On Wednesday the Minnesota Twins announced the winners of their Sherry Robertson (Minor League Player of the Year) and Jim Rantz (Minor League Pitcher of the Year) Awards.

Catcher Mitch Garver got the nod for the Robertson Award, and it was richly deserved after the numbers he posted at Triple-A Rochester.

Garver was rewarded with a call-up to the big leagues after hitting a stellar .291/.387/.541 in 88 games with the Red Wings. While the 26-year-old Garver hit just .196/.288/.348 in his cup of coffee with the Twins, he did well to add some versatility in the minors which should help him claim a full-time roster spot in the big leagues in the near future. Besides making 66 starts behind the plate for the Red Wings — where he threw out 31 percent of attempted base thieves — Garver started 14 games in left field and four at first base.

It’s unclear what his future projection is in the big leagues due to the fact that he’ll already be 27 when the 2018 season starts, but if nothing else, he could have a future as a platoon bat after slashing .290/.408/.530 against lefties this past season. He wasn’t too shabby against righties — .273/.361/.509 — either.

Previous Robertson Award winners include:

  • Zack Granite – 2016
  • Max Kepler – 2015
  • Kennys Vargas – 2014
  • Byron Buxton – 2013
  • Oswaldo Arcia – 2012
  • Brian Dozier – 2011

Right-handed starter Aaron Slegers was named the winner of the Rantz Award, as both award winners appeared in the big leagues for the first time this past season.

The 6-foot-10 Slegers pitched almost exclusively at Triple-A Rochester, posting a 3.40 ERA in 24 starts with 119 strikeouts and 29 walks in 148.1 innings (7.2 K/9; 1.8 BB/9). The 24-year-old Slegers is not overpowering, but works in the low-90s with a four-seam fastball and a sinker in addition to a changeup and slider. Slegers has consistently posted groundball rates in the 45-50 percent range, which is a good indicator that he’ll do so in the future. In lieu of a dominant repertoire, Slegers will do well to keep the ball on the ground as he looks to carve out a future as a back-end starter. His repertoire is intriguing, however — all four of his pitches had swinging-strike rates between 7.0-9.5 percent.  

Previous Rantz Award winners include:

  • Stephen Gonsalves – 2016
  • Jose Berrios – 2015, ‘14
  • Andrew Albers – 2013
  • B.J. Hermsen – 2012
  • Liam Hendriks – 2011

These players and all Diamond Award winners will be honored at the yearly banquet at Target Field on Jan. 18, 2018 to kick off TwinsFest weekend.

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Brandon Warne covers the Twins for Cold Omaha, and has had his work featured in numerous places across the United States. Locally, Warne’s work has appeared at the Minneapolis Star Tribune, St. Paul Pioneer Press, 1500 ESPN and Go96.3 for writing and audio, and he’s also had written work appear on Baseball Prospectus, Fangraphs and cited in the Los Angeles Times. Warne lives in the outer Twin Cities suburbs with his wife, Amanda. Listen to his Cold Omaha podcast Midwest Swing. Follow Brandon on Twitter @Brandon_Warne.

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