Minor League Wrap (4/9-12/09)

Jay Yencich · April 13, 2009 at 6:00 am · Filed Under Mariners, Minor Leagues 

From the shores of the Pacific Coast League (where applicable), to the chilly Midwest, this is your weekly Minor League Wrap-Up.

I’m still trying to nail down a form for these to take, so we’re still in the experimental phase. I’ll try to keep going with most of the features where applicable, but in certain cases, I won’t be including every feature. The news clippings, for example, don’t work if the press is especially spotty. It’s pretty ambitious on the whole. We’ll see how long it can stay that way.

To the jump!

The Night of the Groundball:
On Saturday evening, Mariners starters Gaby Hernandez (Rainiers), RHP Kyle Parker (D-Jaxx), LHP Donnie Hume (Mavericks), and RHP Aaron Pribanic (Lumberkings) combined for thirty-three groundballs to just eleven flies. They also had eighteen Ks in 21.1 innings pitched.

Tacoma Rainiers

The Week in Review:
Thursday, April 9th 2009
Tacoma 9, Sacramento 4 (OAK)
WP: E. Hull; LP: K. Cameron

Friday, April 10th 2009
Tacoma 4, Sacramento 5
WP: R. Webb; LP: B. Downs; SV: J. Gray

Saturday, April 11th 2009
Tacoma 9, Sacramento 7 (eleven innings)
WP: J. Delgado; LP: J. Gray; SV: R. Messenger

Sunday, April 12th 2009
Tacoma 6, Sacramento 3
WP: E. Hull; LP: B. Cramer; SV: J. Thomas

Hitter of the Week:
1B Mike Carp, L/R, 6/30/1986
4 G, 16 AB, 4 R, 8 H, 4 2B, 4 RBI, 4/4 K/BB, .500/.600/.750

The consensus was that after Carp came in from the Mets, he was immediately a step ahead of the other first base prospects in the system. And so, while LaHair and Hubbard have both slipped a bit coming out of the gate, Carp has continued to make strides ahead, reaching at least twice in each of the games he’s played so far. Sunday’s game saw him go 2-for-3 with a couple of walks, hitting his fourth double in as many games, but his Thursday and Saturday were also excellent.

Honorable Mention:
UT Chris Burke, R/R, 3/11/1980
4 G, 16 AB, 5 R, 5 H, 2B, HR, 2 RBI, 5/5 K/BB, .313/.476/.563

Dishonorable Mention:
C Jeff Clement, L/R, 8/21/1983
3 G, 13 AB, 3 R, H, 3/3 K/BB, .077/.250/.077

Pitcher of the Week:
RHP Eric Hull, 12/3/1979
2-0, 2 G, 0.00 ERA in 6.0 IP, H, 2 R (0 ER), 3/3 K/BB, 6/8 Ground/Fly

The week wasn’t highlighted by strong pitching, so what pushed Hull, a quad-A reliever, over Vargas, a semi-prospect who rung up seven on opening day? Context. Hull stepped in with three innings of relief for Vargas in the same game, then came through three days later, coming out of a mostly tapped bullpen to pitch three more frames for the win. No, his stuff hasn’t been extraordinary, and he’s mostly managed to get hitters to hit the ball at somebody, but most valuable for the team? Absolutely.

Honorable Mention:
LHP Jason Vargas, 2/2/1983
0-0, GS, 4.50 ERA in 4.0 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 7/2 K/BB, 3/2 Ground/Fly

Dishonorable Mention:
LHP Garrett Olson, 10/8/1983
0-0, GS, 9.00 ERA in 3.0 IP, 2 H, 3 ER, 0/5 K/BB, 3/6 Ground/Fly

From the Training Room:
Mike Wilson reported twisted an ankle and has missed a few games. It’s nothing too serious though. Saunders is still probably a month away.

Strange Happenings:
The eleven-inning game on Saturday could’ve ended a lot earlier. The Rainiers had men on first and second with one out in the ninth and only got one run out of it, then followed up in the tenth by loading the bases with one out, a situation that they left empty-handed. Even with all that, it might have been averted had an unearned run not scored against Jesus Delgado, who otherwise was perfect through three innings, but was forced to compensate for errors from Morse and Clement.

They Said It:
“Obviously, the walks were the difference in this one.”
Manager Daren Brown, after Garret Olson walked five in the first inning in a 5-4 loss, Tacoma News Tribune, 4/12/09

The Week in Preview:
4/13-16, at Fresno (SF, 1-3), All Times 7:05 PDT, except Tuesday (12:05 PDT)
4/17-20, vs. Sacramento (OAK, 1-3), All Times 7:00 PDT except Sunday (1:30 PDT)

West Tenn Diamond Jaxx

The Week in Review:
Thursday, April 9th 2009
West Tenn 7, Montgomery 6 (TB)
WP: M. Rivera; LP: E. Morlan; SV: A. Cotter

Friday, April 10th 2009
West Tenn 10, Montgomery 1
WP: D. Fister; LP: A. Rodriguez

Saturday, April 11th 2009
West Tenn 2, Montgomery 3
WP: C. Mason; LP: J. Souza; SV: C. Medlock

Sunday, April 12th 2009
West Tenn 8, Montgomery 1
WP: L. Munoz; LP: R. Morse

Hitter of the Week:
CF Ezequiel Carrera, L/L, 6/11/1987
4 G, 16 AB, 5 R, 6 H, 2B, 5 RBI, 2/3 K/BB, .375/.474/.438

Acquired in the Putz trade, the fleet-footed Venezuelan has started in center for the D-Jaxx and lead off each game so far, reached safely in all four and collecting hits in three of them. The highlight for him thus far came Friday’s 10-1 drubbing, when he collected three of his hits and scored or drove in six of the runs. The only knock on him is that he he’s pretty weak against same-handed pitching, but he’s only seen four at-bats against southpaws so far.

Honorable Mention:
SS Oswaldo Navarro, R/R, 10/2/1984
3 G, 10 AB, R, 6 H, 2B, RBI, .600/.600/.700

Dishonorable Mention:
OF Johan Limonta, L/L, 8/4/1983
3 G, 14 AB, 2 H, 2B, 5 RBI, 3/0 K/BB, .143/.143/.214

Pitcher of the Week:
RHP Kyle Parker, 4/8/1985
0-0, GS, 0.00 ERA in 5.0 IP, 4 H, 5/1 K/BB, 7/2 Ground/Fly

Parker put together a decent season last year, by High Desert standards. In April, he held opposing hitters to a sub-.200 average, walked just 2.25 per nine, and struck out 9.25 in the same. Things went south from there and by mid-June, he was on the DL with an elbow strain that shelved him for a month and a half. The UW grad and former 24th-round pick has decent combination of stuff and command, and can pitch a fine game, health permitting.

Honorable Mention:
RHP Doug Fister, 2/4/1984
1-0, G, 0.00 ERA in 4.0 IP, 2 H, 4/1 K/BB, 2/5 Ground/Fly

Dishonorable Mention:
RHP Justin Souza, 10/22/1985
0-1, G, 27.00 ERA in 1.0 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 0/3 Ground/Fly

From the Training Room:
With Carlos Triunfel’s injured fibula, which could keep him out anywhere from two months to the full season, IF Erick Monzon was brought in from extended. This marks Monzon’s fourth consecutive season with some time played at double-A, and he’s never been able to hit there, so this represents a pretty substantial hit to both the M’s prospect standings and the D-Jaxx offense.

Strange Happenings:
Prior to the four-run outburst in the ninth inning of Sunday’s 8-1 victory over Montgomery, all the runs had come from the longball, with Yamid Haad, Brent Johnson, and Erick Monzon hitting them out for the D-Jaxx and J.T. Hall hitting one for the Biscuits.

The Week in Preview:
4/13 at Montgomery (TB, 1-3), 5:05 PDT
4/14-18 at Jacksonville (FLA, 2-2), All Times 4:05 PDT, except Wednesday (10:05 AM PDT)

High Desert Mavericks

Thursday, April 9th 2009
Lancaster 3 (HOU), High Desert 9
WP: M. Pineda; LP: S. Wolf

Friday, April 10th 2009
Lancaster 7, High Desert 9
WP: J. Ramirez; LP: J. Duran ; SV : A. Varvaro

Saturday, April 11th 2009
Lancaster 1, High Desert 6
WP: D. Hume; LP: J. Icenogle

Sunday, April 12th 2009
Lancaster 7, High Desert 4
W: C. Hicks; L: N. Adcock; SV: R. Kelly

Hitter of the Week:
DH Joe Dunigan, L/L, 3/29/1986
4 G, 14 AB, 4 R, 7 H, 2B, 3B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 4/2 K/BB, SB, .500/.563/1.143

The contact skills aren’t much better than usual, but they’ve improved a little, and one shouldn’t ignore these kinds of weeks for minor flaws. Dunigan has had an extra-base knock in three of four games, including two bombs in Satuday’s game, the first of which gave the Mavs the 1-0 lead in the second. The 5th-round pick in 2007 has split his time between DH and first this season, but is capable of playing a corner in the outfield when the need arises.

Honorable Mention:
1B Ian Bladergroen, L/L, 2/23/1983
4 G, 12 AB, 3 R, 4 H, 2B, 3B, HR, 3 RBI, 4/2 K/BB, .333/.429/.833

Dishonorable Mention:
SS Juan Diaz, R/R, 12/12/1988
2 G, 8 AB, 2 H, 2B, RBI, 2/0 K/BB, .250/.250/.375

Pitcher of the Week:
LHP Donnie Hume, 8/29/1985
1-0, GS, 0.00 ERA in 5.0 IP, 3 H, 5/2 K/BB, 7/3 Ground/Fly

Hume slips in mostly because Pineda, though he struck out quite a few, had some command issues that caused him to plunk three batters. That isn’t to say that Hume didn’t earn his recognition. Pitching in his first start since July of last year, the Mariners 8th-round pick from the ’07 draft retired the first six batters of the game in order. He’s been plagued by elbow issues in his career, bone spurs, strains, nothing too serious, but when he’s on, he’s as good as anyone.

Honorable Mention:
RHP Michael Pineda, 1/18/1989
1-0, GS, 1.80 ERA in 5.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R (ER), 7/2 K/BB, 3 HB, 4/3 Ground/Fly

Dishonorable Mention:
RHP Nathan Adcock, 2/25/1988
0-1, GS, 9.53 ERA in 5.2 IP, 7 H (2 HR), 6 ER, 3/2 K/BB, 9/4 Ground/Fly

Strange Happenings:
It’s saying something when the worst hitter in the lineup still manages a .625 OPS in any given week. Through the first four games, Dunigan, Bladergroen, Carlos Peguero, Jamie McOwen, Kuo-hui Lo, Travis Scott, and Alex Liddi all have an OPS over 1.000. Gillies is too busy walking to join the crew. While there have been five triples so far, none of them have been his.

They Said It:
“I have no worries about him.”
Manager Jim Horner, of RHP Michael Pineda, Victorville Daily Press, 4/10/2009

The Week in Preview:
4/13-5, at Lake Elsinore (SD ), 7:05 PDT Monday, 1:05 PDT Tuesday, 6:05 PDT Wednesday
4/16-9, at Lancaster (HOU ), all times 7:00 PDT

Clinton Lumberkings

The Week in Review:
Thursday, April 9th, 2009
Clinton 6, Burlington 3 (KC)
WP: S. Hensley (1-0, 0.00); LP: B. Casey (0-1, 6.00); SV: R. Moorer (1)

Friday, April 10th, 2009
Clinton 6, Burlington 3
WP: B. Lorin (1-0, 1.50); LP: S. Runion (0-1, 13.50); SV: J. Jimenez (1)

Saturday, April 11th, 2009
Clinton 3, Burlington 2
WP: A. Pribanic (1-0, 0.00); LP: L. Cota (0-1, 1.80); SV: K. Meyer (1)

Hitter of the Week:
CF Maximo Mendez, L/L, 11/24/1986
3 G, AB, 4 R, 7 H, 2 3B, 2 RBI, 4/0 K/BB, 2 SB, CS, .500/.500/.786

The 22-year-old Dominican, opening up his second season in the Midwest League, has been the team’s hottest hitter out of the gate. Batting leadoff, Mendez has collected multiple hits in every game he’s played so far and has a chance to highlight his speed on occasion, with two triples thus far. He drove in the difference-making run in the season opener and scored two runs in the first two innings on Friday.

Honorable Mention:
RF Denny Almonte, S/R, 9/24/1988
3 G, 10 AB, 2 R, 3 H, 2B, 3 RBI, 3/3 K/BB, 2 SB, CS, .300/.462/.400

Dishnorable Mention:
DH Kalian Sams, R/R, 8/25/1986
3 G, 12 AB, H, RBI, 6/0 K/BB, .083/.083/.083

Pitcher of the Week:
RHP Aaron Pribanic, 9/1/1986
1-0, GS, 0.00 ERA in 6.0 IP, H, BB, 5 K, 10/3 Ground/Fly

Pribanic didn’t get much time to impress after he was picked in the third round last year, limited to just 4.2 innings in Arizona which were, in a word, awful. Saturday’s start, however, showed why he was held in such high esteem by Fontaine and Co. despite a limited track record, as he faced just two over the minimum in a six inning start and retired eleven in a row in the middle of the game. He also displayed an incredible ability to keep the ball on the ground.

Honorable Mention:
RHP Brett Lorin, 3/31/1987
1-0, GS, 1.50 ERA in 6.0 IP, 3 H (HR), ER, 6 K, 7/5 Ground/Fly

Dishonorable Mention:
LHP Bobby LaFromboise, 6/25/1986
G, 27.00 ERA in 0.2 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, K, 1/0 Ground/Fly

From the Training Room:
Opening day CF Daniel Carroll is presently on the shelf, being pulled mid-game on opening day after chasing down a fly ball and placed on the DL a day later. He was replaced by OF Gavin Dickey, who was flown in from extended spring training. Dickey split his seasons between High Desert and Wisconsin last year. There’s no word yet on what’s ailing Carroll, but reports are that he’s still with the team.

Strange Happenings:
You’ll note that through three games, the Lumberkings have used three different closers. The group as a whole notched five saves total last season. Meanwhile, RHP Blake Nation, who logged ten last season for Pulaski and was a well-regarded closer in college, has yet to finish a game. Are the roles not set yet? Is Steinmann doing away with roles entirely? Could this be something handed down from the org?

They Said It:
“I predict we’ll go 140 and nothing,” he said Tuesday afternoon in the batting tunnel next to the team’s clubhouse. After pausing for a moment, he corrected himself. “With seven postseason games, 147 and nothing.”
Manager Scott Steinmann, Clinton Herald, 4/8/2009

The Week in Preview:
4/13-15, vs. Cedar Rapids (ANA, 3-0) in Clinton, All Times 4:30 PDT
4/16-18, vs. Wisconsin (MIL, 3-0) in Clinton, All Times 4:30 PDT


14 Responses to “Minor League Wrap (4/9-12/09)”

  1. tres_arboles on April 13th, 2009 7:58 am

    I hope I’m not breaking any comment protocol if all I have is a “wow!” That’s some reporting, Jay. You’re gonna make it easy to follow some of the down-league guys that I know personally which is really part and parcel of the fun of being a fan for me. Thanks again, Jay and USSM.

  2. Gustafson on April 13th, 2009 8:23 am

    Awesome stuff, Jay. Thanks!!

  3. everett on April 13th, 2009 8:50 am

    This is absolutely fantastic. I can’t imagine a better way for all of us to keep up on what’s going on in the minors. Thanks for the work Jay.

  4. Oolon on April 13th, 2009 8:51 am

    Excellent reporting Jay! Nice to see familiar names from past seasons in Everett.

    As for the saves situations – The Mariner Mind Trust at the ussmariner get together at the Seattle Library said they were going to not have desinated roles in minor league bullpens. Everyone would be throwing two or three relief innings on occasion and everyone would be throwing one inning saves when call on. That way if they get called up they’re prepared to throw more than just an inning (since their role will probably not be as the closer). It makes sense to me.

  5. justinh on April 13th, 2009 8:54 am

    Great analysis Jay. It is great to get info on all the games and teams. Keep up the good work!

  6. mcfly on April 13th, 2009 8:55 am

    give this man a raise.

  7. Jay Yencich on April 13th, 2009 9:16 am

    As for the saves situations – The Mariner Mind Trust at the ussmariner get together at the Seattle Library said they were going to not have desinated roles in minor league bullpens. Everyone would be throwing two or three relief innings on occasion and everyone would be throwing one inning saves when call on.

    Hey, that’s right! Heck, I was even at that thing and didn’t even remember that, but it’s good to see such a plan being implemented so quickly. There seems to be a pretty clear mandate throughout the organization. It’s only been a few games, but it scarcely looks like the same system that people were ranking 16-20, though the thinness at the top remains.

    Thanks to everyone else for the words of encouragement/appreciation.

  8. Mike Snow on April 13th, 2009 9:17 am

    give this man a raise.

    I’m sure my fellow moderators would gladly go along with me in forgoing half of our salaries so we can double Jay’s.

  9. lokiforever on April 13th, 2009 9:19 am

    I wonder if Clement just had a bad week, or if he realizes now that he has barely one chance left to make it as a big league catcher.

  10. Jeff Nye on April 13th, 2009 9:56 am

    I’ll give up my ENTIRE salary!

  11. SeasonTix on April 13th, 2009 10:06 am

    It’s looking more and more like Clement is a lost cause — at any position.

    He can’t catch well and he can’t hit well at the major league level.

    Now he’s even sucking at AAA.

    I feel bad for the guy (and the M’s) but he seems to be going in the wrong direction.

  12. homi on April 13th, 2009 10:13 am

    I know that you wrote that Greg Halman needs to start getting better at working his counts. What have you thought so far at his adjustments?

    I just was at the game friday night and i saw him take a tough pitch on an 0-2 count his first AB. I was impressed, i thought he was going to strike out.

    Then the monster homer to right in the top of the fourth.

  13. jkpurvis on April 13th, 2009 10:17 am

    Its only one week we have seen in previous years that Clement can crush AAA pitching. He will bounce back and get closer to the numbers we expect him to put up.
    Jay this is awesome material, your work is appreciated.

  14. Jay Yencich on April 13th, 2009 10:58 am

    I know that you wrote that Greg Halman needs to start getting better at working his counts. What have you thought so far at his adjustments?

    I can say that, from what I’ve seen first hand of him in Everett, your comments corroborate with what I’ve observed. It would be a disservice to him to claim that he doesn’t come to the plate with an idea, or that he has poor pitch recognition. He’s merely talented and confident, and has the notion that he can knock whatever comes his way out of the park. I saw from year one to year two in Everett that his willingness to lay off certain pitches had increased considerably, but I would venture to guess that his development is going to be erratic rather than smooth. He’s going to keep going all out until better pitchers expose him and then, after some time figuring out what he ought to be doing, he’ll begin to make adjustments. I’m glad he’s only just starting his option years, but I’d advise that fans are going to have to be pretty patient with him from outset when he finally comes up.

    Its only one week we have seen in previous years that Clement can crush AAA pitching. He will bounce back and get closer to the numbers we expect him to put up.

    It doesn’t seem unreasonable to think that Clement was a might bit disappointed at having to begin another season in the minors, but to cast significant doubt on him for less than twenty at-bats seems silly.

    Give it a month, and then we’ll talk reevaluations depending on the context of what’s going on there.

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