The Orioles announced their Minor League award winners Tuesday and every player honored by the organization was a Frederick Key. The awards will be handed out at Oriole Park before Wednesday's home game against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Brian Matusz, Brandon Waring and Caleb Joseph are the players being honored with the Jim Palmer, Brooks Robinson and Elrod Hendricks Awards respectively.
The Jim Palmer award goes to the Pitcher of the Year, the Brooks Robinson award goes to the Player of the Year and the Elrod Hendricks Award goes to the Community Service Winner.
Matusz started his 2009 campaign in High-A Frederick after making his professional debut in the 2008 Arizona Fall League. Matusz eventually made it up to Baltimore, winning his big league debut in Detroit on August 4. In the minors, Matusz finished 11-2 with a 1.91 ERA in 19 starts over Frederick and Double-A Bowie. Since his promotion to the majors, Matusz has gone 5-2 with a 4.63 ERA in eight starts but has been shut down for due to his innings count. He has pitched in 157.2 innings, the most of his career, including collegiate ball. He pitched 123 innings in 2007 as a sophomore at the University of San Diego.
Waring came to the organization from the Cincinnati Reds as a part of a deal that sent former Orioles backstop Ramon Hernandez to the Reds. Waring was the first Key to win the Carolina League MVP in their 21-year history, batting .273 with 26 home runs and 90 RBI's in Frederick. He would add a home run and six RBI's after a September promotion to Bowie and has drawn offensive comparisons to Nolan Reimold from some scouts.
Waring's 26 homers are the second most in Keys history and was the first to drive in 90 runs since 1996. He led the Carolina League in a number of categories as well, including RBI, slugging percentage (.520), OPS (.874) and total bases (246).
Joseph put on displays on the field, throwing runners out from behind the plate and leading the Carolina League in hitting for most of the season, but it was his contributions off the field that landed him the Elrod Hendricks award. He spent between 30-40 hours in the community making appearances in camps and with schools before Keys games. He was a mid- and post-season Carolina League All-Star for his play in the field.
For the Keys, this is the first time that all three player awards went to players that had been on their roster at the start of the season.
One other Key will be honored at Oriole Park on Wednesday and that is starting pitcher Zach Britton. He was the Carolina League Pitcher of the Year. Britton finished 9-6 with a 2.70 ERA, striking out 131 batters in 140 innings. Britton kept the ball down, surrendering only six home runs on the season and averaged 3.38 groundouts per flyout. Scouts have been mentioning him in the likes of Matusz, Chris Tillman and Jake Arrieta as the top pitching prospects in the system.
Other awards being handed out by the Orioles are the Cal Ripken Sr. Award for Player Development, going to Norfolk Pitching coach Mike Griffin, and the Jum Russo Award for Scouting, going to Jim Howard.
Griffin has sent a number of pitchers to the big leagues this year including, arguably the best pitcher in the Orioles rotation this year, Brad Bergesen. He joined the Orioles coaching staff at the conclusion of the Tides' season to help with the young pitchers for the remainder of the season.
Mark Shires (Tides) and Aaron Scott (Delmarva Shorebirds) were the International and South Atlantic League trainers of the year and will also receive their awards Wednesday at the Yard.