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Minor League Coverage 2009: Week 2

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Good for some, bad for others. BA also weighed in on us this week, so that's helpful. All in all this has not been a great season, especially for our top position player prospects. I'd added a few more players to the list - LumberKings duo Aaron Pribanic and Brett Lorin, as well as Chris Shelton, Mike Carp, and SS prospect Gabriel Noriega.

Standard disclaimer: I'm not a minor league expert, nor do I claim to be. If you know more about this sort of thing than I do (not hard) please feel more than welcome to contribute.

Carlos Triunfel, IF (DL - Season) : Out for a long time after surgery to fix ligament damage in his ankle (he also has a broken leg!). There doesn't appear to be much point following him further, but if we get any updates I'll keep y'all informed.

Phillipe Aumont, RHP (A+ High Desert): Three relief appearances this week, going a total of 3-1/3rd innings and allowing just two baserunners. On the flip side, he only got one strikeout. This would be more of a worry if he wasn't using his sinker effectively to deliver easy groundball outs, but hey he's running a 53% GB rate so hey it's mostly cool. His BB% is still north of 18, so that's a problem, but that's mostly a result of one disastrous outing in week one. The Aumont-as-reliever experiment is showing no signs of closing up shop, so I guess we should celebrate the fact that he's not terrible at it.

Jeff Clement, C/1B?/DH? (AAA Tacoma): Jeffie was having some massive struggles on the road before arriving in the refurbished Cheney, opening the season something like 1-19 with a .063 batting average. He needed a big game in the worst way, and got it on Friday, launching a home run, hitting a double, and only making one out (a warning track flyball). Even at the height of his struggles he was still drawing walks, so we can hope the mini-breakout gives him a bit of a spark. Clement scuffling with the bat while he struggles with the glove was really the worst-case scenario we could have envisioned for him when his demotion was announced.

Michael Saunders, (DL - ?): Saunders is still recovering from shoulder surgery and isn't going to sniff the playing field until the M's are 100% confident that he's back. At some point we're going to have to get worried about missed development time, but as long as he's back inside a month or so it's not a big concern - he's a near guaranteed MLB callup in September and there's always the Winter Leagues.

Greg Halman, CF (AA West Tennessee): Halman start to the season might be the worst out of any healthy #1 ranked prospect ever. He's only running a LD% of 9, so it's not like his .140 average is the result of him getting unlucky on batted balls. While the power's still there, he's struck out in 19(!!!) of 44 plate appearances. That's frankly abysmal, and one wonders whether a demotion might be in order. He needs to turn this around in a hurry or his stock is going to sink faster than a tungsten brick in helium.

Josh Fields, RHP (AA West Tennessee): That's more like it from Josh. 3 innings this week, with five strikeouts (three in his last appearance) to two walks and one hit. At this point it looks like all he has to do is sharpen his command and shake off a little more of the rust, because AA batters aren't going to be a problem for him. It's nice to see something going well in the system.

Juan Ramirez, RHP (A+ High Desert): Another what the hell sort of start from Ramirez. He went a little over 5 innings, and gave up no runs on a hit and three walks, striking out only two. While BA seems to think that this represents a bit of a breakout for him, I'm pretty skeptical if only because you can't be unhittable if you aren't getting strikeouts. I can't even blame the park for his approach this time as the Mavs were playing in Lake Elsinore. Hope for more strikeouts and less walks next time. Run/hit prevention should be secondary in terms of what we want to see out of Ramirez.

Adam Moore, C (AA West Tennessee): Boring week from Moore, and can basically be summed up as follows: His average game was 1-4, BB, and he did his best to follow that script all week. There, done.

Michael Pineda, RHP (A+ High Desert): He had Juan Ramirez's start against Lake Elsinore with a bunch of runs and extra-base hits thrown in. Like Ramirez, he's got to show better strikeout stuff and walk prevention or he's in trouble.

Julio Morban, OF (??): Hasn't played yet, as far as I can tell.

Mario Martinez, 3B (A Clinton): Terrible from Martinez, as he only reached base twice and went hitless for the week. He's also been playing a lot of DH and 1B which is pretty bizarre. He's currently running up a .264 OPS, which is holy christ bad. It'd be pretty nifty if all of our hitters weren't getting injured/sucking, but what can you do?

Dennis Raben, 1B/OF (DL - season at risk): Very little progress on his knee rehab. He might need another surgery which would mean he's done for the season.

Jharmidy DeJesus, 3B (SS Everett?): Everett still haven't started their season.

Michael Cleto, RHP (?): On the restricted list due to visa issues stranding him in the Dominican Republic. We're having some weird prospect issues this year.

Denny Almonte, OF (A Clinton): Not quite his first week (six strikeouts to one walk this time around), but not exactly bad for Almonte either as he racked up three extra base hits in six games. Keeping up the .800 OPS for the season would be a big step forwards for him, but the odds of that happening are pretty low.

Mike Carp, 1B (AAA Tacoma): Carp has been hitting the crap out of the ball so far this season, posting a .361/.467/.694 line in 45 plate appearances. Eight walks, two home runs, and six doubles in two weeks? Yes please. A breakout year for Carp is high on the list of things that could help out the 2010 Mariners.

Gabriel Noriega, SS (SS Everett): The best defensive infielder in the system, Noriega just can't hit. His offensive ceiling resembles something like Yuniesky Betancourt with less power, so he's pretty questionable to ever make an impact in the bigs unless his defence turns Everettesque or his bat suddenly turns around. Stranger things have happened though, and this is a big year for him to show his stuff.

Aaron Pribanic, RHP (A Clinton): Pribanic has had two good starts so far this year, racking up 10Ks to three walks and four hits. Pribanic has strikeout stuff with a mid-90s fastball and a splitter masquerading as an offspeed offering, but the questions about him coming into the year were about his command and his breaking stuff. He hasn't looked to bad on the former, and I really have no idea about whether he's stoppped dicking around with both the slider and curveball and gotten one of them to actually work (please chime in if you do, though!). Either way, our lower minor leagues are stuffed full of pitching, which can only be a good thing.

Brett Lorin, RHP (A Clinton): Lorin is eclipsing his LumberKing compatriot Pribanic right now, having made two starts and going 6 in each with a 16/1 K/BB ratio. His curve/fastball/change combo has been devastating to low-A batters so far this year - he reached double digit strikeouts in his last start, and the only runs he's allowed have been on homers (which means he's probably getting a little unlucky). There's nothing more you could want from Lorin at this point, so let's hope he keeps this up. He'd be a promotion candidate in the next couple of that months if that wouldn't mean throwing him into the High Desert pitcher-mincing-machine.

Chris Shelton, 1B/DH/3B (AAA Tacoma): For all the talk of Mike Sweeney being done my goodness Shelton's off to a bad start. His strikeouts per game this week? 1, 3, 2, 2, 3, 1. He's not really walking either and with that many Ks even his .216 average is luck-driven. You could pretty easily make the assertion that Clement's start to the season beats the crap out of Shelton's, and that's uh not good at all.With Carp playing 1st in Tacoma, Shelton's been DHing, and Friday's game saw him playing third base against Sacramento. Strange.