10/01/2006 2:18 PM ET
Indians announce winners of On-Base program sponsored by Continental Airlines
CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Indians today announced the year-end organizational winners of their Minor League On-Base Program "On-Base -- Where Careers Take Off," sponsored by Continental Airlines. The On-Base program stresses pitch recognition and patience at the plate for all position players within the organization's Player Development System.
Players are rewarded with a cash recognition for their performances based on three different non-traditional hitting categories at each of the six Indians Minor League affiliates (AAA Buffalo, AA Akron, A Kinston, A Lake County, A Mahoning Valley, Rookie Burlington). The three hitting categories are: on-base percentage, percentage of hard hit at-bats and walk percentage based on total plate appearances.
The following are the list of organizational winners in each of the three categories. For their efforts, the winners will receive a round trip voucher for anywhere in the continental United States from Continental Airlines.
Hard Hit Percentage: Jared Goedert -- 45.2%
Walk Percentage: Max Ramirez -- 18.6%
On-Base Percentage: Kevin Kouzmanoff -- .437
Infielder Jared Goedert led the Indians player development system in percentage of quality at-bats with a 45.2 percentage. Goedert, the Indians 9th round selection in the 2006 First-Year Player draft, played in 63 games for Class A Mahoning Valley and batted .269 (64-238) with 14 doubles, two triples, three home runs, and 27 RBIs. The 21-year-old from Kansas State University ranked in the top-five in four team batting categories, including average (.269, 4th), home runs (three, 5th), RBIs (27, 3rd), and runs scored (31, 3rd). From Aug. 5th through the 19th, he hit in 10 straight games, batting .350 (14-for-40) with two doubles, a home run, six RBIs, and seven runs scored, raising his average from .264 to .282.
Catcher Maximiliano Ramirez had the highest walk percentage (18.6% of plate appearances) of any Indians Minor Leaguer, as he drew 30 walks in 161 plate appearances at Class A Lake County. Ramirez, acquired from the Atlanta Braves for Bob Wickman on July 20th, batted .307 (39-for-127) with six doubles, a triple, four home runs, 19 runs scored, and 26 RBI in 37 games with the Captains. Before the trade, he played in 117 games with the Rome Braves, where he batted .292 (115-for-394) with 23 doubles, a triple, 13 home runs, 69 runs scored, 63 RBIs, and 84 walks. Combined for the season, he drew 114 walks in 648 plate appearances (17.6%). At the end of the season he was transferred to Double-A Akron for the Eastern League playoffs.
Infielder Kevin Kouzmanoff had the highest on-base percentage (.437) of any Indian farmhand during the 2006 season. Kouzmanoff, 25, ended the year with a .379 batting average between Double-A Akron and Triple-A Buffalo, which was 2nd among all Minor League players. Started the year in Akron, and batted .389 (95-for-244) with 19 doubles, 46 runs scored, 15 home runs, 55 RBIs and an on-base percentage of .449. After being promoted to Buffalo in August, he hit .353 (36-for-102) with nine doubles, 22 runs scored, seven home runs, and 20 RBIs. Combined between the two stops he batted .379 (131-for-346) with 22 home runs, 68 runs scored, and 75 RBI. He was called up by the Indians on Sept. 2, and made history by hitting a grand slam in his first Major League at-bat at Ameriquest Field against the Rangers.