Every year, prospect writers try so hard to correctly predict which under-the-radar minor leaguer will break out in a big way. We dig into the underlying metrics, scout swings, and talk to coaches to try to identify the prospects that will bounce back from a poor performance the previous year. We throw out plenty of names and concoct all sorts of reasons to back up our prediction.

But not a soul could have expected the kind of season Javier Assad put together. Let’s take a look at the numbers:

2021 minors: 5.32 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, 7.2 K/9

2022 minors: 2.66 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 9.2 K/9

And that’s just the start of it. Take a look at nearly every single statistical category and Assad improved this season, bumping up from Double-A to Iowa and then eventually even getting his call up to the bigs.

In the process, the goggled fan favorite transformed himself from a borderline organizational depth guy (at best) that was something of a forgotten man into a Major League depth guy that has real value and will likely see MLB action for the next few seasons.

If that’s not the ideal winner of a Bounce Back Award, I don’t know what is.

Following Assad, the NSB writers were all over the place with their voting with a quintet all receiving the same number of points, tying for second place for the award.

They were: Matt Mervis and his Player of the Year campaign, power and speed threat Jake Slaughter, fan and pitcher favorite Ethan Hearn, the California Kid Cole Roederer, and fireballing reliever Michael McAvene.

Still playing catch-up on the other awards handed out this week? No worries, we’ve got you covered:

Hitter of the Year

Pitcher of the Year

Reliever of the Year

Underrated Player of the Year