Jesus Sanchez put himself on the map with a stellar 2017 season. On Friday, the Rays made sure his efforts did not go unrewarded.
MLB.com's No. 64 overall prospect has been named Tampa Bay's Minor League Player of the Year, while right-hander Yonny Chirinos was honored as its Minor League Pitcher of the Year.
Signed for $400,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2015, Sanchez showed a quality bat during his first two seasons in the Rays system, hitting .335 in the Dominican Summer League in 2015 and .329 across two stateside Rookie circuits last year. He carried that momentum into full-season ball with Class A Bowling Green in 2017, batting .305/.348/.478 with 15 homers, four triples and 29 doubles in 117 games. His .305 average and 227 total bases ranked second in the Midwest League, while his .826 OPS placed seventh.
The 19-year-old outfielder climbed from No. 7 on the Rays prospect list at the start of the season to No. 4 by its end, moving into a top-100 spot for the first time as well. MLB.com has given each of his five tools an above-average grade with his fielding ability earning the highest mark at 60 on the 20-80 scouting scale.
Video: Jesus Sanchez 3-run Homer
Chirinos, the No. 19 prospect in the Tampa Bay system, posted a 2.73 ERA with 141 strikeouts and only 26 walks over 168 1/3 innings between Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham. His 0.98 WHIP with the Bulls ranked second for all qualified pitchers at the level, while his 4 percent walk rate placed third in the same group. The 23-year-old ranked fifth in the International League with 141 innings pitched, despite the fact that his first four starts of 2017 came in the Southern League.
Chirinos gave up one earned run on 10 hits and three walks over two starts (12 innings) in the postseason to help lead Durham to IL and Triple-A titles.
Video: Durham's Chirinos finishes the shutout