12/12/2003 11:27 PM ET
Indians award top minor leaguers
Sizemore, Carmona win annual organizational honors
In a farm system known for its depth, Grady Sizemore and Fausto Carmona stood out. The Cleveland Indians on Friday named Sizemore and Carmona as their minor-league player and pitcher of the year, respectively.
By Jason Beck / MLB.com
Neither was near the top of the Indians prospect list to start the season, though Sizemore entered the year ranked No. 7 according to Baseball America. For Sizemore, the Lou Boudreau Award caps a season to remember that will jolt him up the list of outfield prospects around the Majors.
Having reached Double-A Akron at age 21, Sizemore was all-around weapon playing with and against many older players. He was the runner-up in Eastern League MVP voting after batting .304 with 13 home runs, 78 RBIs, 26 doubles and 13 triples. His 151 hits and 96 runs scored led all minor leaguers.
Sizemore was even better on the national stage. In July, he won the Larry Doby Award as MVP of the All-Star Futures Game by going 2-for-3 with a home run and two RBIs. In October, he earned a spot on the U.S. National Team that competed in the Olympic qualifying tournament. He hit .442 with a home run, seven RBIs and 12 runs scored during 13 games of tryout play in the Arizona Fall League.
"Grady solidified himself as one of the best outfield prospects in baseball, with a quality season both offensively and defensively at Akron," Indians player development director John Farrell said. "He has the potential with his tremendous ability and work ethic to be a team leader and become a star caliber outfielder at the big league level. We are very excited about his continued maturation as a hitter, where he has the potential to hit for power to go along with his high average."
Carmona's greatness, by contrast, was in his control. The South Atlantic League's Most Outstanding Pitcher racked up an organizational-high total of 17 wins at Class A Lake County before making a cameo appearance at Akron. His 2.16 ERA placed third-best among all Indians farmhands, while he issued just 14 walks in 154 1/3 innings.
"Fausto had an outstanding season," Farrell said, "proving to be one of our most consistent starters in the organization and a key contributor to Lake County winning their first division title. Fausto is a pitcher who locates the ball well and stays ahead of hitters. In just his third season of professional ball, he has made great strides and we are excited about his future."
Those individual successes had a little to do with the farm system's team successes. Lake County's 97-43 record topped all of minor-league baseball, and Akron's 88-54 mark ranked fourth. The Indians' six minor-league affiliates went a combined 406-299 and was ranked best organization by Baseball America for high-ceiling prospects.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.