2011 Bus Leagues Postseason Awards: Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year

September 28, 2011
It’s Awards Week here at Bus Leagues, that annual event in which we unveil the seasons that our voters determined to be the best in Minor League and Independent baseball. This year, we have nine awards to give out: Player of the Year, Starting Pitcher of the Year, and Relief Pitcher of the Year for Full-Season Minor League Baseball, Short-Season Minor League Baseball, and Independent Baseball. In the Independent Baseball awards announced Monday, Ronnie Gaines was named Player of the Year, Mike Loree won the Starting Pitcher of the Year award unanimously, and Josh Dew was the Relief Pitcher of the Year. Yesterday, Oscar Hernandez, Justin Nicolino, and Edwin Carl took home the Short-Season awards. The voters for the third annual Bus Leagues Postseason Awards: Andrew Rosin, Brian Moynahan, Chris Fee, Eric Angevine, Mike Lortz, and Scott Grauer from Bus Leagues Baseball; Craig Forde from Beyond Fenway; Craig Wieczorkiewicz from Midwest League Traveler; Patrick Cavanaugh and Joshua Kummins from Boston Sports U18; Jeff Perro; Dave Gershman from Penn League Report; Ben Hill from Ben’s Biz Blog and MiLB.com; and Dan Suitor. Up next: the award for Minor League Baseball’s Full-Season Relief Pitcher of the Year. Minor League Baseball Full-Season Relief Pitcher of the Year FIRST Addison Reed, Kannapolis/Winston-Salem/Birmingham/Charlotte (Chicago White Sox, A/A+/AA/AAA) 43 G, 2-1 W-L, 1.26 ERA, 5 SV, 78.1 IP, 43 H, 14 BB, 111 SO 40 points (6-1-2-0-0) “Among minor league relievers, Reed was the breakout star in 2011. After closing games for San Diego State in his first two collegiate seasons, he moved to the rotation to attempt to replace Stephen Strasburg. The White Sox drafted him in the third round last year, and after just 108.1 IP in the minors, only 42 of which came in the upper minors, Reed finds himself in the major league bullpen where he could become a great late inning option.” – Scott Grauer “From A to AAA in one season? Who do you think you are, Stephen “Lord Vishnu” Strasburg? (no, I’m not letting that go).” – Eric Angevine “Addison Reed should be noted for hitting every level on the spectrum this year, justifiably given his ridiculous 1:0.13 strikeout-to-walk ratio.” – Craig Forde “Probably good enough to start. But dominant in an inning or two.” – Andrew Rosin “Stephen Strasburg’s old closer at San Diego State put up better than Strasburg numbers in 2011.Four levels in one year? The guy must have kept his suitcase packed.” – Mike Lortz “Those K, BB, and hit stats can’t be right. Can they? One of our bat boys, during his first outing in AA, came to me in the dugout and said “Are you seeing this guy pitch!?! He’s blowing them away!!” Became one of our running jokes.” – Jeff Perro SECOND Christopher Manno, Hagerstown/Bakersfield (Washington/Cincinnati, A/A+) 47 G, 1-4 W-L, 0.90 ERA, 14 SV, 60.1 IP, 26 H, 21 BB, 100 SO 35 points (1-4-4-0-2) “The Nationals liked Manno enough to select him in consecutive drafts, and he signed after his senior season at Duke in 2010. He wasn't even particularly effective in college, but the Nationals saw something, and as a professional he's been great. Halfway through this season, he was sent to the Reds as part of the Jonny Gomes package, and he's still doing very well. In 17 innings at Bakersfield after the trade, he allowed only 12 baserunners and struck out 31 batters.” – Scott Grauer “Young guy with a nice K/BB ratio. I’d like to recommend “Book ‘em, Manno” as something stupid the PA announcer could say after a strikeout.” – Eric Angevine “He’s 22 and pitching in A-ball, but 100 strikouts out of the bullpen? Damn. He helps his case by averaging close to 1.3 innings an outing; it’s always nice to have that guy that can come in to close out an inning and still start the next one off. Still, that 14.92 K/9 rate is enough to make my eyes pop out of my head like a Tex Avery cartoon.” – Dan Suitor “60.1 IP and an ERA of 0.90 that’s lights out.” – Chris Fee “A slightly less awesome Tolleson.” – Andrew Rosin “Out of 238 batters faced, Manno struck out 100 of them. He got the outs Mano y Manno.” – Mike Lortz THIRD Shawn Tolleson, Great Lakes/Rancho Cucamonga/Chattanooga (Los Angeles Dodgers, A/A+/AA) 57 G, 7-2 W-L, 1.17 ERA, 25 SV, 69 IP, 52 H, 18 BB, 105 SO 31 points (3-3-0-2-0) “Tolleson’s 2011 should have been called “Final Destination”, because everywhere he went he killed the competition. 13.7 strikeouts per 9? They might as well call him “Shawn of the Dead”, because the competition walked out of the batters’ box like zombies.” – Mike Lortz “Shawn Tolleson gets my top vote due to his advancement through the Dodgers system thanks to his overall numbers, including 7 wins and 25 saves. Tolleson averaged 1 walk every 3.8 innings of work and his 1.01 WHIP solidifies his role a reliever who simply does not allow many base runners to reach…which is the ultimate goal for any penman.” – Craig Forde “If you're a full season reliever? 105 k's in 69 IP with 18 BB equals awesomeness.” – Andrew Rosin FOURTH Brad Brach, 25, San Antonio/Tucson (San Diego, AA/AAA) 67 G, 3-5 W-L, 2.89 ERA, 34 SV, 71.2 IP, 60 H, 12 BB, 94 SO 27 points (2-1-0-5-3) “Brach’s 2011 was sweet as the candy-named reliever made it from AA all the way to the bigs. Although his Major League stats weren’t the greatest, he definitely made Bus Leagues batters look like suckers.” – Mike Lortz “If we’re going to be rewarding minor league relievers, let’s just throw a dart in the general direction of the guys getting it done. Brad Brach had 34 saves in two stops through the upper-minors, and while many of us stat nerds will dismiss saves as a byproduct of context and not a metric of performance, time and time again we well-graded relievers fail to consistently close the door. Brach struck out batters at a 11.8-per-nine clip and walked just 1.5 batters-per-nine, which are nice peripherals, but he shut the door against tough competition in rough pitching environments. That’s enough for me.” – Dan Suitor “Got a soft spot for Brach. I had him on the Z-meter back when I kept track of prospects better.” – Eric Angevine “Brach may not have a great future as a major leaguer, maybe just a middle reliever, but over the past few years, he's been one of minor league baseball's best closers. He has 108 saves in his last three full seasons, and without checking, I'm sure that more than any other player. He owns the Cal League record for single season saves, and now he's getting a chance to show he can pitch in the majors. He should be able to get some swings and misses with his splitter.” – Scott Grauer “If the Padres would have traded Heath Bell there would have been a great chance he would have been the heir apparent…. But they didn’t…. but his AA/AAA numbers are solid.” – Chris Fee “Voted most likely to be Cla Meredith at his high school.” – Andrew Rosin FIFTH Kevin Quackenbush, Eugene/Fort Wayne (A-/A) 35 G, 2-1 W-L, 0.64 ERA, 18 SV, 42 IP, 25 H, 12 BB, 71 SO 20 points (0-2-2-2-2) “Super-low ERA? Nice strikeout numbers? Tiny little WHIP? Whatever, this guy gets my last vote based on his hilarious name alone. Thank you, Kevin Quackenbush, for making me laugh.” – Dan Suitor “As a former USF student, I've known about Kevin Quackenbush for a couple years now. After putting up comic book numbers in 2011 for the Bulls, he was drafted in the 8th round by San Diego and has continued his dominance as a professional. He piled up 18 saves in just half a season as a pro, and he's next in a long line of dominant Padres minor league relievers. He could rise through the system quickly.” – Scott Grauer “A very awesome last name, and a very awesome K/9 rate.” – Andrew Rosin “I live in Tampa. Quackenbush is from Tampa and went to the University of South Florida. Quackenbush shredded the A-Leagues with ease. He should be more challenged as he goes up the ranks.” – Mike Lortz SIXTH Heath Hembree, San Jose/Richmond (San Francisco, A+/AA) 54 G, 1-1 W-L, 1.86 ERA, 38 SV, 53.1 IP, 36 H, 25 BB, 78 SO 14 points (0-1-2-2-0) “Can’t argue with that combo of ERA, saves and Ks.” – Eric Angevine SEVEN Joe Savery, Clearwater/Reading/Lehigh Valley (Philadelphia, A+/AA/AAA) 25 G, 5-0 W-L, 1.50 ERA, 2 SV, 36 IP, 32 H, 6 BB, 41 SO 12 points (1-0-1-0-4) “Joe Savery’s story is impressive, going from batter to pitcher who climbed his way up through three levels and eventually the bigs after not truly knowing what his role in the game may be. He found new life as a lefty reliever and could now pan out as a solid LOOGY for the Phils.” – Craig Forde “When selecting five players each for nine awards, I think I'm allowed one homer pick, and Savery deserves some recognition. After a career as a starter that saw his stuff slowly erode, he began 2011 as a first baseman. In a 23 inning game with Clearwater, he was needed in relief, and all of a sudden his fastball velocity was mostly back. The Phillies slowly took away his at-bats in favor of innings, and now he finds himself in the major league bullpen.” – Scott Grauer “Savery deserves credit for persevering through a decidedly up and down professional career. Rare is he who is drafted in the first round as a pitcher, converts to hitter, and then goes back to pitching (and better than he ever had before, at that).” – Ben Hill “Pitching prospect, turned outfielder, turned reliever, now a major leaguer…. Whatta story!” – Chris Fee EIGHT David Carpenter, Inland Empire/Arkansas (Los Angeles Angels, A+/AA) 44 G, 1-1 W-L, 0.57 ERA, 16 SV, 47.2 IP, 35 H, 14 BB, 52 SO 10 points (0-0-2-2-0) “It’s the miniscule ERA. I don’t have a lot to go on, and David Carpenter is a 24-year-old pitching against younger competition without killer peripherals, but at some point you’ve got to reward the fact that you could double that ERA figure and he’s still be the third lowest on this list.” – Dan Suitor “Check out that ERA. Noice.” – Eric Angevine NINTH Cory Burns, Akron (Cleveland, AA) 54 G, 2-5 W-L, 2.11 ERA, 35 SV, 59.2 IP, 47 H, 15 BB, 70 SO 6 points (0-1-0-0-2) "My reasoning on Cory Burns is pretty much the same as my reasoning on Brad Brach: nice numbers, got it done a lot against tough competition. The main differences? Burns pitched in the much-friendlier Eastern League, pitched fewer innings, and didn’t post quite the same quality peripherals (though 10.56 K/9 and 2.26 BB/9 rates are nothing to sneeze at). The upside for Burns is that he’s two years younger and in a system that hasn’t had a lot of luck developing relievers.” – Dan Suitor T-TENTH Jose Diaz, Bowie/Norfolk (Baltimore, AA/AAA) 48 G, 0-3 W-L, 2.62 ERA, 23 SV, 44.2 IP, 42 H, 21 BB, 48 SO 0 points T-TENTH Wes Etheridge, Dunedin/New Hampshire (Toronto, A+/AA) 54 G, 1-1 W-L, 2.40 ERA, 33 SV, 63.2 IP, 54 H, 10 BB, 45 SO 0 points T-TENTH Victor Marte, Memphis (St. Louis, AAA) 55 G, 2-4 W-L, 1.44 ERA, 31 SV, 62.1 IP, 47 H, 20 BB, 52 SO 0 points

2 Responses to 2011 Bus Leagues Postseason Awards: Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year

  1. Justin on September 29, 2011 at 10:39 PM

    Great website and great and informative view points

    Love Manno and Love Tolleson

  2. [...] player and to me, unfortunately only came in 7th place on our relief pitcher of the year ballot last week. May 23rd, [...]

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