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The 2014 IBI Awards: Most Outstanding Minor Leaguer

Urshela, Lindor impress the most among minor leaguers in 2014

The 2014 IBI Awards: Most Outstanding Minor Leaguer
Francisco Lindor (Photo: Patrick L. Pfister)
October 13, 2014
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Welcome to the third annual edition of the IBI Awards!

At the end of every year, we here at IBI vote on various categories relating to Cleveland baseball as we continue looking back on 2014 ahead of our 2015 offseason coverage.

Today is the eighth and final installment of the IBI Awards, the Most Outstanding Minor Leaguer.

Previous awards for this season include:

Unlike the rest of the IBI Awards, this edition turns the focus from the major league team to the minors. This vote had the most diverse number of players who received votes, with 18 different minor leaguers getting at least one point.

But who came out victorious? Or, more accurately, which two players came out victorious?

Rank Name Points
T-1 Giovanny Urshela 32
T-1 Francisco Lindor 32
3 Jesus Aguilar 22
4 Erik Gonzalez 11
5 Ryan Merritt 8
T-6 Bradley Zimmer 7
T-6 Clint Frazier 7
T-6 Nellie Rodriguez 7
T-6 Tyler Naquin 7
10 Anthony Gallas 6
11 Bobby Bradley 4
12 Tyler Holt 3
T-13 Luis Lugo 2
T-13 Mitch Brown 2
T-13 Tyler Cloyd 2
T-16 Eric Haase 1
T-16 Joe Colon 1
T-16 Carlos Moncrief 1

A tie at the top between Urshela and Lindor! Co-Most Outstanding Minor Leaguers!

Personally, Lindor’s two down months in Columbus downgraded him out of my ballot, with my five spots going to players who performed at a high level throughout 2014. That is why Urshela got my top vote, with Merritt, Aguilar, Gonzalez, and Haase rounding out the ballot. All five of them are obviously no Lindor, but they are real prospects whose high level of performance in the minor leagues deserved to be recognized in my mind.

But that is just how I voted. Here is what the rest of IBI had to say:

Tony Lastoria:

  1. Urshela
  2. Gonzalez
  3. Merritt
  4. Aguilar
  5. Gallas

First off, since we are including all players, I omitted short season players Bobby Bradley and Yu-Cheng Changfrom consideration for this since they played in about a third of the games of the full season players. Secondly, I will go into more detail on these players in my upcoming Tony Awards piece for the minor leagues. In any case, to me at least, Urshela had the most complete season of any Indians farmhand. Not only did he finish near the top of the organization in batting average, home runs, RBI, and OPS, but he arguably was the organization’s best defensive player this season. He's in strong consideration for a big league job at some point next season. Gonzalez may not have had the power numbers, but he had everything else with the ability to hit for average, steal bases, drive in runs, and play some very good defense. Merritt led the Indians in several pitching categories and was the best pitcher in the Carolina League. Aguilar had a big year in Columbus and finally started to tap into his power more, and Gallas rebounded from a few injury plagued seasons to have a huge year offensively.

Hayden Grove:

  1. Urshela
  2. Lindor
  3. Aguilar
  4. Zimmer
  5. Frazier

He may not be the popular pick, but Giovanny Urshela takes the cake for Most Outstanding Minor Leaguer, following his progress as a top-level prospect this season. Prior to 2014, Urshela seemed a project, destined for a long and challenge-filled Minor League career, but a quick start with the Akron RubberDucks earned him a promotion to Columbus and his production didn’t falter as many expected it would. Lonnie Chisenhall best watch his back, as Urshela is a solid defender with a potentially powerful stick that could easily replace the long-swinging lefty that currently occupies the hot corner.

Michael Goodman:

  1. Lindor
  2. Bradley
  3. Urshela
  4. Lugo
  5. Aguilar

I had to go with Lindor at the top of this list. He did exactly what we hoped this season, which was to play well in Akron, move up to Columbus, and put himself on the cusp of gaining the shortstop job in Cleveland. This was the timeline we all hoped would for, and Lindor held up his end of the bargain. The numbers he posted as a 20-year-old in AA were impressive. He held his own later in the season in Columbus, another impressive feat for the best prospect the Indians have had in a long time. Bobby Bradley had a debut that makes you dream. I’m not sure what his ceiling is anymore, but it’s obvious that he has an advanced bat that could move through the system quickly. He could turn into a special player. Urshela was a guy I pegged as a possible surprise coming into the season, and he didn’t disappoint. His bat finally caught up to his glove, and he looks like he might have a future as an everyday third baseman. To me, Luis Lugo might be the best pitching prospect in the system right now. You have to look past his ERA. Those 146 strikeouts in 126 innings are impressive for a 20-year-old at Lake County. He’s underrated. Lastly, Aguilar had a fantastic season at Columbus and should be squarely on the Indians radar as one of the first call-ups next season if an injury occurs. The biggest thing for me in terms of his development was his much improved plate discipline in 2014.

Jake Dungan:

  1. Gallas
  2. Gonzalez
  3. Holt
  4. Urshela
  5. Colon

I’m a bit biased here since I spent the summer working for the Akron RubberDucks but I think most of us can agree that the emergence of Anthony Gallas was one of the more interesting developments of the minor league season for the Tribe. He finally managed to stay healthy all year and prove what he’s capable of. I became acquainted with him throughout the season and there’s not a nicer, more soft-spoken guy who works harder than he does.

John Vourlis:

  1. Lindor
  2. Urshela
  3. Aguilar
  4. Frazier
  5. Naquin

The future looks as bright as at any time in Tribe history. Ross Atkins, Brad Grant, and the rest of the scouts and player development people should be commended.

Spencer Davies:

  1. Rodriguez
  2. Lindor
  3. Aguilar
  4. Brown
  5. Merritt

Picking anyone other than Francisco Lindor as the most outstanding minor leaguer of the year sounds insane, but just hear me out. Rodriguez accomplished many feats this year, the most impressive being 22 home runs and 88 RBI.  That performance was good enough for third in the organization behind Carlos Santana and Zach Walters (with WAS org. and CLE org. combined).

If you want to follow Jim on Twitter, he’s @JimPiascik. If you want to e-mail him, you can do so at If you want to read his Master's thesis on college athletes and Twitter, you can do so here.

User Comments

October 14, 2014 - 8:43 AM EDT
Feyereisen only pitched 17 innings. I think that disqualifies him as the most outstanding minor league player this year.
October 13, 2014 - 2:13 PM EDT
J. P. Feyereisen. I don't know if Kluber could go down to the NYPL and do better than that.
October 13, 2014 - 1:34 PM EDT
Full Season Outstanding Minor Leaguer.

1. Urshela
2. Gallas
3. Gonzalez
4. Merritt
5. Morimando

Half Season Outstanding Minor Leaguer
1. Bradley
2. Gabriel Mejia
3. Zimmer
4. Chang
5. Casey Shane

October 13, 2014 - 1:31 PM EDT
For me at least, it is about taking off prospect designations, age to level comps and so on....and just evaluating who had the best season statistically and most complete overall performance. Urshela was a top five offensive performer, but for me he gets the nod as the best player because this is an all inclusive reward. We include pitchers and such so it is not just offensive based....and considering the top caliber defense Urshela played he was really, by far, the most complete player in the system this year. It doesn't mean he is their top 10 prospect or anything....just a straight look at his season. Gonzalez wowed defensively and was one of the best hitters this season as well so he was right up there. Guys like Aguilar, Gallas and Rodriguez all had big offensive seasons, but did not have much impact defensively or in other areas of the game. Everyone has their own outlook and opinion on it though which is the purpose and why you collect a vote.
October 13, 2014 - 1:24 PM EDT
The lack of pitching (for the most part) on these lists is very telling.

My list would have had Bradley at #1 even though it would be just 1/2 year. He was outstanding in Arizona. Lindor did what I would consider expected which is an outstanding accomplishment as he's had a lot of hype and was in the higher levels of the system. But Bradley's jump from HS to rookie ball was as good as I've seen in the system since Manny.
October 13, 2014 - 12:03 PM EDT
Lindor did do what was expected and had a nice season. We will probably make it to the major to stay before almost anyone of the players on the list. But I do not think he had one of the top five season in the organization. Should age and level matter? I can see the logic in leaving short season players off the list. I most agree with Tony's list and like Davies's argument for Rodriquez just wish he had included Urshela. These lists are fun and love the explanations - probably the most controversial list so far. Everyone made good points defending their list.

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