Indians international efforts last year as he was signed in July of 2011. He dazzled in his pro debut this season as 17-year old in Arizona and has established himself as one of the Indians’ best young prospects in the lower levels of their system. He finished 14th in the Arizona League in batting average (.305), 5th in doubles (15), 13th in RBI (32), 20th in total bases (76), 18th in on-base percentage (.381), 9th in slugging percentage, and 13th in OPS (.874).

Joey Wendle (2B/3B – Mahoning Valley)
.327 AVG, 32 R, 15 2B, 4 3B, 4 HR, 37 RBI, 15 BB, 25 K, 4 SB, .844 OPS

Wendle was the Indians’ 6th round pick in this year’s draft. He came in with little fanfare as a college senior signing out of a division two school, but his bat did the talking and he is now an interesting infield prospect for the Indians. He finished 3rd in the NY-Penn League in batting average (.327), 10th in 3B (4), 10th in RBI (37), 5th in total bases (115), 10th in on-base percentage (.375), 3rd in slugging percentage (.469), 4th in OPS (.844), and 5th in lowest total plate appearances per strikeout (10.7).

And the 2012 Tony Award goes to….Dorssys Paulino

In year’s past this has been a tough award to hand out and the nominees have been limited, but not this year as I had to cut off the list at ten players. I could have very easily included another five or six players, which is good to see and it bodes well for an Indians’ farm system in large need of a boost of talent.  There were a lot of very good pro debuts this season for the Indians, particularly those from Paulino, Santander, and Wendle.

Wendle’s out of nowhere performance was great to see and it will be interesting to see how he fares as he moves up the minor league ladder as a Cord Phelps-like player. Santander was overshadowed a little bit by Paulino’s exceptional pro debut, but it is a debut that needs to be recognized.  But if you followed the Indians minor league season from start to finish, particularly the last two months of the season, then naming of Paulino as the recipient of this award should come as no surprise.

What Paulino did this year as a 17-year old in the Arizona League was special. He did not disappoint in his pro debut showing one of the best swings to come out of Latin America in some time, an advanced approach at such a young age, and some good power and athleticism. He has quickly established himself as one of the Indians’ best prospects and one of the best prospects in all of baseball. He will no doubt be a Top 5 prospect for the Indians and could arguably be their #1 prospect when the 2013 rankings are released here on the IPI in the next few months.

While statistics are only a small part of what determines a player’s prospect status, it was nice to see so many good performances this season from some many new players. There is no doubt that the Indians lower levels of their minor league system is as strong as it has ever been, and hopefully these new young players will continue to perform, develop and remain healthy over the next few years so they can inject some talent into a Major League roster desperate for it.

Up next: Defensive Player of the Year

Follow Tony and the Indians Baseball Insider on Twitter @TonyIBI. Also, his new book the 2014 Cleveland Indians Baseball Insider which profiles the Indians' Top 100 Prospects and more is available for sale.

User Comments

October 2, 2012 - 10:41 PM EDT
I have no problem moving Paulino, but again, I don't see where the rush is here with moving him now. Left field is a place you stick guys with defensive issues....right now, that is not the kind of player he is. Maybe down the line, but for now you leave him at shortstop for another year to see what happens. Way too many people making a big deal about his errors this season. He does have some issues, but he is also incredibly inexperienced. I'd like to see how he develops and is playing defensively come this time next year before moving him to any other position.
October 2, 2012 - 3:32 PM EDT
i think maybe moving Paulino to left field might be brilliant move from what i read he has the offense to be significant addition in any of the 8 positions on the diamond. With lindor shortstop is allready taken care of both short term (cabrera) and long term, so put him in left the ball comes off the bat from similar angles in left as with shortstop, and it gives him a faster track to the majors by moving to a far less demanding defensive position, as a native of the DR i am sure moving away from shortstop will be the biggest mental hurdle however it gives the organization balance position wise. and frankly with shortstop instincts he should be excellent left fielder and his propensity to commit errors may retard his development and may ultimately adversely effect his offense as he struggles defensively. and an error every other game is 4 times as many errors as acceptible
October 2, 2012 - 7:28 AM EDT
Where Paulino plays will take care of itself. It's clear that he's a hitting Manny Ramirez was back in the day. He played a full year in rookie league ball...then a full year in Kinston.

Then just rolled through Double and Triple A...and really forced their hand because he was SO good those that season.

But he was a freak with the bat, and the Indians handled him that way.

If Paulino's bat is that will take care of itself. I agree with Tony...that there are nuances in his game that need work...but freakishly good offense has a tendency to smooth out the wrinkles.

Point being...if his bat really is as good as we think...he'll move quickly, and get time at another position. I don't think he'll get "stuck" behind Lindor, or bump Lindor.
October 1, 2012 - 11:11 PM EDT
I'm not sure I follow. Paulino will only be 18 next year. Like we saw with Lindor this year, they are not going to push him too hard in his first full season. There are nuances to the game he has to adjust to besides just hitting. Leaving him as shortstop, a position he can play, is just fine. It also keeps his value a little higher. He can always switch to third base, second base, or even the outfield when a situation arises and he and Lindor are at the same level, though that likely won't happen until sometime in 2014. So not a worry right now.
October 1, 2012 - 10:35 PM EDT
I'm disappointed that the Tribe plans on leaving Paulino at shortstop and in Lake County all next year. I understand the reasoning being given but disagree with it.

Paulino's bat is advanced and it could in theory move quickly through the system. Let's say Paulino duplicates his bat ability of 2012 in 2013. We all know for players to move up, there has to any opportunity to play at that next level. With Lindor at SS (assuming health and normal performance), how can Paulino advance if he is showing he is ready for more of a challenge??
October 1, 2012 - 6:03 PM EDT
Yeah a foregone conclusion on this one. Wendle and Santander were awesome this year, but they were overshadowed by the amazing pro debut of Paulino. To answer Bob's question, time will tell on Paulino, but he might be the best hitting prospect the Indians have signed in a long time. He has the skills to play almost anywhere defensively, so I am not concerned about what position he ends up at. He could conceivably play 3B, 2B, CF, LF, or RF. Who knows. The tools, athleticism and arm are there to handle just about any position. But for now shortstop is where he will continue to be developed as he will be the starting shortstop all year next season at Lake County.
October 1, 2012 - 5:39 PM EDT
Not a surprise pick. but glad there were a number of candidates. SS is a position of strength in the organization. If he doesn't catch on defensively there, maybe 3B.
Bob G.
October 1, 2012 - 3:37 PM EDT
Paulino is a stud. Maybe the biggest upside offensive player the Indians have had in some time?

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