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8/2 Minor League Wrap-Up

(Apologies for the delay: internet connection issues)

- A big story right now is the distinct possibility that the Carolina League will purchase two struggling Cal League teams and move them east.  One of those teams is the High Desert Mavs, the other being the Bakersfield Blaze (Rangers).  Both play in cheap, publically owned stadiums badly in need of repair, and in both cases, neither owning municipality has any interest in upgrading the facilities.  And in High Desert's case, Adelanto is looking to steeply raise the Mavs' rent when their lease expires in a couple years.  Both facilities are jokes: the Blaze's home field grass is in embarrassing shape, with brown patches all over the field, and we know about the Mavs' launchpad creating a laughably offense-friendly environment that has routinely left the Mavs at the bottom of the league in run prevention.  Plus, as you'd suspect, attendance at both parks has been near the bottom of the Cal League over the last few years.

Richmond, VA is a potential stop for one of these clubs, with the Braves moving their AAA affiliate to suburban Gwinnett County in Atlanta next season.  However, The Diamond is a large park by High A standards (over 12,000 seats), though the Richmond Baseball Initiative had pressed to build a new ballpark for the R-Braves (The Diamond, rebuilt in 1985, is getting old, and has had some problems with wear and Kingdome-style falling parts), and a cheaper consolation would be to build a smaller park for a Carolina League team (The Diamond is and still would be used by the Virginia Commonwealth University baseball team).

The Mariners' deal with High Desert ran only through this season, but given their intentions of moving to the Carolina League next season, this potential move vastly improves their chances of making the move.  However, one of the complications pushing the move is that two non-West Coast teams have been forced for years to play High A ball in the Cal League, one of which is the Boston Red Sox (Lancaster).  Should the move take place, the Red Sox may ditch Lancaster and toss money at the Carolina League to get dibs on one of the departing teams and keep their High A players closer to home.  The Rangers could follow the departing Blaze team eastward as well, though their affiliation currently is in question.  There is a possibility, considering both these situations, that the M's may remain in the Cal League and perhaps get stuck with Lancaster's launchpad.  However, consider that item nothing more than idle speculation.

A lot needs to happen between now and next Spring before we can know for certain what will shake out.

- With Saturday's 6-2 loss to the league-low VSL Tigers, the VSLMs conclude the VSL regular season with a 2nd place 42-26 record.

Hitters that may warrant a look on the mainland include 20 year old CF Mario Yepez (345/404/462), who had 17 doubles and 4 triples plus 11 stolen bases in 238 ABs and only 1 error in 105 chances in CF... and 19 year old Jetsy Extrano (279/359/433), with 19 doubles and 4 HR (a lot for the dead-ball VSL) in 201 AB, plus a team-leading 24 walks while splitting time at 2B, 3B and SS.

Pitchers who warrant a shot are harder to gauge, because many often can pitch well in the Rookie leagues with middling stuff that wouldn't manage at higher levels, as most of their hitting peers are still raw and lack plate discipline and/or pitch recognition abilities.  That said, 17 year old Nolan Diaz walked next to nobody in his 59 swingman innings (only 4 walks to 39 K), and 18 year old Erasmo Ramirez over 63 IP also walked few (9) while getting his share of K's (46).  Teenagers Yoervis Medina (8.0) and Oberth Guanire (8.2) ran high K rates out of the pen as well (though Oberth only threw 18.2 IP and also had a high walk rate at 5.3).

Nobody else stands out among the group.  The key with VSL data is not to fall too hard for high K/BB rates and low ERAs, given the VSL is a dead-ball league with a collective .341 SLG that sees an average of 4.44 runs per game.  If you're going to have a chance as a VSL pitcher, you MUST run an ERA at 3 or below, with solid K rates and a K/BB well over 2.00, because half the league will.

The number of visas the M's can procure for incoming DSL and VSL talent is limited (especially from Venezuela due to complications given ZOMG POLITICS), so they must be selective of who they bring in, and often leave behind talent that may otherwise deserve a shot.  We'll see next season who in the VSL they decided to bring north.

- Henry Perez of the DSLMs threw the first complete game of the DSLMs season, allowing only 3 hits and striking out 6 without walking a batter.  Both runs he allowed came during a 2 run 7th inning rally where he allowed his only XBH of the game with a man on 1st and nobody out.  The inning could have gone a lot worse than it did. He did have 14 flyouts to 7 groundouts, but an unseeming many of those outs were pop-ups, and he got a lot of grounders along with them.

Groundballs:  9
Flyballs:  4
Line Drives:  2
Pop Ups:  9
Walks:  0 (but 1 hit batter)
Strikeouts:  6

Henry Perez has a 10.3 K/9 after 55 innings, mostly as a starter, and while his 3.4 BB/9 looks a bit highish, it's well below the league average of 4.3 BB/9.  Henry is 18 years old and in his 2nd go-round with the DSLMs after a good 2007 (14 GS +2, 2.82 ERA, 54.1 IP, 1 HR, 20/60 BB/K).  Not sure if scouts didn't think he had the stuff or the maturity (as of yet), or don't think much of pitching success in the DSL given the dead-ball level of play, or if they wanted to give the teenager another year and see if he continued his success in the DSL.

- The rebuild of Austin Bibens-Dirkx continues, as he made a rehab start in Peoria yesterday and worked a scoreless inning, going line drive, pop out, (what would have been a successful pickoff... except Terry Serrano dropped ABD's throw) groundout, strikeout.  Looks good, as the team's gradually easing ABD back into competition and letting him work back into his original motion: a large cause of his struggles (and perhaps his injuries) were the product of coaches tinkering with his already-effective sidearm motion.  Let the kid do things his way, and he will likely succeed.

- Catcher Peter Whatley, not to be confused with late pro wrestler Pez Whatley, made his pro debut with the AZLMs in the nightcap of their doubleheader, going 1 for 3.  Whatley, a graduate of Regis University, appears to be a random free agent pickup.  There's nothing to lose with pickups like these. Worst case scenario, he's no good and you cut him.  Big deal: you got him for nothing anyway.  If he succeeds, then hey.

- The Emeralds and Aquasox combined for 25 K in Everett's 11-6 loss to Eugene.  The Aquasox have a knack for landing in games like these.  You'd swear the Mariners org had a thing for aggressive hackers or something.  And while Emeralds starter Nick Vincent had 9 of those K's in a quality 5 inning start, both teams couldn't keep their respective hurlers out for long, using a total of 12 pitchers.

- The Mavs have themselves a winning streak, and yesterday they quickly built a big lead, blasting Empire starter Timothy Sexton in Weaver-vs-Royals fashion, scoring six runs off him and chasing him after only one out in the 1st inning.  Sexton, the Dodgers 25th round pick in 2007 pitching in his 1st full pro season, looked good in a brief 2007 trial in Great Lakes, but has been Cal Leagued this season despite solid ratios.

- On the other end of this 9-3 win... welcome back, Kyle Parker!  Glad you're feeling better.  Parker was last seen walking off the mound in the 2nd inning of a June 17 start favoring his right arm, but several weeks of rest later, he returned and faced 15 batters, got two outs into the 3rd and recorded seven groundouts plus a bunt, one pop up, two flyballs, struck out a batter and walked three.  Other than the understandably shaky control and limited endurance from his layoff, he looked like himself.

- How badly have Mavs pitchers struggled?  Despite missing several weeks with his injury, Parker is still 2nd on the Mavs in innings pitched (84.1 IP).  No SP has been consistent enough to log enough innings to pass him, and the only one who has, Anthony Varvaro (100.2 IP), has been the exact opposite of solid and consistent.

The Mavs have used 15 different starting pitchers this season.

- The DIAMOND JAXX got blasted for 10 runs by Montgomery hitting, but it almost didn't matter because the Biscuits starter on the mound was some hotshot kid named David Price.  Price struck out 10 DIAMOND JAXX over 7 innings and allowed one run, as the Biscuits blew up THE FIST for 5 runs in the 1st, piled on steadily (FISTER was gone by the 4th) and never looked back.  For what it's worth, the one run was a solo shot by Greg Halman.

One interesting item was the man who relieved Dougie Fistball: Luis Muñoz, who curiously appeared on the M's 40 man roster a few days ago.  The M's recently claimed the RHP off waivers from the Pirates (and no, I'm not sure what the M's fetish is with scrap-heapers from one of MLB's poorest organizations) and he had options, so here he is in West Tenn.  Free talent is always useful, and he debuted with a scoreless 4th, ceding to fellow scrap-heaper Nelson Payano (though Payano came from the Braves), who got touched up for 2 runs himself over his 3 frames.

- One of the Rainiers' most durable starters, Sean White, finally ran into some trouble.  According to Ryan Divish, he left the 3rd inning of his start yesterday with discomfort in his throwing shoulder.  It probably isn't a huge deal, but manager Daren Brown decided not to take any chances.

The byproduct of this ill fate: the semi-triumphant return of Denny Stark to the Rainiers.  Recently promoted from West Tenn, and making his first appearance with the Rainiers since his 14-2 season as a top starter for the 2001 PCL Co-Champs, Stark came in cold from the pen, finished the 3rd and pitched through the 6th without allowing a run.

Now for STATS....

VENEZUELA~!  VSL Tigers 6, VSL Mariners 2
VSLMs:  42-26... VSL Tigres: 24-43
(League:  254/335/341... 3.44 ERA)

Isliexel Gonzalez:  one out, 2 H, 4 ER (HR), 4 walks
Reynaldo Sabala:  4.2 IP, 1 H, 5 K (9 GS +5, 2.72 ERA, 56.1 IP, 1 HR, 24/35 BB/K)
Mayckol Guaipe:  2 IP, walk, 3 K (18 app, 1.86 ERA, 38.2 IP, 1 HR, 19/25 BB/K)
Yoervis Medina:  1 IP, 3 H, (2 R) 1 ER, 2 K (17 app, 1.79 ERA, 40.1 IP, 1 HR, 12/36 BB/K)
Carlos Ramirez:  1-3, double, R, RBI (333/392/420)
Michael Acevedo:  1-3, double, RBI (248/329/324)
rest of VSLMs lineup:  1-24, walk, 8 K

Dominican:  DSL Mariners 4, DSL AthleticsDos 2
DSLMs:  32-19... DSLA2s:  22-22
(League:  237/339/321... 3.72 ERA)

Henry Perez:  CG, 3 H, 2 ER, 6 K, hit batter (9 GS +3, 1.80 ERA, 55 IP, 21/63 BB/K)
Ramon Morla:  2-5, double, R, RBI (252/406/366)
Axel Wel:  1-4, RBI (253/350/299)
Hassiel Jimenez:  1-4, double, R (264/396/339)
Rudy van Heydoorn:  2-3, R (226/404/374)
Angel Zapata:  2-3, R, RBI, K (220/286/235)

They played two in Peoria!

Game 1:  Mariners 3, Angels 2

Austin Bibens-Dirkx:  1 IP, 1 H, K
Brian Oates:  5 IP, 6 H, 2 ER (HR), 2 walks, 5 K, wild pitch (5 GS +4, 4.43 ERA, 40.2 IP, 3 HR, 24/41 BB/K)
Richard Ortiz:  1 IP, 2 H, K (11 app, 1.96 ERA, 18.1 IP, 1 HR, 11/16 BB/K)
Jarrett Burgess:  1-3, double, K
rest of AZLMs lineup:  2-20, 4 walks, 6 K

Game 2:  Angels 13, Mariners 1

(League:  267/350/384... 4.51 ERA)

Brandon Maurer:  3 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 walks, 2 K, wild pitch, balk
Yao Wen Chang:  1 IP, 4 H, 7 ER (HR), 4 walks, K, wild pitch (10 app, 7.30 ERA, 12.1 IP, 1 HR, 16/9 BB/K)
Eddy Hernandez:  3 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, walk, wild pitch, hit batter (9 app, 7.62 ERA, 13 IP, 1 HR, 10/7 BB/K)
Jarrett Burgess:  1-3, double, R, K (193/268/237)
Peter Whatley:  1-3, RBI

Rk+:  Pulaski 6, Danville 3
PMs:  27-17... DAN:  24-21
(League:  262/334/391... 4.22 ERA)

Brooks Mohr:  6 IP, 5 H, 1 ER (HR), 2 walks, 5 K, wild pitch, hit batter (9 GS, 2.68 ERA, 43.2 IP, 3 HR, 19/39 BB/K)
Jose Rios:  1 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, walk, K (10 app, 3.73 ERA, 31.1 IP, 2 HR, 6/36 BB/K)
Blake Nation:  2 IP, 1 H, 2 K (12 app, 3.18 ERA, 17 IP, 1 HR, 6/18 BB/K)
Blake Trinkler:  1-4, RBI, walk, 2 K (200/333/313)
Mario Martinez:  2-5, solo HR, K (317/349/484)
Jonathan Arias:  1-3, triple, R, RBI, walk, 2 K (232/289/391)
Tommy Johnson:  4-4, 2 RBI (382/408/471)
Dwight Britton:  2-3, sac fly RBI (232/267/348)

A-:  Eugene 11, Everett 6
EVE:  17-28... EUG:  22-23
(League:  254/344/367... 4.12 ERA)

Bobby LaFromboise:  3 IP, 2H, walk, 4 K (7 GS +1, 4.39 ERA, 26.2 IP, 3 HR, 7/22 BB/K)
Bradley Reid:  2 IP, 4 H, 4 ER (HR), 2 walks (7 app, 6.30 ERA, 10 IP, 1 HR, 4/5 BB/K)
Javier Martinez:  one out, 1 H, 2 walks, wild pitch (13 app, 5.68 ERA, 12.2 IP, 1 HR, 14/10 BB/K)
Christian Staehely:  1.2 IP, 1 H, walk, 3 K, wild pitch (12 app, 4.56 ERA, 23.2 IP, 1 HR, 18/16 BB/K)
Doug Salinas:  one out, 3 H, (5 R) 3 ER, 2 walks, K, wild pitch (14 app, 5.56 ERA, 34 IP, 2 HR, 20/31 BB/K)
Robbie Dominguez:  one out, 1 H, (2 R) 0 ER, 2 walks, K (11 app, 9.00 ERA, 16 IP, 1 HR, 13/14 BB/K)
Eddy Fernandez:  one out, 1 H (17 app, 5.09 ERA, 23 IP, 2 HR, 8/26 BB/K)
Tyson Gillies:  0-5, 4 K: The Golden Sombrero (270/351/370)
Dennis Freaking Raben:  1-5, solo HR, 2 R, 2 K (307/458/627)
Nate Tenbrink:  2-4, double, R, RBI, walk (227/337/364)
Fleming Baez:  1-5, double, 2 RBI, 2 K (227/310/360)
Brandon Fromm:  2-4, double, R, 2 K (252/295/366)

A:  Great Lakes 7, Wisconsin 5
WIS:  13-30... GL:  16-27
(League:  252/324/375... 3.71 ERA)

Juan Ramirez:  5.2 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 5 K, wild pitch, 2 hit batters (17 GS +3, 4.55 ERA, 95 IP, 6 HR, 29/85 BB/K)
Natividad Dilone:  2.1 IP, walk, 4 K, wild pitch (16 app, 5.06 ERA, 21.1 IP, 2 HR, 11/21 BB/K)
Robert Harmon:  1 IP, 3 H, 4 ER, walk, K, wild pitch (28 app, 8.03 ERA, 37 IP, 3 HR, 30/40 BB/K)
Daniel Carroll:  1-5, triple, R, 2 RBI, 2 K (262/342/331)
Ronald Garth:  2-4, 2 RBI (266/321/404)
Joe Dunigan:  1-4, double, K (229/286/409)
Blake Ochoa:  2-4, R, RBI, K (224/307/333)

A+:  High Desert 9, Inland Empire 3
Mavs:  18-24... Empire:  22-20
(League:  274/343/413... 4.58 ERA)

Kyle Parker:  2.2 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 3 walks, K, wild pitch (16 GS, 4.27 ERA, 84.1 IP, 7 HR, 39/67 BB/K)
Michael Wagner:  2 IP, K (42 app, 4.58 ERA, 53 IP, 2 HR, 16/45 BB/K)
Justin Souza:  1.2 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 3 walks, 3 K (7 app, 3.00 ERA, 15 IP, 1 HR, 6/18 BB/K)
Bryan Harris:  1.2 IP, K (31 app, 6.69 ERA, 39 IP, 9 HR, 9/27 BB/K)
Aaron Cotter:  1 IP, 1 H, K (43 app, 3.27 ERA, 55 IP, 4 HR, 13/52 BB/K)
Jamie McOwen:  2-5, R, RBI, 3 K (263/319/396)
Carlos Triunfel:  1-4, double, 2 R, RBI, walk, K, SB #26 (282/332/413)
Ronnie Prettyman:  2-5, double, 3 RBI, R, K (353/383/588)
Joe Simokaitis:  2-5, double, R, RBI, K (296/360/506)
Kevin Reynolds:  3-5, double, RBI, 2 K
Ogui Diaz:  1-5, double, 2 R, K (249/277/332)
James Davenport:  1-4, RBI, K
Gavin Dickey:  1-4, R, RBI, K, SB (263/296/329)

AA:  Montgomery 10, West Tenn 1
WTN:  16-25... MON:  25-16
(League:  262/340/397... 4.16 ERA)

Doug FISTER:  3 IP, 10 H, 8 ER, 3 walks, K (23 GS, 5.52 ERA, 122.1 IP, 12 HR, 43/91 BB/K)
Luis Muñoz:  1 IP, 1 H, 2 K
Nelson Payano:  3 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 walks, 3 K, 2 wild pitches, hit batter (39 app, 4.15 ERA, 65 IP, 3 HR, 39/62 BB/K)
Roman Martinez:  1 IP (29 app, 5.82 ERA, 34 IP, 4 HR, 16/27 BB/K)
Greg Halman:  1-4, solo HR, K (279/318/510)
Noah Old Sox Hall:  2-3 (242/361/319)
rest of DIAMOND JAXX lineup: pwned by David Price

AAA:  Tacoma 4, Round Rock 1

TAC:  59-55... RR:  52-63
(League:  276/347/442... 4.83 ERA)

Sean White:  2.2 IP, 2 H, walk, K (22 GS, 5.47 ERA, 125 IP, 12 HR, 43/52 BB/K)
Denny Stark:  3.1 IP, 4 H
Jon Huber:  2 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 K (41 app, 7.21 ERA, 53.2 IP, 4 HR, 19/40 BB/K)
Jorge Sosa:  1 IP, 1 H, walk, 2 K (20 app, 3.65 ERA, 24.2 IP, 5 HR, 9/28 BB/K)
Matt Tuiasosopo:  1-3, R, RBI, K (262/348/400)
WLAD:  1-4, double, R, RBI, 2 K (265/353/575)
Victor Diaz:  1-4, double, RBI, 2 K (287/370/548)
Shawn Garrett:  2-4 (299/327/448)
Luis Valbuena:  2-3, R, RBI, K (269/356/375)