This was my toughest decision among all of the KC Royals end of season awards. It was so hard that I could not chose the Minor League Pitcher of the Year and am leaving the decision up to YOU.
Pitching carried High-A Wilmington into the postseason in 2012 and I had a chance to see all three of the following candidates pitch at least once.
Yordano Ventura is the rail-thin fireballer, who was not only a Carolina League All-Star but also a Futures Game starter. He started the game at Kauffman Stadium for the World. In Wilmington, opponents hit just .229 against him and he struck out 98 in 76.1 innings. He struggled with walks and high pitch counts upon his promotion to Double-A, as he lasted more than 5.2 innings once in six starts there.
Sugar Ray Marimon joined Ventura as a Carolina League All-Star and surprised many with his performance in 2012. He was part of a piggyback combination for much of his time in Wilmington, but still struck out 60 in 68 innings. He also carried a 2.12 ERA to Double-A, where he also struggled. He walked 29 in 66.2 innings and opponents hit .264 against him. Marimon did shine in his one start for Columbia in the World Baseball Classic Qualifier (one run in five innings of work to earn the victory).
Jason Adam spent the entire season in Wilmington and dominated at the beginning and at the end (though he struggled to record victories due to a lack of run support). He was a workhorse, as his 158 innings attest. In his final start (a postseason win), Adam pitched one batter into the 8th inning. In the end, he allowed two runs (one earned) on five hits and three walks while striking out four.
There are two surprises to this list. Let’s start with lefty Justin Marks, who finished a successful 2012 season with a solid run in the Arizona Fall League. He was the lone Royal to be named to the AFL All-Prospect Team. His performance this past season also earned him a spot on the Royals 40-man roster.
Marks made 17 starts in Double-A and carried a 3.08 ERA. Despite missing some time due to injury, he was promoted to Triple-A to make one start prior to the postseason (which was disastrous). In the AFL, he was 5-1 with a 2.59 ERA in seven starts. He struck out 22 in 24.1 innings and walked just five. Left-handed hitters hit just .160 against him.