As is the tradition during the final Saturday home game of the regular season, the Blue Jays honoured the top players from each of their eight minor league affiliates for the 2014 season. Before handing out the hardware, the Jays paid tribute to the late Jorge Rivera, an amateur scout who helped sign arguably the greatest player in franchise history, Carlos Delgado.
All of the recipients were position players this time around. The R. Howard Webster Award winners for 2014…
- Buffalo – Kevin Pillar
- New Hampshire – Jon Berti
- Dunedin – Dwight Smith Jr.
- Lansing – Mitch Nay
- Vancouver – Franklin Barreto
- Bluefield – Richard Urena
- Gulf Coast – Juan Kelly
- Dominican – Enmanuel Moreta
Click here for more details on the players. Even though pitching prospects Aaron Sanchez, Daniel Norris, Kendall Graveman and Miguel Castro had strong seasons, neither spent enough time at any one level to earn a Webster.
The nice thing about this year’s list is the top six players all spent time in Vancouver. Kevin Pillar and Jon Berti played huge roles in helping the C’s win the first of three consecutive Northwest League championships. Dwight Smith Jr. was around for the 2012 C-Peat and Mitch Nay was named Playoff MVP as the C’s clinched the three-peat in 2013. Franklin Barreto spent the entire 2014 campaign in Vancouver while Richard Urena was called up in the second half to help the Canadians reach the league final again, only to lose to Arizona affiliate Hillsboro.
We’ve seen Marcus Stroman and the pride of Mississauga, Ontario – Dalton Pompey – join Pillar, Sanchez and Norris as former Vancouver Canadians to reach the major leagues. That’s pretty decent production considering the C’s/Jays partnership only began in 2011. I wasn’t around for 2011 to see Sanchez at The Nat but I can say I’ve seen the other players at the park. I never got to see Norris pitch in a C’s uniform – only in warm-ups – but he really made strides from his early struggles to get to Baseball North. I’m looking forward to see who will make up the next wave of Vancouver Canadians to get to the bigs.