No suspense here. The Diamondbacks only selected one position player with
their first seven picks of the 2006 draft, so there was extra pressure on that
lone pick to succeed. Hankerd satisfied these high expectations and then some.
How do you top hitting .383 as a Junior out of USC? By hitting .384 with
your first professional team, of course. While an average like that would earn
Position Player of the Year honors on most any ball club, it was even more of a
no-brainer considering how his fellow Bears fared; they hit an aggregate .229
Two offensive elements that Cyle didn't display as impressively in Yakima as
at Southern Cal were power and plate patience. However, his initial hitting
performance at Yakima was so dominant that in August he skipped South Bend
entirely and joined the JetHawks. There, he would go on to add some sock and a
keen eye at the plate while still maintaining a ridiculously high batting
I looked long and hard for
another offensive performer who put up numbers that would warrant
Position Player of the Year at Yakima. I wasted my time.
Despite my natural instinct to disagree with Keith on everything,
Hankerd was far and away the best position player on the Yakima squad,
and really should come as no surprise.
The D'Backs took three USC products in this year's draft, and there
was a reason that Hankerd was the first among them. Average,
power, and a strong arm make him a scout's dream, and perhaps the best
compliment that can be paid to a guy who has gotten almost nothing but
compliments this season was that in half a season of pro ball Hankerd
has already elevated himself into the conversation for best outfield
prospect in the D'Backs system. When Hankerd was moved up to Hi-A
Lancaster, he replaced 2005 #1 overall prospect Carlos Gonzalez, who was
promoted to Double-A Tennessee, and the JetHawks didn't miss a beat.
Sure, he's still behind Gonzalez, Carlos Quentin, Chris Young, Scott Hairston, Chris Rahl and perhaps a couple of others on the D'Backs depth
chart, but he's gaining fast, and has plenty of time (with so many
talented young outfielders, there's no reason for the D'Backs to rush
him) to improve.
This one was a tough call. Dove gets the nod in the end partly because of
how far he exceeded expectations. A 38th round pick back in 2003, Shane brought
a professional record of 7-14 into this season. His career ERA and WHIP were
4.93 and 1.53, respectively. Odds were that if he could not succeed at Low-A
ball at the age of 22, he would not figure into the organization's long term
But Dove had been working hard to fill out his 6'2" frame, adding about 15
pounds of mass in the three years since he was drafted. That extra strength
translated into more stable mechanics and one heck of a season. Dove went 5-6,
but that's not bad when you consider that Yakima finished with an abysmal .368
winning percentage on the year. The real impressive numbers came in his 2.26
ERA, 1.10 WHIP, and 4:1 K/BB ratio.
Dove will almost certainly begin the 2007 season at South Bend, at which
point we'll see how well he fares against more experienced hitters.
And if you are looking for the antithesis of Cyle
Hankerd, look no farther than my choice for Yakima Bears Pitcher of the
Year, Daryl Arreola. The local boy (Mesa High, Chandler-Gilbert CC
and ASU) was an undrafted free agent right hander who the D'Backs picked
up as a free agent this season. Not much was expected, and thus
when Arreola started the season allowing just two hits and zero runs in
his first four outings (6.1 innings) nobody took much notice.
As the season wore on though Arreola started
forcing people to take notice by putting up amazing stats. On a
team in which only two pitchers carried ERAs under 3.00 (the other was
Keith's pick), Arreola's 1.85 ERA was stunning. Even more
impressive was his work against left handers, who hit just .115 (3-25)
against him for the season, without driving in a run. Arreola was
praised consistently by coaches and scouts for his maturity, and on a
Yakima team that made 95 errors in 76 games, patience is definitely a
That 'notice' that Arreola started getting paid
off, if only temporarily, at the end of the season when the Triple-A
Tucson Sidewinders, in desperate need of pitching after promotions to
Edgar Gonzalez, Doug Slaten, Randy Choate, and Dustin Nippert gave
Arreola the call. All he did was take the mound in the third
inning, toss three scoreless frames allowing just one hit and one walk,
to pick up the win. Don't expect him to start next season in
Tucson, but know for a fact he won't be starting in Yakima again either.
As our postseason awards continue we head to the Short Season A Northwest League. This is where Chris Carter first separated himself as an elite player, where Chad Tracy mashed, and where most of the top draft picks start their pro careers. Keith and James actually agree on Position Player, but while Keith went with a wily lefty, James picked an undrafted local boy.
The Short Season A Northwest League produces MLB players, and the D'Backs may have a few.