Summary: The TinCaps were dominated by one of the best young staffs the organization has sent out to the Midwest League in a long time. Despite not having one of the more potent offensive attacks, they played well enough to advance to the Eastern Division Championship Series before losing to South Bend.
At the plate, the team struggled for power with a .381 slugging percentage, and had a league-low walk total. Even so, there were some promising young players on the roster.
Approach: We use a simple formula for the awards. A player is eligible with whichever team he appeared for the most. For the top prospect, we take into account not just what the player did this year, but his age and potential impact in the major leagues.
Level: The Midwest League is the first full season league and one of the more challenging to hitters because of the early cold weather. At this level, batters are still
adjusting to wood bats and learning how to cover the plate. Pitchers with so-so “stuff” can succeed as long as they have decent fastball command and the ability to throw a second pitch.
Player of the Year: CF Alberth Martiniez .277/.360/.478
After hitting .354 in the AZL in 2011, Martinez, 22, struggled in 2012. After being sent down from Fort Wayne with a .129 batting average last April, he posted a mediocre season in Eugene. This summer, he turned it around in the Summit City with a team-leading 43 extra-base hits, despite missing most of July to injuries. He finished fourth in the Midwest League in slugging percentage and was better in the second half with a .303/.396/.523 line. He also hit .340 with runners in scoring position. The lanky Venezuelan can play all three outfield positions and is a definite sleeper in the system.
Runner-up: CF Mallex Smith .262/.367/.340
Mallex Smith, 20, did what you want from a leadoff hitter; he led the team in on-base percentage and stole 64 bases in 80 attempts, which topped the Midwest League. Smith also led the team in runs scored and, on defense, he alternated with Martinez in center.
Player of the Year: Alberth Martinez
Despite missing most of July, Martinez led the TinCaps in nearly all offensive categories. He was the only TinCap to hit double digits in home runs and had nearly twice as many triples as the next closest TinCap. The best thing is that he continued to improve as the season wore on. Martiniez hit over .300 with a .900 OPS during the second half of the season.
Runner-up: Gabriel Quintana .305/.344/.447
Quintana made the jump to Fort Wayne after playing only 16 games in Eugene in 2012. However with injuries to Casey McElroy and Fernando Perez, Quintana was thrust into the starting job, and he did nothing short of excel. The 20-year-old Dominican hit over .300 before missing nearly two months with an injury. He then returned and once again hit over .300. Like many Dominicans, Quintana struggled with his plate discipline walking only 11 times in 88 games. He also committed a team-high 27 errors. Still, his offense was something the TinCaps sorely missed when he was out.
Player of the Year: Alberth Martinez
Yes, his power was the best on the team this year – not the grandest praise one can offer. However, Martinez also has a very strong approach at the plate, striking out in only 16 percent of his plate appearances and posting a solid walk rate of 39 in 415 trips to the plate. After a lost 2012 campaign, Martinez needs to move quickly next year, but he has more tools than most outfielders in the system.
Runner-up: C Rodney Daal .271/.317/.424
With all the teenagers in the TinCaps rotation, only Rodney Daal among the position players didn’t reach his 20th birthday this year. The multi-lingual Dutch catcher has plenty of areas to work on, but he has impressive raw strength in his fireplug build and shows impressive commitment to his game. Over the second half of the season, he hit .295/.357/.439 – numbers that compare favorably to Austin Hedge’s stint in the Midwest League the year before. It’s not a coincidence that his performance improved when he started getting more regular action behind the plate after Dane Phillip’s promotion.
Others of Note: 2B Maxx Tissenbaum led the team in total bases with 149 and led the league in being hit by a pitch with 19. He didn’t show a lot of power with a .359 on-base percentage but he walked more than he struck out at 43/36 and by most accounts was solid at second. Dane Phillips was solid with the stick, but the 2012 second-rounder simply isn’t a catcher. It’s unclear exactly where he might play in 2014. Australian outfielder Corey Adamson made the most of his third trip to the Midwest league. Still only 21 years old, he has developed a lot physically in the last two years. He has a good combination of line-drive power and speed, and good baseball instincts that help those tools play up.
MadFriars’ 2013 Fort Wayne TinCaps Player of the Year: Alberth Martinez
Top Prospect: Rodney Daal - David Jay and Ben Davey
Martinez is more likely to reach the majors – his versatility and defensive skills in the outfield make his path clearer – but Daal has a special bat that could help him be a better big-leaguer, if he gets there. The 19-year-old will need to put in the work to be able to stay behind the plate, but he has the tools to do it. As he gets more advanced coaching on footwork, his strong arm will play better in games. Watch for him to put up some impressive numbers in the Cal League as the Storm’s everyday catcher in 2014.
Top Prospect: Alberth Martiniez - John Conniff
Ben and David are correct that Martiniez is the more conservative pick but its also rare that you do find the combination of speed and power on the offensive side and the defensive ability to play three positions. If Martiniez can run a little more and his body continues to fill out he could develop into a five-tool player.