Despite an outstanding first half that had them as one of the best teams in the minor leagues, the Dunedin Blue Jays fell off precipitously in the second half, culminating with a two-and-done playoff series. With several of their best first-half players like Dalton Pompey, Kendall Graveman and Daniel Norris on their way to the major leagues, the Blue Jays just didn’t have enough quality to compete with the Daytona Cubs who were stacked to finish the season.
Still, the D-Jays had a great season and many minor league teams in A-ball are envious of having had three MLB call ups in the same year. The Blue Jays also had seven mid-season All-Stars and three full-season All-Stars to go along with their first-half divisional title and a nice Florida State League Manager of the Year award for skipper Omar Malave. Without further ado, here are the Blue Jays from Away Awards for the 2014 Dunedin Blue Jays.
Blue Jays from Away Player of the Game Champion
For those of you who followed the minor league reports here, you’ll know that I “awarded” Player of the Game (PotG) accolades on a game-by-game basis. It should comfort you to know that I’ve been keeping track of these daily awards and my rationale for the system is as follows.
The Player of the Game Awards were determined by a number of factors that included who I thought had the most impact on the game and who might have gone “above and beyond.” Most nights, there was just one Player of the Game. If there was, he earned one point. If I thought that either a) no one stood out enough to merit a single PotG, or b) two or more players were outstanding and deserved mention, I split the point up into two, three or four shares. If two players earned PotG mention, they each received 0.5 points and if three players earned mentions, they each received 0.3 points. There were occasions that I felt that no one merited the award and therefore, I did not give out any points.
Here are the final standings for Blue Jays from Away Player of the Game for the Dunedin Blue Jays:
I bet you didn’t see that one coming, did you? It kind of surprised me when I sorted the spreadsheet to tell me who was the player with the most Player of the Game points but there it is in black and white (or light grey and dark grey): Marcus Knecht, the Toronto boy, is your Blue Jays from Away Player of the Game champion. Knecht didn’t have the most statistically eye-popping season but he did help the D-Jays win by providing a steady and solid presence in the outfield and at the plate.
Blue Jays from Away Player of the Year
This won’t be a surprise at all: Dwight Smith, Jr. wins the award for the Player of the Year, which he can put alongside his R. Howard Webster awards on his mantle. Smith’s consistent season that saw him significantly increase his power output while still maintaining a high batting average and on-base percentage (.284/.363/.453 slash line) gives him the award. He also had the advantage of compiling his numbers over the course of the full season where some others were moved up midway through the year.
Honourable mentions: You can’t not mention Dalton Pompey’s outstanding first half here. The 21-year-old Mississauga native hit .319/.397/.471 over 70 games with the D-Jays before beginning his meteoric rise all the way to Toronto.
Blue Jays from Away Pitcher of the Year
This was an extremely tough award to decide on because we’re evaluating players based on how long they spent with the team as well as their effectiveness overall. With that in mind, I’m giving it to Matt Boyd who was utterly dominant in the first half and very good in the second before running out of gas down the stretch. While he couldn’t duplicate his High-A success in Double-A, Boyd was absolutely dominant in Dunedin, putting up a 1.39 ERA, 0.94 WHIP with 103 strikeouts and only 20 walks in 90 2/3 innings.
Honourable mentions: There are a lot! First of all, Taylor Cole, the team’s leading pitcher when it comes to innings pitched (132), had a very solid 3.07 ERA and 1.16 WHIP with a minor-league leading 171 strikeouts and 39 walks. Kendall Graveman and Daniel Norris also merited consideration. Graveman for his 2.23 ERA over 96 2/3 innings with a 1.11 WHIP and Norris for his 1.22 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 76 Ks. In Graveman’s case, I would argue that Boyd was much more dominant at the same level (despite Graveman’s greater success at higher levels) and in Norris’s case, I’d argue that Boyd’s greater workload in Dunedin and better command gives him the edge. On the bright side, it’s fantastic to see so many great pitchers on the club.
Blue Jays from Away Reliever of the Year
While the competition for Pitcher of the Year was fierce for the D-Jays, the competition was very clear for the honour of Reliever of the Year as Arik Sikula, the D-Jays’ closer, was probably the simplest choice. Sikula notched 31 saves with a 1.66 ERA and 0.90 WHIP over 43 1/3 innings, walking only eight and striking out 60.
Honourable mention: Sidewinding lefties Chad Girodo and Efrain Nieves had a lot in common this year. They both ate up innings for the Blue Jays and both posted sub-2.50 ERAs with WHIPs around 1.17. Girodo shows much more swing-and-miss stuff, striking out 81 over 76 2/3 innings but the two of them made for a miserable life for left-handed batters in the late innings.
Blue Jays from Away Most Improved Player
For me, there was no D-Jay who improved more than Kendall Graveman. Graveman, considered to be more of an organizational pitcher last year with the Lansing Lugnuts after having been drafted in the eighth round in 2013. His numbers were solid but fairly pedestrian and didn’t hint much at what he would be capable of this year. The discovery of a cutter and the refinement of his sinking fastball made Graveman the organization’s fastest riser, reaching the major leagues after starting in Class-A Lansing.
Honourable mention: Taylor Cole also had fairly pedestrian numbers last year, spent mostly in Lansing. He rebounded by jacking up his strikeout rate at a higher level than he played at last year and recaptured the form he had in 2012 when he was one of the most devastating pitchers in the Short-Season-A Northwest League with the Vancouver Canadians.
Who are these players? Find out in The 2014 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook, now available as an ebook at Smashwords.com for $7.99 US. It’s coming soon to Amazon, Apple iBooks, Kobo and other fine retailers. You can purchase and preview the book at our Smashwords.com page! If you like us here,“like” us on Facebook!
The All-Star Break Supplement to the Minor League Handbook is also available at Smashwords.com for only $2 US! Get an update on how your favourite players have been doing this season as well as a report on the 2014 draft!
All photos are copyright Blue Jays from Away (2013-2014) and may not be used without permission.