One of the more prestigious meanings that the end of the season brings is the awards that are handed it out to the respective players. Not only are players honored on the Major League level, but Major League teams also shine a spotlight on their Minor League system by naming a Minor League pitcher and position player of the year. The Chicago Cubs announced the recipients of these awards on Thursday.
Tennessee Smokies second baseman Logan Watkins was named the Cubs’ Minor League position player of the year. As the case with these awards, the recipients of these accomplishments are not always viewed as top prospects within the organization. However, the 23 year old Watkins could be trending in the right direction. With the Smokies this season, Watkins hit .281/.383/.422 this season to go along with 9 home runs, 28 stolen bases, and a total of 40 extra base hits. Between Watkins, Junior Lake, Josh Vitters, and Javier Baez ; the Cubs have several infield spots with only one clear opening at the third base position. Though, it is fair to suggest that Lake and Vitters may not be long for the Cubs’ organization. That would leave Watkins and Baez. Baez will likely take over at the third base position, while Watkins may be blocked by Darwin Barney at the second base position. Nonetheless, this award, will now bring added attention onto Watkins next season.
Watkins’ teammate, starting pitcher Nick Struck, earned the honor of being the Cubs’ Minor League pitcher of the year. Struck, who turns 23 in October, has been one of the few pitching prospects that the Cubs have at the upper levels of their Minor League system. Struck appeared in 28 games (26 starts) with the Smokies this season while posting an ERA of 3.18. Struck was promoted to the Iowa Cubs towards the end of the season, however, the starting pitcher has yet to make his debut for the I-Cubs. Struck will likely start the 2013 season with the Iowa Cubs, and depending on his success, could be pitching in the Major Leagues by the time the 2013 season concludes.
Struck and Watkins will receive their awards at Wrigley Field on Monday.