Milwaukee prospects sweep top honors among circuit All-Stars
Mario Feliciano struggled offensively in his first exposure to the Carolina League last season. (Chris Baird/MiLB.com)
By Chris Tripodi / MiLB.com | August 22, 2019 10:30 AM
Sometimes a new season or a new opportunity is all a player needs to excel. Brewers prospects Mario Feliciano and Noah Zavolas took full advantage of their chances in 2019.
The Carolina League announced Thursday that Feliciano and Zavolas were named Most Valuable Player and Pitcher of the Year, respectively, thanks to their contributions for the Carolina Mudcats this season.
Brewers' No. 9 prospect, Feliciano bounced back from a poor 2018 campaign and started to deliver on the promise that made him a competitive balance pick in 2016. After batting .205 with three home runs and 12 RBIs in 46 games with the Mudcats last season, Feliciano led the Class A Advanced circuit with 19 home runs, 78 RBIs, 202 total bases and a .476 slugging percentage through 112 games in 2019 to earn MVP honors. The 20-year-old's .801 OPS has him poised to post a number higher than .700 in that category for the first time in his four-year Minor League career.
Zavolas was acquired from Seattle by Milwaukee this offseason, along with outfielder Ben Gamel, in exchange for outfielder Domingo Santana. He spent most of the 2018 season working out of the Class A Short Season Everett bullpen after being drafted in the 18th round and went 4-2 with a 3.38 ERA and 37-to-nine strikeout to walk ratio.
Given the opportunity to return to the starting rotation in his first full season -- and his first season in the Milwaukee system -- Zavolas delivered through his first 22 starts by leading the league with a 1.14 WHIP, ranking eighth with 102 strikeouts and leading all Carolina League starters with at least 100 innings pitched with a 102-to-23 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Neither Feliciano nor Zavolas is ranked among MLB.com's Top 100 prospects, but the Indians' Nolan Jones (No. 38) and the Rangers' Sam Huff (No. 77) are, and both players turned in stellar seasons of their own to earn All-Star nods.
Cleveland's second-round pick in 2016, Jones earned a promotion to Double-A Akron in July, but not before posting a .286/.435/.425 batting line with seven home runs, 41 RBIs, 48 runs scored and five stolen bases in 77 games at Lynchburg. That on-base percentage would have led the league by 32 points if Jones had enough at-bats to qualify.
Huff was promoted from Class A Hickory to Down East in early May, and he responded by hitting .277/.343/.465 and blasting 13 homers in 85 games with the Wood Ducks. Not only was Huff named an All-Star, he was also the MVP of this year's Futures Game.
In the dugout, it's no surprise to see Corey Ragsdale named as the league's Manager of the Year. Ragsdale led Down East to a 50-20 record in the first half, and the Wood Ducks are 34-22 in the second half as they look to win both halves of the Carolina League Southern.
Here is the complete list of Carolina League end-of-season All-Stars:
2019 CAROLINA League Postseason All-Star Team
* Most Valuable Player
^ Pitcher of the Year
Chris Tripodi is a producer for MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @christripodi.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.