Aviles, Soria, Greinke take home honors
A trio of Royals received special recognition for their 2008 campaigns today. Mike Aviles, who burst onto the scene with a .325 batting average, earned Les Milgram Player of the Year honors. Joakim Soria was a unanimous choice for Bruce Rice Pitcher of the Year after collecting 42 saves and his first All-Star appearance. Zack Greinke, who established career bests with 13 wins and and 183 strikeouts, garnered Joe Burke Special Achievement recognition. All of the awards were voted on by members of the Kansas City Chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA). Aviles becomes the first KC position player to win the organization’s Minor League Player of the Year award and follow that up the very next season with the Major League award. Interestingly enough, Greinke is the only pitcher to do it, accomplishing the feat in 2003 and 2004.
Aviles spoke with the media via teleconference a few minutes ago. He described his season as a ‘whirlwind’ as he was a non-roster invitee to spring training, a minor league player in April and May, and now the Royals Player of the Year. Mike said he doesn’t think much about awards during the season, yet this gives him a sense of happiness. A key to his success was the family-like atmosphere of the club. His teammates welcomed him from the day he joined the Major League roster from Triple-A Omaha. After going 0-for-3 in his debut, Mike made adjustments as he realized that this was the same game he had played his entire life, just a little quicker. He loved the challenges that Major League competition posed as he was always facing new pitchers and learning new things.
Mike is playing winter ball in Puerto Rico until December 15. He noted that the league is very competitive and his goal is to keep his swing on the same path. Congratulations, Mike, and thank you for taking time away from your winter ball schedule (and trips to the beach, or ‘la playa’, as they say in Puerto Rico) to speak with the media today.
Check back for comments from Zack and Joakim, who will have teleconferences with the media later this afternoon.