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Future Stars Awards -- May edition

Two months of the 2009 season are over, so let's hand out the awards for May.

As I mentioned in last month's entry, 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.

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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. In fact, the "Position player of the month" in April was Nolan Reimold, who is already making an impact in the major leagues.

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.

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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: Oscar Salazar, utility player, Norfolk Tides

Most Orioles fans would probably like to see Baysox first baseman Brandon Snyder in this spot, but Salazar produced better numbers at a higher level in the minor leagues last month. Salazar batted .375 with eight home runs and 26 RBIs in 27 games for the Tides in May. Overall, the 30-year-old utility player leads the International League with a .380 batting average through 48 games this season. Salazar also ranks second in RBIs (43), tied for second in doubles (16) and tied for third in home runs (10) in 2009.

Honorable mention (listed alphabetically): Xavier Avery, outfielder, Delmarva Shorebirds (.340, nine RBIs, five doubles, 13 runs scored, six stolen bases); Pedro Florimon Jr., infielder, Frederick Keys (.320, five home runs, 18 RBIs, seven doubles, 18 runs scored); Brandon Snyder, infielder, Bowie Baysox (.330, seven home runs, 25 RBIs, six doubles, 15 runs scored); Jonathan Tucker, utility player, Bowie (.315, 10 RBIs, 18 runs scored, 12 stolen bases); Brandon Waring, infielder, Frederick (.303, six home runs, 21 RBIs, six doubles, 14 runs scored)

Starting pitcher of the month: Brian Matusz, Frederick

The Orioles' first-round selection in the 2008 MLB draft adjusted nicely to the Single-A Carolina League in May. Matusz was 2-1 with a 1.85 ERA in six starts for the Keys during the month. The 22-year-old left-hander struck out 43 batters and issued 11 walks in 39 innings in May. Matusz leads the Carolina League with 69 strikeouts. He is also first in the league with 60 2/3 innings and tied for second with a 2.37 ERA in 10 starts this season.

Honorable mention (listed alphabetically): Zach Britton, Frederick (2-0, 2.57 ERA, 27 Ks, 28 innings); David Hernandez, Norfolk (2-0, 1.52 ERA, 28 Ks, 23 2/3 innings); Troy Patton, Bowie (4-1, 2.17 ERA, 22 Ks, 29 innings); Chris Tillman, Norfolk (4-0, 2.63 ERA, 29 Ks, 24 innings); Rick Zagone, Delmarva (2-2, 2.10 ERA, 34 Ks, 30 innings)

Relief pitcher of the month: Jim Miller, Norfolk

If the Orioles need another reliever in the bullpen, you have to think Miller would be a promising candidate. The 27-year-old right-hander was 0-2 with a 1.17 ERA in eight appearances last season in the major leagues, and he excelled with the Tides in May. Miller was 2-0 with a 1.35 ERA and nine saves in 13 appearances for Norfolk last month. Overall, he leads the International League with 12 saves so far this season. Miller is 2-1 with a 1.69 ERA in 21 appearances in 2009.

Honorable mention (listed alphabetically): Brandon Cooney, Delmarva (2-1, 1.74 ERA, 10 appearances, 10 1/3 innings, three saves); Joe Esposito, Delmarva (1-0, 0.61 ERA, seven appearances, 14 2/3 innings); Eddie Gamboa, Delmarva (2-0, 1.04 ERA, eight appearances, 17 1/3 innings, one save); Luis Lebron, Frederick (1-1, 3.09 ERA, 10 appearances, 11 2/3 innings, six saves); Josh Perrault, Bowie (0-0, 1.42 ERA, 12 appearances, 12 2/3 innings, six saves)

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