Our final MiLB awards series takes a look at the El Paso Chihuahuas, the AAA affiliate of the San Diego Padres.
The El Paso Chihuahuas may have not had the package of elite prospects that other teams in the San Diego Padres organization had, however, they did experience one of the most successful seasons in 2018.
The Chihuahuas finished the year with an 82-57 overall record, good enough for first place in the Pacific Coast League Pacific Southern Division. Unfortunately, El Paso failed to advance to the PCL championship series, falling to the Fresno Grizzlies (Houston Astros affiliate) in five games. It may not have been the finish to the season that the team or fans wanted, however, there were plenty of performances to cheer about during the regular season.
To complete our MiLB award series, let’s name this year’s top hitting and top pitching performer for the AAA El Paso Chihuahuas.
The second baseman of the foreseeable future for the San Diego Padres.
This year’s Hitter of the Year award goes to everyone’s favorite second baseman, Luis Urias. Urias had an up and down season at the plate for El Paso but was able to experience his first major league call-up just a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, the fun ended fairly quickly as the top second base prospect injured his hamstring and has been sitting out the final three weeks of the season.
However, before his call-up, Urias led El Paso in hits (133), total bases (201) and walks (67). In 120 games, he hit .296 and posted a .398 OBP, recording 30 doubles, seven triples, and eight home runs.
Urias did have some competition for this award, coming by the way of outfielder Shane Peterson. Peterson hit .286 with 11 home runs, 31 doubles, three triples, and a .343 OBP. He had half the number of walks as Urias, which was one of the deciding factors in selecting Urias over Peterson.
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Brett Kennedy was never on any top prospect list and has struggled to find his footing at the major league level since his call-up, however, Kennedy rolled his way through the Pacific Coast Leauge through 16 starts. Finishing with a perfect 10-0 record, Brett Kennedy is this year’s AAA Pitcher of the Year.
It wasn’t just the perfect record that was impressive about Kennedy’s performance, it was his 2.72 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, and .233 average against him in a very hitter-friendly league that impressed fans throughout the season.
Across 89 innings, Kennedy logged 80 strikeouts and surrendered just 77 hits and 23 walks. Despite moving up to a ballpark that struggles to retain baseballs, Kennedy slashed his HR rate by nearly half (1.02 in San Antonio, 0.60 in El Paso), effectively keeping the ball on the ground (52%) throughout the season. He was the only El Paso pitcher to go at least 70 innings and not give up a double-digit home run amount.
Before we close the door on the 2018 minor league season, take a look back at all of our award winners for this season.