Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations, Dan Duquette, spent a few moments today talking about the Orioles minor league award winners announced this morning.
Duquette said Henry Urrutia won a close, three-player race for the Brooks Robinson award as the O's minor league Player of the Year.
"It is good we have a number of players having good years," Duquette said. "Caleb Joseph had a great year with the bat and made the All-Star team in the Eastern League. Michael Ohlman really came into his own in the Carolina League, and they were under consideration for the award."
"I think the fact that Henry came so quickly to the big leagues was a determining factor in him winning. But Caleb Joseph deserves a lot of credit and Ohlman went to Austrailia last year and developed himself in the Austrailian Baseball League. He took advantage of that opportunity, and he had a terrific year."
Urrutia hit a combined .347/.406/.506 - .365/.433/.550 in 52 games at Double-A Bowie and .316/.358/.430 in 29 games at Triple-A Norfolk - with 31 extra-base hits, 50 RBIs and 49 runs scored in 81 total games.
"He distinguished himself with his bat and has met all the challenges," Duquette said of Urrutia. "Had good on-base, good slugging and a real high average, I mean elite average. Urrutia has a chance to be a complete, everyday ballplayer in the big leagues. His bat is his calling card, but he can also run and defend and has a good arm.
"Fred Ferreira and Danny Haas both scouted Urrutia in the Dominican. They went in there to see (Yoenis) Cespedes and (Jorge) Soler, and they identified that Urrutia had the skills to be a big leaguer. So they really deserve the credit for recommending him. Henry really deserves all the credit. He had serious challenges to one, get to the States, and two, to get to the big leagues. We are proud to honor him with this award."
Double-A Bowie pitcher Mike Wright wins the Jim Palmer award as minor league Pitcher of the Year after going 11-3 with a 3.26 ERA in 143 2/3 innings for the Baysox. On the final day of the minor league regular season, he pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings for Norfolk in his Triple-A debut.
"Mike Wright had a terrific year and came into his own this year," Duquette said. "He was one of the top pitchers in the Eastern League. He really learned how to pitch with his fastball. We promoted him to Triple-A, and he did a great job for them that last day of the season. He did a great job, and he's coming, he's coming quick. This is a nice recognition for him."
The O's short-season Single-A Aberdeen club was eliminated from the postseason last night. Duquette feels it has been a solid year for the O's on the farm.
"Our minor league system is making good progress, and we are making good progress because we have good people like today's Cal Ripken (Sr.) award winner, Gary Kendall," Duquette said. "He has helped developed players we have brought to the big leagues like Manny Machado.
"The fact that we can continue to bring players through the system to the big leagues, that is our reason to be, right? That is the mantra of the club. This year we got Kevin Gausman to the big leagues quickly and he was signed by Dave Jennings, our scout of the year by the way. And we have some other players we traded to help our club and we have another group of good young players on the way. That pipeline is flowing."