Fraizer leads Young Bucs' award winners

October 29th, 2021

PITTSBURGH — entered the season unranked in MLB Pipeline’s Top 30 Prospects list for the Pirates, and his first pro season at West Virginia was not eye-grabbing.

But to help him develop, instead of challenging Fraizer to change how he swings, the Pirates and the staff at High-A Greensboro challenged him in drill work and practice while letting the outfielder tap into his natural swing. That swing is a compact one -- director of player development John Baker referred to it as similar to Adam Frazier, where “you don’t need a ton of energy to generate movement” -- but also naturally has some pop.

They prioritized freedom and natural ability to overcoaching the minutiae. What did that work produce? A .306/.388/.552 slash line in 112 games across High-A and Double-A, the High-A East MVP award, the No. 23 ranking on Pittsburgh’s prospect list and on Thursday, the Pirates’ Honus Wagner Player of the Year honors

“When you be yourself, that’s when you feel good as a person,” Fraizer said. “Obviously, when you feel good as a person, you’re going to be your best.”

The Honus Wagner Player of the Year was just one of nine awards the Pirates gave out during their inaugural Young Bucs Week. Here are the others.

Bob Friend Pitcher of the Year: Right-hander Adrian Florencio

The stat line: 20 games (19 starts), 2.46 ERA, 95 innings, 117 strikeouts, .198 batting average against, 1.05 WHIP at High-A Bradenton

The quote: “That [consistency] doesn’t happen because you decide in February or March that you’re going to have a good year. You have to be doing work for months before that. He did that, so it’s a credit to him. It was fun to watch him, especially as someone who frankly I didn’t know much about 12 months ago.” -- GM Ben Cherington

Willie Stargell Slugger of the Year: Shortstop  (No. 3)

The stat line: 68 games, .310/.375/.594 slash line with 16 doubles, five triples and 17 home runs

The quote: “I don’t say this just from the perspective of a friend: I’m a huge believer that this is one of the many awards that he’s going to achieve throughout his career. This is an amazing ballplayer and an amazing athlete.” -- High-A outfielder Lolo Sanchez via interpreter Mike Gonzalez

Kent Tekulve Reliever of the Year: Right-hander Enmanuel Mejia

The stat line: 32 games, 0.42 ERA, nine saves, 42 2/3 innings, 53 strikeouts, .173 batting average against, 1.24 WHIP across Low-A Bradenton and High-A Greensboro

The quote: “Every time he went out there, it was like lights-out. Obviously, he didn't let up a run with us, and you know every time he was on the mound, we're probably going to win the game.” -- Low-A starter Logan Hofmann

Bill Mazeroski Defender of the Year: Third baseman Jared Triolo

The stat line (third base): 102 games, 897 innings, 163 assists to 10 errors, .961 fielding percentage at High-A

The quote: “This guy would come in every day and prepare like a champion, and he knows what he needs. He knows what challenges him, and he put in the work.” -- High-A manager Kieran Mattison

Omar Moreno Baserunner of the Year: High-A outfielder Lolo Sanchez

The stat line: 104 games, 165 total bases, 30-for-39 in stolen-base attempts

The quote: “[Each of us] were trying to have the most bags. We were all competing from the beginning. Lolo was taking a hefty lead on us. We were like, ‘Lolo today with no bags, but a homer, that’s fine. Hit another home run so you don’t steal any more bags.’” -- Fraizer

Staff of the Year: Greensboro Grasshoppers

The stat line: 74-46 record (.617 winning percentage), second-best in the High-A East, runner-up in league championship

The quote: “When you create an environment where – as Kieran and his group did – everybody cares about each other, that adds another layer of pressure as it gets to the end of the season. Now it’s not just about ‘my own career’ or the public-facing Greensboro Grasshoppers.” -- Baker

Danny Murtaugh Coach of the Year: Triple-A pitching coach Joel Hanrahan

The stat line: 4.55 ERA, including a 3.91 reliever ERA for an in-flux Indians staff

The quote: “Having been a two-time All-Star, having pitched out of the bullpen before, having pitched in Pittsburgh before is sometimes a strike against when you’re coaching a younger player. But he leveraged both his relationship ability, his experience but also exemplified the mindset of taking this new information and accepting it and putting it into practice.” -- Baker

Manny Sanguillen Teammates of the Year: Bligh Madris (Triple-A), Josh Bissonette (Double-A), Aaron Shackelford (High-A), Hofmann (Low-A)

The quote: “I think I speak for every guy here, that you want the love and respect of your teammates on a daily basis because you're living with these guys for about eight months out of the year. It's super important that they know that you're willing to help them with anything." -- Madris