Seattle honored its top individual performers in its minor league system.
With the minor league season officially over, the Mariners announced the individual award winners from their minor league system.
Two years ago, the Mariners renamed the awards to honor former players in the organization and also added a few awards to highlight organizational developmental philosophies.
- 1B/DH Joey Curletta (AA Arkansas) received the Ken Griffey Jr. Minor League Hitter of the Year.
- RH Matt Festa (Seattle/AA Arkansas) received the Jamie Moyer Minor League Pitcher of the Year.
- 1B Evan White (High-A Modesto/AAA Tacoma) received the Alvin Davis “Mr. Mariner” Award.
- OF Braden Bishop (AA Arkansas) received the Dan Wilson Minor League Community Service Award.
- C/INF/DH Dean Nevarez (Rookie AZL Mariners) received the Edgar Martinez PTPA Award.
- RHP Jack Anderson (High-A Modesto) received the “60 ft. 6 in. Club” Award.
- Manager Jose Umbria (A Clinton) received the Dave Henderson Minor League Staff Member of the Year Award.
Curletta, 24, posted a .282/.383/.482 slash line (batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage) with 24 doubles, 23 home runs, 94 RBI and 81 walks in 129 games for the Travelers. He was named Texas League Player of the Year along while also being named to both the league midseason and postseason All-Star teams. Acquired from the Phillies in a trade for switch-pitch Pat Venditte during spring training in 2017, Curletta had a breakout season, posting career highs in nearly every offensive category, while also ranking among the Texas League leaders in RBI (1st, 94), walks (1st, 81), OPS (2nd, .865), on-base percentage (T2nd, .383), home runs (T3rd, 23), slugging percentage (5th, .482), extra-base hits (T6th, 47) and games played (7th, 129).
Festa, 25, was the Mariners’ best reliever in the system, earning three big league call-ups this season. He is currently with the team to close out the season. In six big league appearances with Seattle, he has allowed a run in 7 2/3 innings in relief (1.17 ERA). He was dominant with Arkansas. In 44 relief appearances, he posted a 5-2 record with 20 saves and a 2.76 ERA (15 ER, 49.0 IP) with 67 strikeouts. He limited opponents to a .263 (50 for 190) average while averaging 12.31 strikeouts per nine innings. Festa was named to the Texas League Postseason All-Star Team, as the league’s top relief pitcher, after converting a league-best 20 saves in 22 save opportunities. He was the first Traveler to save 20 games in a season since Joel Peralta in 2003 and the first to lead the league in saves since Steve Montgomery (36) in 1995.
Festa was originally selected by Seattle in the seventh round of the 2016 MLB draft out of East Stroudsburg University in Pennsylvania.
White, 22, is considered the Mariners’ No. 2 overall prospect in the system. His award is given to the player that shows “exemplary play and leadership skills both on and off the field this season.” In his first full season in the minor leagues, White almost the entire season with Modesto, posting a .303/.375/.458 slash line with 27 doubles, seven triples, 11 home runs, 66 RBI, 52 walks and four stolen bases in 120 games. White reached base safely in 26 of his final 28 games of the season (July 31-Sept. 3), batting .374 (40 for 107) with 24 runs scored, 11 doubles, three triples, five home runs, 27 RBI, 16 walks and three stolen bases.
White was the Mariners’ first round pick (17th overall) in the 2017 draft out of Kentucky.
Bishop, 25, was the obvious choice for his award. His efforts are well known. He participated in numerous community events in Little Rock, including speaking appearances and autograph sessions. But his passion is for raising money and finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. After the diagnosis of his mom, Suzy, with early-onset Alzheimer’s in 2014, Bishop started the 4MOM Charity while at the University of Washington and has worked tirelessly to bring awareness of this disease that has affected both him and his family. This past spring training, he donated money to Alzheimer’s research for every hit he got, with Mariners teammates, coaches and players around the league joining in.
A broken arm on a hit by pitch ended Bishop’s season after 84 games. He finished with a .284/.361/.412 slash line with 70 runs scored, 20 doubles, eight home runs, 33 RBI, 37 walks and five stolen bases.
Anderson, 24, picked up the “60 ft. 6 in. Club” award, which goes to the pitcher that best embraces the Mariners’ “Control the Zone” philosophy of dominating 0-0 and 1-1 counts. Anderson, a side-arm throwing reliever, appeared in 44 games in relief with Modesto, posting a 2-4 record with two saves and a 2.68 ERA, He limited opponents to a .251 (54 for 215) average, while walking just 14 and striking out 57 in 53 2/3 innings.
Anderson was a 23rd-round pick in the 2016 draft out of Penn State
Nevarez, 21, earned the Edgar Martinez PTPA (Productive Team Plate Appearance) Award for being the hitter that best embodied the “Control the Zone” philosophy and having a team approach at the plate instead of an individual approach. Nevarez played in 41 games with Rookie AZL Mariners, appearing in games at catcher, first base and designated hitter. Overall he hit .237 (31 for 131) with a .352 on-base percentage, four doubles, three home runs, 15 RBI and 20 walks.
Nevarez was a 19th round pick in this year’s draft out of San Diego State.
Umbria is in his ninth season in the organization and coming off his first year as hitting coach with Clinton. The LumberKings finished third in the Midwest League in home runs, including having five different players hit at least 10 home runs.
“The Mariners are committed to a strong minor league system and Jose has been one of the leading members in establishing a positive environment for our prospects to develop, Director of player development Andy McKay said in a statement. “Jose has also embraced a growth mindset and continued to develop professionally by taking advantage of opportunities to learn and become a better coach.”
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