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6/17 Minor League Wrap-Up

With the Mariners off, this is it for action!  THE PRESSURE~!

Okay, not really, as all these games happened yesterday.  And the only affiliates playing today are the Dominican and Venezuelan squads, and the West Tenn DIAMOND JAXX, as Single A is now on their All Star Breaks.  Congratulations to High Desert's Adam Moore and the T-Rats' Joe Kantakevich and Andrew Barb, as well as Carlos triunfel (though obviously he won't play) for making their respective All Star teams.

Oh, and you can vote for AAA All Star starters, so please, hook up Adam Jones, still trailing for the starting spot in the OF.

The Everett Aquasox aren't the only ones kicking off a new season this week.  The Arizona League Mariners start their season on June 22nd, this coming Friday.  AAAAH TOO MUCH BASEBALL!

Wait... you can never have too much baseball.  Nevermind ;P

The Everett roster is still taking shape.  J at Mariner Minors has a few names, some speculative, some certain, LATE EDIT: and Dave Cameron has even more info on who's in, but the roster will continue to flux until the season opener later this week.

NOW, on to yesterday's action....

Rk:  The VSL Mariners took Sunday off.

A:  Wisconsin 6, Cedar Rapids 2

Ricky Orta:  3.2 IP, 2 H, 2 walks, 2 K, hit batter
Justin Souza:  3.2 IP, 6 H, 2 ER (HR), 2 K
Drew Fiorenza:  1.2 IP, K
Calvin Beamon:  2-5, R
Trevor Lawhorn:  2-5, R, 2 RBI, K
Carlos Peguero:  2-4, RBI, K (.260)
Kuo Hui Lo:  4-5, 2 RBI, K, 2 SB (15) (.261)
Joseph White:  1-3, RBI, walk, K

Kuo Hui Lo did his Ichiro impression, getting on base with base hits again and again, swiping two bags and generally being a pain in the ass to the Kernels, as the T-Rats slowly built a 6-0 lead.  Meanwhile, this allowed Ricky Orta to take it easy in a rehab start, and was able to pitch into the 4th without allowing too much damage.  His start was hardly dominant, mostly fly balls and line drives, but enough of them found fielders to leave him with a good line.

Flyballs:  5
Groundballs:  2
Line Drives:  4
Walks:  2 (plus 1 hit batter)
Strikeouts:  2

Justin Souza pitched fine in his stead until the 8th, when Matthew Sweeney led off with a solo homer, then Jon Hodach hit a one out double, followed by a Tyler Johnson double, and Souza got the obvious hook for Drew Fiorenza, who managed to get out without further damage despite a fielding error by Juan Diaz (which KHL fortunately turned into an out at 3rd when Tyler Johnson on 2nd foolishly thought that Lo couldn't throw him out).

Meanwhile, Chris @ Rattler Radio linked an op/ed piece from a local writer who suggested that, when the T-Rats' deal with the Mariners ends after next year, that the T-Rats hook up with the nearby Brewers.  I dunno, from a local standpoint, I think it'd be a good move for the T-Rats to pull the trigger on that.  It'd leave the Mariners without a Full Season Low A affiliate, and end a long, long relationship with Appleton's club, but they'd live, even if it meant moving the kids farther east (the Brewers' current Single A affiliate is in West Virginia, and the Midwest League is the closest full Low A league to the Mariners).

NEXT:  Midwest League All Star Break!  The T-Rats will send 3 players to the All Star game... okay, 2: Andrew Barb and Joe Kantakevich made the team, as did Triunfel, but Phenom obviously will not play due to his broken thumb.

Also needless to say, the T-Rats' 22-46 record did not win them the 1st half Western division title.  A revamped squad will gun for the 2nd half title when T-Rats baseball resumes on Thursday.

A:  High Desert 20, Rancho Cucamonga 10

Jose Escalona:  5 IP, 8 H, (7 R) 6 ER (HR), 2 walks, 4 K, wild pitch, hit batter
Roman Martinez:  2 IP, 3 H, (3 R) 1 ER, 2 K
Nicholas Allen:  1 IP.  I'll start calling him Nick Allen in the 2nd half ;P
Paul Fagan:  1 IP
Casey Craig:  4-4, double, 5 R, 3 RBI, 2 walks, 2 SB (.352)
Michael Saunders:  2-4, double, 2 R, RBI, walk (.303)
Jesus Guzman:  2-5, double, R, 3 RBI (.281)
Adam Moore:  3-5, double, 3 R, 3 RBI, walk, K (.291)
Travis Scott:  2-3, solo HR, 3 R, 2 RBI, 3 walks (.297)
Jeff Dominguez:  3-6, double, 4 RBI (.240)
Jeff Flaig:  3-5, double, R, 3 RBI, 2 errors (.221)
Hargrove's kid:  3-5, 2 R, walk, K, error
Omar Peña:  2-5, double, 2 R, 2 errors

I don't usually mention the errors, but I figured I would given that both teams committed TEN of them in a wild game that saw a fourth quarter touchdown that broke the game open for the Mavs, and clearly, the ground games dominated as there were only two home runs by both teams despite the 30 runs.  Figures that in the last game of the 1st half, the Mavs go out and play vintage High Desert baseball in the space park (even if there were few HRs).

Each Mav in the starting lineup had at least 2 hits.  Quakes starter Brok Butcher, who had run the luckiest sub 2 ERA ever, got lit up for 6 runs (4 earned) in his 5 innings, but that wasn't the half of it, as he left with a 7-6 lead and the Mavs beat the crap out of reliever Tim Mattison, who finished the 6th after allowing 3 runs but couldn't escape the 7th after the Quakes had retaken the lead 10-9 off Roman Martinez.  Mattison let the Mavs tie the ballgame and Phony Francisco Rodriguez came in with a runner on, then failed to record an out while allowing an inherited runner to score before leaving them loaded for reliever Jose Arredondo.  Arredondo allowed two of Imposter-Rod's runners to score before finishing the inning, the Mavs now leading 14-10 after the extra point.

Arredondo came back out for the 8th and the Mavs torched him again for a touchdown, but went for two and were stopped by reliever Kelly Shearer.  Still, with a 20-10 lead going into the top 9th, even the space park couldn't save the quakes, and the Mavs posted their biggest win of the season, at leats in terms of run quantity.

Jose Escalona, in allowing ONLY 6 runs in his 5 innings of work, had arguably the best extended night of work out of any hurler out there.  He even struck out the side in the 3rd, a feat lost amid all this offense.

Flyballs:  3
Groundballs:  7
Line Drives:  5
Pop Ups:  2 (one of which dropped in for a hit.  Thanks, Omar Peña!)
Walks:  2 (plus 1 hit batter)
Strikeouts:  4

NEXT:  All Star Break for the Cal League as well, as the Carolina League comes to Stockton for the High A All Star Game.  The Mavs' lone rep will be catcher Adam Moore, whose destruction of suck pitches earned him one of the two catcher spots for the Cal League, alongside Inland Empire's Lucas May.  Lake Elsinore leads the Cal League with 6 All Stars, including 3 of the 5 infield spots with 1B Kyle Blanks, 2B Matt Antonelli and 3B David Freese.

Like the T-Rats, the Mavs will resume play Thursday.

AA:  West Tenn 4, Tennessee 3

Travis Chick:  7.2 IP, 1 H, (1 R) 0 ER, walk, 4 K
David Asher:  0.2 IP, 2 H, 1 ER
Craig James:  0.2 IP, 2 H, 1 ER
Prentice Redman:  1-4, solo HR, 2 R, K (.274)
Marshall Hubbard:  2-4, 2 run HR, 2 R, K (.252)
Matt Tuiasosopo:  0-4, K (.286)
Luis Valbuena:  2-4 (.236)

Travis Chick has taken to starting in AA with great aplomb, as his 2nd start went even better than the 1st, working into the 8th without allowing an earned run.  If a quality rehabbing starter is what we got for Eddie Guardado, then I'd call that a huge win.

He did get some luck, as only one of the two infield errors committed led to a run (the only run off Chick) and both line drives he surrendered found fielders.  Plus, he gave up quite a few flyballs, and none of them left the yard or found the grass on the deep outfield.  But overall, he showed enough fortitude to prove at least a useful starter, and with the big club and Tacoma sucking up pitchers, he couldn't prove so a moment too soon.

Flyballs:  10
Groundballs:  8
Line Drives:  2
Pop Ups:  2
Walks:  1
Strikeouts:  4

The DIAMOND JAXX sealed the deal in the top 7th, when Prentice Redman led off with a solo home run, Jeff Frazier later singled and Luis Valbuena's one out grounder with men on the corners led to another score when Smokies 1B Matt Craig threw the double play ball YIKES AND AWAY.  4-1 DIAMOND JAXX.

Funny thing: Chick was pulled for David Asher in the 8th, and Sam Fuld immediately tripled off Asher, then scored on a Jorge Cortes single to make it 4-2.  Given Chick is on the comeback trail, I understand not wanting to exert him any further than is comfortable, but you had to wonder if Fuld would've tagged Chick the way he tagged Asher.

Asher got out of it and got one out into the 9th, ceding to Craig James, who got the 2nd out, then surrendered a double to Jake Fox, then a lined single to Jemel Spearman to plate a run and make it 4-3.  Chris Robinson, however, grounded out to end the ballgame.

NEXT:  Justin Thomas' turn to pitch as the DIAMOND JAXX, the only Mariners North American affiliate in action today, starts a ridiculous SIX game set with the Mississippi AA Braves at home at 5:05 pm PDT.

AAA:  Tacoma 4, Tucson 1

Juan Doñe:  7 IP, 5 H, walk, 2 K, wild pitch
Ryan Rowland-Smith:  1 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 K
Wife Vulture:  1 IP, 1 H
Gookie Dawkins:  1-4, double, R, K (.255)
Jeremy Reed:  0-4, 2 K (.290)
Adam Jones:  2-4, 2 doubles, 2 R, RBI, 2 K (.326)
WLAD:  3-3, 2 RBI, walk (.317)
Oswaldo Navarro:  1-3, solo HR (.225)

Juan Doñe is here to stay, and he's elevated his game accordingly.  Doñe pitched 7 shutout innings and put down a Sidewinders lineup that is just as depleted and tired as the Rainiers.  RRS gave them a laughably faint glimmer of hope in the 8th, but slammed the door and Wife Vulture returned from court to pitch the 9th and found Tucson guilty on one count of losing this ballgame.

Doñe's numbers:

Flyballs:  7
Groundballs:  7 (plus 1 bunt)
Line Drives:  4
Pop Ups:  3
Walks:  1
Strikeouts:  2

So, Brandon Morrow.  The calls are to have him starting in AA.  So let's say the fanbase and media wouldn't flip out if you were to send him down.  Thing is, the AA rotation is pretty solid, yet none of those guys in Jackson, TN are displaying a particular readiness to face AAA hitters.  The AAA club, however, is painfully thin in the bullpen, yet you want Morrow to work on facing lineups multiple times, and AAA may be too high for him to learn to swim in that regard.

So, just promote one of the AA starters anyway, right?  The Rainiers already took a chance in promoting and starting Juan Doñe, and while that has paid off so far, there's no guarantee that promoting a AAer to get beat around isn't punting said AAers development.  For every Doñe, there is a Jason Mackintosh, who went from developing AA starter to AAA bullpen fodder.  Sure, you can say Morrow > everyone else, so his development comes first and the hell with everyone else... but that's a tad simple minded in terms of the big picture and the team's already aggressively promoted so many pitchers this season.  Is putting Brandon Morrow in the right place to start worth the risk of running, say, Robert Rohrbaugh through the talent shredder?  If you say yes, then okay, but it's not the smartest move.

So, how about High A?  Single A would be pretty low for Morrow's talent.  High Desert could use him, though as has been beaten to death, the thin air and space park would punish his every mistake.  And, to commit the taboo of playing baseball psychologist for a second, what would it do to Morrow's confidence to go from facing big league hitters in May... to getting pounded by a bunch of High A'ers from Lancaster in August, even if the external factors allow us to know better?

In that case, it's best, for Morrow, to punt a starter from the DIAMOND JAXX bullpen and put him in the Tacoma bullpen, or you can punt Woods or Sandoval into the bullpen and just put AA Starter in the rotation as a sink-or-swim move, and then slot Morrow in the DIAMOND JAXX rotation.

NEXT:  Off day Monday, but no All Star Break for them yet.  They're on their way to Sacremento to play a series with the River Cats in lovely Raley Field.