The same rules apply to the first rendition of this series: the West Michigan Player Awards. Players are eligible for nomination based on my arbitrary guidelines. Aforementioned, these awards are not "best prospect" based, but purely based on numbers and contribution to the actual team.
Pitcher of the year: Kyle Ryan 12-7 142 IP 132 H 37 BB 90 K 3.17 ERA 3.98 FIP 1.19 WHIP
This was an easy decision. Kyle was excellent this year at WMI nearly every time out. He gave the team a great chance to win every time he took the ball, and solidified his status in the top 30 of Tigers prospects. Ryan is not flashy by any means. He doesn't have electric stuff. However, as a prototypical lanky lefty (listed at 6'5 180), hitters in the young minors struggled to barrel him up consistently. You can read about Kyle more here at number 28 on my midseason prospects list. To paraphrase, he's a zone-pounder at 88-90 with a solid curve, and a developing change up. He attacks hitters, and doesn't make many mistakes. At the low levels, that's a recipe for success. Kyle moved up to AA at the end of the year, and that's where he'll begin 2014. He'll be 22 all of next season, and AA is an appropriate level, and will be a nice test for him. I'm sure he'll have to refine the change up and overall command profile in order to hit his back end starter ceiling. While Kyle Ryan isn't a high ceiling prospect, or even a sexy one, he's got a relatively low floor, and it's always nice to have a few prospects like that in your system.
Hitter of the year: Jason Krizan .288/.388/.396/.784 OPS 21 2B 5 3B 4 HR 52 RBI 62 BB 44 K
I won't lie to you here, Krizan won this award for three reasons: 1) Lakeland didn't really have any regulars who hit the ball this season. 2) Devon Travis wasn't eligible. 3) Steven Moya is still a pipe dream. A fantasy. A lottery ticket.
Jason had the best numbers of any Lakeland Flying Tiger. In fact, only he and Jeff McVaney played over 100 games. An 8th round pick out of Dallas Baptist University in 2011, He has no real power, but decent bat to ball, an approach at the plate, can play all OF spots (although he's better in a corner), can run a little, and is a grinder. All of that equates to an org guy. However, don't discount that, he's important to the development of the prospects in the organization. He's the type of guy, similiar to Raph Rhymes, who will be contributors on minor league playoff teams that make the organization's prospects better. I see Krizan as a guy who will probably make it to the high minors, but not much further. I expect him to stay with the Tigers organization for the foreseeable future, bouncing around to teams that need him. Next year, he'll be 25 years old, and depending on organizational needs, you may see him roaming the OF in Lakeland or Erie.