The Pirates gave Jordan Luplow his birthday present a little bit early this year.Three days before he turns 24, Pittsburgh's 20th-ranked prospect was named the organization's Minor League Player of the Year, while Steven Brault was named Minor League Pitcher of the Year.
The Pirates gave Jordan Luplow his birthday present a little bit early this year.
Three days before he turns 24, Pittsburgh's 20th-ranked prospect was named the organization's Minor League Player of the Year, while Steven Brault was named Minor League Pitcher of the Year.
"It's pretty cool. I just have to thank all my family, teammates and coaches that have helped me along the way," Luplow told MLB.com. "I was just trying to make the 40-man roster at the end of the year before the Rule 5 [Draft]. Then this happened."
Luplow hit .287 with 16 homers and 37 RBIs with Double-A Altoona before getting promoted to Triple-A Indianapolis on June 30. The right fielder's .324/.407/.568 slash line in 21 International League games earned him a trip to "The Show" on July 28.
After going hitless in his first nine at-bats, Luplow was sent back down to the Minors, but it wasn't long before he returned to the Majors for good Aug. 28.
In total, Luplow led Pirates Minor Leaguers with a career-high 23 homers, which nearly doubled his previous best of 12 with Class A West Virginia in 2015. The Fresno State product's .302 composite average ranked second among full-season Pirates prospects and fourth in the system.
Brault bounced between Pittsburgh and Indianapolis this season, but it didn't get in the way of him posting a career-best 1.94 ERA, which matched Scooter Hightower for best in the system. The left-hander tied five other Minor Leaguers with a system-leading 10 wins while notching 109 strikeouts and 44 walks over 120 1/3 innings in 21 games, including 20 starts.
"It's an honor. It's really cool to share this award with the guys I played with this year down in Triple-A. We had an awesome team, and I couldn't have done it without them," Brault told MLB.com. "It was just a great place to play, great place to pitch, and I loved it."
Following his career year, Brault was named International League Pitcher of the Year. The Regis University product was the Pirates' No. 7 prospect before losing his rookie eligibility earlier this month.
Kelsie Heneghan is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @Kelsie_Heneghan.