MLB Award Winners Boast Plenty of Pedigree

The 2017 MVP, Cy Young and Rookie of the Year Awards have been announced, and all have roots in Baseball America.

Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton took home the National League MVP Award after hitting .281 with 59 home runs and 132 RBIs. The slugger’s star was born well before he reached the majors, however. Stanton ranked as the No. 1 prospect in both the high Class A Florida State League in 2009 and the Double-A Southern League in 2010, was named both the best power hitter and best athlete in the Marlins system three years in a row, and entered the 2010 season ranked No. 3 in the BA Top 100 Prospects. His 2009 BA scouting report after he hit 39 homers in his first full season noted “While low Class A Greensboro’s NewBridge Bank Park is a bandbox, Stanton’s homers weren’t flukes. He hit 18 on the road and showed regular light-tower power, prompting comparisons to a young Dave Winfield.” Stanton, who was a three-sport prep star with the opportunity to play college football at Southern California, spoke to BA last year about his amateur days, shortly before he hit a record 61 home runs during the 2016 Home Run Derby at Petco Park.

American League MVP Jose Altuve took a much different route. Signed for just $15,000 out of Venezuela in 2007, the Astros’ 5-foot-6 second basemen consistently beat the odds and rose to the top of the sport by hitting .346 with 24 home runs, 81 RBIs and 32 stolen bases this year. His 2010 scouting report after his first full season at low Class A Lexington noted “Offensively, Altuve shows enough power to punish mistakes but mostly plays a No. 2 hitter’s game. He uses the whole field, has excellent baserunning skills that augment his average speed and shows the bat control to move runners. Altuve plays with energy that makes him a team leader and keeps winning people over.” Altuve ranked as one of the California League’s top prospects in 2011, made his major league debut that same season and never again returned to the minors. Prior to winning MVP, Altuve was named Baseball America’s 2017 Major League Player of the Year.

National League Cy Young winner Max Scherzer went 16-6, 2.51 with 268 strikeouts and 55 walks in in 200.2 innings for the Nationals to claim his third Cy Young in five years. He has a long track record of stardom dating back to his high school days. BA wrote of the 18-year-old Scherzer in his 2003 draft report “RHP Max Scherzer opened scouts’ eyes in March, when he beat Florida 5-A state champion Lakewood Ranch, led by certain first-round pick Lastings Milledge, with 10 strikeouts in five innings. Six-foot-3 and 195 pounds, he tops out at 93-94 mph and usually pitches in the high 80s. He’s inconsistent and still learning to pitch. Considered a tough sign, he could blossom into a top 2006 pick after three years at Missouri.” He indeed went to Missouri and blossomed into the state’s top-ranked draft prospect in 2006. He was drafted in the first round that year and became a Top 100 prospect and the Triple-A Pacific Coast League’s No. 3 prospect by 2008. Scherzer’s development continued in the majors, with three Cy Young Awards in the last five years after not garnering a single vote for the award in any of his first five seasons. He spoke with BA about his continued development in the majors earlier this year.

Indians righthander Corey Kluber won his second American League Cy Young Award in four seasons after going 18-4, 2.25 with 265 strikeouts and 36 walks in 203.2 innings. Kluber was the Atlantic Sun Conference Pitcher of the Year in 2007 while pitching for Stetson, and his BA draft report from that year noted Kluber “has been resilient and holds his velocity late in outings. He pitches at 90-91 mph, touching 94, and his delivery is clean. The strong-bodied Texan has an intimidating presence on the mound, and he pounds the zone with four pitches.” A trade from the Padres to the Indians as part of a three-team deal in 2010 set him on the path to success, and he was the Triple-A International League’s No. 12 prospect in 2012 before breaking through the majors.

Dodgers first baseman Cody Bellinger unanimously won National League Rookie of the Year after hitting .267 with an NL-rookie record 39 home runs and 97 RBIs. Long known in the baseball world since playing in the Little League World Series in 2007, Bellinger was one of the top 100 draft prospects out of high school in 2013 and ranked among the top 20 prospects in the Rookie-level Pioneer, high Class A California and Double-A Texas Leagues. He ranked No. 7 on the BA Top 100 prospects entering this season and lived up to his pedigree with a record-breaking rookie campaign.

Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge was also a unanimous selection as American League Rookie of the Year. A three-time Top 100 prospect, Judge hit .284/.422/.627 with a rookie-record 52 home runs and 114 RBIs. He also set rookie records for walks (127) and strikeouts (208). Judge was a top draft prospect out of Fresno State in 2013 and showed why quickly after the Yankees drafted him 32nd overall, ranking among top prospects in both the low Class A South Atlantic League and high class A Florida State League in his first full season and following it up with appearances in the Double-A Eastern League and Triple-A International League Top 20 prospects the following year. The hulking Judge underwent numerous swing adjustments throughout his minor league development, which he discussed with BA earlier this summer and his former hitting coach broke down on film. The changes unlocked his enormous power, and Judge was named Baseball America’s 2017 Rookie of the Year. 

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