Holliday, Thorpe, Caminero, Salas stand apart on first MiLB Awards Show

October 3rd, 2023

The inaugural MiLB Awards Show aired on MLB Network on Monday night, with a lot of hardware getting handed out. Miss the show? Don’t sweat it! We’ve got you covered. Here’s a rundown of the finalists for each award and who walked away with the wins.

Minor League Hitting Prospect of the Year: Jackson Holliday, SS, Orioles
Traversed four levels, from Single-A to Triple-A. Posted a .323/.442/.499 combined line. As a teenager. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 Draft and our No. 1 prospect more than lived up to advanced billing by putting himself on the fast track to Baltimore in his first full season of pro ball. More »

Runners-up: Michael Busch, 3B/2B, Dodgers; Junior Caminero, 3B, Rays

Minor League Pitching Prospect of the Year: Drew Thorpe, RHP, Yankees
The Yankees’ second-round pick from the 2022 Draft, Thorpe was lights-out for most of the year in High-A and earned a late promotion up to Double-A in his first full season. While an injury to his non-throwing shoulder ended his season a little prematurely, he dominated at both stops. He led the Minors in strikeouts with 182 strikeouts and finished among the best in a host of other categories. More »

Runners-up: Cade Horton, RHP, Cubs; Robby Snelling, LHP, Padres

All-MiLB Prospect Team
When all the dust settled, the Orioles tied the Cubs in three prospects apiece across the first and second team. Baltimore posted two on the first team, joining the Cardinals as the only systems with two on the first squad. More »

Breakout Player of the Year: Junior Caminero, 3B, Rays
Caminero wasn’t even on the Top 100 to start the season, but he’s ended it at No. 6 overall, and he might get some big league postseason experience to boot. He turned just 20 in July and put up absolutely amazing numbers in High-A and Double-A, finishing with 31 homers and a .975 OPS.

Runners-up: Cade Horton, RHP, Cubs; Jacob Misiorowski, RHP, Brewers

Minor League Debut of the Year: Ethan Salas, C, Padres
We knew Salas had a chance to be special; he was ranked No. 1 in his international signing class, after all. But no one had him making it to Double-A at age 17 on their bingo cards. The catching phenom was advanced -- and mature -- enough to make his pro debut up in full-season ball, bypassing the Rookie-level Dominican Summer and Arizona Complex Leagues. He was off and running from there, getting bumped to High-A after 48 games. He was on the move again after just nine more games, landing with Double-A San Antonio, where he was more than seven years younger than the average Texas League hitter.

Runners-up: Robby Snelling, LHP, Padres; Drew Thorpe, RHP, Yankees

Best Single-Game Performance: Colt Keith, 3B/2B, Tigers
Homering twice is cool. Hitting for the cycle is cool. Driving in seven runs is cool. Going 6-for-6 is cool. What’s coolest? Achieving all four at once, as Keith did for Double-A Erie on May 16. An even better kicker is that no Major Leaguer has hit for the cycle with six hits and two homers in AL/NL history. The Detroit infielder achieved a lot of highs in an age-21 season in which he hit .306 with 27 homers across MiLB's top two levels, but nothing beat this performance anywhere in the Minor Leagues.

Runners-up: Luis Mieses, OF, White Sox; Fernando Tatis Jr., OF, Padres

Defensive Play of the Year: Druw Jones, CF, D-backs
Like father, like son. Jones -- whose dad is 10-time Gold Glover Andruw Jones -- showed off tremendous speed and range when he drifted back to deep center for Single-A Visalia, but what pushed this play over the edge was the last-second reflex that enabled him to make a stab of a catch with his back turned toward home plate. Injuries played a role in a rough offensive season for the 2022 second overall pick, but this April highlight was a reminder of his prodigious potential with the glove.

Runners-up: DaShawn Keirsey Jr., CF, Twins; Monte Harrison, OF, Brewers

Defensive Player of the Year: Pete Crow-Armstrong, CF, Cubs
If it feels like you saw a PCA highlight nightly, you aren't too wrong, and he brought that glove with him to Chicago during his big league debut. Known for his prowess at roaming center field from in his high school years, Crow-Armstrong was on MLB Pipeline’s All-Defense second team in 2021 and then was a clear-cut first team outfielder back-to-back in 2022 and 2023.

Runners-up: Nasim Nuñez, SS, Marlins; Ceddanne Rafaela, OF/SS, Red Sox

Team of the Year: Norfolk Tides (Orioles, Triple-A)
When you have this many top prospects on your roster, even if they’re moving up and down, the hope is you’ll win a lot of games. The Tides won 90 regular-season contests for a .604 winning percentage and then ran through the postseason. They were the last ones standing after defeating Oklahoma City in the Triple-A National Championship Game. The team that took the field in Las Vegas for that final contest boasted four members of MLB Pipeline’s Top 50 list.

Runners-up: Oklahoma City Dodgers (Dodgers, Triple-A); Cedar Rapids Kernels (Twins, High-A)

Best Alternate Identity: Amarillo Calf Fries
The best Minor League alternate identities give fans a bit of local flavor, both in terms of community culture and, well, actual food. The D-backs’ Double-A affiliate ticked both those boxes with this winning entree. What are Calf Fries exactly? We’ll let you investigate further, but just imagine the Texas Panhandle version of a Rocky Mountain oyster. They have to be tried (and fried) to be believed.

Runners-up: Eugene Exploding Whales, Hartford Bouncing Pickles, Hickory Dickory Docks, Hoosier State Tenderloins, Hudson Valley Cider Donuts, Norfolk Lumpia, Springfield Cashew Chickens