High-A award winners and All-Stars

Encarnacion-Strand, Veen and Rodriguez named MVPs

November 9, 2022

Minor League Baseball has announced the end-of-season award winners and All-Star teams for the three High-A leagues, based on votes cast by league managers.

In the Midwest League, third baseman Christian Encarnacion-Strand, who played for Twins-affiliated Cedar Rapids before being traded to the Reds, was named the Most Valuable Player. Marlins right-hander M.D. Johnson claimed the league’s Pitcher of the Year Award, while Reds slugger Elly De La Cruz was picked as the Top MLB Prospect.

The Northwest League Most Valuable Player and Top MLB Prospect selections both went to Rockies outfielder Zac Veen. The circuit’s Pitcher of the Year Award went to right-hander Prelander Berroa, who played for Eugene in the Giants system and Everett after being traded to the Mariners.

In the South Atlantic League, the Pirates’ Endy Rodriguez, like Veen, was named the Most Valuable Player and the Top MLB Prospect. Ben Brown, who pitched for the Phillies’ Jersey Shore squad before being traded to the Cubs, was named the Pitcher of the Year.

Here are the major award winners from each circuit as well as the full All-Star teams.

Midwest League
Most Valuable Player: Christian Encarnacion-Strand, Cedar Rapids (MIN)
Encarnacion-Strand was otherworldly in April, slashing .410/.459/.679 with 23 RBIs, and rebounded from a tough May to finish his tenure with the Kernels with a .296/.370/.599 line and 20 home runs in 74 games. After 13 games with Double-A Wichita, Encarnacion-Strand was one of three prospects traded to the Reds at the deadline for Tyler Mahle.

Pitcher of the Year: M.D. Johnson, Beloit (MIA)
Johnson finished the 2021 season with 11 strong starts for the Sky Carp and he used that momentum to his advantage for a full year with Beloit in 2022. Nicknamed “the Doc,” Johnson finished atop the league ERA (3.46) and WHIP (1.04) leaderboards, also ranking second in opponent’s batting average (.218).

Johnson collects eighth K
Jun 29, 2022 · 0:19
Johnson collects eighth K
Top MLB Prospect: Elly De La Cruz, Dayton (CIN)
No prospect in the Minor Leagues had a more electric season than De La Cruz, who finished with 28 home runs and 47 stolen bases between two levels. His breakout year commenced with the Dragons, where he hit 20 home runs — one off the league lead — with a .968 OPS in 73 games before a promotion to Double-A Chattanooga. Over three games in early July, De La Cruz belted five home runs in a span of eight at-bats.

De La Cruz mashes 19th homer
Jul 9, 2022 · 0:49
De La Cruz mashes 19th homer
All-Star Team (view stats >>)

1B: Tyler Soderstrom, Lansing (OAK No. 1, MLB No. 47)
2B: Jorbit Vivas, Great Lakes (LAD No. 16)
SS: Elly De La Cruz, Dayton (CIN No. 1, MLB No. 14)
3B: Christian Encarnacion-Strand, Cedar Rapids (MIN, CIN No. 14)
C: Josh Crouch, West Michigan (DET No. 29)
OF: Johnathan Rodriguez, Lake County (CLE)
OF: Robert Hassell III, Fort Wayne (SD, WSH No. 1, MLB No. 22)
OF: Pete Crow-Armstrong, South Bend (CHC No. 1, MLB No. 30)
DH: Imanol Vargas, Great Lakes (LAD)
RHP: M.D. Johnson, Beloit (MIA No. 25)
LHP: DJ Herz, South Bend (CHC No. 13)
RP: Cam Robinson, Wisconsin (MIL No. 27)
Manager: Austin Chubb, Great Lakes (LAD)

Northwest League
Most Valuable Player/Top MLB Prospect: Zac Veen, Spokane (COL)
At just 20 years old in his second pro season, Veen, one of the most dynamic prospects in the Minors, reached Double-A. He earned the promotion after 92 games for the Indians in which he led the NWL with 50 stolen bases (in 54 attempts) and 72 runs scored. Veen finished third with a .368 OBP and fifth with an .807 OPS after recording 33 extra-base hits.

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Veen cranks 11th homer
Jul 13, 2022 · 0:25
Veen cranks 11th homer
Pitcher of the Year: Prelander Berroa, Eugene/Everett (SF/SEA)
Berroa covered one-third of the six-team Northwest League after a May trade for Donovan Walton sent the righty from San Francisco and the Emeralds to Seattle and the AquaSox. Between both squads, the 22-year-old Berroa — originally a Twins prospect — pitched to a stellar 2.06 ERA with 97 strikeouts in 65 2/3 innings. He earned a late July promotion to Double-A Arkansas, where he contributed five innings toward a combined no-hitter.

Berroa fans 11 in five hitless
Aug 12, 2022 · 0:55
Berroa fans 11 in five hitless
All-Star Team (view stats >>)

1B: Colin Simpson, Spokane (COL)
2B: Eddy Diaz, Spokane (COL)
SS: Julio Carreras, Spokane (COL No. 28)
3B: Carter Aldrete, Eugene (SF)
C: Patrick Bailey, Eugene (SF No. 12)
OF: Zac Veen, Spokane (COL No. 1, MLB No. 23)
OF: Spencer Packard, Everett (SEA)
OF: Jairo Pomares, Eugene (SF No. 14)
DH: Casey Schmitt, Eugene (SF No. 6)
RHP: Prelander Berroa, Eugene/Everett (SF, SEA No. 16)
LHP: Nick Swiney, Eugene (SF No. 17)
RP: Isaiah Campbell, Everett (SEA)
Manager: Carlos Valderrama, Eugene (SF)

South Atlantic League
Most Valuable Player/Top MLB Prospect: Endy Rodriguez, Greensboro (PIT)
Few knew of Rodriguez when he was essentially a throw-in in the three-team deal that sent Joe Musgrove to the Padres in January 2021. Two seasons later, the 22-year-old utility man — primarily a catcher, he saw time at first and second base and left field — has become one of the Minors’ top hitters. After leading the SAL with a .936 OPS, he spent a month with Double-A Altoona and a week with Triple-A Indianapolis.

Rodriguez’s 5 hits, homer
Aug 3, 2022 · 1:23
Rodriguez’s 5 hits, homer
Pitcher of the Year: Ben Brown, Jersey Shore (PHI)
Brown, like Rodriguez, has ascended from being under the radar to owning significant prospect relevance in short order. A 33rd-round Draft pick in 2017, Brown was limited to just 16 innings in 2021 but broke out in a big way this past season, posting a 3.08 ERA in 16 outings (15 starts) for the BlueClaws. He was traded to the Cubs at the deadline in a one-for-one move that netted veteran reliever David Robertson for the Phillies.

All-Star Team (view stats >>)

1B: Kyle Manzardo, Bowling Green (TB No. 5)
2B: Thomas Saggese, Hickory (TEX No. 19)
SS: Vaughn Grissom, Rome (ATL)
3B: Tyler Hardman, Hudson Valley (NYY)
C: Endy Rodriguez, Greensboro (PIT No. 6, MLB No. 97)
OF: Heriberto Hernandez, Bowling Green (TB No. 17)
OF: Cody Milligan, Rome (ATL)
OF: Zach Daniels, Asheville (HOU No. 29)
DH: Evan Carter, Hickory (TEX No. 3, MLB No. 56)
RHP: Ben Brown, Jersey Shore (PHI, CHC No. 7)
LHP: Nick Zwack, Brooklyn (NYM, SF No. 29)
RP: Xavier Moore, Aberdeen (BAL)
Manager: Jeff Smith, Bowling Green (TB)