(Cal League) Playoff Baseball

Jay Yencich · September 14, 2009 at 5:30 pm · Filed Under Mariners, Minor Leagues 

The Mariners are still mathematically alive in the playoff race, but so are all the teams in the AL Central coming into today, thanks to the weakness of their division. But, if you’re hungry championship baseball a few weeks ahead of schedule, without all the nastiness of a well-funded juggernaut steamrolling the plucky young up-and-comer, might I recommend giving the High Desert Mavericks a tune-in?

The Mavericks are in game three of their division series against Rancho Cucamonga, hated Angels affiliate, and have thrown consecutive shut-outs at Mavericks Stadium. Stephen Hensley allowed three hits and a walk while striking out ten in the first game, and in the second, Mauricio Robles, who came over in the Washburn trade, had two hits, a walk, a balk, and eight Ks through seven innings. Michael Pineda, who has been remarkably dominant since coming off the DL, takes the mound for the Mavs as they try to extend their scoreless inning streak and sweep the series. The one cause for concern is that the offense has “only” managed nine runs so far.

A likely championship scenario has the Mavs going up against San Jose, also looking for the sweep today. While the Mavericks have had by far the best hitting in the league, San Jose ranks at the bottom of hits, runs, and walks allowed, and combined for a league-high thirteen shutouts over the season. That series should begin on the 17th, and will undoubtedly be an interesting one.

Game time is the usual, 7:05 pm PDT.


9 Responses to “(Cal League) Playoff Baseball”

  1. littlelinny6 on September 14th, 2009 6:36 pm

    What do you make of the future for Hensley? While guys like Pineda and Robles obviously have higher upsides, it seems Hensley has been consistently good and is still just 22 yrs old. I’ve seen him pitch against Inland Empire this year and despite losing the game (thanks to two 330 ft. HRs) I came away impressed.
    With these three hopefully anchoring the West Tenn staff next year and maybe Cortes/Hill in AAA, the M’s have 5 possible future ML starters pitching high level baseball which is pretty exciting. Obviously most don’t make it to the big leagues but at least there is some hope to get more out of a couple of these guys because they can actually miss some bats rather than a #4/#5 starter we already have in Olsen/French/Feirbend/RRS (although he is a bit better)/Fister–all rely heavily on OF defense to be passable.

  2. don52656 on September 14th, 2009 9:10 pm

    I’m happy to see so many of the M’s minor league teams in the playoffs. I’ve always thought that developing a culture of winning was a key step in development, and have been dismayed a little too often in the M’s apparent lack of concern in this area.

    I know minor league teams exist to supply the major league team with talent, but I will never understand why, for example, Brandon Morrow couldn’t have made a start in the playoffs for Tacoma. It would have probably improved their chances while giving Morrow a chance to pitch in a playoff atmosphere. But, giving that up to make an extra start in a major league game? If the organization made this decision for development’s sake, I don’t understand it. If Morrow didn’t care about the AAA playoffs and wanted to make the start in the bigs, well maybe that gives us a little insight about him, too.

    Anyway, Go Mavericks!

  3. Breadbaker on September 14th, 2009 10:14 pm

    I’d love to see Mauricio Robles pitch. Particularly against 21 year olds.

  4. MKT on September 14th, 2009 10:22 pm

    I saw the Mavs play at Inland Empire last month, most of their all-stars didn’t play but Robles pitched really well. Looks like they’re about to sweep Inland Empire out of the playoffs, it’s a bit of a drive to the Mavs’ home park but I might go watch one of their games in the next series.

  5. Mike Snow on September 14th, 2009 10:40 pm

    Wow. High Desert takes a 6-3 lead into the ninth inning, gives up three to tie and loads the bases for good measure, before getting the final out. Now for extra innings.

  6. littlesongs on September 14th, 2009 10:57 pm

    Dang. A double down the line for Rancho and it’s all over 7-6. So much for a playoff sweep. Still, it was a fun ballgame to hear on the radio. I guess if tomorrow is a rainout, we have a good backup plan.

  7. Jay Yencich on September 15th, 2009 8:45 am

    What do you make of the future for Hensley? While guys like Pineda and Robles obviously have higher upsides, it seems Hensley has been consistently good and is still just 22 yrs old. I’ve seen him pitch against Inland Empire this year and despite losing the game (thanks to two 330 ft. HRs) I came away impressed.

    The 2008 featured starting pitching prospects like Pribanic, Hensley, Lorin, and Kasparek, all of which had some things going for them, but the consensus coming into the season was that Pribanic and Lorin were going to be the top two, because Pribanic had the stuff and Lorin had a good arsenal and could dominate when his command was on, which it usually was. Hensley lost out for ending the season with a hurt elbow and Kasparek, on draft status (and prior hurt elbow). Well, now, those top two are gone, after having a few bumps along the way in the form of minor injuries and inconsistency, and Hensley is moving up after holding his own in extremely unfavorable climes and Kasparek wrapped up a season that saw him place third in strikeouts and seventh in IP, along with first in ERA. I’m not making a big point about this, save for maybe Fontaine left us with some good things to work with from the later rounds, but it is interesting to see how things change over the course of any given season. It’s part of what makes the whole thing interesting for me.

    Hensley has the stuff to succeed, good life on the fastball, commands it well. The concern was that while he had a functional breaking pitch, that his secondary offers overall were not going to hold up and that the change-up, as ever was a work in progress. Looking at how he’s handled various types of competition over the season, and how he’s adapted, his strikeouts going up as the months went on while hits and walks were generally down, I feel pretty confident about him. The only blip is that his walk rate against left-handers is double what it is against right-handers, though one-and-a-half to three isn’t that terrible a jump. I’m not sure why more people aren’t talking about him. He seems like he’d be easy to project to a #4 starter, health willing.

  8. Dave on September 15th, 2009 12:32 pm

    The problem with Hensley is going to be LHBs. I’ve had multiple scouts tell me they really liked him as a right-handed reliever, but weren’t sure he had anything to get lefties out.

  9. Jay Yencich on September 15th, 2009 12:36 pm

    I’d heard some of that too, but it didn’t seem to be a problem for him in High Desert. His strikeout rate was actually a little bit higher against left-handers, and they didn’t generally hit him quite as hard. I would think that if they had an opportunity to expose him, it would have shown up in the Cal League. It’s something to keep an eye on as he moves up to double-A.

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