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Pirates announce first wave of Minor League award winners

Two Curve talents headline top slugger, reliever.

Outfielder Matt Gorski was named the Willie Stargell Slugger of the Year Award recipient.

Earlier today, the Pittsburgh Pirates announced four of their Minor League award recipients.

Among the awards announced today were the Willie Stargell Slugger of the Year, the Kent Tekulve Reliever of the Year, the Bill Mazeroski Defender of the Year, and the Omar Moreno Baserunner of the Year.

Below are the winners:

Willie Stargell Slugger of the Year: Matt Gorski

Gorski experienced a red-hot year within the Pirates’ organization, jumping four levels throughout the season. He started the year in High-A with the Greensboro Grasshoppers and posted a slash line of .294/.377/.754 with an OPS of 1.131 while slugging 17 home runs.

His final days in Greensboro were headlined by a three-home run day.

He was promoted to Altoona on May 24 and continued to succeed there. His slugging dipped a bit but he still posted a line of .277/.354/.489. An injury brought his season to a halt in June and he would be activated September 8.

Gorski earned a promotion to Triple-A Indianpolis in late September, but another injury kept him out through the end of the season.

Last year’s winner: Oneil Cruz

Kent Tekulve Reliever of the Year: Tyler Samaniego

Samaniego was a surprise to most — if not all — fans this season, but quickly become one of the most intriguing pitching prospects in the organization.

After spending the first part of the season with Greensboro, where he posted a formidable 0.53 ERA in 14 games, Samaniego was promoted to Altoona on May 31. In his time with the Curve, he pitched 30.2 innings and went 3-3 with a 3.52 ERA while earning 10 saves in 13 opportunities.

Opposing hitters hit .147 against Samaniego and he allowed just nine walks all year in Double-A.

If the success from this season carries over into next year, Samaniego could repeat as Reliever of the Year.

Last year’s winner: Emmanuel Mejia

Bill Mazeroski Defender of the Year: Jared Triolo

Make it back-to-back years that Triolo takes home the Defender of the Year award.

Triolo spent 746 innings at third base with Altoona and committed just seven errors in that time with 165 assists and 65 putouts. At shortstop, he committed five errors in 155 innings and zero errors in 62 innings in center field.

Pirates beat reporter Justice delos Santos took a look at how Triolo stacked up against Eastern League third basemen:

Among Eastern League third basemen who played at least 60 games at the hot corner, Triolo was tied for first in assists (165). Triolo was also second in total chances (237) and fielding percentage (.970), as well as third in double plays (15).

His versatility could earn him a spot in Triple-A to start next season.

Last year’s winner: Jared Triolo

Omar Moreno Baserunner of the Year: Tsung-Che Cheng

In addition to leading in five statistical categories in the Florida State League, Cheng topped all players within the Pirates’ organization with 33 steals.

Cheng was known for his walk-off heroics at the beginning of the year, even knocking in a three-run game-tying home run in a Spring Training game against the Toronto Blue Jays, but the base-path is where he saw most of his success.

Last year’s winner: Lolo Sanchez

More awards will be released in the coming days.