By Bruce Levine-
(CBS) The Chicago White Sox’s success in signing Cuban free agents has been something to admire over the years. Beginning with the iconic Minnie Minoso signing in 1951 through the Jose Abreu mega-million deal a year ago, Chicago has been the landing point for some of the best players Cuba has ever produced.
Having two players win Silver Slugger awards this season has helped to perpetuate the Cuban connection on Chicago’s south side. On Thursday, first baseman Abreu and shortstop Alexei Ramirez won the coveted award — voted on by players, coaches and managers — that is distributed by the Louisville Slugger bat company. Abreu will add this to the list of his many offseason awards that will most likely include the AL Rookie of the Year award that will be announced Monday.
Ramierz won his second Silver Slugger award (previous one was in 2010) after having his best all-around season in five years, hitting .274 with 15 homers and 74 RBIs. Since 2010, Ramirez leads all AL shortstops in hits, RBIs and games played. Like Abreu, Ramirez was named an All-Star for the first time in 2014.
Both players flourished under hitting coach Todd Steverson, who joined the staff in 2014. The 33-year-old Ramirez was originally signed to a four-year, $4-million contract before the 2008 season. Abreu signed for six years and $68 million last November with the White Sox.
The two combined for 125 extra-base hits in 2014. Abreu hit .317 with 36 homers and 107 RBIs.
“If the man can stay consistent in the future, then I am all in (for improvement),” Steverson said of Abreu getting better in the coming years. “You all saw the adjustments he made in the second half .”
Ramirez has become a marketable commodity, and this latest award will enhance his value on the trading market. As reported on 670thescore.com on Thursday, the New York Mets have been most aggressive team in scouting and inquiring about whether the White Sox will move Ramirez.
Chicago’s top pick from the 2013 amateur draft, Tim Anderson coming along as the heir apparent at shortstop. Club officials believe Anderson will be ready to claim the position by 2016.
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.