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Pair of Brewers prospects win top awards in Carolina League

Mario Feliciano and Noah Zavolas are bringing home some hardware.

MLB: Spring Training-Milwaukee Brewers at Colorado Rockies Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

With Labor Day weekend fast approaching, the minor league regular season is winding down for developmental circuits across the county. As such, each league now must begin to consider which players deserve individual recognition for outstanding performances during the year. Earlier this week, the Class A-Advanced Carolina League announced their season-long award winners and end-of-year All-Stars, and two prospects who play within the Milwaukee Brewers’ organization were named as the top pitcher and hitter for 2019.

Mario Felicano, who won’t turn 21 until November, is already considered a well-regarded prospect within the organization. He currently checks in at #9 on MLB Pipeline’s top-30 list. Injuries limited his performance last year, but Feliciano returned healthy in 2019 and has put together a loud season. Among players with at least 400 plate appearances, Feliciano ranks third on the circuit with an .801 OPS, the cumulative result of a .273/.324/.477 batting line. His 19 home runs are four more than any other player in the Carolina League, and his 79 RBI also ties for tops in the league. Feliciano split time with fellow backstop Payton Henry behind the dish, and in 60 games he was charged with only six errors while throwing out 29% of would-be base stealers.

Noah Zavolas, 23, was not someone who was really on the prospect radar entering this season. But the Brewers have apparently liked him for awhile; when David Stearns traded for Zavolas and Ben Gamel in the Domingo Santana deal, he noted that the right-handed Harvard alum was someone that the org had targeted in the 2018 MLB Draft before he wound up getting selected by Seattle in the 18th round. So far during his first full professional season, Zavolas has started 22 times and is currently third in the league with 133.0 innings pitched. He’s fashioned a 2.98 ERA, second-best in the league among pitchers with at least 100.0 innings, and his 4.43 K/BB ratio ranks number one among that group. Zavolas doesn’t overpower batters, usually sitting in the 88-91 MPH range on his fastball. But the pitch features plenty of movement and his changeup is his best secondary offering, and he helps offset a low strikeout rate (6.9 K/9) by hardly walking anyone, with his 1.6 BB/9 rate coming in as the best mark in the league.

Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference