In a season of great pitching performances and awful hitting up and down the Phillies' minor-league system, outfielder Michael Bourn and right-handed starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco have been named as the Paul Owens Award winners for best player and pitcher, respectively, in the organization.
Bourn is a slightly over-age speed guy who started 2006 at AA, where he played for all of last season. His numbers there were, frankly, disappointing: .274 average, .719 OPS, 36 walks and 67 strikeouts in 319 at-bats. So he showed a power hitter's K rate, but just 15 extra-base hits. A look at Bourn's Reading splits doesn't even suggest that he particularly picked it up as the year went on--but he was promoted to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre nonetheless in early July. Bourn started out scalding hot, batting .319 for that month with an .856 OPS and four triples. He cooled off considerably in August, though: .207/.281/.379/.661. A .256 batting average on balls in play for that month might indicate some bad luck, but at this point Bourn looks like a bench player in the big leagues. Bourn was a combined 45 for 50 in stolen-base attempts. But a quick scan of the team's other ostensible position prospects--guys like Greg Golson, Mike Costanzo, and Brad Harman--suggests that the choice wasn't a bad one. (Actually, Costanzo's full-season numbers turned out pretty decent; he's one to watch next year.) Personally, though, I would have given it to Carlos Ruiz, who hit extremely well at Scranton (.307/.389/.505/.894, 16 HR) and could well be the Phils' starting catcher next year.
As we noted a bit more than a month ago, though, the news is much, much better on the pitching side, where Carrasco was one of perhaps five fully worthy candidates for the Owens Award.
Carrasco is a 19 year-old Venezuelan flame-thrower who bounced back in a huge way after a very rocky 2005. He finished this season 12-6, 2.26 with 65 walks and 159 strikeouts in 159 innings. He also combined on a no-hitter with since-traded relief prospect Andy Barb. With a mid-90s fastball, plus change-up and developing curve, Carrasco could be the team's best overall prospect.
Among the other strong candidates, though, were lefty J.A. Happ, a 23 year-old lefty who went a combined 10-9, 2.69 between high-A, AA, and AAA with 162 strikeouts in 160.2 innings; Zack Segovia, a 23 year-old righty who bounced back strong from 2004 Tommy John surgery and a subpar 2005 to go 16-6, 2.82 between high-A and AA; Scott Mathieson, who went 10-3, 3.40 between AA and AAA with 135 strikeouts in 127 innings before struggling in the majors (and now heading for Tommy John surgery); and Kyle Kendrick, a 22 year-old righty who went 12-9, 3.17 between A and high-A.