ARLINGTON, Texas — This season, the Texas Rangers have drastically elevated the quality and depth of their organization, with both MLB Pipeline and Baseball America elevating the Rangers from the bottom third to No. 11 in baseball. Some of the most notable names in the club's farm system were honored as the organization announced their 2021 Minor League award winners on Friday:
- Tom Grieve Player of the Year: 1B/3B Dustin Harris
- Nolan Ryan Pitcher of the Year: RHP Cole Winn
- Reliever of the Year: RHP Nick Snyder
- Defender of the Year: SS/2B Luisangel Acuña
- True Ranger Award: OF Bubba Thompson & INF Keyber Rodriguez
Harris won the Tom Grieve Player of the Year in his first season in the Rangers organization after slashing .327/.401/.542/.943 with career highs in home runs (20), RBI (85) and steals (25) across 110 games with Low-A Down East and High-A Hickory. Harris was acquired in the 2020 trade that sent Mike Minor to the Oakland Athletics.
The 22-year-old corner infielder was one of 16 minor league players to post 20-plus home runs and 20-plus steals this season, and his .327 average ranked ninth in the minor leagues among those with at least 300 at-bats. Baseball America named Harris as the sixth-best prospect in Low-A East after batting .301 with 10 home runs and 53 RBI in 73 games for the Wood Ducks. Following a midseason promotion to Hickory on August 3, he hit .372 with 10 home runs and 32 RBI, ranking in the top five in batting average, OPS, home runs, RBI and extra-base hits in the High-A East.
Winn was named Nolan Ryan Pitcher of the Year after combining for a 4-3 record, 2.41 ERA, 0.86 WHIP and 11.2 strikeouts per nine innings (K/9) over 21 games/starts and 86 innings for Double-A Frisco and Triple-A Round Rock. The 21-year-old held opponents to a .146/.239/.259/.497 slash line this season, the lowest opponent batting average among pitchers in all levels of the minor leagues with at least 80 innings.
The 2018 first-round pick spent the entire season with Frisco until the conclusion of the Double-A season, then was promoted to Triple-A to make two final starts. Winn is one of the more valued prospects in all of baseball, ranking among MLB's top 100 prospects by Baseball America (No. 46) and MLB Pipeline (No. 60).
Snyder earned the organization’s Reliever of the Year award after making the jump from High-A to the Major Leagues in 2021. The 25-year-old right-hander posted a 1-1 record, 2.45 ERA, four saves and 47 strikeouts against five walks over 33 innings and 28 relief appearances for High-A Hickory (10), Double-A Frisco (13), and Triple-A Round Rock (5).
Snyder was promoted to the big leagues on August 20, and he proceeded to compile a 4.91 ERA in 3 2/3 innings over four relief appearances for the Rangers before being placed on the Injured List on September 4 with right shoulder fatigue.
Acuña, 19, was selected Defender of the Year in his stateside debut with Low-A Down East this season, splitting time up the middle defensively with 42 starts at shortstop and 36 starts at second base. His 175 assists led the Wood Ducks and ranked eighth among Low-A East position players.
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If the Acuña name looks familiar, Luisangel is the younger brother of Atlanta Braves superstar Ronald Acuña Jr.
Acuña was rated as the ninth-best prospect in the Low-A East by Baseball America at the conclusion of the regular season, saying:
“(Acuña) showcased strong defense at shortstop, with quick actions, good speed and the range to stick at the position as well as plus arm strength and the versatility to handle second or third base.”
Thompson and Rodriguez were selected as co-winners of the True Ranger award, which was established in 2019 and highlights players "who represent the core values of the organization in a positive light both on and off the field."
Thompson had a career year for Double-A Frisco, posting a .275/.325/.483/.808 slash line with 16 home runs, 52 RBI and 25 stolen bases. He ranked among Double-A Central leaders in many categories, including a league-best nine triples and tied for second with 118 hits.
Rodriguez, who also won the True Ranger award in 2020, batted .271 with five home runs and 63 RBI in 103 games with Low-A Down East.
The winners of the awards will be recognized in a pre-game ceremony prior to Saturday’s contest against Cleveland at Globe Life Field.
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