In 2015, first baseman Trey Mancini put together a season that made him the overwhelming choice for the Baltimore Orioles’ Brooks Robinson Minor League Player of the Year winner. Today, I have laid out my top four candidates for this year’s Brooks Robinson Minor League Player of the Year honor with just weeks remaining in the 2016 minor league season.
Photo: Patrick Cavey
It’s a great honor for an O’s minor leaguer to be named the Brooks Robinson Minor League Player of the Year for so many reasons, with the most obvious being the fact that you are crowned as the player in the entire O’s minor leagues who had the best season, but even perhaps even more important is the name the award is named after. It’s no secret how treasured, honored and loved Brooks Robinson is in the Orioles’ organization, amongst the O’s fan base, the City of Baltimore and baseball fans everywhere and to win an award named after him is a special thing.
“It was such an honor to receive the Brooks Robinson Award last year. To receive any type of award with Mr. Robinson's name on it is almost surreal,” Mancini told me in an interview about a month ago.
It’s easy to see from Mancini’s comment that winning the award is an honor to whichever minor leaguer receives it, and they understand the importance of the name Brooks Robinson. Having said all of that, I believe there are four players who are the front-runners for this year’s award, and the decision will be tough for the Orioles’ Player Development Department.
1B Trey Mancini - AAA Norfolk/AA Bowie
Mancini, 24, has followed up his terrific 2015 campaign with another terrific season in 2016 that has him knocking on the door of the big leagues.
After getting to experience big-league Spring Training for the first time this spring, Mancini is proving that his 2015 season was no fluke. Entering Thursday’s action, Mancini was hitting .295 with 20 home runs, 22 doubles, five triples, 61 RBI and had scored 69 runs to go along with a .369 on base percentage. The most impressive part is that the majority of his overall numbers have come at the AAA level where he has played 107 of his 124 games this year. Mancini leads all O’s minor leaguers in hits this season.
C Chance Sisco – AA Bowie
Sisco, 21, continues to show why he is considered by many, including me, to be the best overall prospect in the Orioles’ organization.
Entering Thursday, Sisco has hit .313 with two home runs, 25 doubles, one triple, 36 RBI and has scored 47 runs. His most impressive trait is by far his batting eye and knowledge of the strike zone, and that is evident by his .403 on base percentage and the 55 walks he has drawn this season. He may not have the power numbers that the other three contenders have, but there is no denying that he is having a spectacular year. Let’s not forget he went oppo-boppo in the MLB Future’s Game as well.
C Yermin Mercedes – Low-A Delmarva/High-A Frederick
Mercedes, 23, is in his second year in the Orioles’ organization and what a season the backstop is having.
Entering Thursday, Mercedes has hit .341 with 18 home runs, 27 doubles, five triples, 70 RBI and has scored 66 runs over 106 games between Delmarva and Frederick. Mercedes also boasts a .405 OBP and a .979 OPS. You can say whatever you want about what level of the minor leagues he has played at this year, but those numbers are too great to ignore. He leads all O’s minor leaguers in batting average and slugging percentage this season.
1B Aderlin Rodriguez – High-A Frederick
Rodriguez, 24, is in his first year in the Orioles’ organization after the O’s signed him as a minor league free agent in January and he is making quite the first impression.
Through 115 games entering Thursday, Rodriguez is hitting .303 with 21 home runs, 21 doubles, six triples, 81 RBI and has scored 60 runs. He also boasts a .358 OBP and a .883 OPS. He leads all O’s minor leaguers in home runs and RBI this season.
As you can see, it’s a tight race as we head down the stretch for the 2016 Brooks Robinson Minor League Player of the Year award and these four guys are easily the main contenders, but choosing which one of the four is not going to be easy. All four of them rank among the O’s minor league leaders in batting average, hits, home runs, RBI, OBP and slugging percentage.
Who’s your choice?