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Stenson nominees show grit and grace
Six prospects in consideration for AFL sportsmanship honor
11/14/2013 8:49 PM ET
Garin Cecchini had a .434 on-base percentage for the Saguaros.
Garin Cecchini had a .434 on-base percentage for the Saguaros. (Jason Wise/MLB.com)

In addition to all of the extra on-field experience and accomplishments, one of six talented prospects is going to leave the Arizona Fall League with a special piece of hardware.

The Dernell Stenson Sportsmanship Award -- named in honor of the Reds outfielder who was killed after playing the AFL in 2003 -- is given at the end of each autumn campaign to the player in the league who best carried himself according to Stenson's core values of unselfishness, hard work and leadership.

Since the award was first issued in 2004 (to Mark Teahen, who played third base for the Phoenix Desert Dogs), the league's managers have each nominated a player from their respective teams. This year's winner will be announced during Saturday's championship game in which Mesa will face Surprise. The game will be broadcast on MLB.com and MLB Network at 3 p.m. ET.

The 2013 nominees are Salt River third baseman Andy Burns (Blue Jays), Surprise third baseman Garin Cecchini (Red Sox), Glendale infielder Travis Mattair (Reds), Peoria third baseman Jonathan Meyer (Astros), Mesa second baseman Devon Travis (Tigers) and Scottsdale outfielder Cory Vaughn.

Nominees for the Stenson Award need not be highly ranked prospects, and only two of this year's hopefuls (Cecchini and Travis) have been ranked by MLB.com in their organization's Top 20. (Cecchini is also considered MLB.com's No. 82 prospect overall.)

Still, each of the nine previous winners of the award has played his way into the Major Leagues -- the most recent being Cole Kimball, who made seven relief appearances with the Nationals this summer after claiming the honor last year.

Solar Sox manager Bill Richardson told MLB.com's Jim Callis that picking his nominee was easy.

"There aren't too many people in life who after a five-minute conversation you realize what a good soul [Devon Travis] is, as well as a talented player," Richardson said. "He has time for everyone. He works so hard on honing his craft, yet he's always talking to fans. It seems like he's known them forever.

"You talk about an 'it factor,' and he's got it. When the game is on the line, he's always in the middle of it. As a manager, you're happy because you know he can deliver. He's a winner."

Josh Jackson is a contributor to MiLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.
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