The end-of-the-year awards for Major League Baseball have been distributed and have passed. The Cardinals' organizational awards were also distributed this past week.
Right-handed pitcher Max Rajcic was named the organization's minor league pitcher of the year. Rajcic pitched in Low-A Palm Beach and High-A Peoria in his first professional season. He finished the season with a 9-6 record, 2.48 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, and he struck out 123 batters in as many innings. Rajcic is the third player to win this award in his inaugural season, along with Rick Ankiel in 1998 and Anthony Reyes in 2004.
Rajcic finished the season as the organization's #18 prospect according to MLB.com. He should start the 2024 season at AA Springfield, and he is primarily known for his control and a power curveball.
Ivan Herrera put together quite the offensive season while also showing his growth as a game-caller. He had a .297/.451/.500 slash line to go along with 27 doubles. His 147 wRC+ was fourth-best among all minor-league hitters. His success at the minor league level justified a call-up to the majors towards the end of the season.
Herrera's growth behind the plate was as noteworthy as his growth at the plate in 2023. In 2022, Herrera was able to learn at the hands of Yadier Molina. He was often seen shadowing the future Hall of Famer, and Ivan took to heart everything Yadi taught him. Given more time with the major league staff, Herrera seems to be poised to take over the main catching role in the near future.
The final award given in the last week was to the recently-retired Adam Wainwright. Waino was granted the Stan Musial Award for Extraordinary Character. According to the award's website, "the Musial Awards celebrate the year’s greatest moments of sportsmanship and those in sports who embody class and character." Past honorees include Albert Pujols, Arnold Palmer, Wayne Gretzky, Hank Aaron, Tamika Catchings, Bryce Harper, and many other well-known athletes who have shown extraordinary sportsmanship during their careers.
Wainwright received the award due to his numerous charitable efforts and his very successful MLB career.
"Wainwright has always used the power of his celebrity and stature in the game to do good in the world- a lot of good. He has proven to be a selfless teammate, an inspiring philanthropist, and a constant beacon of respect, consistency, and outstanding sportsmanship."- Tim Ryan, director of communications
Wainwright's 17-year career is marked by a handful of franchise records, countless memories, and dozens of charitable efforts on his part. Congratulations to Max Rajcic, Ivan Herrera, and Adam Wainwright!