Minor League Awards 2011 Most Impressive Team - Omaha Storm Chasers No longer the Omaha Royals, the 2011 innaugual season of the Storm Chasers is a good ‘ol baseball story. Affiliated with the Royals since it’s inception in 1969, the newly named Pacific Coast League team begins a new era on the right foot as they head back to the playoffs after a twelve year absence. While the development of players is the point of it all, there was one really good reason why the Chasers success would be a sweet victory. 2011 marked Mike Jirschele’s 8th season as the Triple-A club’s manager and his 12th in the Royals system. They had never finished higher than third in his entire tenure, including last season, and when he arrived in 2003 they finished in 11th place with. The fact that the team had not been to the playoffs since 1999, gave young players a little something more to play for. With players like Mike Moustakas, Mike Montgomery, and Eric Hosmer on their roster at some point during the season, fans had many great reasons to support the team. Most Impressive Manager - Andy Haines, Greensboro Grasshoppers – It was down to the wire for the Grasshoppers. They defeated the Kannapolis Indians in extra innings to become second-half champs of the Northern Division. Haine’s knows he has to help the development of players at a low-level. Excellence is not easily achieved. But the Grasshoppers finished with a 79-60 overall record and spent May and June notching victories. They have been a consistent team with excellent offense. Starting pitchers like James Leverton came through in the final stretch . It is not easy to manage at that level. But Haines understands the job and that’s the key. Now after a twelve-year absence, the Grasshoppers are playoffs bound. Most Impressive Hitter – Paul Goldschmidt, Mobile BayBears, Southern League, Arizona Diamondbacks – Goldschmidt is exactly what the Diamondbacks need. The first-baseman is providing excitement Arizona baseball fans are lacking. Before his call-up, he was putting together a tremendous season for the Double-A BayBears. He led the minors with 30 home runs and 94 RBI. The twenty-three-year-old also worked an astounding 82 walks. His .626 SLG percentage is the league’s best to end the season. Most Impressive Starting Pitcher -Matt Moore, Durham Bulls, International League, Tampa Rays – Strikeouts. That is the first word you likely think of when reflecting on Moore’s 2011 season with the Bulls and Double-A Montgomery Biscuits. His 210 K’s led all of minor league baseball. 163 of them were in the Southern League before his promotion. He went 4-0 for Durham with a 1.37 ERA in his final ten starts.