Mariner Minors
Saturday, April 24, 2004
InsideThePark has put up feature pieces on both Wisconsin LHSP Eric O'Flaherty and Missions OF Greg Jacobs, and neither one requires a subscription. I highly recommend that you check them out, great insight.

Tacoma 10, Edmonton 5 (MON)
LHP Bobby Madritsch (4.22) kicked off the roadtrip with four and a third innings in which he allowed four earned runs on eight hits, three walks and TEN strikeouts. The relief work was nails as LHP Randy Williams (0.96, W) went an inning and two-thirds, LHP George Sherrill (2.38) went an inning and two thirds (with three more strikeouts), and RHP J.J. Putz (4.32, S) went an inning and a third. Lots of offense on the night, RF Elipdio Guzman (2B, 3B, 2 R, RBI, .327) and C Pat Borders (2B, R, RBI, .229) both went 3-5. LF Justin Leone (3B, R, .250), 1B A.J. Zapp (2 2B, R, 3 RBI, .338), 3B Jose Lopez (HR, 2 RBI, .267), and CF Luis Ugueto (R, RBI, .196) had two hits each. DH Bucky Jacobsen (R, .245) was the only Rainier to go hitless. RHP Clint Nageotte looks to continue his dominance tomorrow.

El Paso 2 (ARI), San Antonio 3
LHP Troy Cate (2.45, W) should be starting to get some serious attention. He went six innings and allowed a run on five hits and a walk while striking out four. LHP Chris Key (6.00) went an inning and a third and allowed a run before giving way to RHP Jared Hoerman (4.00, S) to close out the game. Don't tell CF Dustin Delucchi (HR, 2 R, .354) that his hitting streak is over, because he went 3-3 today with a walk. 3B Greg Dobbs (HR, 2 RBI, .364) also picked up two hits and is starting to look like the estimates for his rehab time were a bit premature. RHP Rafael Soriano tomorrow, probably followed by RHP Chris Buglovsky.

Lancaster 8 (ARI), Inland Empire 9 (10 innings)
RHP Juan Sandoval (3.71) wasn't as domininat this time around, going five and allowing four earned runs on six hits (2 HR!) and a walk while striking out only one. LHP Melvin Pizarro (0.00), a surprise if there ever was one, went two scoreless before giving way to RHP David Viane (3.86) and LHP Cesar Jimenez (4.26) who blew the lead by allowing two runs in a third and one run in two-thirds, respectively. RHP Greg Wear (6.75, W) picked up the win after two innings of work. 2B Ismael Castro (2B, HR, 2 R, 4 RBI, .306) and LF/1B Jon Nelson (2B, R, 2 RBI, .222) both picked up three hits. 3B Juan Gonzalez (.316) and RF T.J. Bohn (R, RBI, .320) picked up two hits each. This Inland team is looking like it will dominate all year long; a lot of these guys could easily be in Double-A right now. On the flip side, DH Matt Rogelstad (.366) and C Rene Rivera (.267) both went hitless, a highly unusual event. LHP Bobby Livingston tomorrow.

Wisconsin 3, Beloit 6 (MIL)
LHP Eric O'Flaherty (3.94) wasn't that bad this time around, going five innings and allowing two runs on five hits and two walks as he struck out three. LHP Brandon Perry (7.20, L) got the loss yet again as he allowed four runs to score in two and a third innings. I don't know what's wrong with him, but hopefully he'll be given an opportunity to tough it out and learn from it all. RHP Bryan Heaston (2.57) pitched the final two-thirds. The offense only had one star, and that wasDH Jeremy Dutton (R, .196) who went 3-3. LF Josh Womack (2B, R, 2 RBI .213), 1B Brent Metheny (R, .250), and SS Oswaldo Navarro (R, .200) had the only other hits on the night. It will be interesting to see how this team progresses as the year goes on; it's one of the more talent rich teams Wisconsin has seen in recent memory, but they're having trouble putting it all together right now. LHP Thom Oldham tomorrow.

Organizational Record: 35-29, .547


Transaction Update:

I've mentioned before that the Tacoma outfield is depleted enough to have Luis Ugueto in CF and Justin Leone in left (though Jason adds that Leone played 20-25 games in left since high school and doesn't mind playing there at all). The Mariners have tried to remedy this by calling up OF Michael Nesbit from extended spring training. Nesbitt was the 29th round pick in the 2002 draft, but had missed all of his time in the organization thus far due to Tommy John surgery. I'll guess based off of the surgery that he probably pitched at some point. Speaking of which, around the time he was drafted, a right-handed pitcher started going in the system by the name of Marshall Nisbitt, which confused me to no real end. Either way, that pitcher has since been released and Nesbitt is making his way to Edmonton to meet up with the Tacoma team. No word yet on wheter or not either of the usual OF went on the DL, but I'd guess Bocachica if it had to be someone.

Friday, April 23, 2004
An interesting night for the organization, as they just edge away from having all their affiliates lose on the same day for the first time this season. More peculiar because I would have thought with the pitching heading into the night, they would take at least a split.

Las Vegas 6 (LA), Tacoma 4
RHP Cha Seung Baek (5.40, L) wasn't fooling anyone tonight, going two and two-thirds while allowing five runs on eight hits, one walk, and one strikeout. He was followed by three and a third innings of LHP Craig Anderson (4.50), followed by two of RHP Aaron Looper (1.69), in which five of his six outs were strikeouts, though he did allow a run. RHP J.J. Putz (5.14) pitched a meaningless ninth. Not much in the way of offense tonight, but props to LF Justin Leone (3B, R, .234) who had two hits and seems to be returning to the form that got him Texas League MVP honors last season. A note recently brought to my attention, Leone is hitting only .234, but he's slugging .574. The only other hits were one each by C Wiki Gonzalez (R, 2 RBI, .281) and 3B Jose Lopez (2B, 2 RBI, .250). Lopez also took a walk on the night, which bumps his OBP up to .311. As long as we're on the topic of Lopez, some questions have come up recently as to how the M's see him now considering Santiago has played the majority of the games at shortstop. I'm thinking, maybe, they were seeing Santiago as the guy they want up on the bench as backup SS/2B when they cut the pitching staff down, based off his ST. Of course, Santiago's done nothing to write home about, aside from having a huge difference between his average and OBP, as he's putting up a .179/.292/.214 line overall. Speaking of odd positions being played, I'm hoping that just because Luis Ugueto is playing in CF, that they don't give him any sort of credit as having CF experience. LHP Bobby Madritsch tomorrow.

El Paso 4 (ARI), San Antonio 0
RHP Juan Done (6.08, L), who was questionable as a starter last year, proved why in his five innings of work in which he allowed four runs on five hits and a walk, striking out five. Done has been one of those guys who will tease with potential from time to time, but can't seem to put it together for long enough, and sadly the Missions pitching staff is literally full of them. RHP Emiliano Fruto (2.79), RHP Allen Levrault (4.15), and LHP Jose Nunez (7.71) wrapped up the game, with Fruto going two innings and the others going one each. No offense here either; 1B John Lindsey (.377) had two hits, but the rest was one hit each for CF Dustin Delucchi (.323), 3B Greg Dobbs (.346), and DH Cristian Guerrero (.171), and none of these went for extra bases. LHP Troy Cate tomorrow night.

Lancaster 3 (ARI), Inland Empire 4
The sole win on the night. RHP Rich Dorman (2.70, W) went five and was relatively human, allowing three runs on six hits and a walk while striking out five. Funny how that's the exception and not the rule, but in a bad way. LHP Ryan Rowland-Smith (4.70, S) went the final four and allowed two hits while striking out four. DH Matt Rogelstad (R, .417), probably the most key piece of the Sixers offense, went 2-3 and is now third in the league in batting average. The other hits were one each by the quintet of 3B Juan Gonzalez (RBI, .296), CF Gary Harris (.321), RF T.J. Bohn (R, .298), C Rene Rivera (R, .293), and 1B Matt Hagen (RBI, .250). Also, oddly enough, no extra-base hits here either. RHP Juan Sandoval tomorrow.

Burlington 4 (KC), Wisconsin 1
Never let it be said that RHP Nibaldo Acosta (2.14, L) doesn't try. He went six innings tonight and only one of the runs he allowed was earned as he allowed four hits and walked three while striking out four, but despite a strong performance he picked up his third loss. RHPs Mike Hrynio (7.11) and Bryan Stitt (0.00) closed out the game, with Hrynio going two and Stitt going one. The T-Rats only managed two hits the entire night, so default honors go to LF Josh Womack (R, .211) and SS Adam Jones (RBI, E, .240) for their contributions. Also, just because I feel it's worth noting, C Chris Collins and RF Chris Colton had walked in the first inning and CF Wladimir Balentien (E, .239) just barely missed hitting a bomb. In any other MWL park, it probably would have been gone. Mehring said that LHP Eric O'Flaherty is going tomorrow, so I'm picking him for the start.

Organizational Record: 32-28

Also, as long as I've got your attention. Joel Pineiro: Who saw this coming?

Thursday, April 22, 2004
Las Vegas 4 (LA), Tacoma 8
LHP Matt Thornton (7.07, W) was pretty solid this time out, going five and allowing two runs on two hits and four walks, striking out five. The walks are a bit of a concern, but this is an improvement. LHP George Sherrill (2.79) and RHP Scott Atchison (4.82) followed with two innings each in which they both allowed a run. I'll give out two stars on offense; one to LF Justin Leone (2B, HR, 3 R, 2 RBI, .209, SB) who went 2-3 and one to DH Bucky Jacobsen (2 HR, 4 RBI, .271) who went 2-4. Honorable mention goes to C Wiki Gonzalez (2B, R, RBI, .286). RHP Cha Seung Baek tomorrow.

El Paso 2 (ARI), San Antonio 4
Confusion, hmmm... RHP Elvis Perez (7.94, W) did get the start, five innings in which he allowed two runs on seven hits and three strikeouts. RHP Ricky Guttormsen (1.00) followed with three scoreless before RHP Jared Hoerman (5.68, S) wrapped up the save. LF Greg Jacobs (R, RBI, .547) went 3-4 on the night. Equally significant were CF Dustin Delucchi (2B, R, .328) going 2-5 and RF Shin Soo Choo (2B, R, .321) going 2-4. RHP Juan Done tomorrow, the papers are indicating RHP Rafael Soriano will get Sunday's start.

Inland Empire 2, Lancaster 3 (ARI)
It was the RHP T.A. Fulmer (1.00) show again in Lancaster tonight, for the first six and a third innings at least. He allowed one run on four hits, three walks, and six strikeouts. RHP Tanner Watson (1.80) followed and allowed a run of his own in an inning of work. RHP Darwin Soto (2.25, L) got the loss after allowing the third run in the ninth inning. The scoring by Lancaster was one run each for the final three frames. Not much in the way of offense tonight for the Sixers, but 2B Ismael Castro (.296) went 2-5 and 3B Matt Rogelstad (R, .394) went 2-4. RHP Rich Dorman tomorrow.

Burlington 0 (KC), Wisconsin 4 (seven innings)
LHP Ryan Feierabend (3.45, W) is getting the hang of the Midwest League, four-hitting the Bees in the first game of the double header while striking out three. Not much worth noting on offense. CF Wladimir Balentien (2B, R, RBI, .225) might be getting his stroke back, hell, he didn't even strikeout tonight. LF Josh Womack (R, .200), 3B Michael Cox (RBI, .190), SS Adam Jones (RBI, .256), and RF Chris Colton (R, RBI, .217) picked up a hit each.

Burlington 3 (KC), Wisconsin 1 (seven innings)
RHP Kenly Chang (4.00) got the start and was decent, three innings, four hits, a walk, three strikeouts, one run. RHP Juan Ovalles (7.94, L) followed with two in which he allowed two. Coming into the season, I thought Ovalles was a real find and would develop to be one of the better right-handed setup guys in the minors, but thus far he hasn't proven anything of the sort. RHP Bryan Heaston (2.84) wrapped up the game with two scoreless innings. CF Wladimir Balentien (3B, .256) IS getting his stroke back, going 2-3 in the game. DH Josh Womack (3B, R, .208), 2B George Sandel (.231), and RF Chris Colton (.224) got a hit each. RHP Nibaldo Acosta tomorrow, according to the papers. No word yet on why he was held back or whether LHP Eric O'Flaherty will go Saturday, but I don't think O'Flaherty has lost a rotation spot.

Organizational Record: 31-25

I failed to mention that today, Wisconsin is playing a doubleheader. The first game, with LHP Ryan Feierabend pitching, just started. The second game has RHP Kenly Chang getting the start and is reportedly going to be at 6:35 pacific, though I'm not sure how accurate that is. Last time there was a minor league doubleheader, they started the second game half an hour after the first wrapped up.

Mehring just pointed out that the T-Rats are last in the league in batting average. Not surprising at the moment, but I think they'll get better as the season goes on.

There are also some emerging questions out of San Antonio concerning whether RHP Evlis Perez will be making the start tonight. RHP Juan Done is listed as the starter over at SportsNetwork, but whether Perez is going to the pen, the DL, or just skipping a day. If he's going to the pen, then I'm not certain who would fill in for him in the rotation yet, though RHP Ricky Guttormsen, a former indy league starter, seems like a possibility. On the other hand, this could just be the effect of Rafael Soriano moving up to San Antonio to correspond with the M's upcoming trip to Texas.

Notes from around the minors...

The reason why Ugueto was in CF last night, we knew, was due to the hamstring tweak to regular CF Jamal Strong. Justin Leone was in LF due to an ankle sprain suffered by UT Hiram Bocachica. I'm not too keen on the idea of Uggy in the outfield, unless that supposedly enhances his trade value, in which case they can go nuts. Leone out there doesn't seem as bad of an idea. He has displayed some speed here and there and a strong arm, and if he can adjust to having to get a jump on the ball, he could be good out there. Better than Bloomquist, at least. My only gripe with its is that if it happens enough, they may start mistaking Jose Lopez for their future third baseman.

In Snelling news, he had surgery on his right wrist again following up on the hamate surgery he had earlier in the year. I'm starting to wonder whether or not I should put up a counter that says "X Days without a Snelling injury."

In the Appleton Post-Crescent, there is the story of how Wisconsin LHP Jason Mackintosh got back into baseball after being released by Cleveland. One of your basic human interest type stories, but fairly interesting nonetheless.

Baseball America mentions Travis Blackley's latest outing in their daily dish, though I'm not sure about why. Not to take anythign away form the ability to allow nine hits in six innings and only allow one run, but those sort of numbers are a little ominous.

The first day in a long time I was going be near a TV during the M's game and they aren't even broadcasting. (grumbles)

Wednesday, April 21, 2004
Las Vegas 1 (LA), Tacoma 0
How's this for painful... LHP Travis Blackley (6.32) manages to give up eight other hits with three strikeouts on the night, but loses the game when former M's prospect Antonio Perez hits a solo home run. LHP Randy Williams (1.17) and RHP Aaron Looper (0.00) combined for the final three scoreless. RF Elpidio Guzman (.359), DH Bucky Jacobsen (.250), C Pat Borders (.167), 2B Mickey Lopez (2B, .240), and SS Ramon Santiago (.200) had the only hits on the evening. Also, in an odd lineup shuffling move to compensate for Strong's tweaked muscle... CF Luis Ugueto and LF Justin Leone. Interesting. LHP Matt Thornton tonight.

Midland 1 (OAK), San Antonio 8
Well, the bad news is CF Dustin Delucchi's (.321) hitting streak came to an end. Good news was the pitching of RHP Gustavo Martinez (1.10) who went seven scoreless allowing four hits, two walks, and striking out four. LHP Tim Rall (5.87), a bit of an enigma, finished up the game and allowed a solo home run. 3B Greg Dobbs (2B, 3B, R, .364) finished the night 3-4 and a homer away from cycling. DH Greg Jacobs (2B, 2 R, RBI, .519), 1B John Lindsey (HR, 2 RBI, .362), and 2B Evel Bastida-Martinez (R, .204) pickedu p two hits each on the night. LF Shin Soo Choo (HR, 2 R, .308) also hit his fourth home run. An unusual display of power from Choo thus far, but I like it. RHP Elvis Perez tomorrow.

Inland Empire 3, Lancaster 4 (ARI)
The Sixers had a night not far from that of the parent club, tying it in the ninth only to lose it in the bottom. Of course, it was a windy night, and thus, mixed results. RHP Felix Hernandez (2.87) went five and a third, allowing seven hits (2 HR!) and a walk for three runs total, though he did strike out six along the way. LHP Miguel Martinez (3.38) seems to be getting back on track, as he followed with an inning and two-thirds where he struck out two and allowed no hits. LHP Cesar Jimenez (3.18) got the tough loss in his inning and two-thirds after allowing a run on two hits and a walk. CF Gary Harris (R, .348) had a good night, going 3-4. LF Carlos Arroyo (2B, R, .313) wasn't bad either, going 2-3. 3B Matt Rogelstad (HR, .379), perhaps the unsung hero of the Inland team, got a homer in the second. Rogelstad has a .379/.486/.586 line in the ten games he's started, and with his versatility, he's looking to be a decent prospect. RHP T.A. Fulmer tomorrow.

Burlington 0 (KC), Wisconsin 5
Wow, what to say? RHP Brandon "Er, Michael, uh, whatever" Moorhead (0.00) was outstanding, going seven and a third allowing only four hits and a walk while striking out nine. Not bad, for a former closer. LHP Jason Mackintosh (7.94) and RHP Bryan Stitt wrapped up the other inning and two-thirds with a strikeout each. RF Chris Colton (2B, 3B, 2 R, .205) ended the came a homer short of the cycle. LF Josh Womack (2B, R, 2 RBI, .191) and SS Adam Jones (RBI, .244). CF Wladimir Balentien (R, .216) had no hits in the game, but did manage to take a walk. LHP Ryan Feierabend tomorrow.

Organization record: 28-23

As pointed out by Mike Thompson at the PI Blog, ESPN's Jim Caple had an at-bat against LHP Matt Thornton during spring training. Thornton, for reference, should make his start tomorrow.

Baseball America finally took notice of 66ers LHP Bobby Livingston in today's daily dish. This is more information on him than I've ever really seen before. For example, did you know that he is ambidextrous and once pitch both ends of a double header, one from the left side and one from the right? There's also discussion of his velocity, which seems to be returning to the level it was at when he was in high school. Don't worry, though, that sort of thing happens to most pitchers. There's a blurb on Clint Nageotte that follows the main piece, so check that out too.

Scott at OnDeckBaseball has started to update some of his calculations to correspond with the 2004 season. The Texas League rankings are up so far, and the M's have three on his top thirty. A little below average, but that's okay. Also, check out the top three offensive contributors...

The Cal League finally got around to naming their Players of the Week. Guess which Felix Hernandez got the pitcher award for striking out ten in his five innings relieving Rafael Soriano?

Las Vegas 1 (LA), Tacoma 4
Not even rain can stop the pitching dominance of RHP Clint Nageotte (2.00). Nags was nails tonight, going six innings without a single hit, though he did walk four and strike out six. LHP Craig Anderson (6.23) followed with two innings in which he allowed a run on two hits (HR) and a walk while striking out two. RHP J.J. Putz (6.00) got the save after a scoreless ninth in which he struck out two. The offensive star was 3B Justin Leone (2 HR, .189), who Jeff and I hope is picking up where he left off last year. All of the other guys got one hit except SS Ramon Santiago (.191), C Pat Borders (.148), and LF Rule V Kid (.222). LHP Travis Blackley tonight.

Midland 6 (OAK), San Antonio 2
RHP Chris Buglovsky (1.80) got a tough loss tonight, with all four of his runs coming unearned off an error by 2B Evel Bastida-Martinez. Buglovsky allowed four hits and three walks against three strikeouts in his five innings. LHP Chris Key (5.91) followed with two innings in which he allowed a run. RHP Allen Levrault (5.40) and LHP Jose Nunez (9.00) followed him with an inning each, with Nunez allowing a run in his. It's hard to find highlights on offense when the team is four-hit. CF Dustin Delucchi (R, BB, .354) continued his hitting streak, while DH Shin Soo Choo (.306), LF Greg Jacobs (.522), and C Luis Oliveros (2B, R, .333) contributed the others. Brian at A's Y'all was acting as a sort of correspondant for me. He adds that Cristian Guerrero pulled off a fantastic throw to the plate which was a little late, but very strong and accurate. He also notes that late in the game, there was a rocket of a foul ball that was pulled into the Missions dugout and nearly hit Choo in the face. Choo responded by putting on a catcher's mask and returning to his spot. Thanks Brian! RHP Gustavo Martinez tonight.

Inland Empire 4, Lancaster 6 (ARI)
Those fearing the end of the world can relax, Felix didn't pitch tonight. Though SS Juan Gonzalez (.298) went hitless for the first time this season, so maybe we will have to worry. RHP Rafael Soriano (2.25) got the start and went four innings in which he allowed an earned run on five hits and a walk against four strikeouts. LHP Melvin Pizarro (0.00), who apparently can hit the broad side of a barn in addition to being left-handed, went three innings in which he allowed only two hits and a walk while striking out four. Diamond in the rough? We can hope. RHP Greg Wear followed with an inning and two thirds in which he allowed three runs in the ninth, four overall, to get the loss. C Rene Rivera (2B, 2 RBI, .303) went 2-3 on the night. 3B (yes, still 3B) Ismael Castro (HR, .304) had a home run for his hit. Otherwise, a similar story to the Missions. 1B Matt Hagen (R, .273), DH Fredrico Balet (R, .357), and CF Gary Harris (2B, .310) had the other hits. RHP Felix Hernandez tonight?

Tonight's game of Wisconsin against Burlington was postponed. RHP Brandon Moorhead tonight.

Organization record: 26-21

Tuesday, April 20, 2004
The Seattle PI put up a piece last night regarding the M's minor league system. The accompanying article details the shift in talent in recent years from center field to the mound and the increasing difficulty in finding quality catchers. At the end, there is also a blurb comparing the different rankings as put out by Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, and On Deck. The list itself which has some great details on each player's strengths and weaknesses, runs like this...

HT: 6-2WT: 190AGE: 20
2004 TEAM: Tacoma (AAA)
BACKGROUND: From Venezuela, Lopez signed with the Mariners as a non-drafted free agent in July 2000. He has advanced quickly, jumping from short-season Everett (2001) to High Class A San Bernardino, where he was the organization's 2002 minor league player of the year, to Class AA San Antonio in 2003.
HAS: A live bat, an all-fields approach, 20-home-run potential, plus hands and arm strength, excellent instincts.
NEEDS: Better plate discipline, smoother footwork defensively.
SHOW TIME: September 2004

HT: 6-3WT: 190AGE: 21
2004 TEAM: Tacoma (AAA)
BACKGROUND: A native of Australia, Blackley signed with the Mariners as a non-drafted free agent in October 2000. He has followed the same career path as Lopez, last season leading the AA Texas League with 17 wins while limiting batters to a .215 average.
HAS: Loose arm action, an 88- to 91-mph fastball with late life, an above-average changeup, pitch-ability, competitive arrogance.
NEEDS: Better command, more consistency with his breaking pitches, continuing success at a higher level.
SHOW TIME: September 2004

HT: 6-3WT: 200AGE: 23
2004 TEAM: Tacoma (AAA)
BACKGROUND: Selected by the Mariners in the fifth round of the 1999 draft, the Ohio native has led his league in strikeouts the past three seasons. He was 11-7 with a 3.10 ERA in 27 starts at AA San Antonio in 2003.
HAS: A power arm and approach, a 91- to 94-mph fastball with running movement, a mid-80s slider with late bite and excellent depth.
NEEDS: To upgrade his command, pitch inside more with his fastball, learn to trust his changeup to take hitters off his hard stuff.
SHOW TIME: September 2004

HT: 6-3 WT: 175AGE: 18
2004 TEAM: Inland Empire (High A)
BACKGROUND: Hernandez, who turned 18 on April 8, joined the Mariners as an undrafted free agent in July 2002. After dominating in 11 appearances with Everett last season, he was promoted to Class A Wisconsin, where he made two starts, striking out 18 batters in 14 innings to end the season.
HAS: An electric arm, an explosive mid-90s fastball, a tight-spinning curveball, good aptitude for pitching, room to get bigger and stronger.
NEEDS: Physical maturity, work on his changeup, consistent mechanics.


HT: 5-11WT: 165AGE: 24
2004 TEAM: Tacoma (AAA)
BACKGROUND: A native of the Dominican Republic, Santiago came to the M's in January as Detroit's payment for Carlos Guillen. He played his first full major league season in 2003, leading the AL with 18 sacrifices and stringing together an eight-game hitting streak in August.
HAS: Smooth actions, good hands, quick feet, plus range to each side, left-side arm strength.
NEEDS: To play regularly, improve his plate discipline, keep the ball out of the air, refine his "little game."
SHOW TIME: Mid-summer 2004

HT: 6-4WT: 200AGE: 23
2004 TEAM: Tacoma (AAA)
BACKGROUND: Rated as Korea's top pitching prospect, he signed with the Mariners as an undrafted free agent in September 1998. He has made trips to the disabled list in each of the past four seasons, missing the 2002 season because of elbow surgery. He split the 2003 season between High Class A Inland Empire (5-1, 3.65 in 13 appearances) and AA San Antonio (3-3, 2.52 in nine starts).
HAS: Four average- to above-average pitches, impeccable command, the ability to keep hitters in between.
NEEDS: Innings, additional arm strength (after Tommy John surgery in late 2001), a go-to pitch.

HT: 5-10WT: 180AGE: 22
2004 TEAM: Tacoma (AAA)
BACKGROUND: Born in Florida but raised in Australia, Snelling signed with the Mariners as an undrafted free agent in March 1999. The California League batting champion (.325) in 2001, he made his major league debut with the Mariners in 2002. Injuries, including a torn ACL, have limited him to 96 games over the past two seasons.
HAS: A quick bat, a use-the-field approach, solid corner-outfield skills, energy and aggressiveness.
NEEDS: At-bats, better plate discipline, good health.

HT: 6-2WT: 190AGE: 28
2004 TEAM: Tacoma (AAA)
BACKGROUND: Plucked by the Mariners from the Independent leagues in September 2002, Madritsch went 13-7 with a 3.63 ERA in 27 starts for San Antonio last season. He issued a Texas League-high 67 walks, but finished second in the league with 154 strikeouts.
HAS: A power arm, a low- to mid-90-mph fastball with a second stage, good arm speed with a plus changeup, no fear.
NEEDS: To throw strike one consistently, a viable breaking ball.
SHOW TIME: September 2004

HT: 6-2 WT: 210 AGE: 24
2004 TEAM: Tacoma (AAA)
BACKGROUND: An eighth-round pick by the Mariners out of Coastal Carolina in 2000, Johnson has advanced from High Class A to Tacoma the past two seasons, posting a 25-9 record along the way. He was 4-1 with a 0.53 ERA in his first five starts with the Rainiers last season.
HAS: A strong frame, a 90- to 92-mph fastball with heavy sink, a hard, tilted slider, bottom-of-the-strike-zone command.
NEEDS: An improved changeup to complement his plus sinker/slider combination, a healthy shoulder (tendinitis in late 2003).

HT: 5-11WT: 180AGE: 21
2004 TEAM: San Antonio (AA)
BACKGROUND: Signed by the M's as an undrafted free agent in August 2000, the Korea native has been a consistent .300 hitter in three minor league seasons. He spent 2003 at High Class A Inland Empire, leading the California League with 13 triples to go with nine homers, 55 RBIs and 18 stolen bases.
HAS: Natural, Mark Kotsay-type outfield skills and arm strength, a line-drive bat with extra-base pop, good flow on the bases.
NEEDS: Better pitch recognition and selection, a little more juice, fewer strikeouts.
SHOW TIME: 2006-07

HT: 6-1WT: 210AGE: 27
2004 TEAM: Tacoma (AAA)
BACKGROUND: A 13th-round pick in 1999, the Las Vegas native reached AA San Antonio in his fifth season last year. He batted .288, with 66 extra-base hits, 92 RBIs and a .405 on-base percentage, en route to being named the Texas League player of the year.
HAS: Bat speed, power, patience at the plate, the athleticism to play anywhere in the infield.
NEEDS: To stay on breaking balls better, make more consistent contact, prove that last year's breakthrough was legit.

HT: 6-6WT: 225AGE: 27
2004 TEAM: Tacoma (AAA)
BACKGROUND: Selected by the Mariners out of Grand Valley State in the first round of the 1998 draft, Thornton was the 2001 California League pitcher of the year, but has been limited to 20 appearances over the past two seasons because of injuries.
HAS: A downhill arm angle, a 91- to 94-mph fastball with life, a tight, late-breaking slider.
NEEDS: Better command of all his pitches, consistency with his slider, further development of his changeup, stamina after Tommy John surgery (2002) and a herniated disc in his neck (2003).

13. GREG DOBBS, 3B, 1B
HT: 6-1WT: 200AGE: 25
2004 TEAM: San Antonio (AA)
BACKGROUND: Drafted by Seattle out of high school in 1996, and again after his senior season at Oklahoma in 2000, Dobbs split the 2002 season between Wisconsin and San Antonio, combining for 15 homers and 63 RBIs in 416 at-bats. He missed virtually the entire 2003 season because of a ruptured Achilles' tendon.
HAS: A sweet swing, an aggressive, use-the-field approach, latent power.
NEEDS: To prove he's fully healthy, upgrade his defense at third base or find a position to accommodate his bat.
SHOW TIME: 2005-06

14. J.J. PUTZ, RP
HT: 6-5WT: 225AGE: 27
2004 TEAM: Tacoma (AAA)
BACKGROUND: A sixth-round pick by the Mariners in 1999, the Michigan native worked as a starter through 2002 before being converted to a relief pitcher last season. He recorded a 2.51 ERA and 11 saves in 41 appearances with Tacoma, and in August made his major league debut with the Mariners.
HAS: A big, strong body, a solid, balanced delivery, 93- to 97-mph fastball, power curveball, usable changeup.
NEEDS: To throw strike one and pitch ahead, continue to adjust to relief role.
SHOW TIME: Mid-summer 2004

HT: 6-2WT: 185AGE: 18
2004 TEAM: Wisconsin (Low A)
BACKGROUND: The Mariners' first-round selection in the 2003 draft, the San Diego high school product spent most of the season at Peoria (.284-0-8 in 109 at-bats) before a brief promotion to Everett.
HAS: A live body, natural actions, powerful arm, good speed, confidence.
NEEDS: To convert athletic tools into baseball skills, developmental time.
SHOW TIME: 2007-08

Interesting how they put Lopez as first. Anyway...

Quick Notes:
*Sometimes, the phrasing of things leads to little misunderstandings here and there. Both Nageotte and Blackley are described as needing improved command, but Blackley (career 1.17 WHIP, 2.86 K/BB) is a little more polished than Nageotte (1.28 WHIP, 2.90 K/BB) in that regard. Just a little comment.
*I don't know that Hernandez is going to wait until 2007 at the rate he's going. Granted, if the M's keep him at Inland all year and move him to San Antonio for all of next year and Tacoma after that, maybe, but I don't think that's realistic considering his performance.
*I wouldn't consider Santiago as a "prospect", persay, but oh well.
*Johnson does need to use his change more often, but right now it doesn't need as much work as Nageotte's does.

Other news around the minors:

*Missions DH John Lindsey is attributing his recent hitting dominance to less weightlifting and improved flexibility and cardio. Elsewhere, the Express-News proves they still can't get C Luis Oliveros' last name right (I've seen Olivaros and Ontiveros most often).
*Baseball America puts up their first Prospect Hot Sheet of the season. RHP Felix Hernandez comes in third with this comment:

Mariners challenged 18-year-old phenom with an assignment to the high Class A California League, but it's the opposing batters who are being challenged (5-for-34, 16 K)

That's a .147 batting average against. OFs Shin Soo Choo and Jamal Strong get honorable mentions. But where the heck is LHP Bobby Livingston? Guess he doesn't K enough guys.
*Retraction: RHP Rafael Soriano is going down to Lancaster to play with Inland Empire today while Tacoma starts RHP Clint Nageotte. You know what that means? The unstoppable duo of Soriano and Hernandez is back. Catch that game on the radio if you can, it'll be fun.
*Jason has the players of the week up at ITP.

Monday, April 19, 2004
Tacoma's game against Tuscon was postponed tonight. Weather, I would imagine. RHPs Rafael Soriano and Clint Nageotte tomorrow.

Midland 2 (OAK), San Antonio 5
LHP Troy Cate (2.81) continued to be outstanding, giving up two runs on four hits and two walks against six strikeouts in his six innings of work. RHP Emiliano Fruto (3.52) picked up the win with two scoreless as RHP Jared Hoerman (5.68) got his fourth save. CF Dustin Delucchi (.356) extended his season long hitting streak with a single in the third, but it was the 2-4 hitters that did most of the damage on the night. RF Shin Soo Choo (HR, .311) hit his third homer on the season, while 3B Greg Dobbs (2B, R, .325), LF Greg Jacobs (R, .579), and DH John Lindsey (R, RBI, .375) picked up two hits each. 1B Hunter Brown (2B, RBI, .174) got the start tonight at first in place of Ryan Balfe. RHP Chris Buglovsky on the mound tomorrow.

Inland Empire 5, Lancaster 6 (ARI)
Errors by CF Gary Harris and 1B Matt Hagen led to four unearned runs in the Inland loss tonight. LHP Bobby Livingston (0.87) proved to be human tonight, giving up his first two runs on the 2004 season on six hits (HR), two walks, and four strikeouts in six innings. He was followed by RHP David Viane (0.00) who allowed two unearned in his two innings, though he did allow a hit and four walks while striking out only two. SS Juan Gonzalez (R, .333) continued his season long hitting steak, going 2-5 on the night. 3B Ismael Castro (R, RBI, .310) and CF Gary Harris (2 RBI, .308) also had two hits on the night. RHP Felix Hernandez tomorrow. Quake in fear, puny mortal batters!

Peoria 8 (STL), Wisconsin 5
LHP Thom Oldham (0.60) continued to do his thing, with six innings in which he allowed one earned run on five hits and a walk against three strikeouts. RHP Mike Hrynio (10.38), the converted infielder, ran into a wall tonight and allowed four runs to score on two hits, a walk, and a hit batter over a third of an inning. LHP Brandon Perry (4.70) probably allowed a few of these, giving up two of his own in his two and two-thirds of work. Perry hasn't been doing too well after dominating Arizona last season, but he is making a pretty big jump so maybe the growing pains are understandable. On offense, 3B Michael "Not Just Another Flashy Glove" Cox (2B, 2 R, .194) had two hits on the night. The only other hits on the night were by CF Wladimir Balentien (RBI, 2 K, .235), who returned to the lineup, and 1B Jeremy Dutton (.167). RHP Brandon Moorhead tomorrow.

Organization record: 25-19

Rainiers RHP Jeff Heaverlo won't be throwing for the next three days due to a muscle tear in his right teres major (armpit muscle). This sort of injury isn't new, he's had it before, and the recovery will take a little while, but isn't something that will require surgery.

66ers RF T.J. Bohn already has three outfield assists on the season. He led the Midwest League last year with twenty, but apparently word hadn't quite gotten around yet. They should learn fairly soon. Bohn is usually rightfielder, though earlier in the young season, he has played in centerfield. No idea yet whether that will continue on occasion. Also, 3B Juan Gonzalez has hit in every game so far this season for a .314 average.

Sunday, April 18, 2004
Generic gripe:

I'm not pleased with the coverage of minor league transactions so far this season. Minor League Baseball used to be an impressive resource, but now they have a partnership with The Sports Network for all their transaction and TSN only seems to list big moves like signings or trades. Not to mention the fact that when you look at their transactions, there's no archive, just the moves that happened on the most recent day there was a move. Baseball America does their part, to some degree, but they still only list signings, trades, and releases and while they're quite excellent at that, it doesn't give the whole picture. Worst of all, the minor league transaction register hasn't even been updated since February, with the rosters not being updated for an even longer period of time. According to them, Matt Boone is still a Mariner and that's a fact that no one can be satisfied with.

Tuscon 2 (ARI), Tacoma 1 (10 innings)
LHP Bobby Madritsch (2.65) was solid in his outing, going six and allowing a run on three hits and a walk while striking out six. RHP Aaron Looper (back again, I see) followed with two scoreless before RHP Scott Atchison (4.91) got the loss after a delay, giving up a run on three hits and a walk. Nothing seems to be cooling down 1B A.J. Zapp (.383) who went 2-5 on the night, though C Wiki Gonzalez (HR, .250) hit his third homer to give the Rainiers their only run. RHP Rafael Soriano starts tomorrow in a rehab start, and after 65 pitches he will be pulled for RHP Clint Nageotte.

Midland 1 (OAK), San Antonio 3
RHP Juan Done (5.40) got the start for the Missions home opener and was solid in five innings, allowing a run on five hits and a walk against two strikeouts. LHP Tim Rall (6.35) and RHP Ricky Guttormsen (1.50) followed him before RHP Jared Hoerman (6.75) picked up the save in the ninth with a strikeout. On offense it was combination of C Luis Oliveros (2 2B, RBI, .375) who went 2-3 and 3B Greg Dobbs (R, RBI, .306) going 2-4 that did a large part of the damage. 2B Evel Bastida-Martinez (.222) also picked up a pinch hit for 1B Ryan Balfe (.209) in the eighth. Bastida-Martinez hasn't fared too well in his limitted time against Double-A pitching, which is probably why 1B Ryan Balfe has seen more and more time, which allows Hunter Brown to take over at second. An interesting note which was only recently noticed by myself; CF Dustin Delucchi (R, .366), who went 1-3 with a walk tonight, has hit in all ten Missions games so far this season, and rather quietly. Being a little older than his competition, Delucchi has to prove himself more and more on the field and thus far, nothing seems to be stopping him. Greg Jacobs was not in the lineup tonight, being listed as day to day after stepping on a sharp rock at a hotel. I'm trying to figure out whether that's better or worse than Sasaki's case of severe Samsonitis. LHP Troy Cate starts tomorrow.

Lake Elsinore 2 (SD), Inland Empire 6
This is the suspended game from yesterday. RHP Rich Dorman (1.08) got the start on Saturday and went three innings allowing a hit and a walk against two strikeouts. LHP Ryan Rowland-Smith (9.82) followed, several hours later, with three innings of relief where he allowed a run on two hits and a walk against three strikeouts. RHP Tanner Watson (0.00), a former starter, got his second appearance of the season and went three to pick up the save while allowing an unearned run on two hits and a walk while striking out two. The offensive star had to be C Rene Rivera (2 2B, 2 RBI, .296) who went 2-3. CF Gary Harris (R, .313) also went 2-4 with a walk. An interesting note in terms of lineups; in this game Ismael Castro was the third baseman while Juan Gonzalez took over at second.

Lake Elsinore 3 (SD), Inland Empire 4
In this abbreviated game, RHP Juan Sandoval (2.25) got the start and went six allowing three runs on five hits (one HR)and two walks against five strikeouts. RHP Darwin Soto (0.00), my top candidate for closer, picked up the save after allowing a hit in the seventh. The offense was led by 1B Matt Hagen (2B, R, RBI, .320) who went 2-3. With Hagen at first, and Balet as the DH, perhaps the talk of moving Hagen to catcher is premature. LHP Bobby Livingston tomorrow, and RHP Felix Hernandez on Tuesday. Gotta love this Inland pitching staff.

Peoria 7 (STL), Wisconsin 5
Ah yes, so familiar. Well, LHP Eric O'Flaherty (4.09, E) got the start and went three and two-thirds before being pulled, allowing six hits and four walks which led to four earned runs. He struck out three in the process. RHP Kenly Chang (4.50)followed and got the loss with three and a third pitched, but a run allowed on two hits. RHP Juan Ovalles (7.36) allowed that run to score, but LHP Jason Mackintosh (9.00), in turn, allowed Ovalles run to score. RHP Bryan Heaston (4.15) finished up the ninth with a strikeout. It's hard to pick one batter who stood above them all tonight. I think I'll go with RF Chris Colton (2B, 2 RBI, .167) who went 1-4, even though LF Samuel Bradford (HR, .154) went 2-4. C Chris Collins (HR, .273) and CF Josh Womack (HR, .184) did their part too, as did 3B Michael Cox (E, .156) who went 2-5 and is still trying to prove he isn't just a glove man. An interesting note is SS Adam Jones (R, .212) going 0-3 but getting a walk and being hit by a pitch earlier in the game. Since I was listening to the broadcast, I might as well contribute some substance on it...

Quick Notes:
*O'Flaherty didn't really pitch all that badly, nor did the Chiefs starter, but early on in the game the wind was blowing out towards the OF and pretty hard. T-Rats broadcaster Chris Mehring kept on saying how on an ordinary day, a lot of the balls would have been easy pop ups, but some of them got blown out farther than usual and I think O'Flaherty caught more of that than just about anyone.
*Jones is better with the bat than I think is clearly evident right now, simply because of his power developing and, of course, the Midwest League effect. Mehring was talking about how he hit a ball in a recent game that sounded like a home run, but ended up being a double off the wall. In this game, there was one that clearly sounded like a home run, but by that point the wind was doing odd things and it ended up being a fly out on the warning track. I think he'll definately improve as he goes along.
*The T-Rats offense is Wladimir Balentien. Well, maybe not, but I feel as if he is going to be a key piece in their game throughout the year. Would I go so far as to suggest that they would have won if he had been in the lineup? It's possible, the wind couldn't have hurt, but it's also possible he would have struck out a time or two. I hope the T-Rats hitting coach can help him out with things like that.

The organizational record, as of this posting, is 24-17.

Those interested can listen to the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers game online starting in a minute or so. ITP has sidebar links that lead to online broadcasts for each minor league affiliate. I know I mention them a lot, but they go the extra mile... and I work for them a bit and feel inclined to pimp the site when I haven't written anything in a while.

Meanwhile, in Wisconsin, LHP Eric O'Flaherty (one of the many players in endorse) takes the mound... the lineup looks like this:

CF Josh Womack
3B Mike Cox
SS Adam Jones
DH Jeremy Dutton
C Chris Collins
RF Chris Colton
1B Brenton Metheny
LF Sam Bradford
2B George Sandel

Adam Jones third? Interesting... Also, note that Wladimir Balentien is out of the lineup for the second straight day. Wonder if he tweaked something...

Running commentary:

T-1: You gotta hate the phrase "drag bunt single" when it comes to the opposing team, especially to start the game. A few pitches later, double, then a walk, then a double again, and when it's all over the Chiefs are up 2-0. O'Flaherty gets a strikeout along the way.
B-1: Womack, down the middle pitch gets blasted over the wall for HR. Cox grounds out. Jones hit by a pitch on the forearm. Dutton line drive basehit. Collins pops out in foul territory, just barely. Colton hits one to left center, Jones scores, Dutton tries to score and knocks the ball out of the catcher's mitt, Colton at second! Metheny strikes out. 3-2 Rattlers.
T-2: O'Flaherty strikes out Pagnazzi on three pitches. Wind-aided triple for Boyer. Monagan strikes out. Boyer scores as Cox gets a bad hop on Ryan's groundball, unearned run. Out, didn't hear how. 3-3
B-2: Bradford grounds out barely. Sandel grounds to first. Womack grounds out.
T-3: Evans pops out. O'Flaherty walks a guy. Starting to rain. Jones turns a double play.
B-3: Cox gets a base hit. Jones walks. Dutton strikes out. Collins grounds into a double play.
T-4: Santor gets a wind-aided double. O'Flaherty walks Boyer. Santor scores as O'Flaherty fails to cover on a groundout. Infield pop out by Ryan. O'Flaherty hits Harther, bases loaded. O'Flaherty throws away a pickoff, error, unearned run. Kenly Chang warming up in the bullpen. O'Flaherty walks the batter to reload the bases, Chang takes over. Groundout. 5-3 Chiefs.
B-4: Phone call, cut off the sound, I've had more calls during this broadcast than I've had in the past two weeks. Bradford at second. Sandel gets infield single, Bradford to third, Womack up. Womack grounds to second. There was another hit and an error I couldn't pick up on.
T-5: Colton catches a popup. Cox catches a liner. Chang gets a strikeout.
B-5: Cox grounds to third. Jones grounds to shortstop. Two pitches, two outs. Dutton grounds to second.
T-6: Cox leaps up to catch a bad hop on a grounder, throws the batter out. Jones hurries a throw to get the next batter out. Metheny catches a pop out.
B-6: Collins hits a home run! Colton grounds to short. Metheny grounds out. Bradford hits home run to right field! Sandel takes a walk. Womack grounds out. 5-5.
T-7: Chang allows a double. Ball hit to deep RF, run scores. Chang strikes out a batter. Pop-out in foul territory. Cox/Metheny pull off a tough groundout. 6-5 Chiefs, Chang on the hook for the loss now.
B-7: Cox pops out in foul territory. Jones reaches on an error, Santor bobbled it then threw high. Dutton strikes out. Collins grounds into fielder's choice, Jones out at second.
T-8: Juan Ovalles takes over. Allows a leadoff walk. Gets a strikeout, before being pulled for Jason Mackintosh. Hey Ya by Outkast is playing in the background. Mackintosh allows a pinch hit blooper. Line drive just out of Jones' reach to LF, bases loaded, only one out. Groundout to Dutton, run allowed. Mackintosh gets a strikeout. 7-5 Chiefs.
B-8: Colton flies to center. Metheny gets in on an infield single. Bradford flies to left center. Sandel strikes out.
T-9: Bryan Heaston takes over. Leadoff batter pops out. Sandel barely gets the grounder. "Folks, you're going to want to be here when the [Quad Cities] Swing come to town just to make fun of their uniforms." Heaston gets a strikeout.
B-9: Womack grounds out. Cox hits one to left center field. Jones flies out to deep left center. Dutton grounds out. 7-5 Chiefs win.

I hope to never do a game log like this again.

On the plus side, it lets me delay the box score a bit.

Regarding last night's rained out game in San Bernadino...

The 66ers will try to finish the game at 2:05 pm today as LHP Ryan-Rowland Smith takes the hill to pick up where RHP Rich Dorman left off. After that game is complete, the teams will take a half-hour break before the second game (scheduled to go only seven innings) will start up with RHP Juan Sandoval getting the second start in this unusual doubleheader.

We know now that the game was shut down last night due to rain during play, but another factor coming into it was the amount of rain which fell earlier in the day, which ended up delaying the game by 45 minutes. That's probably why the game didn't start up again once the weather cleared.

Elsewhere, in Wisconsin, a piece on how to survive bus trips in the Midwest League. Those 495 mile journeys to Dayton, Ohio must be killers. The article later muses on the Burlington no-hitter against the T-Rats and adds that RHP J.J. Putz and LHP Derrick Van Dusen are the only T-Rats to have that distinction. Remember when Van Dusen was one of the rising stars in our system? I was pretty irritated when he first got traded along with 2B Jermaine Clarke for a few months of RHP Ismael Valdes, but since that time, he was traded to the Indians and sort of fell off the face of the earth in terms of prospect rankings. Right now, he's a reliever for the Indians Double-A affiliate. Then again, I remember when everyone thought Putz was going to be the third man in the rotation...

A closer look at the minor league system of the Seattle Mariners baseball club.

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2006 Minor League Splits
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2003 Prospect Lists:
Rotoworld Top 100 Prospects
Rotoworld Top 10 Mariners Prospects
The Minors First Top 100 Prospects
Inside The Park's 21-30 Mariners Prospects
On Deck Baseball's Mariners Prospect Rankings
On Deck Baseball's Future 500
On Deck Baseball's Future 500 (AL Only)
Wait Til Next Year's Top 50 Prospects
Wait Til Next Year's 51-90 Prospects
The Sports Network's Top 10 Mariners Prospects
Creative Sports' Top 10 Mariners Prospects
CBS Sportsline's Top AL West Prospects's Top 10 Mariners Prospects's Top 50 Prospects
Seattle PI's Top 15 Mariners Prospects
2003 Runs Created (Current system players)
2003 Runs Created (New acquisitions)
2003 Secondary Avg. (Current system players)
2003 Secondary Avg. (New acquisitions)
2003 WHIP Charts (Current system players)
2003 WHIP Charts (New acquisitions)
2003 K/BB Charts (Current system players)
2003 K/BB Charts (New acquisitions)

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