Liddi, E. Ramirez Take MiLB Honors

Jay Yencich · September 11, 2009 at 9:53 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Perhaps you’ve noticed, but if you haven’t, the Mariners have announced their Minor League Players and Pitchers of the Year, this time passing the award to High Desert third baseman Alex Liddi and Venezuelan Summer League right-hander Erasmo Ramirez. Mavericks manager Jim Horner also won an award for player development. The rest of the winners per affiliate run like this:

AAA Tacoma: C Adam Moore, RH Gaby Hernandez
AA West Tennessee: OF Ezequiel Carrera, LH Nick Hill
A High Desert: 3B Alex Liddi, LH Donnie Hume
A Clinton: INF/OF Scott Savastano, RH Kenn Kasparek
Short-A Everett: 1B Geradro Avila, RH Tyler Stanton
Rookie Pulaski: 3B Vincent Catricala, RH Brandon Maurer
Rookie Peoria: OF Mario Yepez, RH Chris Kessinger
Dominican: C/1B Hector Mercedes, RH Richard Vargas
Venezuelan: INF Carlos Ramirez, RH Erasmo Ramirez

Liddi joins such previous minor league MVPs as Bryan LaHair and Greg Halman, and if that gives you a moment of pause, it should. These awards are often given out to players well-liked by the development staff that have had tremendous statistical success in a season, but are no means an indicator of future stardom. I’ve pointed out the progress he’s made in his plate discipline and his development as a hitter throughout the season, yet that same development is, obviously, not complete. The real test for him will be when he reaches the less hitter-friendly, more experienced Southern League next season. He’ll have to be added to the 40-man in the offseason, so we’ll have three years to see what we have in him, four if he falls under that same clause Balentien did, and I suspect he does. Keep in mind that Adam Jones was also a minor league MVP at one point, not to draw unfair comparisons.

Ramirez has captured the imagination of prospect hounds with a stat line that looks like it was generated on an old NES with a fair share of Game Genie codes entered. He’s even been mentioned on the Building to the Future segment during the broadcasts, and endorsed columnist Larry Stone got around to profiling him in a recent Times article. As Stone states, the numbers are misleading, as he’s not a second Felix Hernandez or even a J.C. Ramirez, but has slightly above-average stuff that he can command well, and down in the zone. The hitters in the Venezuelan Summer League are frequently confounded by any pitcher with a passable offspeed pitch or even a modicum of command. The last pitcher that I saw dominate hitters like this in the VSL was Cesar Jimenez, though I feel like I’ve been saying that all the time. Expect to see Ramirez turn up in Pulaski or Everett next season.

As for the rest, Avila wins over Jones I guess because he’s been an org favorite for years and went on a great tear now that he’s finally healthy. That’s no knock on Jones though. Catricala over Haveman or even Noriega is a bit surprising, as is Savastano over Tenbrink. The rest plays out about as expected. Fister, Vargas, or Olson weren’t going to make it as the top pitcher in Tacoma because all spent large chunks of the season in the MLB.


12 Responses to “Liddi, E. Ramirez Take MiLB Honors”

  1. littlelinny6 on September 11th, 2009 10:16 am

    I’m curious as to what your take is on Ezequiel Carrera? Do you think he starts next year as the CF in Tacoma??? I have a feeling he could be a nice replacement eventually for Endy Chavez—SB threat, better plate discipline, can play all three OF positions adequately.

    The other guy I am really intrigued by is Nick Hill. Even though it is AA, he is the first pitcher I have seen in a long time in the M’s system that gets ground balls, misses bats, and strikes people out at an advanced level. Cortes also started to come around with his command and control in his last four or five starts. Do you see both those guys anchoring the AAA Tacoma rotation next year and does either have the upside to be better than a back-end major league starter??

    Thanks for the great work Jay.

  2. Jay Yencich on September 11th, 2009 10:40 am

    I like Zeke Carrera, and I don’t think that an Endy Chavez comp is far off, though he’s not in the same league defensively (and who is?). With the bat, their skills look remarkably close. Carrera may walk and strike out a little more, perhaps hitting for a little better average, but their power output should be similar. I find reason for hope in Carrera’s development since he joined the system. He’s really put things together. I still take Gillies over him though, who has better defense and a better skillset.

    Hill is a lock for the Rainiers rotation, in my opinion. His stuff has taken a step forward this year and more reps in the rotation are likely to do him good. He faltered a bit late in the season, but he also had an incredible number of hits fall in against him, and some transition would be expected after time in the rotation. I see him as a mid-to-back-end starter, #4 or so, mid-2010, let’s say.

    Cortes is a different case. His command at times is nightmarish, and overall his second tour of the double-A level was less impressive than the first. With as many free passes as he hands out, I don’t think he can handle higher level competition right now. My plan would be to ease him in with a half year in West Tenn and then a half year in Tacoma, depending on how many of the High Desert pitchers the M’s feel like promoting (there are cases against Ramirez, Pineda, and possibly Robles). His absolute ceiling, as stuff goes, is higher than Hill’s, but so is the risk. I’d feel fairly comfortable saying Hill turns out to be the better pitcher long-term.

  3. Adam B. on September 11th, 2009 11:23 am

    This list gives me the overwhelming feeling that our system is a select luminaries surrounded by scads of organizational filler and major league bench/bullpen talent.

    Certainly Ackley, Triunfel, and to some extent J.C. Ramirez, Pineda, Aumont and Poythress have major league potential, but beyond that it feels like the M’s organization is heavy on 4th and 5th starters and defense-first outfielders and little else.

  4. Dave on September 11th, 2009 11:30 am

    That’s underselling the system. They have guys with potential to be regulars at catcher (Moore), 1B (Poythress/Raben/DeJesus), 2B (Triunfel), SS (Franklin/Noriega), 3B (Liddi/Martinez), and an abundance of outfielders (too many to name). The starting pitching is a little light on high end potential, but that’s fairly overrated anyway – pitchers develop at weird intervals, and a guy we could be writing off as a mid-to-back-end starter could easily take a step forward.

  5. Adam B. on September 11th, 2009 11:47 am

    Well it’s good to hear that you don’t think the system is hopeless, but it’s easy to look at some of your neighbors within the division and see much greener grass.

    I understand things have been turned around under Zduriencik, but that just means our system could be good in two to four years.

    I’m impatient, but looking at how stacked the Rangers and Angels are, can you blame me?

  6. Jay Yencich on September 11th, 2009 11:49 am

    The nature of this list obscures quality talents as much as it exaggerates mediocre ones. It’s not worth making a fuss over. Hernandez gets the nod in Tacoma because the field included Baldwin, Seddon, and an assortment of other quad-A throwers, Savastano gets mentioned because the performance of Clinton’s hitters was rather uninspiring. Liddi being named knocks down Gillies, Juan Diaz, as well as more borderline but still interesting batters like Dunigan, Peguero, and Scott, Avila taking the title top hitter hides the accomplishments of Jones and Martinez as well as the marginal guys like Cerione and Phillips.

    Players like Nick Franklin, who was signed too late to play much and, as a second strike, had the ranking “misfortune” of splitting his time between levels, are almost always ignored.

  7. Jake N. on September 11th, 2009 12:14 pm

    Do the Mariners have enough bullets left after all this years trades, to go out and get 2 more 2.5 War and greater players? IE, do we have enough Talent down their to go get another Beltre/ and or Guti?

  8. littlelinny6 on September 11th, 2009 12:22 pm

    Assuming Truinfel repeats AA next year (due to lack of playing time this year with injury), do you see them moving Truinfel to 2B or leaving him at SS until he can’t handle it anymore? I’m seeing an infield of Poythress at 1B, Truinfel 2B, Juan Diaz SS, and Liddi 3B. These guys could be fun to watch not to mention Robles and Pineda anchoring a rotation. Obviously this is all conjecture because who knows where everyone will be assigned next spring but it seems like the M’s will have minor league talent finally within 1-2 years of making a considerable impact on the club rather than getting excited about another ho-hum flyball lefty that we can try and hide in Safeco.

  9. Jay Yencich on September 11th, 2009 12:48 pm

    Do the Mariners have enough bullets left after all this years trades, to go out and get 2 more 2.5 War and greater players? IE, do we have enough Talent down their to go get another Beltre/ and or Guti?

    This is a hunch of mine, but I think that Zduriencik’s model is going to trend towards a younger core developed internally, smart bargain buys as supplemental players (Hall, Branyan, et all), and the rare hired gun that budget allows for. There is some talent left down there that could be used to acquire a good player via trade, but I think that we’re getting to the point of narrowing down future contributors internally and trying to give them their fair shot.

    Assuming Truinfel repeats AA next year (due to lack of playing time this year with injury), do you see them moving Truinfel to 2B or leaving him at SS until he can’t handle it anymore? I’m seeing an infield of Poythress at 1B, Truinfel 2B, Juan Diaz SS, and Liddi 3B. These guys could be fun to watch not to mention Robles and Pineda anchoring a rotation.

    The old FO probably would have left Triunfel at shortstop a little longer, but we’ve seen the emphasis on defense that Zduriencik et all have adopted and so I think that Triunfel is moving to second. He may have a transition year or two like Jose Lopez did where he’s playing every position left of first base on a regular basis, I just think that he’ll end up at second eventually. It’s a waste of his arm, but keeps the bat at a better position. That double-A infield looks reasonable, I’d tack Dunigan onto the 1B/OF/DH duties there and throw in Colina and Bonilla as utility infielders, Scott behind the plate. Whether Pineda and Robles are there to start the year or not, it’s going to be a neat team.

  10. Adam B. on September 11th, 2009 1:11 pm


    I have a similar impression of Zduriencik’s build from within long-term plans. That [RAISES] the question then, is there a good enough core of talent currently on the Mariners and in the high-minors to make legitimate post-season runs barring any more major acquisitions?

    In other words, are Felix, Gutierrez, Ichiro, Ackley, Lopez, Moore, Aardsma and a the other complimentary players good enough to fight off the Angels and Rangers?

    Looking at that group I feel that the Mariners could field a very respectable team, but nothing that would give them a clear edge or advantage over the Angels and Rangers.

    Certainly the Mariners could acquire some talent through free-agency or trades, but it’s not like the Mariners have an abundance of payroll space or minor-leaguers to trade in the next couple of years.

    I know Dave already made the argument that the 2010 Mariners could be contenders, but 88-90 wins may just be good enough for 2nd or 3rd place in this quickly improving division.

  11. Jay Yencich on September 11th, 2009 2:59 pm

    Years ago, people were worried about Anaheim’s future infield of Dallas MacPherson, Brandon Wood, and Casey Kotchman. Texas was finally going to get the pitching they so desperately needed in Thomas Diamond, Edinson Volquez, John Danks, and the less-easily-acroynmed Eric Hurley. The Mariners were going to be perennial contenders, because they had one of the best systems in baseball and Felix Hernandez was going to be backed up by Rafael Soriano, Clint Nageotte, Travis Blackley and Rett Johnson.

    You see where I’m going with this, of course. Prospecting is inherently a volatile business. Yes, the farm systems of the Rangers and Angels impress me at the moment. The Rangers did a great job restocking when they traded Texeira and the Angels continue to draft well, but I think in the overall scheme of things, I’m more scared of the Angels being able to absorb mistakes like signing Matthews Jr. than I am their vaunted farm system because so many things can happen to change that dynamic. Check out the projected lineups from BA from years ago, because hindsight can make these hilarious.

    The M’s don’t have a farm system on the level of the Angels and Rangers. They may not need to.

  12. rick m on September 11th, 2009 3:02 pm

    I’m going out on a limb and predicting a Podsednik-like career for Carrera – a quality major league leadoff guy, if given the chance. As a 22 year old, you just don’t see those kind of AA stats he put up all that often (.441 OBP in roughly 400 PA). There’s something special there. But he may never escape that 4th-5th outfielder pigeonhole.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.