Tag Archives: Carlos Triunfel

The Mariners of the Future: Shortstop

We’re back with a look at the players in the Mariners’ system who could play a role with the big league club in the next few seasons.  Today we look at the shortstops.

Before we look at actual players, let us take a moment to share a few words about that most important of ball-handlers, the shortstop.  Throughout baseball lore, the shortstop has been the lynchpin of the defense, the captain of the infield.  From the first days of little league, the most athletic, best fielder assumes responsibility for that huge patch of land between second and third, and that doesn’t change no matter how far one goes in baseball.  They must cover the most ground and field the most balls.  They have to have lightning for feet, a rocket for an arm, and the grace of a dancer around second base. Aside from the pitcher, the shortstop is the most important person on the field.

For all those reasons, little offense has traditionally been expected of shortstops.  It was enough to do all of the above, and if one could chip in with the bat occasionally, so much the better.  Those who could field the position and hit are legends.  Honus Wagner is still considered the best shortstop of all time, and he played before Babe Ruth.  There have been teams who sacrificed defense to gain some offense at short, but far more often teams have leaned the other way.  It’s always tempting to think that a good hitting shortstop will have a big enough offensive impact to offset weak defense, but the fact that so few managers are willing to play a bad defender is an argument that statistical analysis is hard-pressed to counter. Continue reading

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Danny Hultzen and Other Tacoma Notes

It was a fairly busy sports weekend in the Seattle area, and I spent the weekend going to a few baseball games.  Sandwiched in between the Rainiers on Thursday and Mariners on Saturday was one of the biggest recruiting days in Husky football history.  I’ll hopefully get to that tomorrow.  The Mariners don’t have much to talk about aside from Munenori Kawasaki being extremely awesome, so I’ll start off recapping the weekend by writing about how my weekend started.

On Thursday, Matthew, our cousin (and loyal blog reader) Tyler, and I made the trek down to Tacoma to see the Danny Hultzen-Jamie Moyer match-up.  A trek it was.  It took us two and a half hours to get from Bellevue to Tacoma but that’s beside the point, this isn’t a traffic blog, it’s a sports blog!  Although, a traffic blog may be more entertaining than talking about the Mariners sometimes.  Anyway, we missed one of Hultzen’s innings because of traffic but caught his other 3 innings.

The future Mariner has a hunched over windup, kind of like his shoulders are slouching.  Other than that, the rest of his windup was pretty standard.  His right foot starts a little bit in front of the rubber and steps to the side, more than it steps backwards.  There’s a fairly normal leg kick and his arm comes a little higher than the 3/4’s slot.  His follow-through is fairly normal (more on that later) as well.  Here’s some video of the start.  His fastball sat at about 93 and he flashed 96 twice up on the radar gun (I don’t think the radar gun was hot or anything because Moyer was about where he has been all season and even below that at times).  We didn’t see much of his change-up because he didn’t seem to have a lot of control of it.  Maybe it was just an off night for that pitch, as it’s usually a plus pitch for him.  His slider had tons of movement, although he didn’t have plus control on that either.  It was a great strikeout pitch though.

Hultzen walked 4 guys in 4 innings during the game.  All of the walks came when Hultzen was pitching out of the stretch.  Hultzen often switched his between a slide-step and a high leg kick when runners were on first base.  Based on the video, I think he’s a little better when he’s not using the slide-step.  Maybe he doesn’t have a good pick-off move (he didn’t use one, that I recall) but a good amount of lefties get away with not using a slide-step.  His control was definitely a problem out of the stretch.

Another problem Hultzen seemed to have was finishing his pitches.  Matthew picked up on it right away, and after watching the video I have to agree with him.  In the second inning, when Danny got into some trouble, he seemed to really struggle with this.  By not finishing his pitch, I mean to say that his leg and arm didn’t follow through as much as they usually do.  To use the famous phrase, he was trying to “aim it and not throw it.”  It was especially apparent on off-speed pitches (this gave the pitch away to some hitters) but there were a few fastballs where it seemed to be a problem as well.

All in all, Danny was good.  There weren’t many hard hit balls, the issue was strictly control.  He has great stuff and will succeed.  He does have to work through this control issue.  I don’t know if the mechanical things I mentioned are a constant problem or just an abnormality.  If anyone goes to see him in Tacoma again (he’ll pitch again on Tuesday) look for what I mentioned and let us know.

I’ve got a few more thoughts on Nick Franklin, Triunfel, and Peguero after the jump.  Continue reading

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The Mariners of the Future: Second Base

We seem to be alternating between barren and loaded positions with this series.  That should continue until the outfield.  Next up is the loaded second base.

The Rundown

Dustin Ackley is still a pivotal piece in the Mariners’ rebuilding effort.  He’s not performing well this year, but that’s not uncommon for someone in his position.  He has some clear mechanical issues at the moment and seems to be struggling to make adjustments.  I’d expect these to be ironed out at some point soon.  It’s still unclear where Ackley will end up offensively.  His recent struggles have tempered the Chase Utley comparisons, but that level isn’t impossible.  He should still be at least an above-average, allstar level bat most years.  He needs to be that, for everyone’s sake.  What isn’t a huge issue is his defense.  After meeting a lot of skepticism while learning the position, he’s become a solid if unspectacular defender.  To my eyes, he’s improving and has the skills to be at least slightly above-average. Continue reading

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Checking in on the Young ‘uns – Jackson

Last week, I took a look at Tacoma’s top performers and prospects.  I mostly came away disappointed.  Since then, Carlos Triunfel has continued hitting and Andrew Carraway had a good start but otherwise not a lot changed.  In this post, I won’t be very disappointed.  Jackson was heralded as the Mariners’ most talented farm team and the most talented minor league team in all of baseball by many.  They haven’t disappointed much.  They haven’t just blown people away (mostly because of their offense) but they do sport a 23-17 record (as of Wednesday, May 16th).

Since the beginning of the season, Andrew Carraway (SP) and Stephen Pryor (RP) have moved up to Tacoma.  I covered them in my post about the Rainiers but they’ve been pretty awesome.  Chih-Hsien Chiang has also moved up to Tacoma since the beginning of the season, mostly due to injuries and not awesomeness.  Steven Proscia (3B) started out in High Desert as a guy to keep an eye on and he’s made his way up to Jackson.  He obviously excelled at High Desert but has struggled through his first few at-bats in AA.  He’s someone to keep an eye on though.  Otherwise, the other guys I highlighted in my seasoning opening post are still in Jackson.  Again, if there’s any questions about players (or anything else, leave them in the comments).  All stats are updated through Wednesday, lets start with position players (and go by position).

Rich Poythress (1B) – .259/.352/.375, 1 HR, 10 2B’s, 18 RBI’s, 14/16 K/BB, .727 OPS

Rich is currently on the 7-day DL but he should be back soon (it is only the seven-day DL).  Poythress hasn’t hit many home runs but he’s tied for the team lead in doubles.  Maybe he misses High Desert?  He’s a right-handed hitter and his OPS is over .500 points higher against left-handed pitching (although, small sample sizes).  His lone home run and 4 of his 10 doubles have come against left-handed pitching even though he’s only faced them 28 times compared to 84 at-bats against right-handers.  Obviously, his K/BB ratio is very good right now.  Keep that up, Rich!  Poythress had a great year in High Desert in 2010 but hasn’t done much in Jackson last year or this year.  The lefty-righty splits are interesting and could make him an interesting option as a platoon bat going forward.

Nick Franklin (SS) – .318/.373/.467, 2 HR, 10 2B’s, 14 RBI’s, 16/10 K/BB, .840 OPS.

Through the top three levels of the Mariners system there’s one position that is having a great amount of success hitting – shortstop.  That’s weird, now if only they could play defense.  Franklin is probably the best position player prospect in the Mariners system and he hasn’t disappointed thus far.  He’s hitting for a good average, a few more walks and homers would be nice but I won’t complain with these results.  He’s still only 21 and could see Tacoma by seasons end.  The one stat that is a bit scary… 7 errors.  This is a common theme among the systems shortstops.  Franklin has been dealing with a small, nagging foot injury.  That’s annoying but it’s not serious.

Francisco Martinez (3B, CF?) – .245/.317/.311, 0 HR, 8 2B’s, 1 3B, 9 RBI’s, 34/16 K/BB, .629 OPS, 14 SB.

Francisco hasn’t really hit.  Well, that’s not fair.  He’s done okay, just not very well.  He’s got 9 extra base hits which is 5th on the team.  Plus, he’s 14 of 16 in stolen bases.  The organization loves his speed and has been messing around with the idea of him playing center field.  Go for it!  We have terrible outfield prospects, do it!  Anyway, Martinez strikes out a ton, which is bad.  He’s always had a gaudy amount of strikeouts and this year has been no different.  If he could raise his contact rate, I’d be very interested in what Martinez could be.  For now, he just seems like a really fast guy.

Steven Proscia (3B) – .317/.348/.545, 8 HR, 9 2B’s, 25 RBI’s, 30/8 K/BB, .893 OPS.

These are Proscia’s combined numbers between High Desert and Jackson.  He’s had 24 at-bats since being called up to Jackson and only 4 hits.  3 of those hits have been home runs though.  That’s pretty neat.  You know what’s not neat?  Strikeouts.  Maybe our minor league team has been watching our major league team too much.  Proscia definitely has power and can get some extra base hits but he swings and misses too much.  If he could cut that down just a bit he could become a really interesting prospect like a few other third base prospects in the system.  Who would have thought the M’s most interesting position player prospects would be at SS and 3B.  Have the Mariners had a good shortstop since Carlos Guillen?  Have they ever had a good third baseman not named Beltre? Sorry Steve, this paragraph was supposed to be about you.  I forgot.  Strike out less and hit more!

Johermyn Chavez (RF) – .287/.357/.436, 3 HR’s, 6 2B’s, 10 RBI’s, 21/10 K/BB, .793 OPS.

Chavez has been hurt for the past few weeks but otherwise he’s been about what we expected.  He strikes out a lot but otherwise has put average numbers.  He’s another guy who had a great year at High Desert in 2010 but still hasn’t put it together in Jackson.

Joseph Dunigan (OF) – .303/.357/.568, 7 HR’s, 10 2B’s, 2 3B’s, 21 RBI’s, 38/9 K/BB, .925 OPS, 6 SB.

Power! Strikeouts…. Power!  I wouldn’t have guessed before the season that Dunigan would be the M’s outfield prospect who’s having the best season.  He’s 26, in AA, and was pretty crappy last year.  But, he has 19 extra base hits.  Double that and you have his strikeouts.  The strikeouts are the only thing that keep me from taking Dunigan very seriously.  He’s always had decent power, a bad average and a lot of strikeouts.  The average has improved but will it stay that way.  With 38 of his 133 at-bats ending in K’s I would guess no, but hopefully I’m wrong.  Thus far, he may be the biggest surprise of the season.  You go, Joe!  By the way, Dunigan has 19 extra base hits and only 21 RBI’s.  Is this normal?  It seems like that’s a lack of RBI’s or maybe I’m way off.

We get to the pitchers after the jump.  It’s all good news after the jump (well, mostly). Continue reading

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Checking on the Young ‘uns – Tacoma

Over the next couple of days I’m going to run through the Mariners minor league teams and give an update on some prospects to look at.  At the start of the baseball year, I wrote a post about some prospects to keep an eye on, I’ll go through those guys and maybe add in a few.  Leave any questions you have about some guys in the comments and I’ll get to them.

Young ‘uns sounds like onions.  I guess a good share of the time young ‘uns smell bad.  That’s like onions.  Young ‘uns have layers, so do onions.  The people I’m talking about in this post play a game with a ball and an onion has roughly the same shape as a baseball.  How’s that for an intro!

Today, we head down the I-5 South to our friends in Tacoma.  Unless you live in Maple Valley or Yakima like a good share of the writers and readers of this blog do.  If that’s the case don’t take I-5 South because it won’t get you to where you want to be.  You’ll get lost. I’ve really gotten a long ways in this posts two paragraphs.

The mascot doesn’t even want to cheer for the Rainiers. In their defense, eagles are really cool.

Anyway, the Tacoma Rainiers (Mariners’ AAA affiliate) have gotten off to a rough start this season.  This is because, to be honest, they aren’t very good.  They probably aren’t the best team in the Mariners minor league system even though they are at the highest level.  The Rainiers are 11-22 (this doesn’t include tonight’s game or stats).  Their pitching has been atrocious, which isn’t that strange for the PCL (the league they play in, and the hitting hasn’t been at the level I thought it’d be.

Since the beginning of the season a few things have happened that have been significant to the team.  Carlos Peguero, who started the season on fire, injured himself (not from being on fire) and was out most of the last month.  To take his spot, the Mariners promoted AA Jackson outfielder Chih-Hsien Chiang to Tacoma.  So, Chiang has been playing there for about a month.  Andrew Carraway, who’s a starting pitcher, was just promoted to Tacoma today after tearing up the AA Southern League (more on him in a minute).  Erasmo Ramirez was sent down from Seattle to become a starter and relievers Shawn Kelley and Charlie Furbush have gone up to Seattle.  Maurico Robles was sent down to AA.  Stephen Pryor, reliever extraordinaire, has been sent up to Tacoma because he’s awesome.  Also, catcher Adam Moore was injured and will be hurt for the rest of his life (I hope not, but it seems this way).  Those are probably the most important transactions that have gone on with the Rainiers this year.  If I’m missing anything, hopefully someone will add it.

Here are the players I told you to keep an eye on and what they’ve been doing (I’ll just go position-by-position):

Luis Jiminez (DH, 1B, LF?) – .310/.409/.575 (these 3 numbers are batting average, on base percentage and slugging percentage in that order), 7 HR, 9 2B’s, 23 RBI’s, 20/19 K/BB, .984 OPS.

Jiminez is 30.  I hesitated in including him because this guy isn’t a prospect and probably won’t ever play a role in Seattle.  I did include him because he’s been the Rainiers best hitter, excluding the guy who’s only played 6 games.  Jiminez has been thrown in to left field once or twice which is interesting.  If he is adequate there (which I doubt he is), he might play a few games in Seattle’s revolving left field door.  Otherwise don’t expect to ever hear about this guy in Seattle.  He seems like a good guy though.

Carlos Triunfel (SS) – .280/.338/.488, 5 HR, 7 2B’s, 2 3B’s, 16 RBI’s, 25/8 K/BB, .826 OPS.

Triunfel has quietly put together a solid showing in the last year of minor league ball.  The former top prospect still doesn’t hold the appeal he once had but is hitting for power right now.  There are still plenty of questions about his defense and his high K rate but he’s hitting the ball hard, especially in the last couple of weeks.  If he keeps it up, it’s hard not to wonder if his bat is more valuable than Ryan’s glove.  Admittedly, we’re still a few months away from having to seriously ponder those questions but it’s fun to think about while Triunfel is doing well.

Vinnie Catricala (3B) – .219/.273/.281, 1 HR, 5 2B’s, 19 RBI’s, 18/8 K/BB, .555 OPS.

From a mild, pleasant surprise to an extreme disappointment.  After hitting everything he saw in spring training, Vinnie the Cat hasn’t done much of anything in Tacoma.  He had a good week 2 weeks ago but otherwise has been very quiet.  Catricala has been the best hitter in the system for the last couple of years and there’s not a lot of reason to believe that he won’t start hitting but until he does, remain nervous.  The Mariners could really use him to be good.

Chih-Hsien Chiang (RF) – .272/.300/.333, 1 HR, 4 2B’s, 7 RBI’s, 15/5 K/BB, .633 OPS.

Chiang’s batting average is decent but 26 of his 31 hits have gone for singles.  That’s not fun.  He isn’t walking very much.  Before coming in the Erik Bedard trade last year he was killing the ball and hitting for a good amount of power.  Where did that go, Chih-Hsien?  It’d be cool if it came back.

Trayvon Robinson (OF) – .263/.320/.414, 3 HR, 9 2B’s, 1 3B, 14 RBI’s, 34/12 K/BB, .733 OPS.

This is much more interesting than Chiang.  Some of it is interesting in a good way, some not.  The extra base power is great.  Unlike Chiang, Trayvon has 13 extra base hits in his 35 hits.  Not to mention, he’s a better athlete and fielder.  But, look at those strikeouts.  34 strikouts in 133 at-bats isn’t good and his contact rate is something he’s always struggled with.  He may be the best outfield prospect in the system (not saying much) but until he cuts down on the K’s he probably won’t cut it in the majors.

Carlos Peguero has a 1.847 OPS which is awesome but he’s only had 15 at-bats so I don’t think I’ll include him.  He does have 4 extra base hits in those at-bats so that’s almost as many as Chiang has had in 114 at-bats.  Yikes.

Breaking down the pitchers after the jump.  Proceed with caution.  Continue reading

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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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Your 2011 Mariners- Shortstop

Shortstop is currently in the worst shape of any position on the Mariners roster, outside of maybe catcher.  There’s a bright star in the minors, but the next couple of seasons are going to require some creativity if Jack Zduriencik wants to improve the position.

Shortstop

On the Roster

Jack Wilson– Wilson brother #1 will receive $5 mil. in the last year of his contract.  I don’t even know what else to write.  I can’t see any way they could trade him at all, much less get any salary relief or anything good in return.  He can’t stay healthy, and if he is on the field, he can’t hit.  He’s still a slick fielder, if not quite at his previous level.  The Mariners hope has to be that he’ll revisit the retirement thoughts he had briefly this season, but that’s pretty doubtful as well.  Despite all that, I’d say the odds are 50-50 that he’s the opening day shortstop.

Josh Wilson- This is so depressing.  Wilson #2 is pretty much like #1, giving away some defense for durability.  I guess I might prefer Josh to Jack, but does it really matter?  At least he’s cheap.

In the Minors

Nick Franklin– Finally, some hope.  Franklin, a 19-year-old 2009 first rounder, put together a huge season at Low-A Clinton this year to jump into the discussion of the top shortstop prospects in the minors.  Viewed as a switch-hitting baseball rat with a good bat but little power, Franklin proved all that true expect the power.  He started hot and ended with 23 homers and a .485 slugging percentage.  His defense doesn’t sound elite, but it shouldn’t be an issue to stay at the position.  He ended the year at Double-A to help out in the playoffs, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he stayed there in 2011, skipping High-A altogether.  There’s been talk that he’ll be in Seattle at some point next season, but that’s pretty premature.  Not impossible, but I’m not planning on anything before 2012, and even that might be too soon.  He’s entering just his second full season in the pros and has issues to work on with his swing from the right side, but his future is extremely bright.

Carlos Triunfel– Carlos, the perpetual prospect.  I’m not going to rehash his whole story, so here’s the short version: been around forever because he started playing at 17. Looked like a mega-star in the making. Injuries and a lack of production have taken the tarnish off.  Has great contact ability, but can’t take a walk and the power hasn’t come around.  Not likely to stay at shortstop long term.  Still time, as he’s only 20 and lost a whole year to a badly broken leg, but he needs to show big improvement this year or the system’s going to pass him by.

Analysis

Not too be too dramatic, but the situation’s pretty dire.  Ideally, the team would find an average stop-gap they could sign for a decent price who would fill in until Franklin is ready.  Basically, what they tried to do with Jack Wilson.  I thought Hiroyuki Nakajima, a Japanese star, might be that guy, but reports differ on how good he is, if he can play short in America, and whether he’ll even be posted for major league teams.  Otherwise there aren’t a ton of options.  This position needs a massive upgrade, but I just don’t know if it’ll happen.  I wouldn’t be surprised if they go with the Wilsons again for next year until Jack’s contract expires, but I’m sure they’ll look everywhere possible for an upgrade first.  Jack Z., our prayers and hopes are with you.

-Matthew

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Working On the Farm- AA West Tennessee

Edit-  Shortly after I posted this last night, Lueke and Beavan were promoted to Tacoma.  So that’s nice.  Expect to see Lueke in Seattle sometime this season.  Also, Cortes has been phenomenal in a handful of relief  appearances so far.  If he keeps it up, he could be on the fast track too.

AA West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx (Southern League)

When the season started, West Tennessee (WT from here on out) had maybe the best collection of talent in the system.  That’s been dampened slightly, as Tacoma’s gain of Ackley and Pineda was WT’s loss, but there’s still plenty to keep an eye on here.

The Tarnished Golden Child

Carlos Triunfel- SS (3B)  Triunfel has been in the system for four years now, and he’s still the youngest guy on the team at 20.  During his early years, he was seen as a potential Miguel Tejada type.  He had a good contact bat, was a bit of a free swinger, and seemed likely to add very good power for an infielder once he got some experience and filled out a little.  That description hasn’t really changed drastically, which is okay, I guess, but disappointing.  2008 seemed like a minor breakout, as he hit 8 homers with a .287/.336/.406 line.  Nothing incredible, but pretty good for an 18 year old in high-A ball, even if he was in an incredible hitter’s park at High Desert (more on that in the next post in this series).  2009 brought a gruesome broken leg and a lost season, however, and now at 20 he’s in AA and showing flashes but struggling regularly too.  His OPS is currently .645, which isn’t good, but he is a 20 year old in AA after missing nearly an entire year. 

It’s really hard to say where he goes from here.  Scouting reports are generally positive but lukewarm, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him either breakout or continue to struggle next year.  Further clouding the issue is whether he can stay at shortstop or not.  Most have assumed he’d have to move off short (probably to third to take advantage of a cannon arm), but the Mariners have kept him there, and now scouts seem to think he might be able to stick for at least his first few years in the bigs.  I’m betting on an A-Rod-esque track, shortstop for the first 5 years or so before moving to third.  Doubt he’ll ever be as good at short as A-Rod was initially though.  2011 is the year to really watch Triunfel.  He’ll likely start at AA again, and if he’s going to put it together, I’d bet that’s when he does it. Continue reading

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