We're already one month into this season, so it's time to hand out the awards for April.
My goal is to recognize the best position player, starting pitcher and reliever in the Orioles' minor league system at the end of each month in 2009. The name of the honors -- "Future Stars Awards" -- is obviously fitting because, in most cases, these players represent the potential for future success with the Orioles.
Of course, these choices are only my opinion -- based on the statistics and what I've witnessed -- so feel free to send in your selections if you disagree. You can speak your mind by posting a comment below this entry or e-mailing me if you want to remain anonymous.
For each award, I picked a winner and five players whose performance last month deserves notice by the loyal O's on Deck readers. There are several other players who could make an argument to be considered, but I tried to narrow it down to six players in each category.Position player of the month: Nolan Reimold, outfielder, Norfolk Tides
Can anyone else honestly be selected in this spot? With Felix Pie's struggles in left field, Orioles fans continue to clamor for Reimold to be promoted to the major leagues. The 25-year-old outfielder batted .408 with seven home runs and 21 RBIs in 19 games in April for the Tides. He collected five doubles and was a perfect 4-for-4 in stolen base attempts during the month. Through Sunday's games, Reimold ranks second in the International League with eight home runs, and he is tied for second in the league with 24 RBIs.
Honorable mention (listed alphabetically): Kraig Binick, outfielder, Frederick Keys (.293, four home runs, 15 RBIs, six stolen bases); Pedro Florimon Jr., shortstop, Frederick (.300, two home runs, 10 RBIs, 16 runs scored, six stolen bases); Oscar Salazar, utility player, Norfolk (.388, two home runs, 16 RBIs, 13 runs scored); Brandon Snyder, first baseman, Bowie Baysox (.357, two home runs, 13 RBIs, seven doubles); Ronnie Welty, outfielder, Delmarva Shorebirds (.317, one home run, 10 RBIs, 13 runs scored)
Starting pitcher of the month: Troy Patton, Bowie
Quality starts were prominent throughout the organization in April. There were at least 10 starting pitchers in the Orioles' minor league system who shined during the month, but no one stood out more than Patton, in my opinion. Questions surrounded the 23-year-old left-hander's recovery from labrum surgery heading into the season, and he answered them without any doubt. Patton was 2-0 with a 1.21 ERA in four starts in April. He didn't allow any runs in 11 innings during his first two wins – both against the Akron Aeros, who lead the Eastern League Southern Division with an 18-4 record.
Honorable mention (listed alphabetically): Jake Arrieta, Bowie (2-0, 2.00 ERA, 18 innings, 22 strikeouts); Zach Britton, Frederick (0-1, 2.29 ERA, 19 2/3 innings, 20 strikeouts); Brandon Erbe, Bowie (1-3, 0.90 ERA, 20 innings, 19 strikeouts); Cole McCurry, Delmarva (1-0, 1.25 ERA, 21 2/3 innings, 22 strikeouts); Chris Tillman, Norfolk (1-0, 1.29 ERA, 14 innings, 15 strikeouts)
Relief pitcher of the month: Wilfrido Perez, Bowie
Perez gained a lot of attention with his impressive performance during spring training with the Orioles. The 24-year-old left-hander was 0-1 with a 1.42 ERA in eight appearances in Florida. He gave up two runs (one earned) and one hit in 6 1/3 innings. Perez didn't allow any runs in nine appearances last month with the Baysox. The 6-foot, 145-pound relief pitcher gave up five hits and struck out 11 batters in 10 innings in April. Perez is tied for sixth in the Eastern League with four saves in 2009, and opponents are hitting .156 against him.
Honorable mention (listed alphabetically): Pat Egan, Delmarva (0-0, 0.00 ERA, four appearances, nine innings); Eddie Gamboa, Delmarva (2-0, 0.87 ERA, five appearances, 10 1/3 innings); Luis Lebron, Frederick (0-0, 0.00 ERA, eight appearances, 10 2/3 innings, three saves); Bob McCrory, Norfolk (0-0, 1.80 ERA, eight appearances, 10 innings, three saves); Josh Perrault, Bowie (0-0, 1.88 ERA, eight appearances, 14 1/3 innings)