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K-Tribe names 2010 Award Winners

K-Tribe names 2010 Award Winners
August 31, 2010
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In a season that appears to have been saved by a late playoff run, it seems appropriate that the Carolina League saves leader would be named the Kinston Indians 2010 MVP. Kinston Indians closer Cory Burns was given the Pat Crawford MVP award this past Saturday.

Burns joined the K-Tribe on May 21, and since then, he's been nothing short of exceptional. Burns has gone 1-2 with 26 saves since joining Kinston. Add the 12 saves from Lake County, and Burns' 38 saves rank him third overall in the entire MLB minor league system. Burns has done nothing but save games since being drafted in the eighth round of the 2009 MLB June amateur draft. In his late season work in 2009, he saved 11 games for Mahoning Valley, before making his huge jump in 2010. He's not your prototypical closer, and anyone that sees him may think he's taken notes from Nuke Laloosh, the fictitious fireballer from the movie, Bull Durham.

Burns not only incorporates a pause in his delivery, but then completely turns his back to the hitter. While I'm not sure if he's using Fernando's 'primal eye,' when he delivers his pitches, they appear to be coming out of nowhere. He throws a low 90's heater that seems a couple of miles faster. That, combined with his unreadable changeup, make any lack of heat a non-issue. Burns' bread-and-butter comes from his knuckle curve. If he's got command of it, it's flat, and drops off a table. If he doesn't have control, it's even more effective, moving like a knuckleball. It has moved in, out and down. In other words, it always works, at least so far at this early juncture of the young pitcher's career.

It's worked well enough to earn a much-deserved MVP award for the Kinston closer.

T.J. McFarland was given the Steve Olin Pitcher of the Year award. McFarland started the year off tethered to Nick Hagadone, and only started once Hagadone was promoted. There really was no doubt that McFarland was the best pitcher in the Carolina League through much of the first half of the season, and was the only Indians player to make it to the All-Star team.

Joe Gardner was likely also considered, and arguably has been the better pitcher. Gardner was called up during the first week of May, and ironically enough, started his first game for Kinston before McFarland moved from the pen to the starting rotation. While McFarland led the league in wins and ERA for much of the season, Gardner has passed him in wins (12-10) and ERA.

Donnie Webb, who has battled injuries all season, but has rebounded nicely, was given the Tex Drake award for overcoming adversity. Catcher Doug Pickens received the Gaydek Sportsmanship Award for his leadership in the clubhouse.

The awards are selected and given out by the coaching staff. Congrats to all the 2010 award winners.

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