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Mariner Winter League Update #1 - Who's Playing Where?

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Despite the calendar marching towards November, things are heating up in various off-season leagues.

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Ed's note - Sam Clark wrote regular, excellent Fanposts over the season's final months updating us on the goings on in the minor leagues. I have asked Sam to come on staff and regularly contribute his knowledge and diligence on the farm system to the site. I'm thrilled to say he's agreed. His first official post is below. Welcome Sam!

The Seattle Mariners went 76-86 and missed the playoffs in 2015. Unfortunately, that poor performance seemed to have also trickled down to the minor leagus, as only one of the five clubs above rookie level managed to post a winning record. Yet despite the Everett AquaSox mark of 42-34, the M's organization overall saw its affiliated teams go 270-366 (.425) last season, which is obviously less than ideal. Now, while recently minted GM Jerry Dipoto will certainly make a handful of moves this winter to improve the big league club heading into 2016, the real turnover will be taking place outside of Safeco Field. It will involve players you've not heard of, and who's names occasionally seem to be completely made up. Gianfranco Wawoe, anyone?

One of the first things a team can do after the season ends is to assign their players to winter league clubs. There are various reasons behind doing this, but assignments are typically performance based, both good and bad. So DJ Peterson, you had the worst season of your career and now everyone thinks you're a loser? Here's a plane ticket to Arizona! Jordy Lara, I don't even know what to say to you, except good luck in Venezuela buddy! Tyler O'Neill, we're REALLY proud of the season you had, now go to Arizona and do it some more! There are also guys like James Paxton, who get sent out because they're rehabbing injuries, and could use some game action before spring training rolls around. The Mariners brass has decided to utilize all of the winter leagues this year, sending a whopping 22 guys to teams in five different countries. The full list follows.

Player Team Country
Rayder Ascanio Tigres De Aragua Venezuela
Kody Kerski Adelaide Bite Australia
Ji-Man Choi Estrellas de Oriente Dominican Republic
Jordan Cowan Adelaide Bite Australia
James Jones Tigres de Aragua Venezuela
Leon Landry Cardenales de Lara Venezuela
Jordy Lara Aguilas Cibaenas Dominican Republic
Tyler O'Neill Peoria Javelinas USA/AFL
DJ Peterson Peoria Javelinas USA/AFL
Kyle Petty Adelaide Bite Australia
Stefan Romero Tigres de Aragua Venezuela
Tyler Smith Peoria Javelinas USA/AFL
Anthony Fernandez Aguilas Cibaenas Dominican Republic
Paul Fry Peoria Javelinas USA/AFL
Moises Hernandez Bravos de Margarita Venezuela
Stephen Landazuri Aguilas de Mexicali Mexico
Carlos Misell Cardenales de Lara Venezuela
Osmer Morales Cardenales de Lara Venezuela
Vidal Nuno Tigres de Aragua Venezuela
Tyler Olsen Gigantes del Cibao Dominican Republic
James Paxton Peoria Javelinas USA/AFL
David Rollins Peoria Javelinas USA/AFL
Ryan Horstman Peoria Javelinas USA/AFL

Obviously, some of these players are known quantities and you guys and girls aren't sitting at home waiting with bated breath for updates on how Vidal Nuno is pitching in Venezuela. So let's just run over some quick bullet points on actual prospects.

*Stats are accurate as of end of play on 10/23/15

  • Tyler O'Neill is off to a good start for the Javelinas, the 2nd youngest player on any AFL roster has crushed 2 homers and is slashing .313/.353/.750 after hitting 32 long balls for the Bakersfield Blaze in 2015.
  • D.J. Peterson is rebounding nicely in Arizona, hitting .333/.375/.800 also with a couple of dingers in his first week of action.
  • With his first HR of the AFL season, Tyler Smith already has 33% of his regular season output for the Jackson Generals this past year, and is batting .421 so far in Peoria.
  • Ryan Horstman, who was a late AFL add replacing Tony Zych, is off to a good start after a couple of VERY injury filled years to start his career. The lefty was drafted in 2013, yet has managed to only throw 22 professional innings since then. He's yet to be scored on in 2.0 IP, with a walk.
  • Kyle Petty is tearing up Australian baseball, slugging .909 with a mammoth HR, a double, and a stolen base in only 11 AB's.
  • Stephan Landazuri is off to a fantastic start in Mexico, posting a 19/1 K/BB in only 10 innings for Aguilas, after struggling mightily in Tacoma to finish the season out.
  • James Jones has 10 hits in his first 31 AB's, and a stolen base so far in Venezuela.
  • Stefan Romero is coming up on a make or break year, he's batting .250 with a single home run in the early going.

Clearly, there's an argument here for not getting too excited about a good performance that's only lasted a handful of games, and I would agree with that. But there's nothing wrong with shedding light on a fast start. Besides, I think it's nice to know that while we prepare to enter a number of long and cold months without Mariners baseball at Safeco Field, it still is being played. It's just happening in smaller, more intimate ballparks that dot the landscapes in various countries around the world. To sum up, thanks for having me, and I'll try my best to keep the readers of Lookout Landing apprised of what's happening in the farm system, throughout the winter and beyond.