Tag Archives: Cameron Hobson

Checking in on the Young ‘uns – High Desert

So far, we’ve looked at the Mariners’ AAA (Tacoma) and AA (Jackson) teams in this series.  Today we head to California to check in on the High Desert Mavericks.  The place where the Mavericks play is very descriptive of its climate.  The single-A team plays at a high elevation.  They also play in a desert which is hot.  Guess what that means?  A bunch of ding-dongers and crazy offensive stats.  While the rest of the Mavericks league have favorable parks for hitters, their home park might be the most offensive park in baseball.  Not just in their league, or in single-A, in all of baseball.  That means the stats for the Maverick hitters are off the charts.  Conversely, the pitching stats are terrible.  I’ll try to wade through some of the misleading stats but that’s hard to do in a few sentences.  Just don’t go crazy about a hitters numbers or get too bummed about a pitchers numbers.  There, I hope that makes you cautious.

High Desert, like the Jackson Generals, is in first place.  They don’t have quite the record Jackson has but it’s a very respectable 25-21.  Nice job!  It seems like most of their hitters have good slash lines so I’ll pick out the few I’m interested in and if you have questions about the others than just let me know in the comments.  As I’ve been doing, I’ll start with the hitters (so good news first here):

John Hicks (C) – .300/.350/.471, 5 HR, 14 2B, 32 RBI, 31/11 K/BB, .820 OPS

Just to drive the point home a little further, Hicks would have the 4th best OPS if he had been playing in Jackson.  On High Desert though his OPS is 10th best.  An .820 OPS is 10th best on the team!  That’s crazy!  Anyway, Hicks was Danny Hultzen’s catcher last year in college and was the M’s 4th round draft pick last year.  Sure enough, Hicks’ OPS is .300 points worse in road games than it is in home games.  He has homered 3 times on the road, while just twice at home.  That’s somewhat encouraging but 12 of his 14 doubles have come at home.  We’d like Hicks to walk more and strikeout less.  He’s a catcher in the Mariners’ system though so that won’t happen.

Jack Marder (C) – .350/.406/.556, 4 HR, 1 3B, 10 2B, 18 RBI, 18/8 K/BB, .962 OPS.

Marder was another college catcher drafted last year.  He went to Oregon and has split time between catcher and DH with Hicks this year.  He did miss a chunk of about 20 days this year due to injury.  He’s back, healthy and playing now.  His OPS is about .350 points better at home but it’s a decent .777 on the road.  Not good, but decent according to Mariner standards.  There are questions about Hicks and Marder’s defense this year.  They both seem to have their problems but that’s why in they’re both down in the minors, they can work on these things.  Their slash lines are good and I wouldn’t be surprised if one of them is promoted to Jackson at some point.  With that said, I’m not blown away by either of them.

Brad Miller (SS) – .318/.415/.570, 9 HR, 2 3B, 14 2B, 29 RBI, 42/30 K/BB, .985 OPS, 9 SB.

Miller started the season on fire (not literally), and has put up pretty good numbers hitting in the first quarter of the season.  Continuing with the theme, his OPS is just under .500 points higher at home.  11 of his 14 doubles and 6 of his 9 home runs are at home, as well.  That’s not so encouraging.  He’s taken  lot of walks and has only increased that rate in the last few weeks.  He has struck out about 23% of the time.  Which isn’t nearly as bad as I thought it’d be.  I don’t know why I told you about all of that.  His defense has been terrible (17 errors) and he’s a prime target to move away from his current position.  I’ve read that centerfield may be an option and that’s where I’m hoping for.  Miller did have success in limited time in Clinton last year with his hitting, so there may be reason for continued optimism with this hitting.

Stefan Romero (3B) – .350/.374/.588, 8 HR, 2 3B, 14 2B, 37 RBI, 24/7 K/BB, .962 OPS.

Romero was drafted in the 12th round in 2010 by the M’s.  He hit pretty well last year in Clinton and ended up with a decent .803 OPS.  That’s okay for that ballpark.  Now, he’s upgraded ballparks and become an extra-base machine.  Thankfully, his home and road splits aren’t as drastic as the prospects before.  Romero has a .848 OPS on the road.  Half of his home runs have come on the road and while his home average is not sustainable (.397) he’s still hitting a perfectly adequate .313 away from the desert.  He’s not really walking.  That’s a bummer but when you’re hitting really well, walks aren’t a huge worry (see Kyle Seager).  His strikeouts aren’t very high either so that’s awesome.  Romero hasn’t just been a case of High Desert like some of these players have been. The guy can hit.  His fielding may come into question.  He reminds me quite a bit of Vinnie Catricala so far in his progression.

Julio Morban (OF) – .374/.425/.692, 8 HR, 2 3B, 6 2B, 28 RBI, 23/9 K/BB, .1.117 OPS.

Julio may be the surprise of the season.  It’s not that he isn’t talented.  He was a big bonus guy when he signed but he’s had tons of trouble staying healthy thus far.  He’s played regularly in the last month and has been, to borrow from Nick Holt, awesome.  Morban is still only 20 and has plenty of time left to develop.  Morban isn’t just a byproduct of playing at High Desert either.  In fact, he’s hitting better away from home (yahoo)!!  His OPS on the road is 1.288 compared to .958 at home.  He’s hitting better against lefties than he is righties (although, that’s a very small sample).  Morban is probably the surprise of the season.  If he keeps this up, to any extent, he will be moving up to Jackson and shooting up prospect lists in a hurry.

Jumping to the pitchers after the jump… There won’t be many of them.  Continue reading


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Filed under Mariners, Working On the Farm

Down On The Farm

Have you ever thought about the confusion that most come with farmers who follow minor league baseball closely.  They might ask, “What’s going on down on the farm today?”  How does the farmers confused son answer?  It could be, “The cows are milked, the chickens are laying eggs, and the sheep dog is having a good time.”  He could also say, “James Paxton looked awfully good in his debut and Nick Franklin has started the season on fire.”  Both answers are correct, assuming the farmer has kept his farm in good health, but the father’s probably only looking for one answer.  Man, that would get confusing.  Of course you haven’t thought about that.  No one has because that’s stupid.  Well, maybe the select farmers who follow baseball make a good wise crack about it sometimes.

Hultzen, Paxton and Walker - The Big Three

There's our boys!

The Mariners farm has been making a good amount of noise in the last year.  How’s that for a transition?  Say what you want to about Jack Z, but he has truly brought the farm system to one of the highest levels it’s ever been at in organizational history.  Yes, that doesn’t mean definite success but that’s one of the reasons why Matthew, me and many others are big fans of his.

The minor league teams opened the season Thursday and I thought I’d give you a quick rundown of players you might be interested and where they’re at.  I’ll just go team-by-team through the system with the players I find the most interesting.  I will skip over some players because, either, I don’t find them interesting or I just simply miss them on accident.  Leave any player questions in the comments and I’ll get to them.  Also, Jay Yencich from USS Mariner has written a preview for each team that will be much  more detailed than my rundown so I’ll link it by the team name for all those hardcore fans  like the farmer in the first paragraph (ha! You thought I couldn’t tie that back in).

Tacoma Rainiers (AAA) USSM Preview

Triple-A teams often don’t have top prospects in them, at least for long.  It’s thought that AAA teams store all the depth for the big-league club and that includes many AAAA players (what I mean by that is players who have mastered triple-A but can’t quite cut it in the majors for the long haul).  No offense, Mike Wilson.  That holds mostly true this year.  The Mariners double-A team may have more talent on it, but Tacoma still has some very interesting names.  Here are the names that intrigue me the most in Tacoma.

Players to watch:

Maurico Robles and Forrest Snow (SP) – Tacoma’s starting rotation leaves a bit to be desired but these are the two most interesting prospects here.  Robles is a lefty who has a low-90’s fastball.  If he’s going to make the majors, it’ll be as a reliever.  I’m not sure why he isn’t in the bullpen already.  He struggles with control.  Forrest Snow is a UW alum and stands a bit more of a chance to get into the M’s rotation at some point.  He’s basically skipping the double-A level.  He doesn’t have the best stuff (good change-up but everything else is about average) but could be a decent back of the rotation starter.  Anthony Vasquez is in Tacoma too but he should never start a game for the M’s again.  Please.

Charlie Furbush – You know about him.  He’s a lefty and was with the Mariners most of the 2nd half last year.  He is in the bullpen but he could make a spot start here and there.  He has decent stuff and sometimes it’s even pretty good.  If he keeps the home runs down he’ll find his way up soon.

Chance Ruffin – Tacoma’s strength is their bullpen.  Ruffin is a righty with a mid-90’s fastball and good slider.  He was with the M’s at the end of last year and will be again, I imagine.

Shawn Kelley – Another good righty in the bullpen.  He lost a little velocity from Tommy John surgery and maybe they sent him down to try to get it back?  I don’t know, but he’s probably better than some of the guys in the Seattle bullpen.

Cesar Jimenez -Cesar is a lefty specialist and there’s usually a place on big-league clubs for players like this eventually.  He has gotten a little worse with his control and overall numbers the last couple of years.  Still, he’s worth keeping an eye on.  All four of these guys aren’t far from making the Mariners and I bet some of them will be up before the end of the month even.

Vinnie Catricala (3B) – Position players!  Vinnie is probably the best, actual prospect on Tacoma.  He can hit really well.  Vinnie made a push for the 3rd base job in the spring but lost out.  That’s probably good since he’s hardly played in AA, and has not played at all in AAA.  He has improved his strikeout numbers last year and hopefully will do so again this year.  He needs to improve his defense too.  The guy can hit and will find a place on the M’s soon if he can find a true position.

Carlos Triunfel (2B, SS) – Triunfel will probably play shortstop for Tacoma most of the time.  He used to be the prized prospect in the system but a broken leg kind of unhinged him and he hasn’t really regained his top status since.  His hitting numbers went down and his defense at shortstop is questionable.  He’s still pretty young and had a large improvement last year so maybe there’s still hope for him.

Carlos Peguero (LF) – Maybe I shouldn’t put him in here because if you follow what I write you know that I’m not a fan of his at all.  He swings and misses way too much, sucks at defense, and has no plate discipline.  That being said, he hits the ball a country mile and has started off the year on fire.

Trayvon Robinson (CF) – Trayvon strikes out too much but he hits for some power and has a good amount of speed (although his stolen bases have gone down a lot for some reason).  If he could up his contact rate, he’d be a really interesting player that would be fighting to the top of the centerfield pile.  Lets hope for some development.

That’s it for Tacoma, and I’m already over 1000 words.  Check out the most talented team in the minors after the jump!  I’m not kidding, extremely talented!

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Filed under Mariners, Working On the Farm