The Dan Cortes Award is a new award given out to the prospect who rises from the depth of basically nobodies (in other words, guys who aren't typically aren't considered top 20 or 25 prospects) and develop into a good or very good prospect.
2007: Daniel Cortes, RHP (DUH!)
2008: Kila Ka'aihue, 1B
Keaton Hayenga | RHP | 20-years-old | 6-foot-4, 200 pounds
Acquired - 31st Round, 2007 | '08 Level - Did not play
Hayenga was drafted in 2007, but has not pitched in an official game yet. He tore his labrum in his throwing arm sliding into a base during late in his senior season of high school. The injury dashed his chances of being selected where projected -- in the top 3 rounds of the MLB draft. Also a standout basketball star, most scouts believed he would head to Washington State. The Royals took a chance though in the 31st round, and convinced him to sign with a nice chunk of change ($300,000). Labrum surguries are tough to come back from, and some don't come back from them at all. He was finally allowed to throw again this summer, and was highly impressive this fall when fully healthy. Hayenga was racing his fastball up to 95 and 96 MPH, along with a curveball and a changeup. Control was spotty as expected coming back from a major shoulder surgery. As a former basketball player, he's extremely athletic on the mound and shows relatively clean mechanics. He'll likely end up in Burlington, NC or Idaho Falls next year as they continue to baby his arm, but an impressive showing could land him in the top 10 or 15 prospects next year. Also, I wouldn't say he's really a nobody (I have him at #25, Royals Corner at #24, and Baseball America at #30), but he will have a great chance at shooting up next year.
Brent Fisher | LHP | 21-years-old | 6-foot-2, 190 pounds
Acquired - 7th Round, 2005 | '08 Level - AZL Royals/Bur. Royals/Bur. Bees
Doesn't it seem like Fisher has been around FOREVER? He dominated the AZL league in 2005 and 2006 and was poised for a quick rise starting in 2007. Then, injuries hit. They always do it seems like. Killed most of Fisher's 2007 and 2008, but came back at the end of this past year and ended on a very solid note. Just seems weird that he's still only 21-years-old. Anyways, Fisher shows a low-90's "invisiball" (fastball) and hammer curve with excellent deception (thus the name invisiball) and work-in-progress changeup. He doesn't really fit the exact definition of this award, but given how far he has fallen, I think he fits the bill. He'll likely be in an excellent rotation with guys like Danny Duffy, Dan Gutierrez, and Ed Cegarra at Wilmington.
Bryan Paukovits | RHP | 21-years-old | 6-foot-7, 240 pounds
Acquired - 44th Round, 2006 | '08 Level - DNP: Tommy John Surgery
The Royals drafted Paukovits twice, both as a draft-and-follow candidate, in 2005 and in 2006. They signed him on the final day of the draft-and-follow period before the draft in 2007 to a decent sized bonus ($150,000). He had a decent debut with the Burlington Royals, but missed all of 2008 with Tommy John surgery. I have no idea on his rehab, so this is kind of a shot in the dark. When on though he has a fastball that runs up to 95 from a huge frame, and a curveball that showed a lot of a promise. Could be a true come out a nowhere guy.
Hilton Richardson | CF | 20-years-old | 6-foot-3, 215 pounds
Acquired - 7th Round, 2007 | '08 Level - DNP: Burlington Royals
Richardson was a 7th round pick last year, your typical raw, toolsy outfielder that needs work. This guy has some pretty serious tools though, he's very quick on the base paths, like a faster version of Mark Teahen. He's also big and has some power, although it hasn't shown up in games yet as he continues to refine his hitting. He's capable of playing CF now with his speed, might have to move to a corner if he gets too big, but that isn't a problem yet. Will need to continue to work on his "mechanics" in the outfield to improve. I don't know if he's ready for full season yet, but his skills are improving, and if they keep improving he might get a ticket to the Midwest League next year.
Some other candidates:
Fernando Cruz, 3B - Pathetic offensive stats the past couple years but scouts still LOVE him and his projection. Very young and pretty good defensively.
John Lamb, LHP - 5th round pick last year, hasn't pitched yet due to slow recovery from car crash during senior season of ball. Earns inevitable Tom Glavine comps.
Kyle Martin, SS - Good power for middle infielder and has decent glove at all infield positions. Could he be the next Aviles? Maybe.
I may have forgot some, i just decided to do this randomly.