KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Players and staff of the Astros' Class A affiliate Quad Cities received their 2013 Midwest League championship rings Sunday in a ceremony and dinner at the team's Minor League clubhouse at Osceola County Stadium.
Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow, farm director Quinton McCracken and Minor League field coordinator Paul Runge spoke to the group before handing out the rings to the players and manager Omar Lopez, pitching coach Dave Borkowski, hitting coach Joel Chimelis, outfield/baserunning development specialist Vince Coleman and strength and conditioning coach Julio Diaz.
Quad Cities, in its first season as an Astros affiliate, went 81-57 and won the league championship series on a team that included former No. 1 overall Draft picks Carlos Correa and Mark Appel, as well as Lance McCullers Jr., Teoscar Hernandez, Vincent Velasquez, Rio Ruiz and Josh Hader.
"It's real cool," McCullers said. "We went to Quad Cities and it was a close-knit group of guys, and that was our plan from the beginning. We wanted to start off Quad Cities as a Houston Astros affiliate the right way and we're real proud and really excited."
Correa, who led the league in OPS while finishing second in on-base percentage and batting average as an 18-year-old last year, showed his leadership and maturity when he unexpectedly addressed his teammates after receiving his ring.
"I wanted to make them feel like they know why we won," Correa said. "Obviously, we had talent, but talent alone can't win championships. We had a great atmosphere, we worked hard every single day and we had a good work ethic as a team, so I think those are the things that led us to win the championship."
Lopez, who was in his first full year of managing, cultivated a family-like atmosphere, in which the players could turn to the coaching staff at any time for any problem.
"We told them at the beginning of the season and at the end and the middle of the season, worry about going outside on the field and playing hard and giving us your best effort," Lopez said. "Let us develop your career in our hands. That was the goal and they did that. They trusted in us, and we appreciated that."
Tri-City, which won the New York-Penn League championship last year, will receive its rings in a similar ceremony on Wednesday.