Summary: Despite not having a bona fide über prospect like they had last year with Jedd Gyorko, the T-Pads put together a nice collection of talented players who could have productive major league careers.
The offensive star in Tucson’s final season in the PCL was Ball State’s Dean Anna, who led the league in batting. Outfielder Jaff Decker, who had a nice rebound season, along with 1B Brandon Allen and 1B/DH/C Cody Decker also made quality contributions as the club finished just out of the playoffs with a 77-67 record.
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 Triple-A level is a combination of development and a taxi squad for major league teams. At this level, many players are good enough to be in the major leagues but, thanks to roster configuration, organizational need, and perceived or real shortcomings, they are just waiting for their shot. The Pacific Coast League features some of the more offense-inflating parks in affiliated ball, making it difficult to divine great meaning from many players’ stat lines on the circuit.
Player of the Year: 2B/SS Dean Anna .331/.410/.482
Aside from leading the league in batting, the left-handed hitting Anna, 26, finished third in the league in on-base percentage and second in doubles with 38. Unlike last year, he didn’t tire out in August, when he hit.323/.408/.375. He also hit .349 with runners on base. There are other hitting statistics David and Ben will regale you with, but regardless of how you slice it; Dean can hit.
Defensively, he can probably play about anywhere on the field – and has done so in the past. For all of us who follow the Padres’ system it was a shock that Dean didn’t get an opportunity at the big league level in September.
Runner-up: C Rene Rivera .343/.382/.474
The Padres are Rivera’s sixth organization and the 29-year-old Puerto Rican had a marvelous season in Tucson before being called up to replace the injured Yasmani Grandal. RIvera made the PCL all-star team and had 23 extra-base hits in 74 games.
Defense has always been his strength and how long he stays in San Diego is going to depend quite a bit on how healthy Yasmani Grandal is going into spring.
Player of the Year:Dean Anna
The Ball State alum was simply the best player on the field for Tucson all season. In addition to his league-best batting average, he also paced the club in extra-base hits, posting 20 percent more total bases than anyone else. What’s more, his range factor and fielding percentages at both second base and shortstop – recognizing the limits of such stats, especially at the minor league level – were quite respectable.
Yes, Rene Rivera’s percentages were all slightly better, but Decker had 50 percent more trips to the plate for Tucson, swinging the pendulum his way for this exercise. Decker is still short, but not nearly as stocky as his earlier days in the system, allowing him to move over to center field more this year than ever before. Still only 23 years old, Decker earned a brief cameo with the club mid-season, and will likely have a chance to ride the shuttle back and forth to El Paso in 2014.
Player of the Year: Dean Anna
Appropriately nicknamed the “Dean of Swing,” Anna lived up to his hype and then some. As previously mentioned, Anna led the entire league in batting average and was top five in on base percentage. What was really impressive about Anna’s season was his consistency. He didn’t have one great month and the rest mediocre. Rather, every month Anna hit over .300, with his second lowest being .323. Anna carried a .900+ OPS for most of the season.
Runner-up: Rene Rivera
Rivera spent most of the last four seasons toiling away in the Triple-A International League. He was signed as depth and quickly became the starter in Tucson. Rivera hit… than hit some more…. Then shortly before he was promoted, he hit even more. In Rivera’s last two weeks in Triple-A, he hit .459. Despite spending the final two months in San Diego, Rivera was a consistent threat in the middle of the lineup, deserving of runner-up.
Others of Note: The “brothers” Decker put together solid years. Jaff Decker, 23, after two tough years in San Antonio rebounded in his native Arizona hitting .
.317/.394/.537 in the second half as he saw more time in center field than ever before. He’s evolved to relying on his ability to get on base and shoot the balls into the gaps, rather than going over the wall. Cody Decker, 26, struggled to get into the lineup on a regular basis for reasons that are beyond us. He still finished the season with an .883 OPS, which was good enough for second among the regulars on the team. Cody also caught ten games behind the plate, which was his high school position. Journeyman Brandon Allen, 27, led the team in home runs with 17 and saw time at first and at both corners in the outfield. Outfielder Dan Robertson, 27, saw time in all three outfield positions and finished third in the league with runs scored at 91. Finally, although we will discuss him in the pitching segment, Sean O’Sullivan hit .444 in ten plate appearances as a pinch-hitter.
2013 MadFriars’ Tucson Padres Player of the Year: Dean Anna
Top Prospect: Dean Anna
There were no clear-cut everyday big leaguers on the Tucson roster for the bulk of this season. Anna was a natural candidate to get a look-see at the big league level at the end of the year, but the club elected not to add him to the roster in favor the nearly replacement level talents of Ronny Cedeno. That makes it hard to consider Anna any more of a prospect than the likes of Vince Belnome who preceded him. However, Anna will likely get an invite to major league camp with some organization next spring, and will certainly do all he can to earn a spot there. For the 2013 Tucson Padres, that makes him the best prospect going.