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  • Writer's pictureSteve Potter

9/21/23 : 2023 Paul Owens Award Winners

Updated: Sep 22, 2023

Since 1986 the Phillies have honored the annual top player and pitcher in their minor league system. The award is named in memory of Paul Owens, a Phillies legend who spent  48 years in the Phillies organization as a scout, farm director, general manager, manager and senior advisor.  Last year 1B Darick Hall & RHP Andrew Painter were the award recipients.

I’ve been writing about Phillies Player Development since the beginning of 2015,(nine years 😳), during that time amongst the fifteen recipients of the award ten have or are currently playing in the major leagues - eight award winners from those years are still members of the Phillies organization (Rhys Hoskins, Scott Kingery, David Parkinson, Alec Bohm, Bryson Stott, Jean Cabrera, Darick Hall and Andrew Painter).

Here are the two players selected as the 2023 award winners.

Pitcher of the Year :

RH Orion Kerkering - 22 years old, 5th round draft selection (2022) from South Florida - pitched at four levels as a shut the door back end reliever with Clearwater, Jersey Shore, Reading and now finishing the year with Lehigh Valley (one appearance to date).  Has two plus pitches, an upper nineties fastball and a wipeout slider.  Dominated the A levels, in thirty and two-third innings (twenty-seven games) posted a 1.17 ERA with forty-five strikeouts and just seven walks, a WHIP of 0.717.  He continued to excel at Reading where in twenty-one games (twenty-two IP) he recorded a 2.05 ERA along with thirty-three strikeouts and just five walks.  His overall numbers for the year - forty nine appearances, fifty-three and two third innings pitched, 1.51 ERA, seventy-nine strikeouts, twelve walks, 0.89 WHIP, fourteen saves, four holds and .186 batting average against.  Has definitely put himself in a position for a big league spring training invitation next year and potentially becoming a major league contributor in 2024. - Update - 9/22/23 - Orion has been promoted to the major leagues!

Position Player of the Year :

OF Johan Rojas - 23 years old - signed as an international free agent 1/18/18 - San Francisco de Macoris, Dominican Republic - made his major league debut on July 15th and has shown the big league audience the outstanding skill set we’ve been preaching about since the first time we saw him play on Roberts Field in April of 2019.  He’s an elite defender, gets reads on balls off the bat like no other and has speed to run down fly balls most cannot, also possesses a plus throwing arm.  This season at Reading he put up his best minor league offensive numbers hitting .306 in 320 AB’s with twenty doubles, five triples, nine home runs and forty-five RBIs posting a .361 OBP and a .484 slugging percentage. He also stole thirty bases.  Plays with a confidence and passion that shows no fear of any situation and with a skill set that will only improve as an offensive player, as you’ve all seen now seen in his fifty two big league games he’s already there as a defensive stalwart in center field.

Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️

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