Sometimes you’ll get a unanimous pick from league managers to win a category. In other cases, the last ballot or the last phone call will swing the voting. We took a look at an easy and tough decision in each full-season minor league.
Tough Call: No pitcher stood out for his breaking ball to our managers, so Corey Kluber was the winner for his slider, which features sharp, tight rotation.
Easy Call: No one else even merited a vote for Most Exciting Player, which went to Starling Marte. Before earning his big league promotion in July, Marte was leading the league in triples by six over his closest competitors.
PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE
Tough Call: With Dan Straily, Trevor Bauer, Jake Odorizzi, Drew Pomeranz, Tyler Skaggs and Garrett Richards in the league, the race for Best Pitching Prospect was tight. Bauer gets the nod with three plus or better pitches.
Easy Call: Adeiny Hechavarria’s speed and defense would be useful in the big leagues now, so it’s no surprise he ran away with shortstop and infield arm.
Tough Call: This year’s EL crop didn’t have many players with overwhelming tools, making for a tight race for Most Exciting Player. Manny Machado came out on top, thanks to above-average grades for all of his tools but speed.
Easy Call: Zack Wheeler led the league in strikeouts as well as praise, scoring a sweep of the best pitching prospect, fastball and breaking ball categories.
Tough Call: Hak-Ju Lee, Didi Gregorius and Matt Davidson all fire off lasers from the left side of the infield, though Andrelton Simmons has the best combination of arm strength and accuracy.
Easy Call: There are a handful of power arms in the Southern League, but managers raved about the high-90s fastball of righthander Carter Capps.
Tough Call: In a crowded field of Best Pitching Prospect candidates, Trevor Rosenthal emerged as the winner thanks to velocity that can touch the high 90s, narrowly beating breakout prospect Dan Straily.
Easy Call: Oscar Taveras is probably the best hitter in the minor leagues, so it’s no surprise that he was a unanimous choice for Best Batting Prospect.
Tough Call: Despite Donn Roach not winning any categories for best individual pitches, enough Cal League managers were sold on his all-around abilities for him to win Best Pitching Prospect honors, in addition to Best Control.
Easy Call: In what had to the least surprising result, Billy Hamilton ran away with Best Baserunner, Fastest Baserunner and Most Exciting Player.
Tough Call: Dylan Bundy hasn’t mowed down hitters quite as regularly in the Carolina League, but he beat out a tough challenge from Yordano Ventura and J.R. Graham to earn the league’s Best Pitching Prospect.
Easy Call: Jackie Bradley got a vote in every position-player category except power, and he was a near-unanimous selection for Best Batting Prospect.
FLORIDA STATE LEAGUE
Tough Call: The FSL has its usual embarrassment of riches in the pitching department, so Gerrit Cole had to beat out Bruce Rondon, Carlos Martinez, Jameson Taillon and Enny Romero to win Best Fastball.
Easy Call: Nick Castellanos was off to Double-A by early June, but he left an impression and easily outdistanced Christian Yelich as Best Batting Prospect.
Tough Call: The league has plenty of pitching talent, but it came down to Aaron Sanchez vs. Archie Bradley in most categories. Bradley won best fastball and breaking ball, Sanchez edged him out as Best Pitching Prospect.
Easy Call: Miguel Sano homered twice in his fourth game of the season and his power hasn’t stopped. He was a nearly unanimous choice for Best Power.
SOUTH ATLANTIC LEAGUE
Tough Call: Mike Foltynewicz and Clayton Blackburn provided stiff competition, but Dylan Bundy did enough in April and May to win Best Pitching Prospect.
Easy Call: Big error totals are synonymous with Sally shortstops (think Derek Jeter’s 56 in 1993), but Trevor Story ran away with Best Defensive Shortstop in spite of his 17 errors, thanks to steadiness, durability, range and actions.