The polls were open for the past week, allowing fans worldwide to cast a vote for their favored starting pitcher at all levels of play (short-season through Triple-A). After seven days of fast and furious voting, much of it driven by vigorous team-led campaigns, the results are in.
Triple-A: Brandon Dickson, Memphis Redbirds (11-8, 3.23 ERA)
Curiously, Dickson was the only one of the six nominees who didn't receive a Major League callup at some point this season. The 6'5" right-hander went wire-to-wire with the Memphis Redbirds, who lost to the Tacoma Rainiers in the Pacific Coast League Finals. Dickson anchored the Redbirds' starting rotation, finishing in the PCL top five in wins (11), ERA (3.23), and strikeouts (137). Not bad for a guy with no prior Triple-A experience, pitching in a notoriously hitter-friendly circuit. Dickson received over half of the vote (55 percent), with strong showings also posted by Durham's Jeremy Hellickson (23 percent) and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre's Ivan Nova (17 percent).
Double-A: Elih Villanueva, Jacksonville Suns (14-4, 2.26 ERA)
The luminous wattage of the Suns dominated the voting, as a pair of Jacksonville teammates combined to receive 83 percent of the total vote. In the end it was Elih Villanueva who emerged victorious, edging out his equally dominant rotation-mate Tom Koehler 44 percent-39 percent. The 24-year-old Villanueva showed that he was more than ready for the rigors of Double-A competition, winning his final eight decisions of the year en route to compiling a Southern League-leading 2.26 ERA. The Marlins' 27th-round Draft pick in 2008, Villanueva held opponents to a .212 average, and that stinginess combined with pinpoint control led to the best WHIP (0.96) in all of Double-A baseball.
Class A Advanced: Anthony Bass, Lake Elsinore Storm (8-7, 3.13)
Bass' pedestrian win-loss record was in no way indicative of how he actually pitched, as the Michigan-born right-hander paced the California League with a 3.13 ERA. The Padres prospect's propensity for pinpoint pitch placement was key to his success, as Bass walked a mere 20 batters over 132 1/3 innings of work for the Storm. He didn't walk a single batter in 15 of his 27 starts, and issued just two free passes over his final nine outings. Bass netted a commanding 45 percent of the vote, triumphing amidst a strong field that included Minor League strikeout leader Matt Moore and Florida State League pitcher of the Year Austin Hyatt.
Class A: Matt Magill, Great Lakes Loons (7-4, 3.28 ERA) This marked Magill's first full-season campaign, but if the grind of five-month season wore on him, he certainly didn't show it. The former 31st-round Draft pick pitched more innings and compiled a lower ERA after the All-Star break than before it, greatly aiding the Loons in their impressive march to a Minor League-best 90 wins. Magill struck out 135 batters over just 126 1/3 innings of work, and kept opposing hitters below the Mendoza Line (.194). He was particularly effective within the confines of his home park, going 6-0 with a 2.72 ERA over 10 starts at Great Lakes' Dow Diamond. Magill accumulated a whopping 57 percent of the vote, more than double that of his closest competitor.
Class A Short-Season: Yohan Almonte (8-1, 1.91 ERA) The Cyclones compiled the best winning percentage in all of short-season baseball in 2010, and Almonte was a big reason why. The 20-year-old, signed as an undrafted free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2007, led the league with a 1.91 ERA while pacing the Cyclones with eight victories. Almonte racked up four times as many strikeouts (60) as he did walks (15), and didn't allow an earned run in seven of his 15 starts. The ultra-lanky righty (listed as 6'1", 150 pounds) posted the only nine-inning complete game shutout in the New York-Penn League, scattering six hits in a dominating win over Connecticut on August 28. Almonte got 44 percent of the overall vote, triumphing in a close race over Bristol's Spencer Arroyo (37 percent) and handily beating rotation-mate Angel Cuan (14 percent).