As we get closer to the end of the season, a new season is upon us: award season.
The Nationals kicked things off yesterday by announcing their 2023 Minor League Award winners:
* Hitter of the Year – James Wood
* Pitcher of the Year – Andrew Alvarez
* Defensive Player of the Year – Trey Lipscomb
* Baserunner of the Year – Johnathon Thomas
* Nationals Way Award – Jacob Young
Wood, 21, led the Nats’ minor league system in most offensive categories by setting a lot of career highs: first in home runs (26), RBIs (91) and slugging percentage (.520); second in OPS (.873), doubles (28) and triples (eight); and third in hits (124).
The Nats’ No. 2 prospect per MLB Pipeline and Baseball America finished the season slashing .262/.353/.520 with 28 doubles, eight triples, 26 home runs, 91 RBIs, 65 walks, 18 stolen bases and 80 runs scored in 129 games between High-A Wilmington and Double-A Harrisburg.
Both MLB Pipeline and Baseball America have him ranked as the No. 7 prospect in baseball.
It’s the second straight year Wood has received this honor after being named co-Hitter of the Year with Jeremy De La Rosa last year.
On the pitching side, Alvarez finished the season leading the Nats’ minor league system in most statistical categories: first in ERA (2.99), WHIP (1.17) and innings pitched (tied, 129 ⅓); and second in strikeouts (116) and opponents’ average (.229).
A 2021 12th-round pick out of California Polytechnic State University, the 24-year-old left-hander went 7-7 with a 2.99 ERA, 116 strikeouts and 43 walks in 129 ⅓ innings across 26 games (22 starts) between Wilmington and Harrisburg.
His campaign marked the first time a Nationals pitcher recorded a sub-3.00 ERA in a full minor league season since 2018.
Lipscomb, 23, played all over the infield this year. Between second base and third base, he increased his fielding percentage from .929 in 2022 to .981 in 2023.
He also appeared at shortstop for the first time in his professional career and did not make an error in 39 chances. There he recorded four defensive runs saved, per Baseball Info Solutions.
One of his most impressive stretches in the field came June 4-8, when he cleanly fielded 89 straight attempts for a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage. He also recorded a career-high 10 assists at Double-A Erie (Tigers) on June 13. Over the course of the season, he appeared at every infield position over 129 games between Wilmington and Harrisburg.
At the plate, Lipscomb recorded 139 hits, with 29 doubles, two triples, 14 homers, 72 RBIs, 59 runs scored and 10 stolen bases. He led the entire system in hits and doubles, and ranked fourth in batting average (.272), home runs and RBIs.
The Frederick, Md., native is currently rated by MLBPipeline.com as the Nats’ No. 14 prospect and the No. 15 prospect by Baseball America.
Thomas ranked fifth in all of Minor League Baseball with 65 stolen bases, which was also good for second among all Single-A players. Also a career-high, his stolen bases were the most by a Nats minor leaguer since 2014 (Hagerstown’s Rafael Bautista with 69). He was one of five players in all of the minor leagues to record at least 65 stolen bases and score at least 60 runs.
The 23-year-old was selected in the 19th round of the 2022 draft out of Texas Southern University.
Young receives the award given to the Nationals minor leaguer who best demonstrates the professionalism, leadership, loyalty, passion, selflessness, durability, determination and work ethic required to play the game the “Washington Nationals Way.”
In the whole system, he ranked second in average (.305), on-base percentage (.376), hits (132) and stolen bases (39). He averaged .305 with 21 doubles, five triples, six homers, 58 RBIs, 42 walks, 39 stolen bases and 60 runs scored across 112 games between Wilmington, Harrisburg and Triple-A Rochester before making his major league debut on Aug. 26 in Miami.
Since making his debut, Young has taken over as the Nats’ everyday center fielder.
Young was named the Nationals’ 2022 Baserunner of the Year and the “Fastest Baserunner” in Washington’s system, per Baseball America.
He was selected in the seventh round of the 2021 draft out of the University of Florida.