Honoring the Timber Rattlers

Did Feierabend receive a "Kevy"? (Photo: Mariners)

In a tough season for Single-A Wisconsin, there have been a few bright spots. Here are InsideThePark.com's Kevin Damask choices for the best Timber Rattlers of the 2004 season to date.

On Sunday, July 25, ESPN aired their annual Espy awards, awarding the top performances in the world of sports over the past year. Well, now I present to you the Kevy's. The mid-season award story honoring the top performers for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers.

The Barry Bonds Award: OF Wladamir Balentien

This award is given to the player who has displayed the most power. It was a close race between outfielders Chris Colton and Wladamir Balentien. Balentien gets the nod despite missing a month of the season due to injury. He leads the team in home runs with 14, has smacked 10 doubles and driven in 44 runs. The recently-turned 20-year-old also boasts the highest slugging percentage on the team at .521.

Honorable Mention: OF Chris Colton

This has to go to Balentien's counterpart in the outfield, Chris Colton. Even though his batting average is low at .237, Colton has shown that he can hit the long ball. He is tied for the Midwest League lead with nine triples, belted 12 home runs and currently leads Wisconsin with 55 RBI.

The Ty Cobb Award: OF Josh Womack

This award is presented to whoever has earned the best batting average on the team over the entire stretch of the season. Josh Womack currently has a .268 average in 84 games this season.

Honorable Mention: Wladimir Balentien

Balentien has a .278 batting average but has played in 15 fewer games than Womack.

The Rickey Henderson Award: Josh Womack

Who on this team has the most speed? Or, more appropriately, who isn't afraid to commit theft while on the base paths? The award goes to Josh Womack. Manager Steve Roadcap has used Womack primarily as a leadoff hitter and here's why: he has stolen 17 bases and has been caught just five times. He currently leads the team in hits with 92 including 15 doubles and eight triples. He has crossed the plate more than anyone else on the team, having scored 59 runs and has proven to be a good table setter.

Honorable Mention: Chris Colton

Colton has 13 steals, but has been caught seven times. He is not afraid to test an outfielder's arm, having legged out nine triples.

Offensive Most Valuable Player: Wladamir Balentien

It's a close call between Womack and Balentien, but it should go to Balentien. He has been the team's most consistent hitter, their biggest power threat and received the Midwest League's Player of the Week award twice. Unfortunately, for Wisconsin, Balentien will play for The Netherlands in the Olympics and will miss the final month of the season. This will be Josh Womack's time to shine.

The Randy Johnson Award: LHP Ryan Feierabend

The Midwest League is a haven for pitchers. While the Timber Rattlers have failed to put together a consistent starting rotation, starting pitchers Ryan Feierabend and LHP Thomas Oldham have developed into two fine young arms. The 18-year-old Feierabend is 8-5 with an era of 3.75 over 117.2 innings and has allowed 49 earned runs. Feierabend also recieved Most Valuable Player honors at the Midwest League All-Star Game on June 22.

Honorable Mention: Thomas Oldham

Oldham came out of the University of Creighton as an average pitcher who could throw strikes. Now with Wisconsin, Oldham is not only raking up the K's, but also evolving into a better all-around pitcher. He's earned a 6-5 record with a 2.82 ERA over 108.2 innings of work. He's among the league leaders in strikeouts with 125 and was named the Midwest League's Pitcher of the Week on July 18.

The Jim Edmonds Award: Chris Colton

This award is given to the teams' best defensive performer. Colton has committed just one error in 88 games. In fact, the outfield combination of Colton, Womack and Balentien have just five errors as a group. Maybe Colton will share the award with his counterparts.

The Player Most Likely Bound for Safeco Field: SS Adam Jones

Up to this point, you were probably wondering why I hadn't mentioned the Mariners' number one draft pick in 2003. So far, Jones hasn't put up the type of stats that are expected of a number one pick. However, Jones, who turns 19 on August 1, has played more games than he's ever had in his life as a Timber Rattler. His early season struggles on defense are slowly staying behind as of late. Currently, he's hitting .259 with 48 RBI and has more plate appearances (355) than any other Timber Rattler. Jones is a year younger than both Womack and Balentien, so he's got less experience. If he continues his steadily improvment, there's no reason to say he won't be in a Mariners' uniform some day.

Stay tuned as InsideThePark.com's Joe Ruiz, in an effort to "keep up with the Kevins", releases his awards for the season so far from Double-A San Antonio later this week.

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