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Article: Twins Daily Awards 2017: Rookie Of The Year

trevor hildenberger alan busenitz adalberto mejia zack granite
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#1 Seth Stohs

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Posted 09 October 2017 - 09:08 PM

The 2017 season will be remembered as a year of great improvement for the Minnesota Twins, as evidenced by their 26-game jump. Yesterday, Twins Daily named Byron Buxton the 2017 Most Improved Player, an award that could have gone to a number of deserving players.

Today, we are announcing the Twins Daily 2017 Rookie of the Year winner. In 2017, 19 rookies spent at least some time with the Minnesota Twins. Fourteen players made their major-league debuts for the Twins in 2017. So, there were a lot of names to pick from, but in the end, the choice was clear. He is also someone who has quite a bit of (virtual) Twins Daily hardware around his home.

Congratulations, Trevor Hildenberger.In 2015, Trevor Hildenberger was the Twins Daily choice for Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year. In 2016, he repeated as the Twins Daily Relief Pitcher of the Year. During each of those seasons, he gathered several Twins Daily Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month awards too. But our guess is that Hildenberger is just fine with not winning a third straight Minor League Reliever of the Year award. In fact, it’s probably a bit of a relief.

True to his humble self, Hildenberger said, “There is some relief there. Hopefully the same is true next year.”

Based on the fact that Hildenberger became manager Paul Molitor’s most reliable bullpen choice during the final two months of the season, it would appear quite unlikely that Hildenberger will see time in the minor leagues in 2018.

The right-hander began the 2017 season with the Rochester Red Wings. He was having a Hildenbergesque (let’s make this a word, Twins fans) season with the Red Wings. He was 2-1 with a 2.05 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP. In 30.2 innings to that point, he had just eight walks and 35 strikeouts. On June 21st, he recorded a five-out save. In his previous two outings, Hildenberger had recorded two-inning saves.

The next day, he got the message that every baseball player dreams of. In his words…

“Our Rochester manager, Mike Quade, called me in his office after the game on June 22nd. He started asking me about pace of play and to speed up my rhythm on the mound. I was a little thrown off until he told me I would have a chance to work on it in the big leagues because I’m getting called up.”

He left his manager’s office, received congratulations from teammates and stepped outside the visitor’s clubhouse in Buffalo. Standing there were his parents, visiting from California.
Hildenberger added, “It was very special to be able to tell my parents in person, both questioned whether I was serious for a split second, but I think that was just shock.”

They didn’t have to travel far to see their son’s first game in the big leagues. Instead of flying home, they got in their rental car and drove to Cleveland where the Twins were playing. The very next day, June 23rd, the Twins had a 5-0 lead going into the bottom of the ninth. Paul Molitor summoned the side-winding righty in from the bullpen.

The first batter Hildenberger faced was catcher Roberto Perez. Perez struck out on five pitches. Bradley Zimmer doubled, but Jason Kipnis and Jose Ramirez both grounded out to end the game. Hildy even made his debut on FSN with a post-game interview with Kevin Gorg.



He was used sporadically until July 7 when in his fourth outing he worked 2.1 innings to record his first big league win against the Orioles. At that point, he started working more often, and it wasn’t long before he started being used in high-leverage situations.

Of his final 24 outings, only twice did he come in before the seventh inning and those were big sixth-inning moments in New York and Cleveland. At one point in mid-to-late August, Molitor used Hildenberger in six out of seven Twins games. At the time, Molitor said, “Hildenberger has been invaluable to us."

Hildenberger pitched in high-leverage situations throughout his minor league league time, but pitching high-leverage situations in the big leagues in August and September for a team in a playoff push is something different. It was something that Hildenberger thrived upon and really enjoyed.
He recently told Twins Daily, “Being able to pitch in high-leverage situations is great, it’s what you want as a reliever. You want to be the guy they run out there in a jam we need to get out of two, three, four days in a row. I think it’s earned on an outing to outing basis. You’ve got to keep earning it and keep doing your job. It’s invaluable experience to be able to throw in some big spots in big games down the stretch.”

Hildenberger wasn’t heavily recruited out of high school. He went to Cal-Berkeley and barely pitched for the first three seasons. In 2012, he started throwing sidearm and it altered the trajectory of his baseball-playing career. He was the Twins' 22nd round pick in 2014 after five years in college. He spent that summer in the GCL. He split 2015 between Cedar Rapids and Ft. Myers. He went to the Arizona Fall League following the season and pitched well. In 2016, he split the year between Chattanooga and Rochester.

The long, windy road to the big leagues proved well worth it for Hildenberger. It was full of positives, lessons learned and a lot of fun.

According to Hildenberger, “Winning down the stretch with such a great group of guys in that clubhouse was the best time of my life. I’ll never forget the lessons I learned in my short 3 months from everyone in the organization. There’s nothing better than winning at the highest level, just getting a taste of success will only motivate us for years to come.”

Congratulations to the Twins Daily 2017 Twins Rookie of the Year, Trevor Hildenberger!


CANDIDATES

Adalberto Mejia made 21 starts for the Twins in 2017. He made the Opening Day rotation and made his starts until a midseason injury. He came back for two starts at the end of the season. He went 4-7 with a 4.50 ERA and a 1.57 WHIP. In 98 innings, he struck out 85 batters.

Alan Busenitz was promoted about a week before Hildenberger. He moved up and down over the next month, but by season’s end, Molitor was also not afraid to put him into key situations. He responded by posting a 1.99 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP.

Zack Granite played well for a few weeks when Byron Buxton went on the Disabled List. Aaron Slegers and Felix Jorge both had a good start for the Twins in key situations.


THE BALLOTS

Here's a look at the ballots from each of our nine voters.

Seth Stohs: 1) Trevor Hildenberger, 2) Adalberto Mejia, 3) Alan Busenitz
Nick Nelson: 1) Trevor Hildenberger, 2) Adalberto Mejia, 3) Alan Busenitz
Parker Hageman: 1) Adalberto Mejia, 2) Trevor Hildenberger, 3) Zack Granite
John Bonnes: 1) Trevor Hildenberger, 2) Adalberto Mejia, 3) Alan Busenitz
Jeremy Nygaard: 1) Trevor Hildenberger, 2) Adalberto Mejia, 3) Alan Busenitz
Cody Christie: 1) Adalberto Mejia, 2) Trevor Hildenberger, 3) Alan Busenitz
Steve Lien: 1) Trevor Hildenberger, 2) Alan Busenitz, 3) Zack Granite
Tom Froemming: 1) Adalberto Mejia, 2) Trevor Hildenberger, 3) Alan Busenitz
Ted Schwerzler: 1) Trevor Hildenberger, 2) Adalberto Mejia, 3) Alan Busenitz


POINTS

Trevor Hildenberger: 24
Adalberto Mejia: 19
Alan Busenitz: 9
Zack Granite: 2


Do you agree with our committee's pick? Who would be your choice for Twins Rookie of the Year and why?


PREVIOUS TWINS DAILY ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

2015: Miguel Sano
2016: Max Kepler


2017 TWINS DAILY AWARDS

2017 Most Improved: Byron Buxton
2017 Rookie of the Year: Trevor Hildenberger
2017 Pitcher of the Year: Wednesday
2017 Most Valuable Player: Thursday

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#2 Otwins

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Posted 09 October 2017 - 10:08 PM

That was easy.

Who is next year's ROY?

Next year's Hildenberger?

 

Thanks for all you do.

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#3 Danchat

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Posted 09 October 2017 - 10:22 PM

It's great to finally have a young reliever posting some fantastic numbers. With Hildy and Busenitz in tow, things are finally looking up for the bullpen.

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#4 DocBauer

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Posted 09 October 2017 - 10:30 PM

Absolutely the right choice. But I have to wonder, if Mejia doesn't get injured and keeps working and progressing, does the final voting still go the same? Does Mejia win or make the final tally closer?

I like both these guys and their potential a lot. Already looking for them to play even bigger roles next season. Come on 2018!

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#5 jimbo92107

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Posted 09 October 2017 - 11:31 PM

Right choice for number one. Second place is a tie between Mejia and Busenitz. 

 

Twins need next year's ROY to be Stephen Gonsalves. If not, then it could be a rough season. If so, they might just have a chance to cause a ruckus in the tournament. 

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Baseball is easy. Just watch!


#6 Seth Stohs

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Posted 09 October 2017 - 11:45 PM

Potential candidates for 2018 Twins Rookie of the Year:

 

JT Chargois

John Curtiss

Zack Granite

Mitch Garver

Stephen Gonsalves

Felix Jorge

Jake Reed

Fernando Romero

Aaron Slegers

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#7 hybridbear

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Posted 10 October 2017 - 06:33 AM

Hildy had a much higher ERA than Busenitz, why so little consideration for Busenitz?

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#8 Flattery

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Posted 10 October 2017 - 07:32 AM

Nice to see an unsung prospect breakout like this. Reminds me a bit of the Dozier breakout in that regard. 


#9 Seth Stohs

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Posted 10 October 2017 - 07:33 AM

 

Hildy had a much higher ERA than Busenitz, why so little consideration for Busenitz?

 

I can only speak for myself... but it was the situations that Hildenberger was put into. He was the top reliever for the final too months. He was given very high leverage situations and for the most part did quite well. 

 

That's not a knock on Busenitz who was very good and the last 3-4 weeks, he too was being put into the secondary leverage situations and even some high leverage and performed. 

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#10 slash129

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Posted 10 October 2017 - 07:36 AM

 

Hildy had a much higher ERA than Busenitz, why so little consideration for Busenitz?

Probably leverage of situations and FIP

 

Also, looking at the numbers, Hildenberger's BABIP was almost 100 points higher at .304 than Busenitz' .212 ... Pretty much opposites on the luck spectrum


#11 Seth Stohs

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Posted 10 October 2017 - 07:37 AM

 

Nice to see an unsung prospect breakout like this. Reminds me a bit of the Dozier breakout in that regard. 

 

"Unsung" as in not top 100 guys, but both Dozier was a TD Minor League hitter of the year and I wrote about him a lot, and Hildenberger's name has been mentioned on this site a lot in the last three years... 

 

Hopefully Twins fans weren't too surprised to see either come up and succeed. Though no one was expecting this level of success from Dozier, even after he was our hitter of the year. Ha!

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#12 slash129

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Posted 10 October 2017 - 08:20 AM

 

"Unsung" as in not top 100 guys, but both Dozier was a TD Minor League hitter of the year and I wrote about him a lot, and Hildenberger's name has been mentioned on this site a lot in the last three years... 

 

Hopefully Twins fans weren't too surprised to see either come up and succeed. Though no one was expecting this level of success from Dozier, even after he was our hitter of the year. Ha!

 

I took that comment as meaning "outside the TD walls".

 

We are lucky to have journalists and contributors like yourself and Tom (among many others) that keep us informed on the entire organization.I get called "Stat-man" by the company I keep for watching games, but most of the information that I get starts here.

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#13 Thrylos

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Posted 10 October 2017 - 08:41 AM

 

Potential candidates for 2018 Twins Rookie of the Year:

 

JT Chargois

John Curtiss

Zack Granite

Mitch Garver

Stephen Gonsalves

Felix Jorge

Jake Reed

Fernando Romero

Aaron Slegers

 

Hate to say this, but if all of these made enough appearances in 2018 to qualify for a ROY award, it will not be a good sign for the Twins ;)

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#14 Thrylos

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Posted 10 October 2017 - 09:08 AM

I think that it is close between Mejia and Hildy.  

 

Mejia was the Twins' third best started (based on FIP, ERA and fWAR; was second best in K/9) and pitched 82 innings in 21 games.

 

Hildy pitched mostly in the 7th and 8th inning so he was mainly a middle reliever and the RH setup man on occasion.Tied with Duffey (whom he replaced as the RH set up man late in the season) in 4th for Holds with 12 (Rogers had 30 and Belisle 17 before he moved to the closer position.) He was second in the team in WPA & WHIP, led in K%-BB%, andFIP.He pitched 42 innings in 37 games

 

Given the sad state of the Twins' pitching in 2017 the high rankings among their peers do not matter much. Among a good pitching staff, a 4.50 ERA, 8 K/9,4 BB/9 starter would probably be a 4th starter, and a 3.20 ERA, 9.5 K/9, 1.5 BB/9 reliever with funky delivery would be a 7th inning guy.

 

Flip a coin or pick the kind of contributor you value better:A 4th starter or a 7th inning guy. Mejia pitched about double the innings, while Hildy appeared in about double the games.  

Mind you, this is not about potential, it is about actual 2017 performance.

 

It is that close.

Edited by Thrylos, 10 October 2017 - 09:09 AM.

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#15 Seth Stohs

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Posted 10 October 2017 - 10:08 AM

 

Hate to say this, but if all of these made enough appearances in 2018 to qualify for a ROY award, it will not be a good sign for the Twins ;)

 

Correct... but all of them 'could' play in 2018 and there's no way to know what will happen for sure. 

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#16 Original Whizzinator

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Posted 10 October 2017 - 07:45 PM

Hildy is my choice. He came up and performed very well and became heavily relied upon. Mejia, who i am very excited about, came up and played like a rookie. Some promise with lots to work on. He needs to finish off hitters, be more economical with his pitches and work faster.

#17 drjim

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Posted 11 October 2017 - 07:18 AM

 

Potential candidates for 2018 Twins Rookie of the Year:

 

JT Chargois

John Curtiss

Zack Granite

Mitch Garver

Stephen Gonsalves

Felix Jorge

Jake Reed

Fernando Romero

Aaron Slegers

 

I wouldn't sleep on Gordon either.

 

I would go with Gonsalves as early favorite, possibly Romero if he ends up in the pen.

Papers...business papers.



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