I'm something of a Garfield fan. By fan, I mean I've read every single one his comics. All the dailies, all the books and even that silly cartoon they had on when I was a pre-teen. If you know anything about Garfield, you've probably already figured out where I'm going. Mondays tend to suck. Luckily, all I've managed to do this morning is split my slacks while climbing into the car and spilling coffee on my white shirt. But, I will press on and bring you these fun numbers!
From the brink of the majors all the way down to rookie ball, this update will cover the goings on in the minor league system. This week won’t include Everett since they’ve only played three games to date. I also won’t include the VSL or DSL because, honestly, who can make anything out of those numbers?
These numbers are for the past seven days.
Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers
Dustin Ackley's 16-game hit streak came to a close on Sunday as he went 0-4 in Tacoma's loss down in Vegas. Brad Miller returned from his torn fingernail issue that sidelined him on Saturday and picked up a knock to extend his streak to 16 contests.
Not enough gets said about Stefen Romero, in my opinion. I guess he's not a sexy prospect, but he's the reigning player of the year in the system and -- unlike Vinnie Catricala before him -- has continued to hit at a higher level. When talking about the club's outfield options, I've seen people completely brush off anything Tacoma has to offer outside of Ackley now as an option. Sure, I'd like to see him walk more and his BABIP has been a bit high this season at .367, but I really like this kid. He's neither been amazing nor overly lucky. I don't know that he's an every day guy at the next level, but every good team needs solid role players and I think Romero has a shot at being one.
Erasmo Ramirez is ready, plain and simple. There's nothing left for him to prove in Tacoma. He's getting deep into games, being efficient, striking guys out and just all around looking awesome. This won't make him an ace in Seattle, but a Felix-Iwakuma-Ramirez start to the rotation would be pretty nifty.
Brandon Maurer might be starting to settle in. We know the narratives on the start of his year, so we'll skip those. His command still isn't all the way sharp, as he walked three and hit two in his outing last week. He's showing some signs of relaxing away from the bright lights of the majors, though.
I'm kind of a Forrest Snow fanboy. Having talked to him last year, this kid wants so desperately to do well for the team he grew up watching. He's putting in the work to get better. He may never be more than a one- or two-batter guy, but I don't care. I'm rooting for him to do well.
Abe Almonte was putting up numbers that had some in the fan base asking if he was an option due to the age and injury issues currently in the M's outfield, but he's starting to regress.
Franklin Gutierrez. Those may be the only two words needed for him, but here are some more. With this being his contract year (yes, I know the club has an option but it's not getting picked up), the team being out of the race and his injury woes, we should mentally prepare ourselves for life without Guti, however hard that may be to prepare for.
Did you know that Nate Tenbrink is already 26?
Hector Noesi remained Hector Noesi, so let's skip to James Paxton.
Paxton is really having a rough go of things this season based on the counting stats. The peripherals show that he should improve, though. He's running a BABIP against over .380 and putting up a good K/BB rate, so I'm not horribly worried. This may push his timetable to the show back a little, but there wasn't a reason to rush him up anyway. I think these are the good kinds of struggles for young players to face in the minors to see if they can make the proper adjustments to even those numbers out. Come September, I still think he'll get a cup of coffee and then should look to make a good showing next spring.
Double-A Jackson Generals
Julio Morban probably isn't very far off from moving up to Tacoma. Once Ackley and Gutierrez are back in the majors, there could be room for him. Eric Thames also has a broken hand, so playing time could be plentiful before too long. The Generals aren't loaded with top prospects like they were a season ago, so losing Morban will sting a bit.
I wouldn't plan on booking a trip to Tennessee to see Tai Walker. He just can't possibly have much more time there. His command -- one thing oft pointed to for moving him slowly -- is starting to really improve. His last four starts have been exceptional in that regard. He's walked only five, hit just one batter and threw only one wild pitch. Those aren't bad numbers to go along with 27 strikeouts. He hasn't walked more than two since April, so this is starting to become a trend. It could very well be time to take the kid gloves off and let him face PCL hitting to see if the improvements stick.
Chance Ruffin is doing all he can to salvage something -- anything -- from that Doug Fister trade. I wouldn't expect a ton of outings like this one moving forward, but if he can keep getting deep into ballgames without being destroyed, he makes for some nice depth in the rotation.
In 211 trips to the plate for High Desert, 1B Ji-Man Choi really spanked Cal League pitching. It's not out of the norm for players moving to the more neutral Southern League to struggle for a bit, but Choi has lost ~200 points from his batting average and on-base percentage and nearly 300 points from his slugging percentage. He's only been in Jackson for 10 days, so I won't be all "yep, High Desert strikes again" under my breath quite yet, but his numbers aren't likely to be in the video game realm in Jackson, either.
Carson Smith is a reliever and reliever statistics in small samples are impossible to analyze. I like the kid a lot and don't expect him to be a regular on this list. In his 21 1/3 innings this season, he's struck out 28 and walked only five unintentionally.
High-A High Desert Mavericks
High Desert asterisks and all that, Taylor is another example of the value Mariners Scouting Director Tom McNamara has found in the later rounds of the draft. The fifth round pick from last season tore Everett apart before passing his Clinton test -- albeit more of a fly by than a stay -- as well. His seven dingers and 16 doubles for the Mavericks surely aren't all thanks to the hitter-friendly league. One thing to watch will be his BB/K ratio. At 62 strikeouts against 44 free passes this year, he's whiffing much more than he had last season.
No, I don't think Steven Baron will ever hit.
Low-A Clinton Lumberkings
Clinton collected only one homer as team for the week, but did notch 17 doubles.
I don't know how to say this any other way: Anthony Vasquez is an amazing fucking story. Yeah, he's a 26-year-old in the low minors. But this guy just had brain surgery. After seeking help from trainers because of headaches, a ruptured blood vessel was found in his brain. It was leaking for days.
Stop and think about that. That was just last November. Then try to imagine competing just a few months later. I once called Vasquez the one of the most boring pitchers I'd ever seen. Now, he's one of the most amazing stories I've watched unfold and can't do anything but hope that this guy makes it back to the big leagues. Whether as a starter, long reliever or mop up guy, it doesn't really matter. It's not always about spreadsheets, scouting reports or fastballs that dazzle with movement. These are people who deal with real problems. If you can't root for this kid, you're the one with brain problems.
Marcus Littlewood is still in Low-A ball and is still not very good.
Pike's season has been something of a Helter Skelter, alternating good starts with not-so good starts. I should have probably saved that reference for someone who went good-awful-good-awful, but you get the idea. He's been mostly good overall. The 53/29 K/BB ratio is nice, showing decent command with one hit batter and only four wild pitches thrown. I'd guess he'll pitch most of the summer at Clinton. At only 19-years-old, there's no need to rush him and there's certainly no reason to put him in the lion's den that is the Cal league. Maybe he'll skip High Desert for a taste of Double-A in Jackson this year? I don't know that I'd bet money on that, but it's possible!
That's it for now. Let me know what you think of this report. Requests on info you'd like included is welcome.