ST. PETERSBURG, FL-The Tampa Bay Rays today named RHP Dylan Floro Minor League Pitcher of the Year and OF Andrew Toles Minor League Player of the Year. The Rays also announced one Most Valuable Player for each of their nine affiliates, as well as organization-wide awards for Best Baserunner, Best Defensive Player and Best Relief Pitcher.
This year's winners will be honored during an awards ceremony prior to tonight's game against the Texas Rangers. A pregame autograph session will be held along the right field line from 5:45-6:30 p.m. tonight featuring many of the organization's award winners.
The following players were named Most Valuable Player for their respective minor league teams: INF Vince Belnome (Durham Bulls, AAA); OF Kevin Kiermaier (Montgomery Biscuits, AA); OF Willie Argo (Charlotte Stone Crabs, A); OF Andrew Toles (Bowling Green Hot Rods, A); INF Darryl George (Hudson Valley Renegades, SS-A); RHP Jacob Faria (Princeton Rays, Rookie); 2B Kean Wong (Gulf Coast League Rays); INF Jose Rojas (Dominican Summer League Rays); and C David Rodriguez (Venezuelan Summer League Rays).
Toles was also named the organization's Best Baserunner while RHP Kirby Yates was named Best Relief Pitcher and Kiermaier was named Best Defensive Player.
Floro, 22, was named Rays Minor League Pitcher of the Year after posting a 1.77 ERA (137.1-IP, 27-ER) over 23 starts between Class-A Bowling Green and High-A Charlotte. He posted a 1.81 ERA (109.1-IP, 22-ER) in 19 starts with Bowling Green and was named to the Midwest League Mid-Season All Star Team before earning a promotion to Charlotte on August 13. In his first start with the Stone Crabs, Floro threw his first career complete game. He followed that performance with a six-inning shutout and did not walk a batter through his first three outings in the Florida State League. Floro also earned a spot on Midwest League Postseason All-Star Team.
Toles, 21, hit .326 (169-for-519) in 121 games with Bowling Green. In his first full season after being chosen in the third round of the 2012 June Draft, Toles' batting average topped the Midwest League and was highest among all full-season Rays minor leaguers. He ranked among Midwest League leaders in hits (1st, 169), doubles (4th, 35) and triples (1st, 16). He also led the Midwest League and the Rays organization in steals with 62, leading to his recognition as the organization's Best Baserunner. His batting average, at-bats (519), hits, triples, total bases (242) and stolen bases all set Bowling Green single-season records. From July 8-August 16, he reached base safely in a franchise-record 31 consecutive games. Along with Floro, Toles was also named a Midwest League Mid-Season and Postseason All-Star.
Yates, 26, was named Best Reliever after totaling 20 saves in 23 opportunities and a 1.90 ERA (61.2 IP, 13-ER) at Triple-A Durham this season. The right-hander finished tied for third in the International League in saves and third in games finished (38). His 13.57 SO/9-IP ratio was second-best among International League relievers and highest among IL righties.
Kiermaier, 23, was named Best Defensive Player in the organization for the second consecutive year after recording eight outfield assists between Double-A Montgomery and Durham. He spent most of the season with the Biscuits before joining the Bulls on July 24. Kiermaier did not commit an error in 38 games with Durham and made just 3 in 89 games with Montgomery. He was also named Montgomery's MVP after compiling a .307 (114-for-371) batting average with 28 RBI. His batting average ranked second in the Southern League and his nine triples were tied for second-most.
Belnome, 25, hit an even .300 (133-for-444) with Durham over 127 games en route to earning a spot on the International League Postseason All-Star Team. Belnome was among league leaders in batting average (7th), runs scored (2nd, 77), hits (4th, 133), doubles (3rd, 35), walks (3rd, 84) and on-base percentage (2nd, .408).
Argo, 23, appeared in 95 games for Charlotte and totaled 94 hits. He finished the season with a .308 (94-for-305) average to go along with 18 doubles, 58 runs scored, four homers and 37 stolen bases, third-most in the Florida State League.
George, 20, batted a team-best .286 (65-for-227) in 61 games with Short-Season Hudson Valley. The Australian native served primarily as shortstop for the Renegades this season but also appeared at six different positions (including two relief appearances).
Faria, 20, finished his second season in rookie-level Princeton with a 3-3 record and a 2.02 ERA (62.1 IP, 14-ER) in 12 starts. In 62.1 innings, Faria walked just nine batters while striking out 71 for the fourth-highest SO/9-IP ratio (10.25) among starters in the Appalachian League. His 1.30 BB/9-IP ratio was third-best.
Wong, 18, was drafted in the fourth round of this year's June Draft and hit .328 (58-for-177) in 46 games, the fourth-best average in the Gulf Coast League. Wong drove in 22 runs for the GCL Rays, adding seven doubles and two triples while stealing seven bases. Wong also fielded at a .979 clip in 39 games at second base.
Rojas, 20, completed his third season for the Rays Dominican Summer League affiliate and finished tied for third in the league with eight home runs. He hit .280 (70-for-250) in 69 games and his 51 RBI were fourth-most in the DSL. Rojas led the league with 21 doubles and 30 extra-base hits.
Rodriguez, 17, appeared in 64 games for the Rays Venezuelan Summer League team. He added 12 home runs the most in the VSL, while compiling a .329 average (78-for-237), fourth-best in the league. Rojas also slugged .540 and finished with a .409 on-base percentage.