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T-Bones select top players of 2012

Brandon Jones was a key for the T-Bones in 2012. (Photo by Matthew Hicks.)
10/31/2012 6:02 AM -

Coming off one of the team’s best regular-season records, the Kansas City T-Bones have announced their 2012 player award winners as selected by front-office personnel and manager Kenny Hook.

Brandon Jones (Most Valuable Player), Brian Grening (Pitcher of the Year), Lucas Irvine (Rookie of the Year), Justin Bass (Most Improved Player of the Year) and Devin Goodwin (Comeback Player of the Year) were key components to the T-Bones finishing the season with a 51-49 record.

Jones, a former big-league player with the Atlanta Braves, batted .326 with 14 home runs, 73 RBIs and 28 doubles. He finished fourth in the American Association with 206 total bases and fourth in the league with 46 extra-base hits.

“If not the best, he’s one of the best hitters in the league,” Hook said. “Being around him day to day, and seeing how hard he works, you see why he was able to make it to the big leagues.”

Grening went 10-5 record with a 3.69 ERA and tied for the American Association lead with 113 strikeouts. In his last start, Sept. 2 against Sioux City, Grening set the league season-high for strikeouts in a game with 13.

“Grening has great stuff – definitely the best changeup in the league, he doesn’t put many guys on base and he has low pitch counts,” said Hook. “He also does a great job of preparing for each start, which rubs off on our other pitchers. He was a huge factor for us.”

Irvine, a Liberty, Mo., native, converted to starter at the end of June. He went 4-2 with a 2.59 ERA and 107 strikeouts.

“Lucas throws with absolutely zero fear of what could happen,” said Hook. “He’s not afraid to give up a hit. That attitude and demeanor is what makes him so tough. He doesn’t get rattled. … I think he would’ve led the league in strikeouts if he’d been a starter from the beginning.”

Bass, son of former Major League infielder Kevin Bass, had 15 multi-hit games, including two four-hit contests. In the last four weeks of the season. During that time his batting average climbed 28 points. He finished with a .301 average with 116 hits and 21 stolen bases.

“We moved him around a lot defensively, which probably affected him early in the season,” Hook said. “He’s an offensive threat who can beat you in a lot of different ways, but he’s also a very good outfielder. … He’s everything you want your players to exemplify on the field. What a joy to watch every night.”

Goodwin had been in the St. Louis Cardinals system through the 2010 season, when they released him. He didn’t play in 2011 and then joined the T-Bones in 2012. He finished in a tie for second in the league with 18 home runs. During the final week of the season, Goodwin had two two-home-run games.

“We weren’t expecting much out of him offensively, although I knew he had a lot of arm strength,” Hook said. “I was hoping he could just help us defensively. He came in here, though, and surprised people around our league with his bat.”