Midwest League End of Season All Stars and Honorees

Alek Thomas (center) flanked by other Midwest League All-Stars. June 18, 2019 - Photo credit Rikk Carlson. @rikkcarl10 on Twitter

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.

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.

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.

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.

Below is the full list of positional All Star Honorees for the Midwest League in 2019.

Catcher David Fry Wisconsin
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 Griffin Conine Lansing
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.

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