Henderson, Taveras CBN’s POY, Boucher, Duda in Indy ball
* RP Jim Henderson (Calgary, Alta.) won the Canadian Baseball Network minor league pitcher of the year honours for 2012, while the Randy Echlin memorial award went to Oscar Taveras as the best minor league hitter. Indy honours went to OF Sebastien Boucher (Ottawa, Ont.) and Jeff Duda (Surrey, BC) both of the Quebec Capitales ….
By George Farelli
Jim Henderson was a 10-year minor-league veteran and in 2012, riding the buses, living the life, chasing the dream and all that.
As the closer for Nashville Sounds, the 30-year old Calgary native enjoyed what might be considered his best year to date.
His impressive numbers included 35 appearances, 48 innings pitched, four wins, 15 saves, 56 strikeouts and a 1.69 ERA.
The 15 saves and 1.69 ERA placed him second in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League in both categories. He tied with Gatineau’s Phillippe Aumont for the most recorded by a Canadian in the minors and he owned the lowest ERA.
For those quality innings, Henderson was named the CanadianBaseballNetwork.com’s Pitcher of the Year in the fifth annual set of awards which honours the best of the 123 Canadians to appear in the minors this summer.
Henderson is the first two-time winner, sharing honours in 2009 with John Axford of Port Dover, Ont., a Milwaukee Brewers teammate this summer.
The Randy Echlin memorial award for Canada’s best minor league hitter goes to Oscar Taveras who had an outstanding season with Springfield Cardinals hitting .321 with 23 homes and 94 RBIs.
Taveras, who was born in the Dominican, grew up in Montreal and has a Canadian passport according to the St. Louis Cardinals, beat out Vancouver’s Jimmy Van Ostrand, who hit .325 with 13 homers and 50 RBIs at double-A Harrisburg.
Randy Echlin was a former Ontario Supreme Court Justice who passed in 2011 after years of tireless service with the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, man with a baseball-shaped heart.
On the independent league front the offensive player of the year was Ottawa’s Sebastien Boucher of the Quebec Capitales, while the top pitcher was Jeff Duda, of Surrey, B.C., also of the Capitales. They’re the best of the 47 players indy ball or in foreign lands.
Boucher hit .315 with 14 homers and a 76 RBIs, while Duda won 15 games with a 2.09 ERA.
But back to Henderson, he was rewarded by the Brewers with a promotion to the big leagues in an unusual way by manager Mike Guerrero and on July 26th, made his major-league debut versus the Washington Nationals. He pitched effectively with the Brewers for the remainder of the season, appearing in 36 games, with one win and three saves, recording 45 strikeouts and an 3.52 ERA.
Henderson beat out right-hander Shawn Hill, a Blue Jays farmhand from Georgetown, Ont.
Look up the definition for the word perseverance in the dictionary, no doubt you will also find Hill’s photograph. Coming off another prolonged stint on the Injured List, in 2012 Hill signed as a free agent with the York Revolution in the Independent Atlantic League. After only seven appearances with York, he had pitched well enough that the Blue Jays purchased his contract from the Revolution and assigned him to their Triple-A affiliate, the Las Vegas 51’s.
Not surprisingly his numbers at Las Vegas were outstanding, in 15 starts he won nine games, pitching 89.2 Innings, surrendering only 45 earned runs, had 52 strikeouts and compiling a 4.52 ERA. In late September the Blue Jays rewarded him with another call up to the big leagues and in his only pitching appearance, he earned his 10th career major league win.
Both outstanding Canadian veteran pitchers, and either one could have earned the recognition which comes with being chosen as the 2012 Affiliated Pitcher of the Year.
Offensive Player of the Year
Oscar Taveras had an outstanding season with Springfield Cardinals earning double-A Texas League All Star honours and winning the batting title with a .321 average. In 124 Games, he had 477 at bats, 153 hits, 83 runs, 37 doubles, seven triples, 23 homers and 94 RBIs.
Currently rated as the St. Louis Cardinals No. 1 prospect, and recently designated by MLB.com as the No. 2 Outfield Prospect in all of the minors, he was also chosen by Baseball America, as an outfielder on the 2012 Minor League All Star Team.
Taveras was born June 19, 1992 in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic and his family immigrated to Canada when he was only 11 years old, settling in Montreal where he lived until the age of 16. A return to the Dominican Republic at that time, made him eligible to immediately sign professional, rather than waiting until he reached the age of 18 in Canada. In November 2008, he signed his first pro contract with the Cardinals.
Jimmy Van Ostrand put up some excellent numbers in 2012, in what might be considered by some, as a “ comeback year.” Released by the Houston Astros organization after the 2011 season, he began 2012 with Sugar Land Skeeters in the Independent Atlantic League and, because of his strong Offensive performance, in late May his contract was acquired by the Washington Nationals, and he was assigned to their double A affiliate, the Harrisburg Senators.
His play at Harrisburg remained at a very high level throughout the rest of the season and his cumulative numbers with the two teams reflect the following totals, 107 games, 366 at bats, 119 hits, 51 runs, 20 doubles, one triple, 13 homers, 50 RBIs and a .325 average.
Van Ostrand also enjoyed success in 2012 on the International stage, he was a key performer for Team Canada in winning the World Baseball Classic Qualifier Tournament held last month in Regensburg, Germany.
In my opinion, these are the two most logical candidates for the 2012 Randy Echlin award as Offensive Player of the Year … either one is worthy of the recognition.
INDEPENDENT/FOREIGN LEAGUE PLAYERS
Offensive Players of the Year
In 2012 the Quebec Capitales won their fifth Can Am League championship in the past seven years and as usual, a very strong Canadian roster content, made a huge contribution to their success.
Sebastien Boucher had another outstanding offensive season, putting up the following numbers, 94 games, 366 at-bats, 119 hits, 78 runs, 23 doubles, three triples, 14 homes, 76 RBIs and a .326 average. He ended up second in the race for the batting title, sixth in home runs and third in RBIs, all of which led to his selection as a 2012 Can Am League All Star.
After being released in 2011 by the Boston Red Sox organization, Josue Peley came back to his home Province and signed with the Independent Can Am League’s Quebec Capitales, and enjoyed an excellent season. His numbers were impressive, in 97 games, he had 408 at-bats, 122 hits, 46 runs, 23 doubles, two triples, 10 home runs, 79 RBIs and a .299 average. His 122 hits led the Can Am League and the 79 RBIs were second, and this level of production led to his selection as the Can Am League’s All Star Catcher.
Either of these two veterans are deserving of some recognition in being the 2012 Independent/Foreign League Offensive Player of the Year.
Pitcher of the Year
Early in the season, Jeff Duda assumed the mantle as the No. 1 starter in the Capitales very capable rotation. He went on to have an outstanding season in 2012 with the following statistics, 20 appearances, 116 innings pitched, 15 wins, one save, allowing only 27 earned runs, had 120 Strikeouts and finished with an ERA of 2.09.
His 15 wins and 2.09 ERA both led the Can Am League, and the 120 strikeouts placed him second. He was voted Pitcher of the Year, and also selected for the 2012 Can Am All Star Team.
Tom Boleska signed with Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks in the Independent American Association prior to the 2012 season, and it turned out to be
a fantastic deal for the Redhawks. In his finest minor league season to this point, Boleska made 46 relief appearances, 46 innings pitched, two wins, 29 saves, allowing only nine earned runs, with 58 strikeouts and a spectacular ERA of 1.76.
His 29 saves led the American Association and in recognition of his outstanding performance as a closer, he was chosen as the League’s 2012 Relief Pitcher of the Year.
Similar to Van Ostrand above, Boleska was active with Team Canada in winning the World Baseball Classic Qualifier Tournament held in Regensburg, Germany.
Duda and Boleska are two very worthy candidates for Indy Leagues 2012 Pitcher of the Year.
OFFENSIVE POY/RANDY ECHLIN MEMORIAL AWARD
2008 – Tin Smith (Toronto, Ont.) Rangers.
2009 — Tyson Gillies (Langley, BC) Mariners.
2010 — Brett Lawrie (Langley, BC) Brewers
2011 – Taylor Green (Comox, BC) Brewers and Brett Lawrie (Langley, BC) Jays.
2012 – Oscar Taveras (Montreal, Que.) Cardinals.
PITCHER OF THE YEAR
2008 — Scott Diamond (Guelph, Ont.) Braves.
2009 — James Henderson (Calgary, Alta.) Brewers and John Axford (Port Dover, Ont.) Brewers.
2010 — Scott Mathieson (Langley, BC) Phillies.
2011 – Mark Hardy (Campbell River, BC) Padres.
2012 — James Henderson (Calgary, Alta.) Brewers.
INDEPENDENT / FOREIGN LEAGUE PLAYERS
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
2008 — Drew Miller (Medicine Hat, Alta.) Calgary Vipers
2009 — Pete LaForest (Hull, Que.) Quebec Capitales and Colin Moro (Calgary, Alta.) Calgary Vipers.
2010 — Drew Miller (Medicine Hat, Alta.) Calgary Vipers.
2011 – Matt Rogelstad (Port Moody, BC) Edmonton Capitals.
2012 – Sebastien Boucher (Ottawa, Ont.) Quebec Capitales.
PITCHER OF THE YEAR
2008 — Michel Simard (Charlesbourg, Que.) Quebec Capitals.
2009 — Aaron Wideman (Mississauga, Ont.) New Jersey Jackals.
2010 – Aaron Cotter (Kitimat, BC) Sioux Falls Pheasants.
2011 – John Mariotti (Toronto) Quebec Capitales.
2012 – Jeff Duda (Surrey, BC) Quebec Capitales.