2005 M's Minor League Award Winners

Santiago's glove is record breaking (Photo/Waugh)

Offensive, defensive and pitcher of the year awards from short season Everett through Triple-A Tacoma. Who had the big year? Which arms paced each club? Who's glove solidified the team's defense?

Tacoma Rainiers – AAA – Pacific Coast League

Offensive MVP: Abraham Nunez
Nunez played three outfield spots and was the one constant all season for a club that logged over 200 transactions on the season. The switch hitter entered play on Friday night hitting .277/.367/.454 with team-leading totals in homers (17) and RBI (85). Nunez batted .356 with runners in scoring position and .346 with RISP and two outs.

Pitcher of the Year: Felix Hernandez, RHP
Hernandez missed 40 percent of the year due to injury and an August call-up but there is no denying his value to the Rainiers this season. The 19-year-old sensation still leads the club in wins with nine and he led the PCL in ERA at 2.25. Oh, and Felix was great in five relief appearances, too.

Defensive MVP: Ramon Santiago, 2B/SS
Santiago enters the final weekend of regular season play with a good shot to break the league's record for fielding percentage by a second baseman. The switch-hitting Dominican native has made just six errors in 126 games split between second base and shortstop.

San Antonio Missions – AA – Texas League

Offensive MVP: Jaime Bubela, OF
Bubela has had quite the second half, raising his average to .292 after an incredibly slow start to the season. It is apparent he is fully recovered from the leg injury suffered last off-season as he leads the Missions in hits, runs, steals and total bases. With T.J. Bohn's promotion to Tacoma and Jon Nelson's struggles coming off a hand injury, Bubela's emergence the last two months could not have come at a better time for the playoff-bound Missions.

Pitcher of the Year: Thomas Oldham, LHS
Bobby Livingston took the award at the half, but Oldham stepped up in a big way following his teammate and friend's promotion to Triple-A. The southpaw from Nebraska led San Antonio with 149.1 innings pitched and a 3.62 ERA through August 31, while also placing among the league leaders in wins (12, third) and strikeouts (111, fourth). At one point he reeled off six straight winning decisions in the second half, and has set himself up nicely for his chance with Tacoma in 2006.

Defensive MVP: T.J. Bohn, OF
Yuniesky Betancourt started the season in San Antonio but could not stay even one half, and is now wowing audiences across the States traveling with the M's. With that said, Bohn snags the award for his play in left field before a late move to Tacoma. Towards the end of the season, Bohn's accurate cannon of an arm was so widely known that no Texas League opponent would even attempt running on him, allowing teammate Gary Harris to total more outfield assists. Bohn's play with the Missions left some scouts saying he was the best defensive outfielder in the league, not to mention the best all-around hitter.

Inland Empire 66ers – A+ - California League

Offensive MVP: Bryan LaHair, 1B
LaHair will finish second in the Cal League in RBI with 113 and hit .310/.373/.503 before leaving the club to represent the USA in the World Cup qualifying tournament.

Pitcher of the Year: Ryan Feierabend, LHS
Feierabend entered the Sixers final series with the second best ERA in the California League at 3.74 and has chopped more than a full run off that number since the end of May.

Defensive MVP: LaHair
LaHair became more than a reliable run-saver at first as he continually scooped up errant throws from the young Sixers infield. LaHair's range at first is solid and he'll occasionally remind some of Andres Gallaraga or John Olerud.

Wisconsin Timber Rattlers – A – Midwest League

Offensive MVP: Thomas Hubbard, 1B
Hubbard's .295/.387/.497 line is impressive for player in his first year of pro ball, and his 17 homers and 77 RBI are second on the club in both categories. Hubbard's left-handed bat was backed up nicely by right-handers Mike Wilson and Matt Tuiasosopo but the M's th round pick from last June anchored the lineup well enough on his own.

Pitchers of the Year: Stephen Grasley, RHR and Julio Santiago, LHS
Grasley is 9-0 with a 3.76 ERA in 43 relief appearances and has been the long, middle and short man for skipper Scott Steinmann all season long. Santiago has emerged as the staff ace during the past month and is 7-3 with 4.44 ERA in17 starts. Santiago has whiffed 66 batters in 99.1 innings – 43 in his last 45.

Defensive MVP: Yung-Chi Chen, 2B/3B
Chen has been a plus defender at second and third base this season, making 17 errors in 121 games playing two of the three toughest spots on the field. The 22-year-old's versatility has allowed Steinmann to use Tuiasosopo and Navarro at their natural positions of second base and shortstop.

Everett AquaSox – SS – Northwest League

Offensive MVP: Luis Valbuena, 2B
The 2004 Venezuelan League MVP proved to be one of the most lucrative additions to the Mariners' farm system this year. The stats speak for themselves: .268/.342/.476, 12 home runs, 48 RBI, 44 runs scored. On top of all that, Valbuena was arguably the most dependable and consistent member of the team all year, appearing in more games (65) than anyone else on the team.

After spending the first half of the season playing small ball, Valbuena came out of the woodwork in mid-August hitting five home runs in four games, rocketing him to first in dingers amongst NWL hitters.

His work in the field was shaky to start, but he was able to turn things around by mid-season and become part of a successful double play combo with shortstops Reed Eastley and Rob Hudson.

To top off an already successful year, Valbuena was recently named to the NWL All-Star team.

Pitcher of the Year: Stephen Kahn, RHP
Kahn joined the Sox in late July following a lengthy contract negotiation process and immediately established himself as the go-to closer. With a fastball that averaged in the mid-90's, Kahn quickly found himself amongst the league leaders in saves, racking up ten in fourteen appearances. He was 2-0 on the year with a 4.50 ERA in 14 innings of work and struck out 19 while walking 11.

Though he's traditionally been a starter and will likely find himself in the five-man rotation next year, Kahn's heroics in the bullpen won't be forgotten anytime soon and he's definitely earned his stripes as one of the prospects to watch for going into next season.

Defensive MVP: Michael Saunders, RF
On a team that earned an unenviable reputation early in the season for their costly mistakes, Saunders managed to commit only one error in 49 games with the Sox. The big right fielder's arm proved valuable, as well, gunning down numerous runners throughout the year. Add in his power potential at the plate and one can't help thinking that the Victoria, B.C. native is becoming reminiscent of some other guy that used to play right field in the Mariners organization.

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