Minor League Wrap (4/26-5/2/10)

Jay Yencich · May 3, 2010 at 6:05 am · Filed Under Mariners, Minor Leagues 

If nothing else, this will help you figure out how the two recent call-ups have fared in the past week. I was going to mention them either way, but the timing makes it all the more significant. If you’re additionally looking for an opinion on Peguero, or some insight into how the prospect-laden West Tenn rotation is faring, you can click on in now. Don’t be a stranger.

To the jump!

Tacoma Rainiers (2-2 this week, 9-12 overall)

The Week in Review:
Monday, April 26th 2010

Tuesday, April 27th 2010
More rain!

Wednesday, April 28th 2010
Off day?

Thursday, April 29th 2010
Reno 6 (ARI – 3), Tacoma 8 (fourteen innings)
W: Sweeney (1-0, 2.79); L: Marte (0-2, 7.00)

Friday, April 30th 2010
Reno 7 (ARI – 2), Tacoma 2
W: Collmenter (1-0, 0.00); L: Olson (1-2, 4.66)

Saturday, May 1st 2010
Reno 2 (ARI – 3), Tacoma 5
W: French (3-0, 1.41); L: Augenstein (0-4, 7.48)

Sunday, May 2nd 2010
Reno 3 (ARI – 2), Tacoma 1
W: Buckner (2-1, 4.85); L: Baldwin (1-1, 4.32)

Hitter of the Week:
SS Josh Wilson, R/R, 3/26/1981
4 G, 18 AB, 2 R, 6 H, 3 2B, 2 RBI, 4/0 K/BB, .333/~.333/.500

In a week where only four games were played due to weather and an off-day, one takes what one can get as far as hitting goes and in this case I’ll take Wilson’s performance. Half of his hits on the week were doubles, and not only is he leading the team in that category with nine, he’s also third in the league, behind a two-way tie for first that includes former M’s farmhand John Lindsey. This is all well and good, except for one point, which is that Josh Wilson has now played a month and has yet to walk once. If not for getting plunked on occasion, his OBP would likely be lower than his average. Hannahan would provide the needed walks in addition to being left-handed, but after I initially wrote this, Wilson was called up anyway. So there’s that.

Newly Employed Mention:
OF Ryan Langerhans, L/L, 2/20/1980
3 G, 10 AB, 3 R, 4 H, 2 2B, RBI, 3/0 K/BB, .400/~.400/.600

Old Catcher Skills Mention:
C Eleizer Alfonzo, R/R, 2/7/1979
3 G, 13 AB, 5 H, 2 2B, RBI, 4/0 K/BB, .385/~.385/.538

Pitcher of the Week:
RHP Brian Sweeney, 6/13/1974
1-0, G, 0.00 ERA in 4.1 IP, 3 H, 7/1 K/BB, 4/2 G/F

Following four days in which no one threw competitively off the mound, the Rainiers played a fourteen-inning game, which is one way of getting your pitchers work quickly, one would suppose. As might be expected, some of the pitchers showed rust, and while the team went into the ninth inning leading 5-3, they came out of it tied 6-6 as the late inning guys struggled to hold things down. And then, in extras, an old favorite, Brian Sweeney walked in to take the mound. While the guy Reno sent out there managed to match him in results, Sweeney was on his game, throwing forty-four of seventy-two pitches for strikes and at one point retiring eight in a row, five of them on strikeouts. A home run by Everidge in the bottom half of the fourteen got him a well-deserved victory.

The Forgotten Starter From the Same Day Mention:
RHP David Pauley, 6/17/1983
0-0, GS, 1.50 ERA in 6.0 IP, 3 H, R, 5/1 K/BB, 7/5 G/F

From The Training Room:
Outfielder Gregory Halman hit the DL with a strained oblique he suffered while swinging the bat in last Saturday’s game. 1B Brad Nelson came off the DL at the same time, and since he can play the outfield in the sense of being capable of wearing a glove and walking out past the infield, no other moves were made… Hannahan and Kelley were officially optioned earlier in the week. As of Sunday afternoon, Hannahan has still yet to play anywhere on the middle infield…. Matt Mangini went nine days without playing recently, but was never placed on the DL, just bumped from his natural position by Hannahan… Pauley hit the inactive list recently, though there is no word on why.

Strange Happenings:
Ramon Vazquez and Brian Sweeney are the first players in Rainiers history to play for the team in three different decades… Luke French had ten hits, two wild pitches, five walks and two Ks over seven innings on Saturday. That led to one run scoring.

West Tenn Diamond Jaxx (3-1 this week, 11-11 overall)

The Week in Review:
Monday, April 26th 2010
West Tenn 5, Mobile 0 (ARI – 2)
W: Robles (2-1, 2.84); L: McAnaney (0-2, 6.43)

Tuesday, April 27th 2010
West Tenn 4, Mobile 3 (ARI – 3)
W: Paredes (1-1, 3.38); L: Mercedes (0-1, 2.61)

Wednesday, April 28th 2010
West Tenn 10, Mobile 3 (ARI – 4)
W: Hensley (2-1, 1.80); L: Enright (0-1, 4.07)

Thursday, April 29th 2010
West Tenn 8, Mobile 4 (ARI – 5)
W: Cortes (2-1, 6.56); L: Oliveros (0-2, 8.04)

Friday, April 30th 2010
Montgomery 10 (TB + 2), West Tenn 4
W: Torres (3-1, 3.12); L: Bray (0-1, 7.27)

Saturday, May 1st 2010
Flash flooding; tornados

Sunday, May 2nd 2010
Cont’d; state of emergency

Hitter of the Week:
RF Carlos Peguero, L/L, 2/22/1987
5 G, 22 AB, 6 R, 10 H, 2B, 3 HR, 4 RBI, CS, 6/1 K/BB, .455/.478/.909

If the term could be applied to e-mail, I’d say my inbox has been blowing up the past week because everyone wants an opinion on Peguero. First, let’s get to the good points. Peguero has a ten-game hit streak, and I’m not going to fault him for going 0-for in the game prior to it because he walked three times. He’s also reduced his K-rate substantially, going from a strikeout every 3.2 plate appearances last year to one every 5.1 plate appearances this year, while improving his walk rate appreciably. These are all good things. The reason I would suggest caution is he’s had good months in the past. In June of last year, he hit .324/.358/.706, nine home runs and a 24/5 K/BB in 102 at-bats. The next month he hit three home runs and struck out in nearly half his at-bats. Another reason to be cautious is about five hundred points of OPS split from left-handers to right-handers. Peguero had an incredible April, and came closer to putting everything together than we’ve ever seen from him, but the minor leagues are all about adjustment, and readjustment, and samples are made all the more wonky in the Southern League by the constant five-game sets, which make good or bad stretches more a product of competition than elsewhere.

Going Through His Own Adjustments Mention:
3B Alex Liddi, R/R, 8/14/1988
5 G, 18 AB, 3 R, 7 H, 2B, HR, 6 RBI, SB, 5/2 K/BB, .389/.450/.611

.500 Average in Limited Time Mention:
Johan Limonta, L/L, 8/4/1983
4 G, 16 AB, 8 H, 2B, HR, 3 RBI, SB, CS, 3/2 K/BB, .500/.556/.750

Pitcher of the Week:
RHP Steven Hensley, 12/27/1986
1-0, GS, 1.80 ERA in 5.0 IP, 4 H (HR), R, 8/1 K/BB, 5/1 G/F

One thing you can give Hensley credit on: he’ll battle. The first two starts were not at all good for him. He walked eight in 9.1 innings pitched, he struck out only four, and his first time out, he gave up five hits in 4.2 frames and was giving fly balls left and right. Now completing his fourth start, that rough introduction to the season seems like a distant memory, on the level of his first few starts in the Cal League before he settled down. I’m not inclined to bring tRA or FIP into the discussion quite yet, because those walks early on are killing him, but his season ERA right now is the same as it was in his most recent start and he’s establishing himself as a pretty solid groundballer, which is a new development. About the only thing keeping me from saying he could be a rotation contributor down the road is that, with four starts in the book, he’s the only one in the rotation who has yet to hit six innings in a single outing, discounting the injured Hill.

This Happened to be a “Bad Week” for Him Mention:
RHP Michael Pineda, 1/18/1989
1-0, GS, 1.69 ERA in 6.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R (ER), 4/1 K/BB, 8/5 G/F

From the Training Room:
Nothing new on Littleton or Hill. The second spot in rotation is still in flux it seems, as Munoz gets it sometimes, and Bray gets it others.

Strange Happenings:
Wednesday evening provided one of the highlights of the week, not merely because of Peguero’s three home run game, but for the D-Jaxx eighth inning. Peguero homered to open it, then Bonilla and Limonta both walked and Mike Wilson reached on error to load the bases. The next three batters, Liddi, Ackley, and Oliveros, all struck out swinging, but owing to wild pitches while Ackley and Oliveros were at the plate, two runs scored. The final line, one solo home run, two walks, an error, three Ks, and three runs… Robles had a start that I couldn’t make him pitcher of the week for in good conscience. You see, he had a 3/3 K/BB in six innings, which is too few Ks to be exciting and too many walks to be comfortable, but he only allowed one hit. So that might actually be a defensive mention… Cortes had two runs allowed on three hits, two wild pitches, three walks and seven Ks in five innings. It seems as though he has one stretch every game where he temporarily loses all command of his pitches… Ackley doubled twice this week, which now gives him five extra-base hits this season. He also ran a 4/4 K/BB. Any time he wants to break out is fine by the rest of us.

High Desert Mavericks (4-3 this week, 14-10 overall)

The Week in Review:
Monday, April 26th 2010
High Desert 2, Lancaster 6 (HOU – 5)
W: Keuchel (1-2, 5.75); L: Carraway (1-1, 6.43)

Tuesday, April 27th 2010
High Desert 8, Lancaster 6 (HOU – 6)
W: Nation (2-0, 2.63); L: Dydalewicz (0-2, 12.54)

Wednesday, April 28th 2010
High Desert 6, Lancaster 0 (HOU – 7)
W: LaFromboise (3-0, 2.01); L: Wolf (1-2, 5.40)

Thursday, April 29th 2010
Rancho Cucamonga 3 (ANA 0), High Desert 5
W: Wild (3-0, 4.81); L: Chatwood (1-2, 2.67)

Friday, April 30th 2010
Rancho Cucamonga 3 (ANA – 1), High Desert 11
W: Kasparek (2-1, 3.18); L: Chaffee (0-1, 32.40)

Saturday, May 1st 2010
Rancho Cucamonga 8 (ANA 0), High Desert 6
W: McKiernan (2-0, 4.50); L: Hann (0-2, 2.65)

Sunday, May 2nd 2010
Rancho Cucamonga 7 (ANA + 1), High Desert 6
W: Shoemaker (2-2, 5.08); L: Vega (0-1, 3.48)

Hitter of the Week:
3B Nate Tenbrink, L/R, 12/21/1986
6 G, 25 AB, 5 R, 10 H, 2B, 3B, 5 RBI, 3 SB, CS, 8/3 K/BB, .400/~.464/.520

It was a hard decision I had to make. You see, the guy on the other side of the diamond was putting up quite a fight, with better eye numbers and more power and all, but when it comes down to it, Tenbrink is one of the leaders in all of advanced-A in batting average right now, and he did basically what I asked of him last week. I said walk, and on Saturday, he walked three times in a single game. I raised questions about his overall value as a bit of a slap hitter who gets off the corner positions only rarely, and he decides to go and steal three bases this week, reminding me that he stole twenty-four in a half season in Everett a couple years back, albeit with a 77% overall success rate. And then he hit .400 again. Okay Tenbrink, you got me. Would some more power be too much to ask for?

Hitting!… in Hitter-Friendly Parks Mention:
1B Rich Poythress, R/R, 8/11/1987
7 G, 28 AB, 6 R, 10 H, 2B, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 4/4 K/BB, .357/~.438/.607

Eagle Eye, Jr. Mention:
2B Kyle Seager, L/R, 11/3/1987
7 G, 22 AB, 6 H, 2 2B, 3 RBI, 5/7 K/BB, SB, CS, .272/~.448/~.364

Pitcher of the Week:
LHP Bobby LaFromboise, 6/25/1986
1-0, GS, 0.00 ERA in 7.0 IP, 4 H, 6/2 K/BB, 8/6 G/F

As part of the park effect, we’ve come to expect by now that the Mavericks are going to have a good team offense. So when we look up and see that the offense is averaging five and a half runs a game, nearly a full run better than the next squad, we are not surprised. To see them currently sitting in second place in runs per game, at a cool 3.83 coming into Sunday, is more unusual. Part of that success has been LaFromboise, who has managed a 2.01 ERA, good for fourth in the league, despite having one of the worse home parks in the league, and road games at known hitters’ havens like Lancaster, where this game took place. Park factors matter less when you manage to retire the first nine in a row, in part due to a nice double play after a leadoff single in the second, but anyone can do that if they try hard enough. It takes some skill to load the bases with no outs, as LaFromboise did in the fourth, and then get out of it with two Ks and a ground out, and return, unfazed, to strike out the side in the fifth.

One Bad Pitch Mention:
RHP Jake Wild, 8/18/1984
1-0, 5.40 ERA in 5.0 IP, 6 H (HR), 3 R, 7/0 K/BB, 3/6 G/F

From the Training Room:
Marwin Vega hit the restricted list, for reasons I’ve not seen reported anywhere as of yet. That brought in RHP Fray Martinez, a former infielder who pitched three innings, allowing two hits and striking out three. Then Vega came back and Martinez left again… Feierabend gave up four hits and struck out one in three innings of work this week.

Strange Happenings:
For having the league’s best offense, the Mavs are strangely not leading in home runs, sitting in fourth place at the moment. How do they make up for that? Forty-eight doubles, against a league average of thirty-nine, would seem to help… More impressive, easily, is how good the command of the pitching staff has been. The Mavs have only walked forty-eight in 210.2 innings, twelve fewer than the next team. League average in this case would be seventy-seven.

Clinton Lumberkings (3-3 this week, 11-13 overall)

The Week in Review:
Monday, April 26th 2010
Off day

Tuesday, April 27th 2010
Clinton 5, Cedar Rapids 0 (ANA – 3)
W: Hesketh (2-1, 7.79); L: Arenas (0-4, 3.57)

Wednesday, April 28th 2010
Clinton 12, Cedar Rapids 2 (ANA – 4)
W: Stanton (2-1, 3.86); L: Kehrer (0-2, 9.22)

Thursday, April 29th 2010
Clinton 5, Cedar Rapids 7 (ANA – 5)
W: Richards (1-0, 4.13); L: Gillheeney (1-2, 3.20)

Friday, April 30th 2010
Clinton 0, Peoria 4 (CHC + 6) (five innings)
W: Struck (2-2, 2.25); L: Ramirez (0-1, 3.07)

Saturday, May 1st 2010
Clinton 2, Peoria 3 (CHC + 7)
W: Leverton (3-0, 0.00); L: Moran (1-1, 0.75)

Sunday, May 2nd 2010
Clinton 4, Peoria 3 (CHC + 6)
W: Jimenez (1-1, 1.64); L: Latham (0-1, 1.93)

Hitter of the Week:
3B Mario Martinez, R/R, 11/13/1989
6 G, 20 AB, 3 R, 7 H, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 3/1 K/BB, .350/~.381/.650

Earlier in the week, someone dropped by my own blog and asked me what I thought of Martinez, who seemed to be struggling in his second go at the Midwest League after a respectable Everett performance last year and being generally regarded as one of the org’s better international signings of late. I reminded the commenter that, since Martinez is still a year younger than the average MWL player, his struggles could be put into a kind of context. Shortly thereafter, he hit home runs in consecutive games, and against a team with a respectable pitching staff in the Peoria Chiefs. The second one was pretty significant too, tying up the game in the ninth and setting the stage for Catricala to hit the go-ahead dinger two outs later. It’s only one week, but nonetheless the kind of thing that could start getting him his confidence back.

As Many Home Runs as the Team’s First Baseman Mention:
SS Nick Franklin, S/R, 3/2/1991
6 G, 24 AB, 4 R, 6 H, 2B, HR, 4 RBI, 4/2 K/BB, .250/~.308/.417

Pitcher of the Week:
LHP Jonathan Hesketh, 6/3/1986
1-0, GS, 0.00 ERA in 5.0 IP, 3 H, 9/0 K/BB, 1/5 G/F

One indictment of ERA as an evaluation tool is that after this game, Hesketh now is at 7.79. True enough, he’s allowed twenty-four hits in 17.1 innings, but he’s also run a 23/6 K/BB and only one of his four starts had him hand out more than one free pass. Metrics like FIP and tRA like him quite a bit better, reading out 3.41 and 4.93, respectively. This week, Hesketh took a middle-of-the-pack offense in Cedar Rapids and limited them to three baserunners all game, retiring seven in a row at one point. A strong showing his next time out could vault him into the top ten in the league for Ks. Given his age and lack of stuff, his ceiling isn’t great, but keep an eye on him, as he could end up with a midseason promotion if things break right.

Pretty Much the Same Position as Above Mention:
LHP Anthony Vasquez, 9/19/1986
0-0, GS, 0.00 ERA in 7.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R (0 ER), 5/0 K/BB, 11/1 G/F, HB

From the Training Room:
The only thing to report from the past week is that Erasmo Ramirez got his first stateside start, and may have kicked someone out of the rotation.

Strange Happenings:
Speaking of Erasmo Ramirez, his first start resulted in four runs scoring on seven hits through four innings. The positive? Ten groundouts and no flies. The also negative? It was a rain-shortened game and the Lumberkings got no-hit… For those wondering how big arm Tyler Blandford is doing in the rotation, he now as a 19/21 K/BB in 20.0 innings… James Jones had a safely-reached streak of seventeen games before Saturday… Through twenty-four games, the Lumberkings share the league lead in dingers with twenty-six… Southpaw Brian Moran has a 16/0 K/BB in 12.0 innings, and only gave up his first run this week.


16 Responses to “Minor League Wrap (4/26-5/2/10)”

  1. Flowin on May 3rd, 2010 7:04 am

    Hey Jay,

    I don’t really follow Minor League baseball, but I sorta remember Chad Cordero closing games in AAA earlier this season. Is he still? I don’t see his name… is he still pitching with us?

    If so, does he look good enough to be called up, maybe later in the season if we need the arm?

  2. Jay Yencich on May 3rd, 2010 7:09 am

    Yes, Cordero’s still around, but he’s been a bit erratic, having bad outings here and there. Part of that is bad luck, part of it is dingers. He’s running 5.40 ERA right now in ten innings, with eleven hits, one walk, and nine Ks.

  3. smb on May 3rd, 2010 7:20 am

    I’m glad to see Tui going down. He looks completely lost at the plate to me. I have to cringe at replacing him with someone who hasn’t drawn a single walk though…maybe Wak should tape Wilson’s bat to his shoulder in some situations.

  4. dingbatman on May 3rd, 2010 7:32 am

    Is Ackley still at 2nd??? How does he look there?

  5. Jay Yencich on May 3rd, 2010 8:19 am

    Ackley is still at second and seems to be doing all right. He isn’t hitting all that much at the moment, but is showing a good eye at the plate (14/13 K/BB in 75 at-bats). It seems as though the team is trying to take some of the pressure off him by letting him DH now and then. He’ll come around, it’s just a combination of bad luck, good competition, and trying to learn a new position at the same time.

  6. smb on May 3rd, 2010 8:42 am

    If Ackley doesn’t start tearing it up, or at least show significant movement toward his normal performance with the bat, what are the odds we don’t see him at all with the M’s this year? And how does the team’s position in the division factor into that decision. Would you expect a September call-up regardless?

  7. Jay Yencich on May 3rd, 2010 9:06 am

    I think in everyone’s ideal world, Ackley was going to hit the ground running, play perfect defense at second, get promoted to Tacoma by midseason, and open 2011 contending for the second base job after something happens with Jose Lopez.

    That’s not happening at the moment. I still think he could eye a mid-to-late season promotion to Tacoma once he gets things together, but I don’t expect to see him with the M’s before September, and even when we get to that point, we might end up in a position where the M’s decide that he’s worked hard enough this season and there’s no reason to push him any further. I’d say that being a hitter, he’s more likely to get the call, but the M’s would probably have to have their position locked up for better or worse before they decided to do that, and this race could still be ongoing in September. The new front office is a bit more conservative making these types of moves; they want their players to be able to keep succeeding, not push them into failure.

  8. Jay Yencich on May 3rd, 2010 9:29 am

    Just as a note on games in progress, the West Tenn Diamond Jaxx are playing a doubleheader this morning, and Peguero has hit his tenth home run in his first at-bat.

    Robles, however, seems to be struggling on the mound. It’s only one inning, and the result aren’t bad, a hit and a K, but he’s thrown twenty-eight pitches already.

  9. marinersunbird on May 3rd, 2010 11:43 am

    I just checked Greg Halman’s stats and it looks like he hasn’t improved on his K rate or his hitting. Outlook?

  10. Jay Yencich on May 3rd, 2010 11:53 am

    He’s walking, which is a start. I said in the past that Halman is so raw that he’ll probably go through all his option years before he’s even close to ready and I’ll stand by that conviction. At least he’s doing something different now.

  11. tylerv on May 3rd, 2010 12:20 pm

    Thanks Jay.

    Any info on Josh Fields?

  12. flashbeak on May 3rd, 2010 12:46 pm

    Any feedback on Triunfel? Just about a year and a half ago this guy was all the hype, but he hasn’t been able to put together a rock solid offensive year yet at any minor league level. How do you think he is progressing? Is he still expected to play a significant role in our future plans?

  13. Jay Yencich on May 3rd, 2010 12:59 pm

    Any info on Josh Fields?

    The last three of his outings resulted in no walks, but each of the first six did. He’s back doing one inning stints after some experimentation with two+ inning stints. The average is low, the walks are high, the ERA is misleading. He seems to be getting back on track, but give it time.

    Any feedback on Triunfel? Just about a year and a half ago this guy was all the hype, but he hasn’t been able to put together a rock solid offensive year yet at any minor league level. How do you think he is progressing? Is he still expected to play a significant role in our future plans?

    Playing short, all the time. He’s not horrible out there, but is behind what he used to be, which is to be expected. For the league, he’s been about average. As hitting goes, he started out slow and is now hitting .306/.324/.472, and on one hand, he’s started hitting for power, with home runs in consecutive games about a week and a half ago, but he’s also stopped walking as much as he was earlier.

  14. marc w on May 3rd, 2010 2:07 pm

    Josh Wilson’s been hitting, which is nice, but I’m not all that hopeful it continues in the majors.
    I’ve been more impressed with his defense in AAA, however, which means the M’s may feel a bit more free to pinch hit for Wilson in close/late situations going forward.

    This move should also get Hannahan some innings at SS.

  15. IwearMsHats on May 3rd, 2010 4:11 pm

    Where in the world is Tom Wilhelmsen?

  16. Jay Yencich on May 3rd, 2010 4:44 pm

    Where in the world is Tom Wilhelmsen?

    Disabled list, officially. May be on some arm strengthening program in Peoria.

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