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Written by Jay Yencich | 27 November 2011

Arizona Fall League (FINAL):
RF Chih-Hsien Chiang: 20 G, 76 AB, 9 R, 20 H, 3 2B, 3B, HR, 6 RBI, SB, 15/9 K/BB, .263/.337/.368
RHP Steven Hensley: 1-1, 11 G, 11.30 ERA in 14.1 IP, 23 H (2 HR), 18 R, 15/16 K/BB, 2 HB
LHP Danny Hultzen: 1-0, 6 GS, 1.40 ERA in 19.1 IP, 16 H (HR), 3 R, 18/5 K/BB, 2 WP
SS Nick Franklin: 24 G, 89 AB, 15 R, 23 H, 4 2B, 3B, 2 HR, 14 RBI, SB, 25/11 K/BB, .258/.333/.393
C Adam Moore: 15 G, 54 AB, 9 R, 14 H, 3 2B, 8 RBI, CS, 15/6 K/BB, 2 HBP, .259/.355/.315
LHP Brian Moran: 1-0, 11 G, 1.32 ERA in 13.2 IP, 10 H, 2 R, 11/4 K/BB
RHP Forrest Snow: 1-1, 10 G (GS), 1.10 ERA in 16.1 IP, 10 H (HR), 8 R (2 ER), 16/3 K/BB, WP

Australian Baseball League:
OF Denny Almonte: 11 G, 41 AB, 10 R, 12 H, 2 2B, HR, 2 RBI, 2 SB, CS, 11/6 K/BB, .293/.383/.415
OF James Jones: 11 G, 34 AB, 6 R, 8 H, 2B, HR, 3 RBI, SB, CS, 4/8 K/BB, 3 HBP, .235/.422/.353
OF James McOwen: 11 G, 45 AB, 13 R, 14 H, 2 2B, 3B, 3 RBI, 7 SB, CS, 7/6 K/BB, .311/.392/.400
RHP Jandy Sena: 0-1, 2 GS, 11.25 ERA in 8.0 IP, 15 H, 10 R, 4/1 K/BB, 2 HB, WP
C Carlton Tanabe: 6 G, 21 AB, 2 R, 3 H, HR, 3 RBI, CS, 4/0 K/BB, HBP, .143/.217/.286

Dominican Winter League:
UT Leury Bonilla: 5 G, 2 AB, H, .500/.500/.500
LHP Fabio Castro: 0-1, 9 G (6 GS), 7.40 ERA in 20.2 IP, 28 H (4 HR), 17 R, 15/4 K/BB, HB, WP
3B Alex Liddi: 3 G, 7 AB, 2 R, 3/2 K/BB, .000/.222/.000
LHP Edward Paredes: 0-1, 9 G, SV, 4.15 ERA in 4.1 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 4/4 K/BB, 2 WP
RF Carlos Peguero: 28 G, 107 AB, 20 R, 32 H, 9 2B, 9 HR, 22 RBI, 3 SB, CS, 40/9 K/BB, 3 HBP, .299/.367/.636
SS Carlos Triunfel: 9 G, 23 AB, R, 5 H, 2B, 2 RBI, CS, 4/0 K/BB, .217/.217/.261

IBAF 2011 World Cup (FINAL):
OF Dwight Britton: 7 G, 23 AB, 4 R, 11 H, 2 2B, 3 RBI, 2 SB, 2 CS, 5/6 K/BB, .478/.586/.565
RHP Scott Patterson: 0-0, 6 G, 1.69 ERA in 5.1 IP, 2 H, R, 6/0 K/BB
OF Kalian Sams: 9 G, 24 AB, 7 R, 5 H, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 3 SB, 7/3 K/BB, .208/.321/.458
RHP Daniel Thieben: 0-0, 2 G, 20.25 ERA in 1.1 IP, 3 H, 3 R, HB

Nicaraguan Professional Baseball League:
OF Dwight Britton: 17 G, 52 AB, 13 R, 13 H, 2B, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 5 SB, 12/17 K/BB, .250/~.435/.385

Puerto Rican Winter League:
OF Daniel Carroll: 15 G, 51 AB, 8 R, 12 H, 4 2B, HR, 4 RBI, 4 SB, CS, 17/6 K/BB, .235/.333/.373

Venezuelan Winter League:
RHP Jose Campos: 2-0, 10 G, 3.15 ERA in 20.0 IP, 17 H (2 HR), 7 R, 19/13 K/BB, 2 WP
OF Johermyn Chavez: 11 G, 24 AB, R, 4 H, SB, CS, 8/1 K/BB, .167/.200/.167
RHP Jarrett Grube: 1-0, 5 GS, 3.05 ERA in 20.2 IP, 17 H (2 HR), 7 R, 19/5 K/BB
CF Brandon Haveman: 10 G, 20 AB, 2 R, H, 6/3 K/BB, .050/.174/.050
RHP Moises Hernandez: 0-2, 5 G, 19.89 ERA in 6.1 IP, 18 (2 HR), 14 R, 3/5 K/BB, HB
LHP Cesar Jimenez: 1-2, 12 G, 6.00 ERA in 15.0 IP, 20 H, 13 R (10 ER), 8/6 K/BB, 2 WP
LHP Jose Jimenez: 1-0, 16 G, 1.04 ERA in 8.2 IP, 8 H, 2 R (R), 11/4 K/BB
DH Luis Antonio Jimenez: 38 G, 136 AB, 23 R, 40 H, 7 2B, 8 HR, 20 RBI, SB, CS, 28/25 K/BB, .294/.404/.522
3B Alex Liddi: 14 G, 44 AB, 2 R, 6 H, 2 2B, HR, 4 RBI, CS, 18/7 K/BB, HBP, .136/.269/.250
LF/1B Johan Limonta: 13 G, 45 AB, 5 R, 11 H, 2 2B, 3B, RBI, 10/4 K/BB, .244/.300/.333
3B Francisco Martinez: 23 G, 84 AB, 12 R, 23 H, 4 2B, 8 RBI, 2 CS, 21/6 K/BB, .274/.315/.321
3B Mario Martinez: 9 G, 18 AB, H, 6/0 K/BB, HBP, .056/.105/.056
RHP Yoervis Medina: 0-6, 7 GS, 4.41 ERA in 32.2 IP, 35 H (2 HR), 19 R (16 ER), 28/14 K/BB, 4 HB, 5 WP
RHP Jessie Nava: 0-0, 5 G, 5.14 ERA in 7.0 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 3/5 K/BB, WP
RHP Scott Patterson: 0-0, 9 G, 6 SV, 2.53 ERA in 10.2 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 13/4 K/BB
RHP Stephen Pryor: 1-1, 13 G, 3.38 ERA in 16.0 IP, 15 H, 7 R (6 R), 9/9 K/BB
RHP Angel Raga: 0-0, 6 G, 4.22 ERA in 10.2 IP, 10 H (2 HR), 5 R, 6/5 K/BB
RHP Erasmo Ramirez: 2-1, 6 GS, 1.48 ERA in 30.1 IP, 24 H (HR), 6 R (5 ER), 20/1 K/BB, 3 HB, WP
LHP Mauricio Robles: 0-1, 3 G (2 GS), 54.00 ERA in 1.0 IP, 4 H (HR), 10 R (6 ER), 1/6 K/BB, 2 HB
IF Luis Rodriguez: 32 G, 97 AB, 23 R, 31 H, 6 2B, HR, 15 RBI, 8/30 K/BB, .320/.477/.412
OF Michael Saunders: 16 G, 54 AB, 7 R, 8 H, 3 2B, HR, 4 RBI, SB, 15/11 K/BB, .148/.292/.259
C Jesus Sucre: 15 G, 44 AB, 3 R, 9 H, 2B, 7 RBI, 6/4 K/BB, CS, .205/.314/.227
SS Roberto Velasquez: 7 G, 11 AB, H, 4/0 K/BB, .091/.091/.091
OF Mike Wilson: 33 G, 105 AB, 16 R, 21 H, 2B, 7 HR, 16 RBI, SB, CS, 33/21 K/BB, .200/.346/.410
OF Mario Yepez: 22 G, 19 AB, R, 5 H, RBI, SB, CS, 5/3 K/BB, .263/.364/.263

I don't really know how to jump back into this, so I'll divert first. A lot has been written in the past week about Halman. This is a non-exhaustive collection of those links. MLB.com: Greg Halman Obituary and Articles. Shannon Drayer: Remembering Greg Halman. Drayer: Brendan Ryan on Greg Halman. Drayer: Ken Griffey Jr. saw himself in Greg Halman.710 ESPN: Zduriencik: Teammates 'crushed' by Halman's death. Larry LaRue: Not even Milton Bradley could resist Halman. Larry Stone: Pedro Grifol on Greg Halman: "Our hearts are broken. Mine's in pieces.". Stone: (UPDATED) Greg Halman's agent: "It's difficult for me to even talk of Greg in the past tense". Stone: Greg Halman: A freakish talent, a tragic end. Geoff Baker: Dan Cortes devastated by death of Greg Halman, who had become "like a brother" to him. Baker: Greg Halman was becoming "an icon" to baseball lovers in his homeland in weeks before his death. Steve Kelley: Outfielder Greg Halman robbed of a promising future. Seattle Times: Reaction to the death of Mariners outfielder Greg Halman. Baseball America: Greg Halman Murdered. USSM (marc w): This Doesn't Make Sense. Lookout Landing (Jeff): On the Passing of Greg Halman. Lookout Landing (Greg's cousin): Greg Halman passed away. It's taken several days to accumulate all this. Don't try to go through it all at once unless you're planning on being in tears by the end.

Things have a way of continuing to happen though, and probably the biggest of the big things was the announcement of a new CBA. That article breaks down a lot of it if not all, so I won't bother to reiterate the ways in which quite a lot has changed. And not much is positive in those changes. Rob Neyer thought in spite of all the uproar, maybe we should wait and see. Dave Cameron, plainly, hated it and thought that it hurt the Mariners a lot with its new rules on international free agency. Churchill also had his spin on it, which saw some positives and some negatives. I think I settle somewhere in between, because on one hand, the new rules may steer international athletes away from baseball or provide them with fewer opportunities (Churchill seems to think this is already happening), which is capital b Bad, but on the other, teams that have incredible ground operations like we do and are capable of digging up players are still in good shape. Felix signed for less than a million. Pineda signed for far less than Felix did, and years later at that. Neither Liddi nor Peguero nor Medina, to go through a few names on the 40-man, cost a whole lot of money to acquire. I'm not a fan of this going down, and do think that throws off the equilibrium for teams that relied on internal development, which is bad as a fan of minor league baseball, but it's probably not the end of the world. Most things are not the end of the world, the end of the world excluded. I'm pretty sure that's only happened a few times though.

As usual, some transactions happened. Most recently, the Mariners announced that SS Luis Rodriguez re-signed with an invitation to spring training, an invitation also extended to Fox, Jarrett Grube (yay!), Marquez, Henn, and newcomer LHP Steve Garrison, who is one more Steve added for your consideration (SO MANY OF THEM). I suggested before that Rodriguez might re-sign given that there's an open position (backup shortstop/infielder) and not a great deal of internal competition for it at the moment. I have also indicated that I'm pleased that Rodriguez is walking because, hey, we ranked 28th of 30 in walks last year and every little bit helps. Brendan Ryan played in 123 games last year and was fifth on the team with thirty-four walks. Rodriguez had twenty-four walks in twenty-six games as of last week. As for the new guy, Garrison was a prep draft pick of the Brewers in the 10th round of 2005, and we all basically know what that means (Except he was traded to the Padres later and then picked up on waivers by the Yankees… whatever). Garrison was in the high-80s as a high school senior and touched the low-90s with the thought that he could add more. He also was reported as having a solid slider and some regarded him as a signability risk due to a commitment to North Carolina. He made his major league debut this year, against us, incidentally, and threw two-thirds of an inning with six of nine pitches for strikes. His velocity was high-80s in that limited sample, and he's kind of sputtered in the high minors due to a drop in Ks, a slight uptick in walks, and generally being hittable. He's been a starter the whole way up, so there's always that possibility that something different will happen if he's put in the bullpen, but I have no way of knowing whether the M's will be attempting this.

In other news of some importance to us, the Tacoma Rainiers lost Alonzo Powell to the hated Padres who hired him as an assistant batting coach. Of course, since there can only be so many coaches in a dugout at any given time, his capacity is advisory and he can't be there during games. I guess it's a major league gig, but there were some Rainiers batters that worked well with him and he's gone turncoat on us. More fuel for our fierce rivalry. There was also an article at BA about the Mariners' relationship with the Lara Cardenales of the LVBP. If you don't know anything about that relationship, it's informative. If you do, it's probably nothing you haven't already heard at some point. BA also had an Arizona Fall League Top 10 for subscribers in which Hultzen was named the league's #3 prospect. Franklin didn't make the list, or the also-rans.

I guess that we'll start off making the rounds with the smaller leagues before we get to the big one. The Colombian League started play on Friday, but they haven't yet switched their stats over from last year to this year. This can sometimes be the case in the lesser leagues. That leaves us with Australia, the Dominican, Nicaragua, and Puerto Rico. The exports to Australia had eventful weeks, at least relative to what they had the previous week (in which case, anything would be relevant). McOwen pretty much stayed the course by going 5-for-15 and adding a triple and three walks. Jones went 4-for-15, which improves his average somewhat, and went yard, though the decrease in walk totals saw his OBP drop. Tanabe also featured somewhat mixed results because he did hit a home run, which is great, but that was his only hit in eleven at-bats. Of course, given that he's never played more than fifty games a season and was a backup for forty-eight games in Clinton last year, I suppose expectations should be kept in check somewhat. Almonte went 4-for-16 which I suppose is better than a lot of the alternatives. He struck out in a quarter of the ABs though. In the Dominican Republic, the only ones especially active were Castro, who managed 1.2 innings and let a run score (this lowered his ERA), Paredes, who threw two-thirds of an inning, and Peguero, whose predicted slide seems to be coming to pass though he still hit a home run and a double this week. Nine Ks in nineteen at-bats this week, friends. Britton, down in the Nicaraguan League, switched on again and was 8-for-17 this week with four walks. There were no extra-base hits, but it's fun to stare at in the way that mostly confusing things can be. And Carroll? He did pretty well too, going 5-for-12 on the week with a couple of doubles. I'm not seeing as much of the walks this week though, which is disappointing as that was one of the main things that made him interesting last season.

That brings us to the big league, which I should probably split into pitching and hitting again. Pitching didn't do a whole lot for us this week. Campos got another 3.1 innings in and ran a 5/3 K/BB in that span. I suppose I'm not overly concerned about the results for him at the moment though; that he's managing to hold ground in a league where he should be way over his head signals something good to me. If we had a Cal League affiliate that was in any way reasonable, I'd suggest that he skip over the Midwest League to start next season. Given how they handled Medina, they might try that anyway. Medina and Grube were both inactive, and a lot of others only managed a little bit of time. Nava got a frame in, and gave up a couple of runs. Raga pitched a third of an inning. Patterson, who might head elsewhere before this is all through, got an inning and a third in and gave up a run on a couple of hits. Felix's brother pitched a little and was less awful in purely relative terms. As for the Jimenezes, Jose is still doing his thing and maintaining that extra-low ERA, though I'd think that with his hit and walk totals he'd have a few more runs score against him, but Cesar just had a bad week, no two ways about it. In 4.0 innings, six runs scored on five hits and five walks. Recognizing that we need someone to be alive and in the bullpen and that we aren't immediately hitting up against the 40-man cap, I would still say that Jimenez' spot on the roster seems more vulnerable than some of the others might be.

Hitting didn't have many exciting developments. Chavez went 2-for-2 in his only at-bats this week. So why didn't they start him more? THIS IS AN OUTRAGE. Hitting Jimenez pretty much stayed the course this week. Rodriguez, I already sort of touched on above, but the basics of it are that he's still walking a lot. Limonta had a rough week, going 3-for-20 with a double and a walk. Mike Wilson was in a similar sea-faring vessel, going 1-for-15 with a double, though he managed to walk five times. Francisco Martinez didn't play, but you now know, because I am now telling you, that he has grounded into five double plays which is more than anyone else in our system so far. We'd better start signing more dudes or doing something (Rule 5 picks?) because this is getting a little boring. no comments

Written by Jay Yencich | 21 November 2011

I started doing this gig in early 2004, almost eight years ago now. While I was still basically learning where and how to hunt down information, I got an e-mail from someone in the know saying that we had signed this crazy-talented Dutch kid who had just won, or nearly one, the triple crown in Honkbal Hoofdklasse as a fifteen-year-old. Information at the time was sketchy: for a couple of months I thought he batted left-handed and a number of sources were listing him as a first baseman for a while. There were a lot of details that weren't there, but I remember spending much of the offseason on message boards, talking excitedly with the few people who had heard the story. We couldn't figure out why he hadn't played with us that same year. We didn't know what the standards would be for him coming in from Europe, other than the past data we had from such system legends as Oleg Korneev and the Italian trio of Mario Chiarini, Francesco Imperiali, and Giuseppe Mazzanti. We didn't even know whether he was going to start stateside or do a little time in the Dominican, where he was reportedly working out through the offseason.

The next year, we got a little taste. Halman played twenty-six games in the Arizona League, and while the numbers weren't all there, it was enough to where some of us were complaining in the offseason that the scouts had been underestimating him based on his numbers alone. The following season, I was up in Everett on assignment every now and then and had a few opportunities to see him. It was strange in that, before I got there, my mind had already built him up to a kind of legendary status, like I was only there to see the first inklings of what history might write about later. I remember his presence in the batter's box, how as an athlete he seemed like so much more of an athlete than even his fellow professionals. And I remember sitting there, some tens of feet away in the press box, watching as whoever was on the mound at the time threw a few pitches low and outside and Halman swung right through them. It was anticlimactic, certainly. Like a lot of the kids I came to see there in the following years, it seemed like Halman was trying to do too much with any given pitch, which is one of those traits we come to look on as a flaw. Every ball that was coming at him, in his mind was a home run in the making. And it was a good show nonetheless because we knew he was young and on the field and in the dugout, Halman was all smiles. There was some hope that he'd figure it out in time.

The next spring, Halman got his expected shot in Wisconsin. And he didn't do with it what we had all hoped he would and got sent back to Arizona partway through the spring. As usual, I made my way up to Everett for the season opener expecting to see certain things. It was the year in which all the starting outfielders were built like football players, Joe Dunigan in left, Halman in center, and some combination of Wellington Dotel and Kalian Sams in right. I remember looking over the lineup card and seeing Halman high in the order and figured I'd pull out my legal pad and start scratching down some notes comparing what I was seeing now to what I had seen before. Given that he was coming off a pretty sad Midwest League campaign, I don't know that I was expecting to see all that much, but as that first at-bat went down, I stopped writing and started to really watching what was happening. The outcome was nothing special. Halman got jammed and popped out to the shortstop. But I remember the process, and I remember turning to media intern in the booth and telling her "I just saw three pitches in that at-bat that last year's Halman would have swung through. He didn't bite this time." Halman, when I first saw him in 2006, went 0-for-4 with a couple of Ks. This time, he was 2-for-4 with a run scored. I don't know that anyone else in the booth was excited as I was to see all this, but by the time the season was over, everyone else knew. Even through the extreme highs and lows of the following seasons, when all hopes were pinned on him or his future seemed to look like a backup outfielder's, I remembered those four at-bats, June 19th 2007.

***

My mornings are pretty basic. I'm not much of a coffee drinker, so it starts slow for me and I usually go downstairs and turn on my computer, catching up on the news in brief before I do much of anything else. I sit down, and the news is going through its usual crawl, there's news on the congress debt deal, people are talking about Thanksgiving, or the latest spin on yesterday's football games and how much they affect the rest of the season. About page six through the crawl, a familiar face shows up with the caption "Mariners Player Stabbed to Death", and I pause it.

I know what I'm seeing is real, though it doesn't seem that way. My mind starts running through a list of elegies I've read over the course of my life and the one that sticks, for whatever reason, is Frank O'Hara's "The Day Lady Died". I don't like O'Hara all that much, but it seems to fit. Five minutes prior, I was looking through the fridge for something to eat and getting a glass of water so I could take an antibiotic. I was thinking about my day and all the things I needed to do and what order to go about them and in a few seconds all of that is irrelevant because Greg Halman is dead. Everything else has stopped.

I spend some time on the websites and see how other people are responding. I read stories about how Halman was just coming off a European tour by a group of MLB players and how, at a stop in the Czech Republic (regarded by some as the next country over there where baseball will break out), Halman got the biggest cheers of anyone outside of Prince Fielder. Halman, after all, was the guy who made it. Sometime after that, I start typing. I think of all the things we typically say when someone dies too early, about how our thoughts and prayers are with the family, how the death is "tragic" and so many other things, how he'll be missed. I know how much we mean in these things that we say, and how while we all  know them to be true, it's hard to think of how these words can do so little to allay the visceral shock of the experience, how we will go on through our days and meet the people that we meet and there may not be any way of relating these things we learned this morning.

Much more will be said in the coming days, by people close to Halman or by others who saw him come up the minor league ladder. Whether or not it's enough, I don't know that it matters because so much of the time, the most important thing we can do is remember. And I know I've read this a couple of times on a couple of different blogs already, but I hope those kids on the European tour that cheered Halman, that took their photos with him, and were in awe that someone from their backyard could make it to the big leagues, I hope that some of them get to the majors some day and have the kind of career that Greg Halman wasn't able to have, and that years down the line we're able to talk about him and remember him, not for all of the tragedy of what could have been, but for the example he served in his time here and all that he was able to accomplish for European baseball. no comments

Written by Jay Yencich | 20 November 2011

Arizona Fall League (FINAL):
RF Chih-Hsien Chiang: 20 G, 76 AB, 9 R, 20 H, 3 2B, 3B, HR, 6 RBI, SB, 15/9 K/BB, .263/.337/.368
RHP Steven Hensley: 1-1, 11 G, 11.30 ERA in 14.1 IP, 23 H (2 HR), 18 R, 15/16 K/BB, 2 HB
LHP Danny Hultzen: 1-0, 6 GS, 1.40 ERA in 19.1 IP, 16 H (HR), 3 R, 18/5 K/BB, 2 WP
SS Nick Franklin: 24 G, 89 AB, 15 R, 23 H, 4 2B, 3B, 2 HR, 14 RBI, SB, 25/11 K/BB, .258/.333/.393
C Adam Moore: 15 G, 54 AB, 9 R, 14 H, 3 2B, 8 RBI, CS, 15/6 K/BB, 2 HBP, .259/.355/.315
LHP Brian Moran: 1-0, 11 G, 1.32 ERA in 13.2 IP, 10 H, 2 R, 11/4 K/BB
RHP Forrest Snow: 1-1, 10 G (GS), 1.10 ERA in 16.1 IP, 10 H (HR), 8 R (2 ER), 16/3 K/BB, WP

Australian Baseball League:
OF Denny Almonte: 7 G, 25 AB, 5 R, 8 H, 2 2B, HR, 2 RBI, SB, CS, 7/4 K/BB, .320/.414/.520
OF James Jones: 7 G, 19 AB, 4 R, 4 H, 2B, RBI, SB, CS, 3/7 K/BB, HBP, .211/.464/.263
OF James McOwen: 7 G, 30 AB, 5 R, 9 H, 2 2B, RBI, 5 SB, CS, 4/3 K/BB, .300/.364/.367
RHP Jandy Sena: 0-1, 2 GS, 11.25 ERA in 8.0 IP, 15 H, 10 R, 4/1 K/BB, 2 HB, WP
C Carlton Tanabe: 3 G, 10 AB, R, 2 H, CS, 2/0 K/BB, HBP, .200/.273/.200

Dominican Winter League:
UT Leury Bonilla: 5 G, 2 AB, H, .500/.500/.500
LHP Fabio Castro: 0-1, 7 G (6 GS), 7.58 ERA in 19.0 IP, 24 H (4 HR), 16 R, 15/4 K/BB, HB, WP
3B Alex Liddi: 3 G, 7 AB, 2 R, 3/2 K/BB, .000/.222/.000
LHP Edward Paredes: 0-1, 6 G, SV, 4.91 ERA in 3.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 3/4 K/BB, 2 WP
RF Carlos Peguero: 23 G, 88 AB, 18 R, 29 H, 8 2B, 8 HR, 18 RBI, 3 SB, CS, 31/7 K/BB, 3 HBP, .330/.394/.693
SS Carlos Triunfel: 8 G, 22 AB, R, 5 H, 2B, 2 RBI, CS, 3/0 K/BB, .227/.227/.273

IBAF 2011 World Cup (FINAL):
OF Dwight Britton: 7 G, 23 AB, 4 R, 11 H, 2 2B, 3 RBI, 2 SB, 2 CS, 5/6 K/BB, .478/.586/.565
RHP Scott Patterson: 0-0, 6 G, 1.69 ERA in 5.1 IP, 2 H, R, 6/0 K/BB
OF Kalian Sams: 9 G, 24 AB, 7 R, 5 H, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 3 SB, 7/3 K/BB, .208/.321/.458
RHP Daniel Thieben: 0-0, 2 G, 20.25 ERA in 1.1 IP, 3 H, 3 R, HB

Nicaraguan Professional Baseball League:
OF Dwight Britton: 12 G, 35 AB, 9 R, 5 H, 2B, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 3 SB, 11/13 K/BB, .143/~.375/.343

Puerto Rican Winter League:
OF Daniel Carroll: 11 G, 37 AB, 3 R, 7 H, 2 2B, HR, 4 RBI, 2 SB, CS, 13/5 K/BB, .189/.311/.324

Venezuelan Winter League:
RHP Jose Campos: 1-0, 9 G, 2.70 ERA in 16.2 IP, 10 H (2 HR), 5 R, 14/10 K/BB, WP
OF Johermyn Chavez: 10 G, 22 AB, 2 H, 8/1 K/BB, .091/.130/.091
RHP Jarrett Grube: 1-0, 5 GS, 3.05 ERA in 20.2 IP, 17 H (2 HR), 7 R, 19/5 K/BB
CF Brandon Haveman: 10 G, 20 AB, 2 R, H, 6/3 K/BB, .050/.174/.050
RHP Moises Hernandez: 0-2, 4 G, 20.77 ERA in 4.1 IP, 15 (2 HR), 10 R, 2/3 K/BB, HB
LHP Cesar Jimenez: 1-1, 9 G, 3.27 ERA in 11.0 IP, 15 H, 7 R (4 ER), 6/1 K/BB, WP
LHP Jose Jimenez: 1-0, 14 G, 1.17 ERA in 7.2 IP, 8 H, 2 R (R), 9/4 K/BB
DH Luis Antonio Jimenez: 33 G, 118 AB, 21 R, 35 H, 6 2B, 7 HR, 17 RBI, SB, CS, 25/21 K/BB, .297/.403/.525
3B Alex Liddi: 14 G, 44 AB, 2 R, 6 H, 2 2B, HR, 4 RBI, CS, 18/7 K/BB, HBP, .136/.269/.250
LF/1B Johan Limonta: 8 G, 25 AB, 4 R, 8 H, 2B, 3B, RBI, 6/3 K/BB, .320/.379/.440
3B Francisco Martinez: 23 G, 84 AB, 12 R, 23 H, 4 2B, 8 RBI, 2 CS, 21/6 K/BB, .274/.315/.321
3B Mario Martinez: 9 G, 18 AB, H, 6/0 K/BB, HBP, .056/.105/.056
RHP Yoervis Medina: 0-6, 7 GS, 4.41 ERA in 32.2 IP, 35 H (2 HR), 19 R (16 ER), 28/14 K/BB, 4 HB, 5 WP
RHP Jessie Nava: 0-0, 4 G, 3.00 ERA in 6.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 3/5 K/BB, WP
RHP Scott Patterson: 0-0, 8 G, 6 SV, 1.93 ERA in 9.1 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 11/4 K/BB
RHP Stephen Pryor: 1-1, 12 G, 3.52 ERA in 15.1 IP, 14 H, 7 R (6 R), 8/8 K/BB
RHP Angel Raga: 0-0, 5 G, 4.35 ERA in 10.1 IP, 9 H (2 HR), 5 R, 6/5 K/BB
RHP Erasmo Ramirez: 2-1, 6 GS, 1.48 ERA in 30.1 IP, 24 H (HR), 6 R (5 ER), 20/1 K/BB, 3 HB, WP
LHP Mauricio Robles: 0-1, 3 G (2 GS), 54.00 ERA in 1.0 IP, 4 H (HR), 10 R (6 ER), 1/6 K/BB, 2 HB
IF Luis Rodriguez: 26 G, 78 AB, 22 R, 24 H, 5 2B, HR, 13 RBI, 7/24 K/BB, .308/.467/.410
OF Michael Saunders: 16 G, 54 AB, 7 R, 8 H, 3 2B, HR, 4 RBI, SB, 15/11 K/BB, .148/.292/.259
SS Roberto Velasquez: 7 G, 11 AB, H, 4/0 K/BB, .091/.091/.091
OF Mike Wilson: 28 G, 90 AB, 15 R, 20 H, 7 HR, 13 RBI, 25/16 K/BB, .222/.349/.456
C Jesus Sucre: 15 G, 44 AB, 3 R, 9 H, 2B, 7 RBI, CS, 6/4 K/BB, 3 HBP, .205/.314/.227
OF Mario Yepez: 18 G, 18 AB, R, 5 H, RBI, SB, CS, 4/3 K/BB, .278/.381/.278

Jose Yepez went to the Braves. Godspeed, backstop. May you someday get to the majors and then actually play in a game. We also have a couple of new players who are not in any way playing winter ball. One of them is 3B Eric Campbell, recently of the Reds. He was a second-round pick (first pick of that year) for the Braves in 2004 which is unusual in that he's from Indiana, which is neither Georgia nor especially close to Georgia, though closer than many other places. In high school, he was regarded as a solid power hitter with little else that drew rave reviews, and that was evident in his best year when he hit .313/.383/.634 in 2005 and was subsequently named the Appalachian League's MVP along with Max Ramirez, who is another player that people have mostly forgotten about. BA ranked him #9 in 2006 and #6 in 2007, but then his star began to fall a bit due to lingering injuries and some questions about his attitude. He went to the indy leagues and proved that he could still hit, then went to the Reds where he proved another time that hitting was a thing that he could do, though the numbers were inflated by Bakersfield. He's another name to add to the third base pile, a gamble amongst a few gambles, but you know, why not? The other player we added was LHP Sean Henn. Henn is interesting in that you can look at him and think, "oh, 27th round pick in 2000. That's odd." [Did you know we drafted John Axford that year? That's even weirder!] But in doing so you'd probably overlook the fact that he was a draft-and-follow pick, hit 97 mph on the radar gun a few times that year, and was promptly signed for $1.7 million. And then had Tommy John surgery the next year. Bummer. He's had an interesting major league career thus far, replacing Randy Johnson in his first start and then Kevin Brown in his second (he was sent down in between). Since then, he was picked up on waivers by the Padres, later outrighted, signed with the Twins, and then was traded in September of that year to the BOrioles for some reason. He was most recently with the Jays. If you're thinking too hard about any of that, then I'll add that he's not throwing 97 anymore and is more in the low-90s these days because the velocity never really came back. But he's a projected relief arm. In the bullpen pile! It's a great time to be alive!

But ah, things other than transactions also happen, do they not? For example, MLB.com threw together a top 25 AFL prospects list and our man Danny Hultzen comes in at #2 with the slightly less amazing Nick Franklin ranking #14. Hultzen! Over Mike Trout! TAKE THAT ANGELS. Larry Stone did his own winter league check-in which notes that Liddi was released again (rest up, kid, you've earned it), Ramirez has hit his desired inning cap (good), and contains some more nice things said about Littlewood's transition to catcher as perceived by front office people. You know what I'm going to love? When all the good things I've been hearing about Littlewood over the past year and a half start to materialize into some kind of performance. I don't mean to be overly negative about him, but from the scouting community, he's had a heck of a hype job.

The AFL is over. Long live the AFL. I'll now aim to analyze a little. I suppose one of the major points people will be drawn to is that, flaws in the metric acknowledged, Snow, Moran, and Hultzen rank 1-2-3 on the Peoria staff in ERA. And Snow and Hultzen managed to qualify as 1 and 3 in the league. I know, flaws and such, but each of them also managed to keep the hits reasonably low as well as the walks, so while one might expect that the ERA should be higher, it doesn't change the fact that each were among the best pitchers on the team. I was halfway to making an argument that it's been a while since we saw ERAs this low, but Lueke had a 0.79 in 11.1 innings last year (Fields was second-best at 3.09), and Fields himself had a 1.64 ERA in 11.0 innings in 2009 (next best, Varvaro at 4.05). So I guess we have seen ERAs this low, but we haven't seen ERAs this low in bulk for a while, I guess. All the runs seem to have transferred to Hensley.

So, hitting? I know I find myself week-to-week talking about the subtle variations in statlines, and while I think that it is possible to glean something from such a practice, the infrequency of play can often muck matters up. Nick Franklin, who has been a starter for the Peoria squad, went 3-for-3 on Wednesday with a triple. His average went up twenty-five points. His OPS went up sixty-five points. And .727 has a way of looking a lot better than .662. Franklin finished strong. Moore finished strong as well, going 3-for-7 in the final two games he played and ended up with an eight-game hitting streak closing the season (spread from October 26th to November 17th). Chiang did not finish the season hitting well, but since he was added to the 40-man anyway, and was generally expected to be added, there's only so much that can be said about it.

Our usual "round the world" tour that follows the AFL isn't yielding much this week. The Aussies played baseball on the Sunday I wrote the last wrap, but they won't play again until the late part of this coming week. Paredes and Triunfel both saw little playing time. Castro has been faltering, which would seem to make him less of a target for teams this offseason. Peguero struck out nine times in twenty at-bats and hit a home run and a double, so business as usual there. The Ks actually seem to be getting worse, which makes me think that it might be a matter of time before things start to really crater for him. In Nicaragua, Britton has already hit that point, striking out seven times in fifteen at-bats and not walking at all. There was a home run involved, but I'm starting to suspect that his perceived patience was him just not swinging for a while and the pitchers subsequently figured that out.

The news out of Venezuela this week was that Erasmo hit his inning cap and is now sitting around until spring training. There are other players worth paying attention to now though, like Campos for example. Campos pitched six innings this week and allowed one hit while running a 5/1 K/BB. Who saw that coming at this level? That's crazy. Grube is also back in the league and made a couple of starts that were decent but not especially spectacular or anything. The pitching Jimenezes also continued to improve and Medina continued to lose as he got another two starts in and lost both of them. In those two starts, 9.0 IP, 11 H, 6 R, 4/3 K/BB.

Hitting had some new developments in that Velasquez and Limonta got added to the mix. More names to keep track of. The hitting Jimenez had one of the better weeks, walking as often as he recorded a hit, and Luis Rodriguez added a home run to his usual display of plate discipline. Wilson and Yepez both improved their stock this week, though Yepez, since he's been mostly a defensive replacement, did so in more limited time. If we're going to be a little loose with positive definitions, Chavez also had his first two hits this week. The only other player that was really active in the group was Francisco Martinez, who got his 40-man spot (obviously) but remains in a bit of a slide. He'll probably bounce back at some point here. no comments

Written by Jay Yencich | 19 November 2011

We can't really have surprising things all the time. I don't even know how that would work. Is it possible to live in a state of total wonder? Would it ever become too much for us, or would we manage to establish a new baseline perpetually? I'm thinking it's probably the latter, but that's personal speculation on my part. This is all to say that the Mariners added OF Chih-Hsien Chiang, 3B Francisco Martinez, and SS Carlos Triunfel to the 40-man, which was about the least astonishing thing that they could have done.

We've been spoiled these past few years, you know. Last year, few people knew whether Wilhelmsen was eligible (he was). Lueke was a question mark because, with the failure to get a call-up in September and all the news surrounding him, no one was sure if the team was willing to commit. Medina was coming off a decent season, but was hardly a stellar prospect and had barely any time stateside. Peguero had his big power and noticeable flaws. And Cleto, who was later traded to the Cardinals, had a just endured a rough season in High Desert that had seen his walk rate climb a bit and his strikeouts drop. None of these guys were close to guaranteed spots, and yet all were added. This doesn't even get into the issue with Cesar Jimenez, who had only pitched fifteen innings that year, less than thirty total over the past two years, and never more than forty total in the past four. Or go back to 2009. Ramirez, Carrera, and Cortes were pretty much givens, but not many people saw Paredes, Orta, or Varvaro coming.

The M's could have gone a number of directions with this. They could have taken their chances and outrighted one of the lower-end pitchers from the roster, or found some way to rid ourselves of one of the twenty left fielders we have (eleven players ended up in left field for us last year, and all but Langerhans and Milton Bradley are still around). We could have used that to protect one of the High Desert outfielders, or Raben, or one of the projected future bullpen arms (how did we go through this without adding a pitcher?), or Fernandez even. Or, we could have done the opposite. Imagine if we had only added two of these three, with someone else or not. Could you imagine the debates that would be going on right now? We'd be sitting around trying to re-evaluate what we thought we knew about how the Mariners valued their players. Everything would suddenly be wrong.

Instead, the Mariners did something that was ordinary, unremarkable, and unlikely to initiate any deep and serious discussions. I don't know now whether or not the talent available elsewhere or lack thereof puts us at risk for having any players selected. I don't know if we intend to pick a player up in the Rule 5 and then return him midway through spring training, as has been our inclination in the past few years. I'll have to wait until Monday or so to see what other sources come up with for an unprotected list. What I do know is that five of our eight infielders on the roster right now either have third base as their primary position or are capable of playing it. It's the new left field. no comments

Written by Jay Yencich | 13 November 2011

Arizona Fall League:
RF Chih-Hsien Chiang: 18 G, 69 AB, 9 R, 19 H, 3 2B, 3B, HR, 6 RBI, SB, 12/9 K/BB, .275/.354/.391
RHP Steven Hensley: 0-0, 10 G, 11.57 ERA in 14.0 IP, 23 H (2 HR), 18 R, 15/16 K/BB, 2 HB
LHP Danny Hultzen: 1-0, 6 GS, 1.40 ERA in 19.1 IP, 16 H (HR), 3 R, 18/5 K/BB, 2 WP
SS Nick Franklin: 22 G, 83 AB, 12 R, 19 H, 3 2B, 2 HR, 11 RBI, SB, 25/11 K/BB, .229/.316/.337
C Adam Moore: 13 G, 47 AB, 8 R, 11 H, 3 2B, 7 RBI, CS, 14/6 K/BB, 2 HBP, .234/.345/.298
LHP Brian Moran: 1-0, 10 G, 1.42 ERA in 12.2 IP, 9 H, 2 R, 10/4 K/BB
RHP Forrest Snow: 1-1, 9 G (GS), 1.26 ERA in 14.1 IP, 9 H (HR), 8 R (2 ER), 14/3 K/BB, WP

Australian Baseball League:
OF Denny Almonte: 6 G, 21 AB, 4 R, 6 H, 2 2B, SB, CS, 7/3 K/BB, .286/.375/.381
OF James Jones: 6 G, 15 AB, 4 R, 3 H, 2B, RBI, SB, CS, 2/7 K/BB, HBP, .200/.478/.267
OF James McOwen: 6 G, 25 AB, 3 R, 7 H, 2 2B, RBI, 2 SB, CS, 4/3 K/BB, .280/.357/.360
RHP Jandy Sena: 0-0, GS, 6.75 ERA in 4.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2/1 K/BB, HB, WP
C Carlton Tanabe: 3 G, 10 AB, R, 2 H, CS, 2/0 K/BB, HBP, .200/.273/.200

Dominican Winter League:
UT Leury Bonilla: 5 G, 2 AB, H, .500/.500/.500
LHP Fabio Castro: 0-1, 5 GS, 6.19 ERA in 16.0 IP, 17 H (2 HR), 11 R, 12/3 K/BB, HB, WP
3B Alex Liddi: 2 G, 4 AB, 2/1 K/BB, .000/.200/.000
LHP Edward Paredes: 0-1, 6 G, SV, 5.40 ERA in 3.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2/4 K/BB, 2 WP
RF Carlos Peguero: 18 G, 68 AB, 16 R, 24 H, 7 2B, 7 HR, 15 RBI, 3 SB, CS, 22/6 K/BB, 2 HBP, .353/.416/.765
SS Carlos Triunfel: 7 G, 21 AB, R, 5 H, 2B, 2 RBI, CS, 3/0 K/BB, .238/.238/.286

IBAF 2011 World Cup (FINAL):
OF Dwight Britton: 7 G, 23 AB, 4 R, 11 H, 2 2B, 3 RBI, 2 SB, 2 CS, 5/6 K/BB, .478/.586/.565
RHP Scott Patterson: 0-0, 6 G, 1.69 ERA in 5.1 IP, 2 H, R, 6/0 K/BB
OF Kalian Sams: 9 G, 24 AB, 7 R, 5 H, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 3 SB, 7/3 K/BB, .208/.321/.458
RHP Daniel Thieben: 0-0, 2 G, 20.25 ERA in 1.1 IP, 3 H, 3 R, HB

Nicaraguan Professional Baseball League:
OF Dwight Britton: 8 G, 20 AB, 8 R, 4 H, 2B, HR, 5 RBI, 3 SB, 4/13 K/BB, .200/~.515/.400

Puerto Rican Winter League:
OF Daniel Carroll: 7 G, 27 AB, R, 5 H, 2B, 2 RBI, 11/3 K/BB, .185/.290/.222

Venezuelan Winter League:
RHP Jose Campos: 0-0, 8 G, 4.22 ERA in 10.2 IP, 9 H (2 HR), 5 R, 9/9 K/BB, WP
OF Johermyn Chavez: 6 G, 13 AB, 5/0 K/BB, .000/.000/.000
RHP Jarrett Grube: 1-0, 3 GS, 2.51 ERA in 14.1 IP, 11 H (HR), 4 R, 14/2 K/BB
CF Brandon Haveman: 10 G, 20 AB, 2 R, H, 6/3 K/BB, .050/.174/.050
RHP Moises Hernandez: 0-2, 4 G, 20.77 ERA in 4.1 IP, 15 (2 HR), 10 R, 2/3 K/BB, HB
LHP Cesar Jimenez: 1-1, 8 G, 3.60 ERA in 10.0 IP, 14 H, 7 R (4 ER), 6/1 K/BB
LHP Jose Jimenez: 1-0, 12 G, 1.42 ERA in 6.1 IP, 6 H, R, 7/4 K/BB
DH Luis Antonio Jimenez: 27 G, 99 AB, 19 R, 30 H, 6 2B, 6 HR, 15 RBI, SB, CS, 22/16 K/BB, .303/.400/.545
3B Alex Liddi: 14 G, 44 AB, 2 R, 6 H, 2 2B, HR, 4 RBI, CS, 18/7 K/BB, HBP, .136/.269/.250
3B Francisco Martinez: 19 G, 75 AB, 11 R, 22 H, 4 2B, 8 RBI, CS, 17/4 K/BB, .293/.321/.347
3B Mario Martinez: 9 G, 18 AB, H, 6/0 K/BB, HBP, .056/.105/.056
RHP Yoervis Medina: 0-4, 5 GS, 3.80 ERA in 23.2 IP, 24 H (2 HR), 13 R (10 ER), 24/11 K/BB, 3 HB, 5 WP
RHP Jessie Nava: 0-0, 3 G, 4.50 ERA in 4.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 3/4 K/BB, WP
RHP Scott Patterson: 0-0, 6 G, 4 SV, 2.45 ERA in 7.1 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 9/4 K/BB
RHP Stephen Pryor: 1-1, 11 G, 3.07 ERA in 14.2 IP, 12 H, 6 R (5 R), 7/8 K/BB
RHP Angel Raga: 0-0, 3 G, 2.45 ERA in 7.1 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 4/4 K/BB
RHP Erasmo Ramirez: 2-1, 6 GS, 1.48 ERA in 30.1 IP, 24 H (HR), 6 R (5 ER), 20/1 K/BB, 3 HB, WP
LHP Mauricio Robles: 0-1, 3 G (2 GS), 54.00 ERA in 1.0 IP, 4 H (HR), 10 R (6 ER), 1/6 K/BB, 2 HB
IF Luis Rodriguez: 20 G, 60 AB, 14 R, 17 H, 4 2B, 10 RBI, 6/19 K/BB, .283/.450/.350
OF Michael Saunders: 16 G, 54 AB, 7 R, 8 H, 3 2B, HR, 4 RBI, SB, 15/11 K/BB, .148/.292/.259
OF Mike Wilson: 22 G, 70 AB, 11 R, 14 H, 5 HR, 10 RBI, 18/13 K/BB, .200/.337/.414
C Jesus Sucre: 15 G, 44 AB, 3 R, 9 H, 2B, 7 RBI, CS, 6/4 K/BB, 3 HBP, .205/.314/.227
C Jose Yepez: 14 G, 35 AB, 2 R, 8 H, 4 2B, 3 RBI, 4/1 K/BB, .229/.270/.343
OF Mario Yepez: 15 G, 14 AB, R, 4 H, SB, 3/3 K/BB, .286/.412/.286

Before I get to anything else, you should know that the deadline to set the 40-man roster is this Friday and I did my preview over at USSM. It's a group that that overall was projected to be more interesting years ago than it actually ended up being, to be pessimistic about the whole matter. Still, guys will be added!

A lot of things have happened in the past week, and yet, I'm not sure what to say about a lot of them. Chalk it up to illness and exhaustion (and if I've slipped up on any of the stat line updates, that's my excuse). The minor league player development staff got shook up quite a bit leaving Lee May Jr. as hitting coordinator, John Stearns as catching coordinator (since Roger Hansen is now more involved in front office operations), Gary Wheelock as rehab pitching coordinator, Jesus Azuaje as Latin American field coordinator, and Jimmy Southard as minor league training coordinator. There was also the announcement of Jack Howell taking over the minor league field coordinator position after Andy Stankiewicz vacated it to take a college coaching position. Suffice to say, many things are now being coordinated that were not always previously coordinated. We know Wheelock a bit from his tenure as pitching coach for various short-season clubs and we know Azuaje because he managed the summer league teams and then came stateside for a while. The rest, I'm leaning more on the press releases than anything else. Remember how when a few weeks ago, when Chris Gwynn was brought in to be the farm director, I spent some time talking about how we're looking at mostly long-term impact from his position and his influence may be difficult to parse? These guys follow that taken to the next level, and considering that so many positions were changed or added at once, we can expect to have an even harder time getting at what all of this means. What seems to be happening is that a few more roles are being added so that each coordinator can focus more specifically on their thing, compartmentalization, if you will.

Also some players were added? BA's fancy new free agent tracker has us signing RHPs Matt Fox and Jeff Marquez, formerly of the Red Sox and Yankees organizations, respectively. So our two newest acquisitions were formerly representatives of one of the most heated rivalries in sports media. Sure, Fox was originally a Twins prospect and Marquez did a brief stint with the White Sox after being traded there in the Swisher deal, but I'm sure there's some animosity that they can channel into trying to one-up each other right? And if they fail, maybe the tension wasn't as high as we thought. Attempting to be serious for a moment, both players have done some brief time in the majors which gives them something of a leg up in the matter. The limited data that FanGraphs has available (seven and a third innings!) gives Fox a fastball around 90 mph and a slider as his main secondary offering, though it's listed at 85 mph which doesn't seem like much of a speed differential. Marquez hit 92 with the White Sox (one inning!) and 89 with the Yankees (four innings!) and had a slider also in the mid-80s working with that. Going to the individual numbers, both have been starters while coming up the ladder and Fox has been mostly around 3.5 BB/9 in the high minors with Ks around 7.7 per nine. Marquez, who has been around a little longer, has been more inclined to put balls in play with only 5.3 Ks per nine and 2.9 walks, but he's also had some shoulder issues in the past year. One of these guys could end up being slotted into some sort of David Pauley-like role for us next season, but projecting based off the first two signings is ludicrous, so for now, just add them to the list. As for the one remaining acquisition, Greg Johns mentioned in the mailbag that Jack Wilson going to the Braves netted us Luis Caballero. Caballero has been a playing shortstop and third in the DSL for the past two years and not hitting all that much. It would be hilarious if he changed his name, switched to first, and began slugging .500, but these things don't usually work out that way. As it stands, his main virtue is that he might enable me to type the word "Panamanian" more often than I would otherwise.

Also, this week brought the news that Kirby Arnold of the Everett Herald is retiring, and that this past season was the last we'll have seen of him. He'll still be active on Twitter, so he says, but the days of him in print are gone. I don't know that I would have to explain it to long-time followers of the blog, but for the sake of reiterating, Kirby has been one of the great resources for minor league baseball fans in the stretch of time I've been doing this. Every year, I would tell people that if they wanted any minor league info in spring training, they'd have to go to the Herald or the Tacoma News Tribune for it because that was where the writers really cared about this stuff. Now Kirby's gone and Divish has been moved to the UW beat. It's going to be rough for us. I don't know how easily the void is going to be filled, considering minor league coverage was limited overall even in stretches where there wasn't much else on the team worth paying attention to. Thanks Kirby, for all that you've done to help promote awareness of the minor league system.

And speaking of which, we should probably get to some of that now. The AFL is usually our first stop on the tour, and Hultzen our first player talked about. He went two and two-thirds innings this week with three hits allowed and a 6/1 K/BB. Nutty. We don't have any gun readings because it was one of the lame parks this week, but we do have 36 of 56 pitches for strikes, which is solid. Moving on through the pitchers, Moran had five hits allowed and only one hit in two and a third innings this week, but somehow avoided giving up any runs. Snow was less fortunate, with seven hits including a dinger in two and two-thirds innings. And Hensley? Well, ultimately it will come down to process more than results, which is not something that we can so easily gauge from a distance, but the numbers are suggesting that he might be pitching his way out of contention for a 40-man spot. The hitters saw some incremental improvement with Moore collecting three hits, including a double, in eight at-bats. Franklin's OBP remained static, but thanks to a double and a home run among five hits in eighteen at-bats this week, his slugging and average rose. Chiang, who got written up on the main site this week, had a 0-for-5 showing yesterday (3 Ks!) mar the fact that he was 3-for-8 with a double, a home run, and a walk in the other two games this week. So it goes on the small sample scale.

For intermission, we'll head to the other smaller leagues around the world. Australia has added McOwen and Tanabe to the ranks. McOwen is one of the guys with a shot at a 40-man spot, though I'm less than confident that he'll get it. The same goes for Almonte, who improved somewhat but is still at 33% Ks in his at-bats. I suppose the most interesting thing this week for me is that Jones drew six walks and struck out only once. I'm trying to keep myself from getting too excited about that, but it is exciting. In Nicaragua, Britton's average crashed thanks to a 1-for-12 week, but then he drew five more walks so that's something. Carroll is doing some more work to establish himself in Puerto Rico, but the early goings have him striking out at an uncomfortable rate and not hitting too well. Over in the Dominican, we now have Liddi playing, though without hits in his first two games. Peguero's numbers slipped a little, but we're talking a difference between a .793 slugging percentage and a .765 one. Because he still hit a home run you know. Triunfel is also getting some more playing time and I'd expect that trend to continue. He's not doing a lot with it just yet, but I don't think that will dissuade the M's from adding him to the 40-man this week. Also, I just checked Colombia's site and it looks like they're going to start up their season on the 25th. There won't likely be too many representatives, but for the sake of baseball down there, it's better than nothing.

Which brings us to the large pile of players that is Venezuela. There were three guys that improved their stock this week from the hitting side of things, those being Jimenez and Rodriguez, who are technically free agents, and Wilson, who may or may not hold on to his 40-man spot through the offseason. Jimenez had another three doubles and a home run while walking six times. I think Carp is probably regarded as next year's DH (or something), so I don't know that Jimenez would have much reason to re-sign with us, or if we should expect that he would actually compete for the job in spring training. I think the team has a better shot at pursuing Rodriguez, who would have his opening as back-up shortstop and infielder. He drew another five walks this week. The power from 2010 probably won't be coming back, but the ability to draw a walk is surely a plus in his ledger. Wilson, who either has singles or home runs, had two dingers this week and walked six times. His overall average is still rather low, but those are some lovely peripherals. On the negative side of things, Francisco Martinez had a bit of a down week, his slash line dropped all around, Chavez remains hitless, and Saunders only saw three at-bats this week, which could mean either injury or a return home, temporary or permanent, or some other as of yet unidentified reason. At any rate, it probably isn't good.

Pitching? Well, Erasmo is still doing pretty darned well and had four hits and three KS in 4.2 innings this week. Patterson, who also may not even be around next year, continues to help out for Lara's bullpen. Medina turned in another start and didn't lose this one (hooray!), going four innings and allowing a couple of unearned runs on three hits, two walks, and six Ks. His command was only really awful the first two starts and he's been more consistent since then (edit: and then today happened... 4/3 K/BB in 6.0 innings). Those are all good things. The less good? Pryor got some more innings in and gave up a run, and the command remains below what we hoped it would be. Campos had a few more appearances, and his command was bad as well, though it's more forgivable in his case. And Grube didn't start again this week. I don't know what that means.

Tune in later this week when some players will be added to the 40-man roster and others will not. no comments

Written by Jay Yencich | 09 November 2011

Huh. Let's review for a moment. In 2011, their overall rankings came out looking all right (Pimentel could be justified at #4 because others did not have his ceiling), but in 2010, they had Gabriel Noriega, at #3 after a good though flawed half-season in Pulaski (where everyone seems to hit), and in '09, they were among the first to ignore some real flaws for Halman in favour of his tools. This year though. This year looks strangely reasonable. Take a look.

Five-Star Prospects
1. Taijuan Walker, RHP
2. Danny Hultzen, LHP
Four-Star Prospects
3. James Paxton, LHP
4. Nick Franklin, SS
Three-Star Prospects
5. Jose Campos, RHP
6. Guillermo Pimentel, OF
7. Francisco Martinez, 3B
8. Vinnie Catricala, 3B/1B/OF
9. Chih-Hsien Chiang, OF
10. Chance Ruffin, RHP
11. Phillips Castillo, OF

While the previous draw of the BP rankings was that they went up to 11, Goldstein lets us know of the next nine anyway by making brief comments on Liddi, Esteilon Peguero, Miller, Erasmo Ramirez, Capps, Cortes, Brandon Maurer (!), Pryor, and Snow, in that order.

The ranking isn't flawless, but after what MLB.com came out with, I have to admit I was a bit nervous. I think that Pimentel is probably a bit too high given that his improvement this year was very slight. He went from 30.2% Ks in his plate appearances to 27.4% and his walks went from 2.6% to 5.6%. That's improvement, but it doesn't put him anywhere near where he needs to be and I'm a little curious as to why he wasn't hitting better in Pulaski when so many others find it favourable. By contrast, look at Castillo, who has a similar physical profile. The K's are a little worse actually (31.4%), but the walks are considerably better than Pimentel at the same stage (7.7%) and he actually, you know, hit. I suppose Pimentel is left-handed and projected by some to hit for more power.

There are other selections that I'm not so hot on in certain respects. I like Ruffin and think that he has a place in our future plans, but am leery of ranking relievers too high. I've also voiced some concerns recently with Chiang. We need to figure out what he's about soon. Even when he was hitting quite well, he still was an average and power player, not one that would provide many walks. As additional hair-splitting, Maurer, though I like the guy plenty, is probably a bit prematurely ranked. For alternatives, beyond the moving of Chiang, Pimentel, and Ruffin down a few spots, I would probably bump up Brad Miller and Erasmo, and for kicks, why not consider Jabari Blash as a sleeper if you're already on board with Maurer? He did two interesting things last season, though not generally at the same time.

There are other omissions that people will likely bring up as points of contention. Triunfel isn't around, and considering that he's cleaned up his defense at short, is hitting all right, and is in triple-A as a guy who will turn 22 during spring training, all the traditional factors are there to give him a bit of a bump if you believe in such things. Victor Sanchez, the top international signing, is also not present, though I think that avoiding rankings of such prospects until they debut is generally wise. Three other local favourites that didn't make it were Marcus Littlewood, Mauricio Robles, and Johermyn Chavez, and I think that this reflects some of Goldstein's biases that were evident elsewhere in the rankings. Goldstein puts a pretty good emphasis on performance, which is why you saw guys like Noriega two years ago and Halman three years back. Littlewood, who by all accounts is a great kid, has yet to hit well for an extended period of time (he too, has some strikeout issues so far), though his peripherals were certainly strong his final two months. Robles had horrific command after his elbow was cleaned out and was limited to 32.1 innings as a result of both. His performances in the LVBP were so bad that he was demoted to the parallel league, and he hasn't been doing much better there. The reasons for Chavez' slip are also pretty clear, in that he went from 32 dingers to less than half that on his arrival in double-A while nearly a hundred points in average. I think Chavez had been overrated anyway after last season because the home/road issues were ignored by most camps. At any rate, this is all a long and overwrought way of getting to the basic point that, within Goldstein's particular paradigm, these omissions make sense.

And that's one of the signs of a decent ranking system. You may not agree with everything that the author says or every placement, but you can tweak it based on your own understanding of how said author developed their list because its roots are basically rational (unlike, for example, Pitchfork music reviews). I don't expect every list we see this offseason to look like this, but it's definitely a solid start. no comments

Written by Jay Yencich | 06 November 2011

Arizona Fall League:
RF Chih-Hsien Chiang: 15 G, 56 AB, 8 R, 16 H, 2 2B, 3B, 6 RBI, SB, 9/8 K/BB, .286/.375/.357
RHP Steven Hensley: 0-0, 8 G, 9.75 ERA in 12.0 IP, 19 H (HR), 13 R, 14/12 K/BB, 2 HB
LHP Danny Hultzen: 0-0, 5 GS, 1.62 ERA in 16.2 IP, 13 H, 3 R, 12/4 K/BB, 2 WP
SS Nick Franklin: 18 G, 65 AB, 10 R, 14 H, 2 2B, HR, 7 RBI, SB, 19/10 K/BB, .215/.316/.292
C Adam Moore: 11 G, 39 AB, 6 R, 8 H, 2 2B, 6 RBI, 12/5 K/BB, 2 HBP, .205/.326/.256
LHP Brian Moran: 1-0, 8 G, 1.74 ERA in 10.1 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 9/4 K/BB
RHP Forrest Snow: 1-0, 7 G (GS), 0.00 ERA in 11.2 IP, 2 H, R (0 ER), 12/2 K/BB, WP

Australian Baseball League:
OF Denny Almonte: 2 G, 8 AB, H, 2B, 3/0 K/BB, .125/.125/.250
OF James Jones: 2 G, 6 AB, 2 R, H, 2B, 0/1 K/BB, .167/.286/.333
RHP Jandy Sena: 0-0, GS, 6.75 ERA in 4.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2/1 K/BB, HB, WP

Dominican Winter League:
UT Leury Bonilla: 4 G, 2 AB, H, .500/.500/.500
LHP Fabio Castro: 0-0, 4 GS, 2.81 ERA in 16.0 IP, 11 H (HR), 5 R, 12/3 K/BB, HB, WP
LHP Edward Paredes: 0-1, 6 G, SV, 5.40 ERA in 3.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2/4 K/BB, 2 WP
RF Carlos Peguero: 15 G, 58 AB, 15 R, 21 H, 7 2B, 6 HR, 13 RBI, 2 SB, 19/5 K/BB, 2 HBP, .362/.431/.793
SS Carlos Triunfel: 2 G, 4 AB, H, .250/.250/.250

IBAF 2011 World Cup (FINAL):
OF Dwight Britton: 7 G, 23 AB, 4 R, 11 H, 2 2B, 3 RBI, 2 SB, 2 CS, 5/6 K/BB, .478/.586/.565
RHP Scott Patterson: 0-0, 6 G, 1.69 ERA in 5.1 IP, 2 H, R, 6/0 K/BB
OF Kalian Sams: 9 G, 24 AB, 7 R, 5 H, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 3 SB, 7/3 K/BB, .208/.321/.458
RHP Daniel Thieben: 0-0, 2 G, 20.25 ERA in 1.1 IP, 3 H, 3 R, HB

Nicaraguan Professional Baseball League:
OF Dwight Britton: 4 G, 8 AB, 6 R, 3 H, 2B, HR, 4 RBI, SB, 1/8 K/BB, .375/~.688/.875

Puerto Rican Winter League:
OF Daniel Carroll: 2 G, 9 AB, 2 H,2B, RBI, 3/0 K/BB, .222/.300/.333

Venezuelan Winter League:
RHP Jose Campos: 0-0, 7 G, 5.63 ERA in 8.0 IP, 8 H (2 HR), 5 R, 7/6 K/BB
OF Johermyn Chavez: 2 G, 3 AB, .000/.000/.000
RHP Jarrett Grube: 1-0, 3 GS, 2.51 ERA in 14.1 IP, 11 H (HR), 4 R, 14/2 K/BB
CF Brandon Haveman: 10 G, 20 AB, 2 R, H, 6/3 K/BB, .050/.174/.050
RHP Moises Hernandez: 0-2, 4 G, 20.77 ERA in 4.1 IP, 15 (2 HR), 10 R, 2/3 K/BB, HB
LHP Cesar Jimenez: 1-1, 6 G, 2.25 ERA in 8.0 IP, 8 H, 4 R (2 ER), 5/0 K/BB
LHP Jose Jimenez: 1-0, 9 G, 1.80 ERA in 5.0 IP, 3 H, R, 7/2 K/BB
DH Luis Antonio Jimenez: 21 G, 78 AB, 12 R, 22 H, 3 2B, 5 HR, 12 RBI, SB, CS, 17/10 K/BB, .282/.364/.513
3B Alex Liddi: 14 G, 44 AB, 2 R, 6 H, 2 2B, HR, 4 RBI, CS, 18/7 K/BB, HBP, .136/.269/.250
3B Francisco Martinez: 14 G, 57 AB, 10 R, 18 H, 4 2B, 6 RBI, CS, 13/3 K/BB, .316/.350/.386
3B Mario Martinez: 9 G, 18 AB, H, 6/0 K/BB, HBP, .056/.105/.056
RHP Yoervis Medina: 0-4, 4 GS, 4.58 ERA in 19.2 IP, 21 H (2 HR), 11 R (10 ER), 18/9 K/BB, 3 HB, 3 WP
RHP Jessie Nava: 0-0, 3 G, 4.50 ERA in 4.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 3/4 K/BB, WP
RHP Scott Patterson: 0-0, 3 G, 2 SV, 0.00 ERA in 4.1 IP, 3 H, 3/2 K/BB
RHP Stephen Pryor: 0-1, 8 G, 2.89 ERA in 9.1 IP, 10 H, 4 R (3 R), 6/6 K/BB
RHP Angel Raga: 0-0, 3 G, 2.45 ERA in 7.1 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 4/4 K/BB
RHP Erasmo Ramirez: 2-1, 5 GS, 1.75 ERA in 25.2 IP, 20 H (HR), 5 R, 17/1 K/BB, 3 HB, WP
LHP Mauricio Robles: 0-1, 3 G (2 GS), 54.00 ERA in 1.0 IP, 4 H (HR), 10 R (6 ER), 1/6 K/BB, 2 HB
IF Luis Rodriguez: 15 G, 48 AB, 9 R, 12 H, 4 2B, 10 RBI, 5/14 K/BB, .250/.413/.333
OF Michael Saunders: 15 G, 51 AB, 7 R, 8 H, 3 2B, HR, 4 RBI, SB, 14/10 K/BB, .157/.295/.275
OF Mike Wilson: 17 G, 59 AB, 8 R, 11 H, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 17/7 K/BB, .186/.290/.339
C Jesus Sucre: 15 G, 44 AB, 3 R, 9 H, 2B, 7 RBI, CS, 6/4 K/BB, 3 HBP, .205/.314/.227
C Jose Yepez: 11 G, 31 AB, 2 R, 7 H, 3 2B, 3 RBI, 2/0 K/BB, .226/.250/.323
OF Mario Yepez: 6 G, 8 AB, 3 H, 2/0 K/BB, .375/.375/.375

I think it would also be appropriate to make the Rising Stars game its own little section because the M's prospects had a big role in it. As you may know, Nick Franklin and Danny Hultzen were both named to the West squad, but you may not know that the other side featured guys like Mike Trout, Gerrit Cole, and Bryce Harper, and the West came out 11-2. Hultzen struck out the side in the first, which included K'ing Trout and ended with a 95 mph heater to Junior Lake on the inside corner. Franklin, on the offensive side of things, went 4-for-5 in the game, the first time that's ever happened, which included a pop fly home run to left-center (Arizona!) and doubles to opposite corners. Remember when before we were talking about process? That seems like a reflection of something big. There's a third video where Dave Valle and the other broadcaster talk about the M's tonight, but you can find that on your own. The important thing to know is that our guys showed up their guys and we can lord that over them all winter.

So…. news? There were a few transactions of the week such as Luis Rodriguez and Anthony Vasquez both being pulled from the 40-man roster, and Jeff Gray going elsewhere on waivers if you remember him. I'll stick to the first two. Rodriguez provided some clutch hits for us that a lot of people will remember looking back on the season and his ability to draw a walk was actually pretty solid relative to the rest of the team, but those hoping on his power from 2010 translating to this year found themselves disappointed. The odd thing is that he looked good when he was up there a lot of the time and still only managed a .633 OPS. Anyway, one of the issues presented by this is that it leaves us with little near-term, major league-ready shortstop depth. We're pretty much looking at Brendan Ryan and, in a pinch, Kyle Seager. Triunfel could also be added to the discussion, as he's due to be added, but I don't think the bat is close enough for him to be viable. I'll go out on a limb and suggest that the Mariners might pursue some kind of backup shortstop over the winter, one that could play other positions if sent to Tacoma. As for Vasquez… eh, I was a big advocate of his before he came up because I thought that he had been sufficiently interesting in the minor leagues and we may as well see when/if the fairy dust wears off. Things didn't work out for him. A lot of people ended up crowing about how he had limited velocity because he had no windup. He posted numbers that were bad on a historic level. Vasquez will still be around, working on things, but then again there are other pitchers coming up the pipeline, so even if he does bounce back and come up with some new tricks, there may not be another opening for him.

Other news? Daniel Thieben officially signed. Liddi was sent home from Venezuela after a week-long slump. As Jack says, such things happen down there. Bob Engle, who scouted Roy Halladay and Chris Carpenter for the Blue Jays and Felix, Pineda, and just about every Latin American prospect (and some European ones) for us won 2011 Scout of the Year. MLB.com talked a little about Erasmo Ramirez and in the same article mentions that Kuo-hui Lo, who was playing in the Taiwan All-Star Series, dislocated his ankle and fractured his leg in a game. And if you were waiting on a minor league free agents list, here it is. Lots of guys who could jump ship (Jetsy, noooooo). I'll keep listing them for a while, but as I start to notice they'd headed elsewhere (not always the easiest task), I'll remove them from the list above.

There's not much I can say about the AFL that seems as noteworthy as what preceded in the Rising Stars game notes. Oh look, Hultzen's innings pitched and ERA are one decimal point away from each other. That's different. Hultzen pitched four innings this week and struck out five while allowing just two hits. More and more, I'm beginning to think that he could actually compete for a job in the spring. As to the other fellows, Moran had another decent outing with two innings and a hit and a walk to show for it, Hensley had a 2/1 K/BB in an inning and a third and dropped his ERA to below double-digits, and Snow only pitched an inning and not a lot happened in that inning. Right-o. The hitting side of things is less glamourous as the only improvement was that Moore played in one game and got one hit and a walk and is now looking at a better overall line. The other two slipped again, though Franklin's display in an exhibition game seems to have allayed some concerns. With Chiang, I'm starting to wonder not specifically about what he's doing but how we're thinking about what he's doing. Chiang was mostly uninteresting for many years with Boston until he tweaked his diet, and then came the home runs. We figured that was the key, but then with us during the regular season he was not good. It's possible that from here on out, when he gets into slumps, there will be some temptation to read it as a function of diet rather than the ups and downs that accompany the playing of baseball. Unruly things, these variables.

Australia started. Puerto Rico started. Nicaragua has an unusual Dwight Britton appearance, in that it seems like he's carrying over the IBAF stuff and is hitting at a higher level than anyone's accustomed to seeing out of him. I'll have more to say about the other two next week, but instead I guess we get to focus on other things, like say, the Dominican League. Carlos Peguero's line got better this week. Think about that for a second or two. He improved his average, his on-base percentage, and his slugging. This is all great and all, but there are now a couple of points concern for me. One: seven Ks in nineteen at-bats. Arg. Two: two of his five walks are intentional. Of course, right? The article still seems inevitable. That's about the extent of what I have to cover, unfortunately. Triunfel didn't play. Paredes didn't record an out. Castro is still pitching reasonably well, but there's no guarantee that he'll be back next year since he's a free agent. Leury Bonilla! That's something.

Venezuela gives me less to work with this week. Liddi is gone. Neither the interesting Martinez nor the uninteresting one played this week. Mike Wilson maintained his overall pace, which is not a good thing. Saunders' overall line dropped a little all around but not by much. Even Luis Jimenez, who had been hitting at crazy levels so far, came back to earth, so all we have to talk about in hitting is how Luis Rodriguez kept walking, but he might not even be around next year. Pitching gives me a little bit more to work with. Scott Patterson is around. Medina made his fourth losing start. Grube made another start but was pretty rusty and didn't last too long. The pitching Jimenezes fared well overall, Ramirez continues to do good things on the mound though he did hit a few guys this week, and Pryor didn't allow any runs despite having a mediocre week for hits allowed and command. Call it luck coming around for lack of a better descriptor.

I expected to have to talk about with the stats, but that didn't come to pass, so as an added note, I'm tracking the Liga Parallela stats in Venezuela and I'll update those in my last stats wrap of the year. Apparently we are going to have a new player in the VSL named Hilario Villa, which is awesome, but the stats keepers over there have been known to transcribe names in ways that we don't usually see on our end, so I'm only hoping that's right. no comments

Written by Jay Yencich | 30 October 2011

Arizona Fall League:
RF Chih-Hsien Chiang: 12 G, 44 AB, 8 R, 14 H, 2 2B, 3B, RBI, SB, 8/8 K/BB, .318/.423/.409
RHP Steven Hensley: 0-0, 7 G, 10.97 ERA in 10.2 IP, 19 H (HR), 13 R, 11/11 K/BB, 2 HB
LHP Danny Hultzen: 0-0, 4 GS, 2.13 ERA in 12.2 IP, 11 H, 3 R, 7/4 K/BB, 2 WP
SS Nick Franklin: 14 G, 48 AB, 7 R, 11 H, 2B, HR, 7 RBI, SB, 13/8 K/BB, .229/.333/.313
C Adam Moore: 10 G, 36 AB, 5 R, 7 H, 2 2B, 6 RBI, 12/4 K/BB, 2 HBP, .194/.310/.250
LHP Brian Moran: 1-0, 7 G, 2.16 ERA in 8.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 9/3 K/BB, 2 WP
RHP Forrest Snow: 1-0, 6 G (GS), 0.00 ERA in 10.2 IP, 2 H, R (0 ER), 12/2 K/BB, WP

Dominican Winter League:
LHP Fabio Castro: 0-0, 3 GS, 3.27 ERA in 11.0 IP, 5 H (HR), 4 R, 10/3 K/BB, HB, WP
LHP Edward Paredes: 0-1, 2 G, SV, 5.40 ERA in 3.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2/3 K/BB, WP
RF Carlos Peguero: 10 G, 39 AB, 8 R, 13 H, 5 2B, 4 HR, 8 RBI, 2 SB, 12/4 K/BB, .333/.409/.769
SS Carlos Triunfel: 2 G, 4 AB, H, .250/.250/.250

IBAF 2011 World Cup (FINAL):
OF Dwight Britton: 7 G, 23 AB, 4 R, 11 H, 2 2B, 3 RBI, 2 SB, 2 CS, 5/6 K/BB, .478/.586/.565
RHP Scott Patterson: 0-0, 6 G, 1.69 ERA in 5.1 IP, 2 H, R, 6/0 K/BB
OF Kalian Sams: 9 G, 24 AB, 7 R, 5 H, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 3 SB, 7/3 K/BB, .208/.321/.458
RHP Daniel Thieben: 0-0, 2 G, 20.25 ERA in 1.1 IP, 3 H, 3 R, HB

Venezuelan Winter League:
RHP Jose Campos: 0-0, 6 G, 7.50 ERA in 6.0 IP, 7 H (2 HR), 5 R, 5/6 K/BB
RHP Jarrett Grube: 1-0, 2 GS, 0.82 ERA in 11.0 IP, 6 H, R, 13/2 K/BB
CF Brandon Haveman: 9 G, 17 AB, 2 R, H, 3/3 K/BB, .059/.200/.059
RHP Moises Hernandez: 0-2, 4 G, 20.77 ERA in 4.1 IP, 15 (2 HR), 10 R, 2/3 K/BB, HB
LHP Cesar Jimenez: 0-0, 3 G, 2.08 ERA in 4.1 IP, 6 H, 3 R (ER), 2/0 K/BB
LHP Jose Jimenez: 0-0, 6 G, 3.00 ERA in 3.0 IP, 2 H, R, 4/0 K/BB
DH Luis Antonio Jimenez: 15 G, 56 AB, 11 R, 18 H, 3 2B, 5 HR, 10 RBI, 10/7 K/BB, .321/.397/.643
3B Alex Liddi: 14 G, 44 AB, 2 R, 6 H, 2 2B, HR, 4 RBI, CS, 18/7 K/BB, HBP, .136/.269/.250
3B Francisco Martinez: 14 G, 57 AB, 10 R, 18 H, 4 2B, 6 RBI, CS, 13/3 K/BB, .316/.350/.386
3B Mario Martinez: 9 G, 18 AB, H, 6/0 K/BB, HBP, .056/.105/.056
RHP Yoervis Medina: 0-3, 3 GS, 4.80 ERA in 15.0 IP, 13 H (2 HR), 8 R, 14/8 K/BB, 3 HB, 3 WP
RHP Jessie Nava: 0-0, 3 G, 4.50 ERA in 4.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 3/4 K/BB, WP
RHP Stephen Pryor: 0-1, 5 G, 5.06 ERA in 5.1 IP, 6 H, 4 R (3 R), 3/4 K/BB
RHP Angel Raga: 0-0, 3 G, 2.45 ERA in 7.1 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 4/4 K/BB
RHP Erasmo Ramirez: 2-0, 3 GS, 1.13 ERA in 16.0 IP, 12 H, 2 R, 10/1 K/BB
LHP Mauricio Robles: 0-1, 3 G (2 GS), 54.00 ERA in 1.0 IP, 4 H (HR), 10 R (6 ER), 1/6 K/BB, 2 HB
IF Luis Rodriguez: 9 G, 30 AB, 7 R, 8 H, 3 2B, 7 RBI, 2/8 K/BB, .267/.410/.367
OF Michael Saunders: 12 G, 43 AB, 5 R, 7 H, 3 2B, HR, 4 RBI, SB, 12/9 K/BB, .163/.308/.302
OF Mike Wilson: 12 G, 43 AB, 8 R, 8 H, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 13/5 K/BB, .186/.294/.395
C Jesus Sucre: 14 G, 43 AB, 3 R, 9 H, 2B, 6 RBI, CS, 6/4 K/BB, HBP, .209/.306/.233
C Jose Yepez: 7 G, 16 AB, 2 R, 4 H, 2 2B, 2 RBI, 1/0 K/BB, .250/.294/.375
OF Mario Yepez: 6 G, 8 AB, 3 H, 2/0 K/BB, .375/.375/.375

News roundup first? That always seems to be the way to do it. For as many BA articles as I've posted in recent months, I seem to be sitting on a few more. For example, when they had their all-rookie team, Ackley, Carp, and Pineda made it. Neat. There was also a piece on how many prospects each team had in the league rankings, which indicated that the M's were pretty well represented, and a subscriber article where instructs, and Littlewood, are talked about. None of these are crazy important, but heck, I've had these tabs open forever and that's surely wasteful. The more pertinent article of the week is the Geoff Baker story on Forrest Snow, which talks a bit about how the Brewers liked him in high school (BUT WE DRAFTED HIM THEN) and how his change-up is improving. I got some comments last week about my reference to using him in a bullpen role, and to clarify, that's not because I think of him as not good enough to start, but more because we have Paxton, Hultzen, and Ramirez in the near term with Walker soon following, and if all goes well, they would likely provide better options than Snow, who could also do quite well for himself in relief. And if things don’t go well (prospects: things rarely go well), he's important depth. There was also a blurb on Hultzen, who will be starting in the Rising Stars Game on Saturday. In the article, Grant Green describes Hultzen's change-up as "disgusting". I like taking such statements literally, as in there's something in the rotation of the ball out of Hultzen's hand that causes nausea in the batter, who then swings as nothing more than a gag reflex.

This isn't "official" yet, but we're also supposedly hiring Chris Gwynn from the Padres to be the farm director because Pedro would prefer to be coaching. This is one of those things where the immediate inclination to analyze basically fails us. When Hunter lost the job, we had known Hunter for a while, at least for his sweet Cardenales hat, and could talk about him in that context. When Pedro took over, we could talk about how Pedro had been the manager in Everett for a while, held various roles before short-season ball opened up, and was known through the system. Gwynn is an outsider, taking over at a position where all impact will be long-term impact. Whether this is actually good or not good, I don't really think we'll know for a while if ever.

So let's talk about stats and stuff. Hultzen is always a place to start, and this week he finally got his strikeout on, K'ing five in 3.2 innings, but he also gave up a run. Which is to say I'm complaining about a single run, which feels petty. It was the fourth inning, there was a home run with one out, and that was followed by a walk, another flyout, and a double to Grant Green who previously acknowledged Hultzen to be a good pitcher. Rather than figure out what Hultzen had left, he was pulled in favor of a reliever who got the next batter to line out. Disaster averted, barely… According to Gameday, Hultzen topped out at 95 during the game, but that happened once, and he hit 94 once, and 93 about five times. Most often, he was in the 90-92 range. I believe that his velocity was higher last week.

The other pitchers? Well, Snow finally had another walk and an unearned run score against him. If this is an off week for him, I'll take it. Moran had only one appearance, with some good and some bad, two Ks in two innings, a hit, a walk, two wild pitches. Hensley walked give in three innings this week and gave up five hits. I'm not a big fan of that. Did you know that the AFL only goes until the 17th of November. I mean, we're approaching the two-thirds mark here.

Hitters should get some mention as well. On the positive end of things, Moore is slowly working his way up and batted something like .308/.357/.385 this week. Chiang had his slugging drop off a bit, with two singles on the week, but the overall line is still respectable and he walked again. Franklin did not have a good week. I think it's probably more important that he just get playing time.

This means that we're shifting over to the Dominican Republic. Castro had a decent start this week, with three Ks and only one hit in the three innings he pitched, but Paredes gave up a couple of runs and with so few innings pitched that really did a number on his ERA, or two numbers, five and four. He hadn't allowed any runs before. This is all a means of delaying discussion of Peguero, who was slugging .650 last week and is now slugging .769. You'll also note that his OBP fell off by twenty-six points and the average slipped too. But the important thing I suppose is that 50% of his hits this week were dingers. There's a Carlos Peguero article floating around somewhere. It may not be written yet, but we'll see it at some point in the offseason. It's only be a matter of time.

This week, I've also added some other IBAF stats because I had been following a website that was supposed to list the affiliated players, and did a rather shoddy job of it. Sams ended up being helpful in the run for the Netherlands. Patterson proved to be a solid reliever again. Britton... man, what is up with Britton? That I just wasn't expecting. I should have Nicaraguan League stats up for next week and I'm wondering if he can keep it up. The power isn't especially interesting, but the walks. The walks!

That brings us to Venezuela where as usual, everything is happening. This week was rather light on good pitching news, what with Grube not starting for whatever reason. Campos got knocked around a bit, which is to be expected given his experience. Cesar Jimenez is now active, and Jose, no relation, gave up a run this week. Nava is new-ish, or has pitched enough for me to list him now, Pryor quieted his ERA a bit, Raga is still keeping his head above water, Medina is pitching about at the level you'd expect with some props for additional Ks this week. I guess if there were to things that jumped out at me this week, it would be that Ramirez is still starting, and doing well, and Robles is not starting and gave up a hit and two walks to load the bases (or reload, not certain) before getting the hook. Ramirez pitched 152.2 innings this year, a full frame more than he did last year, and while I see some value in letting him work on some stuff in the LVBP this year, I think that the inning cap for him should probably be approaching pretty soon here, like within the next three or four starts let's say. As for Robles, I don't really know what to say. I think that other people have generally liked him better than I have and while he is coming back from a minor elbow surgery, I'm starting to think that there's something else that might be wrong with him. With other pitchers coming up the pipeline, Robles' window could be closing.

And hitting? There's some of that too. The riser this week was Luis Antonio Jimenez, who went yard four times in ten hits and seems to be locked in after an uneven first week. I don't know that this means a great deal for us when Carp seems to have the inside track on the DH job. Unless we're putting him in left. I would prefer not to. Another player who rebounded was Mike Wilson, who hit .273/.333/.545 this week at a time when a lot of people probably weren't thinking much of him. He's still on the 40-man for now. How long that lasts may depend on how long he keeps it up. Also, if you're still a Luis Rodriguez fan from his early season magic, then good news, he walked seven times this week. The rest was less positive. Francisco Martinez slid a little, and a good chunk of his value right now is tied up in that average. Liddi and Saunders have also continued to drop, and while the direct competition for both of them, Seager and probably Casper Wells, remains inactive this winter, if they can't capitalize on that then it's putting them at more of a disadvantage. Which is to say, I'm closing this particular week by stating obvious things. no comments

Written by Jay Yencich | 23 October 2011

Arizona Fall League:
RF Chih-Hsien Chiang: 10 G, 36 AB, 7 R, 12 H, 2 2B, 3B, RBI, SB, 8/7 K/BB, .333/.442/.444
RHP Steven Hensley: 0-0, 5 G, 11.74 ERA in 7.2 IP, 14 H, 10 R, 8/6 K/BB, 2 HB
LHP Danny Hultzen: 0-0, 3 GS, 2.00 ERA in 9.0 IP, 9 H, 2 R, 2/3 K/BB, 2 WP
SS Nick Franklin: 11 G, 37 AB, 5 R, 8 H, 2B, HR, SB, 11/8 K/BB, .216/.356/.324
C Adam Moore: 6 G, 23 AB, 3 R, 3 H, 2B, 4 RBI, 10/3 K/BB, .130/.231/.174
LHP Brian Moran: 0-0, 6 G, 2.84 ERA in 6.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 7/2 K/BB
RHP Forrest Snow: 1-0, 4 G (GS), 0.00 ERA in 8.2 IP, H, 10/1 K/BB

Dominican Winter League:
LHP Fabio Castro: 0-0, 2 GS, 4.50 ERA in 8.0 IP, 4 H (HR), 4 R, 7/3 K/BB, HB, WP
LHP Edward Paredes: 0-0, 2 G, SV, 0.00 ERA in 1.2 IP, H, 2/1 K/BB, WP
RF Carlos Peguero: 5 G, 20 AB, 3 R, 7 H, 3 2B, HR, 5 RBI, SB, 7/3 K/BB, .350/.435/.650
SS Carlos Triunfel: 2 G, 4 AB, H, .250/.250/.250

IBAF 2011 World Cup (FINAL):
RHP Daniel Thieben: 0-0, 2 G, 20.25 ERA in 1.1 IP, 3 H, 3 R, HB

Venezuelan Winter League:
RHP Jose Campos: 0-0, 3 G, 0.00 ERA in 4.0 IP, 2 H, 3/4 K/BB
RHP Jarrett Grube: 1-0, 2 GS, 0.82 ERA in 11.0 IP, 6 H, R, 13/2 K/BB
CF Brandon Haveman: 4 G, 9 AB, 2 R, H, 1/3 K/BB, .111/.333/.111
RHP Moises Hernandez: 0-1, 2 G, 15.43 ERA in 2.1 IP, 6 (HR), 4 R, 1/2 K/BB
DH Luis Antonio Jimenez: 9 G, 33 AB, 5 R, 8 H, 2 2B, HR, 3 RBI, 6/6 K/BB, .242/.359/.394
LHP Jose Jimenez: 0-0, 3 G, 0.00 ERA in 1.1 IP, 2/0 K/BB
3B Alex Liddi: 8 G, 27 AB, 2 R, 5 H, 2B, HR, 2 RBI, CS, 9/5 K/BB, HBP, .185/.333/.333
3B Francisco Martinez: 8 G, 34 AB, 9 R, 12 H, 3 2B, 3 RBI, 6/2 K/BB, .353/.389/.441
3B Mario Martinez: 4 G, 9 AB, 3/0 K/BB, HBP, .000/.100/.000
RHP Yoervis Medina: 0-2, 2 GS, 4.35 ERA in 10.1 IP, 9 H (HR), 5 R, 9/7 K/BB, 3 HB, WP
RHP Stephen Pryor: 0-0, 3 G, 11.57 ERA in 2.1 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 1/1 K/BB
RHP Angel Raga: 0-0, 2 G, 3.60 ERA in 5.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 4/4 K/BB
RHP Erasmo Ramirez: 1-0, 2 GS, 1.80 ERA in 10.0 IP, 10 H, 2 R, 8/0 K/BB
LHP Mauricio Robles: 0-1, 2 GS, 54.00 ERA in 1.0 IP, 3 H (HR), 10 R (6 ER), 1/4 K/BB, 2 HB
IF Luis Rodriguez: 4 G, 18 AB, 3 R, 3 H, 2 2B, 5 RBI, 1/1 K/BB, .167/.200/.278
OF Michael Saunders: 8 G, 29 AB, 3 R, 5 H, 2 2B, HR, 3 RBI, 6/5 K/BB, .172/.294/.345
OF Mike Wilson: 6 G, 21 AB, 2 R, 2 H, HR, 2 RBI, 9/3 K/BB, .095/.269/.238
C Jesus Sucre: 9 G, 29 AB, 3 R, 8 H, 2B, 4 RBI, 2/3 K/BB, HBP, .276/.364/.310
C Jose Yepez: 4 G, 9 AB, 2 R, 3 H, 2 2B, 2 RBI, 1/0 K/BB, .333/.400/.556

Hultzen's initial numbers are probably not eye-catching for many, but Geoff Baker saw him down there and reported the velocity to be where we wanted it, which is to say 92-93 and touching 95, with the other three pitches working as well. The full story talks about his pursuit of baseball (he's not from a "baseball family", as such) and the rumors of the inheritance, which I'm guilty of spreading but who knows where they came from or why no efforts were made to quash them. Most of the media is looking pretty silly there. As for the numbers, at this point I'm more concerned about process than performance. Hultzen was surely scouted by other teams prior to the draft, but they have less of an understanding of how he's going to be in games against this kind of competition and in this environment. I would speculate that the hitters are trying to get contact off him at this point rather than being too patient, what with his reputation and the conditions of the league. From the other side, Hultzen is figuring out how to set up these guys and what he can expect the defense to do behind him. I'm not really fond of delving into stuff that seems too "micro" as we don't yet have a grasp of what kind of tendencies Hultzen will have, but one thing that popped out to me on the lines is that his first two outings, he allowed nine hits in five innings and ran a 9/0 G/F. This past Wednesday, it was no hits through four innings and a 2/5 G/F, while throwing his slider a lot more often. Things to wonder about.

To touch on the other AFL pitchers before moving on, Snow is continuing his case for a bullpen, maybe even a swingman spot. I wouldn't usually advocate for a guy being added to the 40-man way ahead of the scheduled time, but Snow is pulling a Shawn Kelley on us here (hopefully with a healthier elbow) and is currently running a .034 average against with twice as many ground outs as air outs. You don't usually expect a pitcher to kill it in Arizona as he has been. Moran has also been pretty solid thus far, but has maintained his weird tic from this season that has had him much better against right-handers than left-handers when he had previously been regarded as a LOOGY. Then again, it is only so many at bats here. I don't know. Hensley, it's been rough going for. I was on the camp that wanted to see him keep starting a few years back, and was at least on board with the suggestions that he could be a setup reliever more recently, but now looking at the command he's displayed and the reduced innings, I'm starting to think that the pre-draft talk about his elbow being not so good are turning out to be valid.

For hitting, we've got Chiang as the big force thus far, which is great to see as I was certainly concerned when he was scuffling in Jackson. For a guy who walked all of thirty-one times this past season in 120 games, walking seven times in ten games is pretty darned good. I suppose I'll reserve judgement for now on the power, but this is something that's kicking around in the back of my mind because of the earlier conclusions that his in-game power was sapped due to the diabetic issues. Franklin has joined the walk parade as well, but is striking out a bit more and not making as solid contact. We could probably expect some of this given his mid-season double-A promotion and how he's been trying to re-establish himself. I'm not worried as of yet. Moore, however, gets some concerns, which I'm trying to rationalize off as him just being a bit rusty. It's a lot of Ks, and not many hits thus far. It would be nice to have someone aside from Olivo taking time up at the catcher spot, but the organization proved to an extent that it can survive without a solid back-up. The 2011 draftees aren't nipping at his heels just yet, but Moore only has so much time to get his name back into the discussion.

Moving down the list, we have the DWL, where there isn't a lot going on just yet. Castro has been a little unlucky so far, but not especially polished. Peguero is still striking out a bunch, but it trying to work his way into the discussion again on the merits of his peripherals, such as extra-base knocks and the lick. I don't think there's enough with Paredes or Triunfel to comment on just yet. It would be nice if I could say good things about Paredes, but I've seen enough ups and downs from him over the years to bite my tongue.

The first concluded round of fall/winter play gives us a first look at Daniel Thieben, whom I'm pretty much assuming is going to sign at this point. He did not start as was initially predicted, for one thing. I don't think I'd call his performances outright bad though. He was going up against guys that are the pros from their nation, and he did manage to induce a lot of grounders to keep the Dominican Republic in check, it was just Cuba that got to him. I'd expect him in Pulaski or Peoria to open next year.

That brings us to the Venezuelan League, where we'll be devoting a lot of our attentions over the next few months because it goes on way longer than any other league. I'll get some positives first. Two names that are standing out for the pitching so far are Grube and Ramirez, both of whom are making their cases for 40-man positions, though Grube's is less solid due to age (he'll be 30 in a few weeks) and Ramirez doesn't need to be on just yet. In both cases, I would say that I keep expecting one or the other of them to let up and start to slip a little, but neither has lost their command yet. Grube remains solidly in the flyball camp whereas Ramirez is still mostly about the groundballs, and I would say that all other factors being equal [note: they are not], Ramirez might take the edge for that reason, but Grube could certainly have some extra value as a flyball pitcher in Safeco. I think that if Grube doesn't end up on the 40-man in the offseason, and goes unselected in the Rule 5 (also possible, as younger guys are usually targeted), he stands a pretty solid shot of getting a NRI and making the club as another reliever we've pulled basically out of thin air.

From the hitting end, we've had less good to work with. For those of us who are now having some misgivings about the Fister trade, it's nice to see Martinez hitting as well as he has down there. I seem to remember him playing in the league in the past, so he's probably used to it and may know what to expect. I don't really want to get too excited because I remember a few years of Jose Lopez performing there and then being Jose Lopez during the regular season. We'll have to see. It seems to be the same old contact-oriented approach at least.

Of the lesser performances thus far, we sadly have more to talk about. Both Saunders and Liddi are making efforts towards walking more and have a good percentage of their hits going for extras, so some of the peripherals are there, but contact is not especially good for either and Liddi is having some of the same old strikeout issues. Each will have time to rebound from here out, but for guys on the cusp right now, it's not a good start. Other pitchers who could have done some work to move along on the depth chart are also scuffling. There's nothing outright bad about Medina's ERA right now, especially considering he was in the Cal League all year, but the numbers on his command are nasty and I can see that ERA ballooning if things continue as they have been. Robles has also had trouble and bad luck out of the gate, which isn't really surprising given his season, but still kind of a downer. Pryor, I'll hold back on. The runs aren't good, but his command hasn't been bad. no comments

Written by Jay Yencich | 19 October 2011

After a certain point, it doesn't quite make sense to do a stats wrap, for lack of time on my part. Do I go through with it and set myself up for more limited analysis next time around, or take the side articles accumulated over this stretch, allow them to be their own thing, and then push the analysis a little harder on Sunday? I have opted for the latter.

I should probably start out with a few things that I should probably touch on that slipped my mind last week. One is that we have some transactions to speak of, which in this case involves the re-signing of Brent Johnson, Alex Periard, and Alfredo Venegas. Periard should be the only name not immediately familiar to people because he's sort of new and sort of not new. He's a former Milwaukee farmhand from the days of Jack heading up their draft and he's the second Quebecois we have had in system in recent memory. He spent part of this past year rehabbing with us, but like the other two, didn't play, and seems to have had injuries sapping his innings for the two years prior. I don't have especially high expectations for him because he hasn't done much since being drafted as one of the better Canadian prospects of 2004. As depth, he's somewhat interesting. The other two fellows we know better, Johnson being a super utility guy (or all OF, corner IF at least) who hasn't played since 2009 and Venegas being an Ecuadorian right-hander who I believe had elbow surgery a couple of years back. I had thought that Johnson had done what Dorman had done and transitioned into coaching, but this coupled with his listing as a pitcher makes me less certain. Venegas remained depth before and will likely resume that course next season. I could see him in the Mavericks' bullpen to start the season and then maybe get moved up from there.

One other thing, which we may as well call a trend, is that Danny Hultzen has been a popular guy so far, getting a Baseball America feature and an interview through MLB.com. None of what you'll find there is a revelation, but it's an opportunity to hear him talk about himself in his own terms and that accounts for something.

Sticking with the AFL for a moment, there was a solid article in the Seattle Times yesterday featuring Nick Franklin. It opens with some slightly more detailed re-hashing of Franklin's injury list over the past season, but after that, we see more of Franklin the individual, who seems level-headed about the whole matter, choosing to focus primarily on what's in front of him and the opportunity he has in Arizona this fall rather than dwelling on the lost time. Nor is he overly concerned about those who might be his rivals for the shortstop position. It's not a comparison that's easy to make as the two bring different things to the table, but Franklin is showing a mindset, at least in his words, that reminds me a lot of Ackley as he was coming up. I think that bodes well for us.

A few general points came up in the Mariners mailbag on the official site. One is that the question came up of who in the minor leagues could make the roster next year, the question sort of implying someone that we haven't seen yet, and Paxton, Ramirez, and Hultzen came up. I'm a believer in all three to varying degrees, though I'd put a hold on Ramirez a bit, because I'm not entirely certain if he needs to be added yet (I think it's next season) and because he's been rushed to such a degree that I don't want his skills getting out of whack. Another question that came up regarded Matt Mangini, who was released earlier in the year. Johns indicates that it's uncertain if Mangini wants to continue on with baseball at the moment, which explains his release a bit. What is typical in the minor leagues is that we'll see attrition for lack of skill more than lack of will, as plenty of players end up washing out and are given few if any opportunities to re-establish themselves (this being different from the old visa issue, which was more complicated obviously). Others fall out of the game because of an inability to keep the body going at a level that would allow them to play the game, those being the Chris Snelling types. I don't know Mangini's rationale is, but I'm suspecting that after all the issues he's had over the past couple of years, it could be the latter. Of course, it's not so simple as that, and there's the additional calculus of openings on the depth chart, standard of living, and supporting a family in some cases. It's rough going and we shouldn't act as though it's anything less, even as some are inclined to marvel at the fact that some out there would get large signing bonuses to play a game, to be entertainers. It's the same as anything else though, and the gap between the major league earners and the minor league earners is sharp indeed.

But I suppose the depressing existential matters can be pushed aside for a moment. If you want something more positive, you can check out another MLB.com article which combines perspectives on Taijuan Walker with our first Top Ten of the offseason. Walker talks about his change-up and learning how to be a pitcher over a thrower, which are certainly the right things to be talking about. The list impresses me much less, running Walker, Paxton, Franklin, Francisco Martinez, Pimentel, Ruffin, Chavez, Cortes, Liddi, and Robles. I've said some nice things about Mayo's coverage at MiLB.com over the years, but this just strikes me as lazy, and not just for the omission of Hultzen for who knows what reason. Chavez struck out in nearly a quarter of his plate appearances in double-A this year and slugged .360. Cortes pitched just under fifty innings and in that limited span had more walks and more strikeouts than he usually does, which doesn't exactly allude to progress for me. Pimentel remains interesting, though raw, and while I applaud him for walking ten more times this season than in last season, it took fourteen more games to do it and the strikeouts per plate appearance only improved a little. Robles, as we all know was injured much of the season and had awful command when he came back. Other lists will emerge later that will make a lot more sense than this one.

I can envision a few 2011 draftees as candidates for such lists, and with that in mind, subscribers can check out the Seattle Mariners 2011 Draft Report Card at Baseball America. Being a paywall piece, there's only so much I can reveal in good conscience, but the most interesting note for me was their praise of Marlette's power. The chat, which didn't require a subscription, got into one of the Hultzen vs. Walker debates, with the moderator giving an edge to Hultzen, while cautioning that mechanical tweaks may keep him from breaking camp with the M's.

That's it for the time being, but I should have a stats blob up on Sunday. no comments