LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL - Baseball America
magazine, regarded throughout the collegiate and minor league ranks as the pre-eminent magazine for the national pastime, has selected the Northwest Arkansas Naturals as their 2010 Minor League Team of the Year
The honor was revealed at an awards banquet Monday afternoon at Baseball's Winter Meetings, being held this year at the Swan Disney Hotel in Lake Buena Vista, FL.
The 2010 Texas League Champion Northwest Arkansas Naturals will be remembered not just as a Texas League juggernaut but as a prospect-laden club that swept nearly every team award available to them and garnered several individual awards along the way.
"We had an incredibly talented group of players, easily the most talented team I've ever come across during my time in the minors, and this just puts the cherry on top of what's been a great season," said Naturals' General Manager Eric Edelstein. "It speaks to the level of talent the Kansas City Royals are amassing in their farm system, and we're proud to share in this honor with the Royals' player development staff and the coaching staff."
Northwest Arkansas (86-54) won both their first-half and second-half division titles in the Texas League's North Division and won the Texas League Championship, finishing with a 92-57 record between the regular season and the playoffs, where they ousted reigning league champion Midland in four games to take home their first title in just their third season in Springdale. They were skippered by Brian Poldberg, who has more Texas League victories than any other active manager in the league. He was named late in the season as the Texas League's Manager of the Year.
They were led on the field by Triple Crown Winner Clint Robinson and slugging third baseman Mike Moustakas, who captured the league's Player of the Year award despite departing the circuit in mid-July. Moustakas hit 36 homers between the Naturals and Triple-A Omaha, leading all of Minor League Baseball. As for Robinson, he became just the third player in the history of the Texas League to win the Triple Crown. Moustakas was named after the season as the Sporting News' Minor League Player of the Year.
"It was a culmination of all the things with the great players we had coming through this summer," Naturals' Manager Brian Poldberg added. "It was kind of a phenomenal year to win all the games we did. It's a tribute to all the great players and coaches we had. This is a heck of an award."
As a club, the Naturals tied for the most wins among all 30 Double-A clubs and won more games than all but four teams among all 120 full-season clubs across affiliated Minor League Baseball. None of the teams that won more games than the Naturals did during the regular season finished their year with a league championship. Northwest Arkansas, as a team, displayed strong skills in every facet of the game. The offense finished first in the Texas League in batting average (.291), second in homers (132), first in runs scored (770), and first in stolen bases (152) while the pitching staff ranked third in earned run average (3.84), and first in strikeouts (1,082).
The Naturals paced all of Double-A with twelve players selected to the mid-season Texas League All-Star team, and following the season, Baseball America ranked five of the Naturals' players as among the league's top 20 prospects. Three Naturals regulars were also named to the Topps' Double-A All-Star Team, and several players won weekly league awards during the season for their outstanding accomplishments.
The Northwest Arkansas Naturals are the Double-A Texas League affiliate of the Kansas City Royals and play at state-of-the-art Arvest Ballpark, located in Springdale. The 2011 season begins on Thursday, April 7th. Visit our website, nwanaturals.com, for information on season tickets and ticket plans.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.