Minor League Highlights for Saturday, May 17
We apologize for the delay! It was a busy weekend.
Tacoma’s game in Edmonton was postponed not due to rain, but rather to sub-freezing temperatures. The two teams played a double header on Sunday.
El Paso 10, San Antonio 1. The Missions managed just one run on seven hits, six of them singles, scoring their lone run in the bottom of the 3rd to tie the game at one on a 3B Justin Leone homer. Things fell apart after that, as El Paso scored in five consecutive frames, including four in the 8th to really put the game out of reach. Infielder Rob Gandolfo stopped the bleeding by pitching a scoreless 9th (1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K) in relief of LHP Travis Blackley (4 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 4 BB), who didn’t pitch all that poorly but took the loss. SS Luis Ugueto made three of San Antonio’s four errors, leading to seven unearned runs.
Inland Empire 3, Lake Elsinore 1 (DH Game #1). LHP Matt Thornton, it what turned out to be his last outing before being promoted to San Antonio, fanned nine in 4 2/3 innings (3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 9 K), and combined with two relievers to hold Lake Elsinore to three hits. SS Jay Pecci, filling in for the injured Eddie Menchaca, was 2-3 with a run scored and another batted in to lead the offense. RHP Mike Steele closed things out to pick up his 9th save of the year (1 2/3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K).
Inland Empire 7, Lake Elsinore 2 (DH Game #2). The 66ers held Lake Elsinore to four hits in the game, shutting them down on just three runs and seven hits in the twin bill. RHP Enmanuel Ulloa was dominant (4 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K), though he didn’t pitch quite long enough for the win. Offensively, 1B John Castellano and C Chris Collins each had a pair of hits, a run scored and an RBI, while DH Jason Van Meetren drove in two with a triple. Eight of the nine starters had at least one hit, and each the team’s seven runs was scored by a different player.
Wisconsin 5, Peoria 3 (11 innings). The Timber Rattlers scored two runs in the top of the 9th to tie and two more 11th to win it, having trailed 3-1 after five. LHP Miguel Martinez, making his first appearance with the team, was the hero in middle relief (5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K) and earned the win. RHP Bryan Heaston worked the bottom of the 11th (1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K) for his 5th save. DH Dustin Delucchi, having a big year in the leadoff spot, was 3-6 with three runs batted in, and 2B Corey Harrington had three hits in five trips, including two doubles.
I propose that the new nickname for Freddy Garcia be “Garcon Garcia” because he serves them up.
I had this discussion with a friend last week, but I think I can make a pretty good case that Mike Cameron is the 3rd best center fielder in baseball right now, behind only Jim Edmonds and Bernie Williams. If the Mariners are thinking of trading him (and I don’t think they are), then they’d better be asking for the moon. You don’t give up core pieces of your ballclub when you have the best record in the league. It just doesn’t happen.
From Gammons today: The Mariners are looking for a center fielder (Rob Mackowiak?), and while Chuck Finley would love to sign there after the June draft expiration of draft-choice compensation, they don’t have a starter to move out of the rotation.
As Dave points out, the Mariners have three legitimate center-fielders in Mike Cameron, Randy Winn, and Ichiro Suzuki. Plus they have two illegitmate centerfielders in Bloomquist-McLemore. I don’t understand how this could even be a rumor, unless the M’s are trying to trade Cameron for something (what?) and want to keep their other two good CF candidates pinned to the corners. As for moving a starter out of the rotation, if you thought you could add a legitimately good starter, then you toss Franklin. Franklin’s been a guy who can serve as an average starter for cheap, and I like him, but he’s the guy they’ll move if they have to. Unlike Garcia, Franklin could plug a rotation for a team with injury or quality issues and provide average innings without a payroll hit. Garcia’s an expensive gamble, and with Gillick here in Seattle, it’s unlikely they’d find a taker for him, and he’s the only other starter you could punt right now and survive the hit.
As always, weâ€™re continually trying to make the U.S.S. Mariner a more interesting place to visit and the source of coverage for the minor leagues. Each of the newspapers offer cursory glances at the farm system on an irregular basis, but we here think that thereâ€™s a lot of interesting stories that go untold. In that vein, Iâ€™m introducing a new feature called Meet the Prospect.
The Future Forty and the Big Board provide a list of names to follow and links to updated statistics. Meet the Prospect will focus on the other side of the game and the stories that donâ€™t get published. Weâ€™ll take a look at the human side of these players and let you get to know the guys behind the names. Weâ€™ll spend more time on the guys who donâ€™t get covered, so you likely wonâ€™t see a Meet the Prospect on Chris Snelling or Shin-Soo Choo anytime soon. Instead, weâ€™ll strive to bring you something new that you wonâ€™t find anywhere else. So, without further adoâ€¦
Meet the Prospect: Greg Jacobs.
Fullerton, California is less than 50 miles from San Bernardino. Ask Greg Jacobs, though, and youâ€™ll find out that his road from the mound at Cal State Fullerton to the outfield in San Bernardino was a lot longer. On June 2nd, 1998, the Anaheim Angels used their 13th round pick on Jacobs, a southpaw hurler with a fastball in the low-90â€™s. In two weeks, when he celebrates the 5-year anniversary of his being drafted, heâ€™ll do so as an outfielder in the Seattle Mariners organization.
If height werenâ€™t listed on the scouting reports, Jacobs likely would have been a top six-round pick. Southpaws with his velocity donâ€™t grow on trees, and teams are always looking for lefties with live arms. Jacobs, however, is not an intimidating presence at 5â€™10, and many organizations refuse to spend time developing hurlers under six feet tall. The Angels decided to take a shot on him, however, and it appeared early that it might pay off.
Jacobs first full season in the Midwest League was a success, as he posted more strikeouts than innings pitched as a starting pitcher. After a promotion to the California League in 2000, his command failed him and his ERA soared. The Angels eventually gave up on the short southpaw and traded him to the Arizona Diamondbacks, who released him following the 2001 campaign. With a career ERA over 5.00 and his stature unlikely to get him another shot pitching, Jacobs came up with a plan to resurrect his career.
He signed with the Long Beach Breakers of the independent Western League and asked to become an outfielder. Heâ€™d been a solid contributor in college with the bat and realized there wasnâ€™t a bias against short guys who can hit. Jacobs quickly established himself as the star of the team, winning the league batting title with a .382 batting average. He wasnâ€™t just a poke hitter, either, posting a .447 on base percentage and a .643 slugging percentage. He finished second in the league in Most Outstanding Player voting, and had quickly gotten himself back on the map with his bat.
The Mariners signed Jacobs last September and assigned him to Inland Empire in the California League. Just two years after Arizona and Anaheim had given up on him after failing at this level, Jacobs is back making the same bus trips as before. It hasnâ€™t taken the California native long to establish himself as the 66â€™ers most consistent offensive performer, and Jacobs has been the rock in a poor offense all year long. Heâ€™s pacing the team in batting average, on base percentage, and slugging percentage all while posting a terrific walk-strikeout ratio.
Having returned to the scene of his first professional failure, Jacobs has become an all-star talent. At 26 years of age, Jacobs is in the prime of his career, and likely didnâ€™t want to spend it in the California League. However, heâ€™s making the most of his opportunities, and creating ones for himself when everyone else writes him off.
Greg Jacobs may never spend a day in the major leagues. However, when he tells his kids about his days as a professional baseball player in the California League, heâ€™ll be able to talk about his failures and his successes. With the way his 2003 season is going, he may just be able to tell them about the Texas League, as well.
Note from the stat bag: I don’t believe the Mariners have won a game this season when they’ve scored fewer than four runs:
0-2 when scoring zero
0-3 when scoring one
0-3 when scoring two
0-2 when scoring three.
I have no idea if that’s important at all.
Coming up: the AL Central 2nd-place by half-a-game Royals. Boy, it’s strange to type that.
May 20, Tues RHP Franklin v RHP Hernandez
May 21, Wed RHP Garbage Garcia v RHP Ascencio
May 22, Thu RHP Meche v LHP George
KC’s offense is worse than the M’s, though it’s not dramatically worse. They’ve gotten good work out of Joe Randa (!?), former Mariner Raul Ibanez, and steady Mike Sweeney. Their bullpen isn’t nearly as good as the Mariners, and their defense isn’t as sparkling. Should be a good series, and we might even get to see GC make his bi-weekly appearance during Thursday’s matineee (1:35 start).
I’m still waiting for local news teams to send their cub reporters out for Freaky Freddy Watch 2003. “We go now live to Jim Foreman, who’s live at Club Medusa.” “Thanks Jean. I’m here in my King 5 News windbreaker and NewsVan outside Seattle’s only Vegas-style nightclub, and no sign of Freddy so far. We have heard unconfirmed rumors that he’s at the Crocodile Cafe to see the Lawnmowers, but we just don’t know.” I don’t understand why they deploy 20, 30 people in front of the courthouse so they can tell us at 11 that there was some court decision earlier that day, but they can’t spare anyone to stand outside Safeco and cover this continuing disaster. “I’m seeing another ball leave Safeco… yes, I’m being told that Garcia has given up another monster home run to Benji Gil…”