2011 Pulaski Mariners Preview
The Aquasox preview had the caveat of “this roster is probably not finalized yet and we’ll likely see a lot of changes to it before the end of the season.” The Pulaski preview has the same caution with the added issue of limited local press and me getting the roster late, resulting in the kind of slapdash write-up that only I could give 1800+ words to. Considering Pulaski was hit by tornados a couple of months ago, I suppose they have other things to worry about over there.
Pitching Staff: RHP David Colvin, LHP Jeremy Dobbs, RHP Mayckol Guaipe, RHP Ambioris Hidalgo, LHP Kyle Hunter, RHP Angel Raga, RHP Bo Reeder, RHP Leonardo Rodriguez, RHP Reynaldo Sabala, RHP Brett Shankin, RHP Robert Shore, RHP Luke Taylor, RHP Dylan Unsworth, RHP Jose Valdivia
I have no idea who will be in the rotation here, so I’ll separate between the new draftees and the guys that have already been around and hope that this helps. The highest pick on the roster right now comes from last year, that being Woodinville’s Luke Taylor (9th, 2010), who is probably a little bit bummed that he missed out on starting the season in Everett. He had a really rough time with his command last year (14/17 K/BB in 22.1 IP), but he also was a fairly recent convert to pitching after growing up playing shortstop. He had an average-velocity fastball and the makings of a good curve when he was drafted, and one would hope that they’ve both improved with full-time work on them.
Taylor also happens to be the only pitcher from 2010’s draft on the roster, and the rest of the old hats are international free agents. Those in the know will probably have their eyes on Valdivia over the course of the season. Signed at the same time as Morban (that was 2008, for reference), Valdivia is from Nicaragua and was pitching in the low-90s when he inked, but he’s pitched fewer than ten pro innings because of elbow troubles and the surgeries that followed. Those that were tracking the AZL last year would probably be turning their attentions to Dylan “Sharkie” Unsworth, an import from South Africa. Sharkie had a .340 average against in 50.1 innings last year, neither good nor unreasonable for Peoria, but where he drew interest was in the fact that he ran a 44/1 K/BB. I don’t know how his stuff is, though the numbers are enough to get me interested.
The others are career summer league arms making the jump. Guaipe spent four seasons there and was mostly a reliever throughout, running a 41/13 K/BB in 48.2 IP his final season, but pitching is used differently down there and him logging mostly relief innings doesn’t preclude him from starting. Hidalgo only was in the DSL for three years, and oddly it was the second of the two seasons (75/26 K/BB in 68.0 IP, .229 avg against) that was the best and got him league all-star honors. I’d be surprised if he wasn’t in the rotation. Raga was signed way back in 2006, but didn’t make his debut until two years later because his elbow blew up. He supposedly has live stuff and would be another starter candidate, as most of these guys are. Sabala, like Guaipe, was a four-year VSL guy, and has managed to maintain low ERAs in spite of mediocre control of his offerings. If he’s here and not in Peoria, that’s something. Finally, Rodriguez is technically a holdover from last year as he made one start and then was promptly injured and never seen again. He’s sort of like Sabala in that his command has never seemed good, but he’s gotten by anyway. Rodriguez seems the more groundball-oriented of the two.
The new arms from the draft that were brought in were mostly older veteran types. After Taylor, the highest drafted pitcher on staff is Colvin, who was picked up in the 27th out of Pomona-Pitzer and already started a series of angry internet comments from a Claremont-McKenna grad. He’s more of a feel pitcher than a stuff pitcher, and the same could be said for Shankin, who was drafted out of Wayne State a round later. I think Colvin is more the finesse type where Shankin is a strikethrower though. Hunter was next, a 31st-round pick from Kansas State where a lot of people were scouting his teammate Nick Martini. He’s the southpaw equivalent of the other two because beyond a certain point, a lot of pitcher scouting reports begin to read almost identically to one another.
Next up is Jeremy Dobbs, another southpaw who I’ll kind of geek out about because he’s from Austin Peay, which has already given us George Sherrill and Shawn Kelley and is where Zduriencik got his master’s. Dobbs is more of a power guy (read as: he pitched in the 90s and has good bite on the curve) and I’d expect to see him in the late innings, even if he started for Peay. Bo Reeder is from East Tennessee State, which you would have never been able to guess. He was their closer, and their third baseman, and we’re going against convention again by using him on the mound. The last pick is 41st-rounder Bobby Shore, who pitched for Oklahoma, but if you were doing the regional name guessing, would have been able to deduce his California roots. He’s a senior signing that was probably tracked back to his JuCo days, and he seemed to pitch better in big games than anything else.
Catchers: Jose Hernandez, David Villasuso
One of these guys will be the starter, I just don’t know who. Hernandez was a four-year guy in the VSL, though he lost his age twenty season due to injury and arrived in the U.S. at twenty-two last year. He then hit .157/.213/.229 for Peoria, which is bad. He’s usually able to catch about 40% of runners stealing on him. He has experience at first, but there are two catchers on this roster so I won’t expect to see him there. Villasuso was picked out of Miami and had a pretty awful batting line and didn’t seem like he was getting better over the years, so he must be really incredible at game calling and framing pitches. Regardless, the team probably won’t be getting much offense from behind the plate.
Infielders: 2B Michael Acevedo, 2B Patrick Brady, SS Bryan Brito, 2B Dillon Hazlett, 3B Jordy Lara, 2B Dan Paolini
If you looked at this and said “Who’s on first?”, you’re not alone, although I will request that you not continue with the routine. Paolini is the team’s 10th-round pick from this year, and the highest one signed so far. He has a good power bat, but despite being listed as a second baseman, is considered a below-average defender who will probably have to move off. The M’s usually try to keep guys at the toughest defensive position they can handle, but considering Paolini is one of four listed second basemen on this roster, I really don’t know. The other ’11 draft pick is Hazlett (20th round), who is a doubles hitter with good speed. He was used in center field much of his senior year, but I wouldn’t expect to see him there for Pulaski.
I’d expect the left side of the infield to include Lara and Brito. Lara was in the DSL for two years and had great peripherals as far as power and walks went, but a batting average around Mendoza levels and a tendency to strike out way too much. He’s twenty, but this is still a somewhat aggressive promotion for him. Brito is almost a year younger and already did time in the Arizona League last year, where his hitting was atrocious, as he struck out in nearly half his at-bats and had an OPS under .400. I hope that he’s some kind of amazing defender.
The two guys I’m not sure where to slot are Acevedo and Brady. For Acevedo, it’s in large part because he has played everywhere. His rookie season in the VSL, he played every position but shortstop, then was their left fielder his second year and primarily a second baseman his third, and that seems to be where they’re playing him the most these days, with left and third as backups. He can hit a bit, high average, not too many walks, a fair number of doubles. Brady was last year’s 48th-round pick and starred at a D-II liberal arts college where he held a lot of the team’s offensive records. He didn’t hit well in his debut and played mostly second base with some time at short.
Outfielders: CF Jamal Austin, CF Frankie Christian, RF Efrain Nunez, LF Guillermo Pimentel, OF Kenny Straus
Most people reading this were just waiting for me to get the Pimentel portion. Yes, he’s in Pulaski. Yes, he was listed in the top five on a lot of prospect lists this offseason because he had an isolated slugging of .201 last year, derived from an assortment of doubles, triples, and home runs. Yes, he’s still only eighteen and won’t turn nineteen until the offseason. No, I don’t know if his plate discipline has improved any from the 58/5 K/BB he had in fifty-one games last season, but I really hope so. Pimentel seems to be the surest bet to consistently drive in runs for this lineup, which is saying something, and yet, not saying something.
Nunez is the roster’s only switch hitter (the infield is all right-handed) and a guy who was previously talked up as one of the better Latin power bats in the system. That was back in 2008, when he hit .267/.387/.441 in his DSL debut. He bombed, in relative terms, his first season in the states and went back to the DSL last year where his numbers overall were poor but his plate discipline was improved. Now he’s back, and still just twenty. I don’t know what to expect from him but I guess I’m glad he’s here.
Center is likely to be manned by Jamal Austin. I joked on draft day that Jamal Austin, on first name alone, must be exactly like Jamal Strong and was shocked to discover that my conclusion, while stupid, was more or less accurate. No power, contact hitter, plus runner. That sounds like him. He was the 13th-round pick this year. The other guy from this draft is Straus, who played third base for Georgia Perimeter and got picked in the 26th round. He was one of their offensive leaders, batting .339/.380/.571. On those numbers, you’d kind of expect him to be run producer for Pulaski as well, and he’s yet another left-handed bat in the outfield mix. Christian rounds out the roster, a 19th-round pick in last year’s draft as a centerfielder. My report on him at the time was that his speed and arm were probably his best tools and he had a bit of an uppercut swing. I didn’t expect him to sign with us, but he did, so we’ll have to see how he ends up doing.