No Minor feat: Braves recognize farm
Best players in organization honored Saturday at Turner Field
ATLANTA -- As the Braves conclude a third consecutive season without a trip into the postseason, they are looking toward the future and hoping their Minor Leagues once again prove as fruitful as they did when Atlanta was winning 14 consecutive division titles.
Many of the club's future stars were at Turner Field on Saturday, when the Braves honored their Minor League Players of the Year during a pregame ceremony. Some of them, including Tommy Hanson, who was named the organizational pitcher of the year, are hoping to return next year to prove they're ready for life at the Major League level.
"I don't want to set that as a goal," said Hanson, who went 11-5 with a 2.41 in 25 combined starts for Double-A Mississippi and Class A-Advanced Myrtle Beach. "I just want to keep pitching, getting better and hope that it happens."
Hanson, a 6-foot-6, 210-pound right-hander, will pitch in this year's Arizona Fall League.
While Hanson has a legitimate shot to make his Major League debut next year, Freddie Freeman, who was named the organizational player of the year, will have to wait a few more years. But after hitting .316 with 18 homers and a .521 slugging percentage for Class A Rome, the 19-year-old first baseman proved that he's on the right track.
"The big key for me was making adjustments this year," said Freeman, who admits he had some troubles getting used to the professional baseball environment after being selected by the Braves in the second round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft.
Freeman spent this season rooming with Jason Heyward, who was named Rome's player of the year. Heyward, the club's top selection in last year's Draft, hit .316 with 11 homers and a .473 slugging percentage while spending most of the season with Rome and ending it with a run into the playoffs with Myrtle Beach.
Heyward, a 19-year-old outfielder who stands 6-foot-4 and weighs 220 pounds, and Freeman, who is 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds, combined to provide an imposing presence that didn't provide much comfort to South Atlantic League opponents.
"This year was a great starting point," said Heyward, whose parents live approximately 20 minutes from Turner Field. "It provided a solid base for the future."
Other players and pitchers of the year who were honored on Saturday included:
Triple-A Richmond: Charlie Morton (Pitcher) and Josh Anderson (Player)
Double-A Mississippi: Todd Redmond (Pitcher) and Matt Young (Player)
Class A-Advanced Myrtle Beach: Scott Diamond (Pitcher) and Tyler Flowers (Player)
Class A Rome: Edgar Osuna (Pitcher) and Heyward (Player)
Rookie Level Danville: David Francis (Pitcher) and Jon Gilmore (Player)
Gulf Coast League: Zeke Spruill (Pitcher) and Robert Brooks (Player)
Dominican Summer League: Edigson Mora (Pitcher) and Alberto Odreman (Player)
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.