As the Midwest League wraps up an epic season that saw some premier talent in 2019, the Class A circuit has release its list of award winners.
It should come as no surprise that “Prospect of the Year” honors go to wunderkind Wander Franco of the Bowling Green Hot Rods. Despite being promoted to High-A Charlotte on June 25th, Franco slashed .318/.390/.506 with 6 home runs, 14 SB and walked more than he struck out in his 62 games in the Midwest League. Franco has firmly cemented himself as the top prospect in all of baseball and should continue to quickly climb the ladder with an eye on Tampa in 2020.
Midwest League announces its end-of-season All-Stars, with Kane County OF Alek Thomas (#Dbacks) winning MVP and Bowling Green SS Wander Franco (#Rays) named Prospect of the Year. https://t.co/bfCn1BYrpL pic.twitter.com/TZsHMpCxii
— Minor League Baseball (@MiLB) August 23, 2019
MVP honors went to Alek Thomas, who played 91 games with Kane County before being called up to Visalia on August 3. Despite his abbreviated stint, Thomas still leads the Midwest League in SLG (.479) and OPS (.872) after a breakout year for the Diamondbacks prospect. Thomas hit .312/.393/.479 with eight home runs, 11 steals and a 17.9 percent strikeout rate as he planted himself firmly in the Top 50 or so prospects in baseball heading into 2020.
Very high on Alek Thomas. Projects as a plus hit, plus speed outfielder with a strong OBP due to an advanced plate approach. Enough raw power to reach double-digit HR annually, probably peaking in the 15-20 range. Looks like a future leadoff hitter to me.#MLB #MiLB #RattleOn https://t.co/9CSIrHiWm5
— Eric Cross (@EricCross04) August 19, 2019
There were also some notable players on the end of season positional All Star list. Xavier Edwards, the Padres #5 prospect and presumed 2B of the future, leads all MWL batters with a .336 average and also chipped in 20 SB in just 77 games before being called up to Lake Elsinore. Will Benson put his name back on the radar of prospectors with a 4 HR game in April (the first MWL 4 homer game since Garrett Jones back in 2002) and was on pace for 36 home runs, 110 RBI and 88 runs when he was called up to High-A Lynchburg.
So Xavier Edwards has continued to mash since moving up to Lake Elsinore.
Lo A – .332 AVG in 304 AB
Hi A – .328 AVG in 131 AB
One career HR and about 8% walk rate, but this guy was drafted out of high school LAST YEAR and has raked at every level. #hottalentlava
— Bleav in Padres Prospects (@FriarFarmhands) August 16, 2019
On the pitching side, Bowling Green RHP Caleb Sampen and southpaw Joey Cantillo of Ft. Wayne took home honors. Sampen’s 2.75 ERA leads all MWL pitchers and he has backed that up with a tidy 1.03 WHIP and 102/32 K/BB. Cantillo posted an incredibly impressive 1.93 ERA and 0.87 WHIP over 19 starts before being promoted to High-A. Although he fell just short of the innings requirement to win the ERA title, he still posted the 4th most K’s in the MWL with 128 punchouts in just 98 IP good for a 34.7 K%. It looks as if the Rays and Padres have a couple of promising arms rising up in the low minors.
The President of the Midwest League of Baseball Clubs, has announced Caleb Sampen, Chris Betts, and Wander Franco were named to the Midwest League Post-Season All-Star Team on Friday. https://t.co/qzcwWTHzeS pic.twitter.com/5DupBeHpKL
— BG Hot Rods (@BGHotRods) August 23, 2019
Below is the full list of positional All Star Honorees for the Midwest League in 2019.
|First Base||Gabe Snyder||Cedar Rapids|
|Second Base||Xavier Edwards||Fort Wayne|
|Shortstop||Wander Franco||Bowling Green|
|Third Base||Miguel Vargas||Great Lakes|
|Outfield||Will Benson||Lake County|
|Outfield||Alek Thomas||Kane County|
|Designated Hitter||Chris Betts||Bowling Green|
|RH Pitcher||Caleb Sampen||Bowling Green|
|LH Pitcher||Joey Cantillo||Fort Wayne|
|RH Reliever||Cre Finfrock||Lansing|
|LH Reliever||Skylar Arias||Lake County|
|Manager||John Shoemaker||Great Lakes|
John Stewart is a graphic & website designer, event promoter, and baseball enthusiast based in Louisville, Kentucky. He has been obsessed with minor league baseball since childhood, as the AAA Louisville Redbirds (now the Louisville Bats) were the only local team...which is still the case today. Now a season ticket holder, John enjoys watching top prospects as they come through town, as well as purchasing far too much cotton candy for his kids throughout the baseball season. Follow John on Twitter at @jonance.