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The Best Rookies of the Spring, The James P. Dawson Award Winners (Part 13, 2015-2021)

by Paul Semendinger

March 31, 2021


Of note – My research for this project took me to the wonderful site Baseball Almanac where I was able to access the list of all the James P. Dawson winners in Yankees history. I also used Baseball-Reference for the players’ statistics.


In 1956, the Yankees began awarding the James P. Dawson Award to the best rookie in Spring Training.

I began to wonder how many of these players went on to successful careers with the Yankees or other teams.

Here I continue my examination of that important award and the players who earned it.

James P. Dawson was a longtime Yankees’ reporter with the New York Times. He served as the Chairman of the New York Chapter of the BBWAA.

It was very difficult to find an image of the award itself and it seems there is no actual trophy. Rather, it seems that the player is given a watch. Here is an auction from 2013 that highlights Johnny James’ watch. This photo shows Masahiro Tanaka being presented with a watch as well. In 2018, Miguel Andujar tweeted this photo of him earning his watch. The cover image on our home page is cropped from this Tweet.


The 2015-2021 Award Winners

2015 – Slade Heathcott

It was just 17 games. Just 17, but Slade Heathcott hit .400 for his big league career. A 10-for25 line will result in a .400 batting average. Slade also hit two home runs. His whole Major league career was spent with the Yankees.

After not making it with the Yankees, Slade played in the Chicago White Sox, San Francisco Giants, and Oakland A’s organizations.

All-Time WAR = 0.4

2016 – Johnny Barbato

A right-handed pitcher, Johnny appeared in 13 games for the 2016 Yankees. His 7.62 ERA was the reason his career in New York didn’t last long.

In 2017, Barbato pitched for the Pittsburgh Pirates. In 2018, it was the Detroit Tigers.

In 44 games, all in relief, Johnny Barbato pitched to a 1-3, 6.14 record.

All-Time WAR = -0.4

2017 – Gleyber Torres

No player who ever won the Dawson Award has reached the Hall-of-Fame. That could change in a few decades with Gleyber Torres.

In 309 games to date, Torres has hit 65 homers.

Let’s assume that Torres plays shortstop for the next ten years. We’ll give him 140 games played a season. If he keeps his present rate of homers, he’d have 359 at the end of the 2031 season. He’d also be just 33-years-old (or just about D.J. LeMahieu’s current age).

400 homers is probably likely. 500 homers is a possibility.

Yeah, Gleyber Torres can be that good. That good.

All-Time WAR = 6.6

2018 – Miguel Andujar

In 2018, Miguel Andujar batted .297 with 27 home runs, 9s runs batted in, and 47 doubles.

The sky was the limit, but he then got hurt and Gio Urshela took over third base. Andujar, who was a poor fielder, lost two years of development, and as the 2021 season arrives, he doesn’t have a spot on the big league roster.

If Andujar is to find greatness, it’ll probably come away from the Bronx. He has time. He is just 26-years-old.

All-Time WAR = 1.5

2019 – Stephen Tarpley

A left-handed pitcher, in 2019, Stephen Tarpley appeared in 21 games for the Yankees. He made one start. He had a 1-0 record, but the 6.93 ERA didn’t impress.

On January 15, 2020, Tarpley was traded in a minor deal with the Miami Marlins.

On January 8, 2021, the Mets picked up Tarpley off the waiver wire.

Tarpley is 28-years-old. We shall see what the future brings…

All-Time WAR = -0.8

2020 – Clarke Schmidt

In 2020, Clarke Schmidt first tasted the big leagues. He pitched in three games, making one start. To date he has an 0-1, 7.11 Major league record.

All winter it seemed that Clarke Schmidt would be in the running for a spot in the starting rotation for the 2021 Yankees.

Spring Training came and in an instant, he was one of the first players shut down with an injury.

The Yankees are very high on Schmidt. He was a first-round pick in the 2017 MLB draft.

Only the future knows what is to come.

All-Time WAR = -0.2

2021 – Deivi Garcia

Earlier this week, the Yankees announced that Deivi Garcia won the 2021 award.

As the Yankees’ #2 prospect, the sky is the limit for Garcia. Let’s home one day, years from now, people are writing about what a great career he had.

For now, we just look forward with hope…

The following is from the YES Network:

In five official spring training starts, García, 21, has posted a 3.86 ERA (14.0IP, 6ER) with 14K. Over his first four spring starts, he allowed just 2ER in 11.0IP while striking out 12 batters. The Bonao, D.R., native was signed by the Yankees as a non-drafted free agent July 2, 2015. He enters the 2021 season tabbed by Baseball America as the Yankees’ No. 2 prospect and the No. 55 prospect in all of baseball.


Highest All-Time WAR of James P. Dawson Award Winner

Willie Randolph 65.9

Roy White 46.8

Brett Gardner 43.0

Jorge Posada 42.7

Al Leiter 42.5

Don Mattingly 42.4

Jose Rijo 35.0

Alfonso Soriano 28.6

Tom Tresh 22.0

Bob Tewksbury and Hideki Matsui 21.2

Norm Seibern 21.0




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