Kouzmanoff, Miller honored by Indians

Kouzmanoff, Miller earn Minor League awards

CLEVELAND -- One guy did nothing but hit. The other was often unhittable.

Now, Kevin Kouzmanoff and Adam Miller are getting the praise they deserve.

The Indians named Kouzmanoff the winner of their 2006 Lou Boudreau Award as the top position player in their Minor League system on Wednesday. Miller won the Bob Feller Award as the organization's top Minor League pitcher.

Both players had endured significant injury setbacks in 2005, only to rebound quite convincingly.

For Kouzmanoff, a back problem that held him out of action for two months in '05 was kept in check this year. The 25-year-old third baseman began the season at Double-A Akron, where he hit .389 with 19 doubles, 15 homers and 55 RBIs in 67 games. He did miss some time with a hamstring injury, but once that subsided he continued to rake at the plate.

Upon his promotion to Triple-A Buffalo on July 28, Kouzmanoff hit .353 with nine doubles, seven homers and 20 RBIs in 27 games with the Bisons.

Then came his call up to the big leagues, where history was made. On Sept. 2 in Texas, Kouzmanoff hit the first big-league pitch he ever saw out of the yard for a grand slam. He was just the third Major Leaguer to hit a grand slam in his first career at-bat, and the first to do so on the first pitch.

Kouzmanoff, a sixth-round pick in the 2003 First-Year Player Draft, spent the rest of the month with the Indians, batting .214 with three homers and 11 RBIs in 16 games. He is now playing in the Arizona Fall League.

Miller, 21, is no stranger to the Bob Feller Award. He received the honor in 2004, which was his first full professional season.

Seemingly on the fast track to the big leagues, Miller endured an elbow injury that delayed the start to his '05 season. But any concerns as to whether the injury would have lingering effects on his progress were dashed this year.

Though Miller made a name for himself with a fastball that has been clocked at 100 mph, he added a two-seamer and a changeup to his repertoire in '06, with dazzling results. He went 15-6 with a 2.75 ERA in 26 games, including 24 starts, at Akron and was named the Eastern League Pitcher of the Year.

Over his last 10 starts for Akron, Miller went 8-1 with a 0.97 ERA. For the year, he limited Double-A hitters to a .226 average. He also made one spot start at Buffalo.

Danny Graves (1995 and '96) is the only other pitcher to win multiple Bob Feller Awards since the honor's inception in 1990.

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.