The Orioles are honoring their minor league award winners before the game tonight at Camden Yards. The awards are being presented by Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette, director of minor league operations Kent Qualls and Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop.
The winners are:
* Brooks Robinson Player of the Year: Austin Hays (SIngle-A Frederick/Double-A Bowie)
* Jim Palmer Pitcher of the Year: Alex Wells (Single-A Delmarva)
* Cal Ripken Sr. Player Development Award: Bowie coach Butch Davis
* Jim Russo Scout of the Year: Kirk Fredriksson
* Elrod Hendricks Community Service Award: Austin Wynns (Bowie)
The Orioles also recognized Bowie’s Garabez Rosa as Eastern League batting champion, Frederick’s Ademar Rifaela as Carolina League MVP and Ryan Mountcastle, who ended the year with Bowie, as Carolina League batting champion.
Davis won the Player Development Award, named for the late Orioles coach and manager who is widely regarded as the architect of “The Oriole Way.” Each year, a minor league staff member who exemplifies Ripken’s qualities as an instructor is recognized with the award. Davis helped lead Bowie to an Eastern League-best .283 batting average, while also helping the Baysox lead the league in hits and runs and finish second in homers.
Davis just finished his 21st year in the organization. He had spent the last two years as Minnesota Twins first base coach before returning to the Orioles for 2017. Today. Orioles manager Buck Showalter threw some praise Davis’ way.
“Butch was in the big leagues last year. He came down (back to the minors) like it was his first day in pro ball,” Showalter said. “I think he was excited to be back with the organization. Lot of guys, you go to the big leagues and all the sudden are back in Bowie, might act like that is beneath them. Butch didn’t. That is why we had him in big league camp. He loves working with the players and they respond really well to Butch.”
The Orioles held a press conference with the winners and here are some highlights from that:
Duquette on how fast Hays advanced to the majors: “He had a terrific year. Just a year ago, he was in college. He is the first player from the draft of 2016 to reach the major leagues. He got through the minor leagues so fast, they forgot to list him as a prospect. He’s got all the tools and a terrific work ethic and he got his 100th RBI the other night. He will join other winners of this award in our clubhouse like Trey Mancini and Chance Sisco.”
Has Hays been surprised by anything in the majors?: “I would honestly say the biggest surprise is how nice everyone is. You’re not sure if you will be accepted and some of the guys are a lot older. But a lot of the older guys put an arm around me and have been very helpful.”
Fredriksson is the scout that signed Trey Mancini. What did he see in him at Notre Dame?: “His work ethic, No. 1. He is a much better athlete than people think he is. He’s an above-average athlete. Good baseball instincts. He is one of those people that works as hard as he can every day and never makes an excuse.”
Mountcastle on early struggles at Bowie, then a solid finish on offense: “With failure, that helps you grow as a player. It helps me a lot to grind my way through everything. Success helps, too, to keep your confidence up. Both have helped me as a player.”
Mountcastle on the move from shortstop to third base: “It was a lot smoother than I thought it would be. Starting to get more comfortable there every day. Starting to feel like I belong there and I feel great over there.”
Duquette on Rosa: “The Eastern League is a tough league. Garabez has gone back to the Eastern League faithfully and he’s done a great job. He provided excellent veteran leadership for the young players we had at Bowie and I want to congratulate him on a great season.