Tag Archives: Stephen Pryor

The Rebuilding Process, Year 5

One year ago I asked your reaction following Prince signing in Detroit. One year later, I’m curious what your take is on Josh Hamilton signing with a division foe, for nearly $100 million less than Prince got.

This is my 5th installment in a series of posts I’ve done recapping and forecasting the Mariners Rebuilding Process, since Jack Z took over as GM. You can find the prior posts here: Years 1 and 2 Year 3 Year 4

Let’s recap the 5 year rebuild plan I laid out in October 2008.

    THE BLUEPRINT

2009, Year 1: Shed dead weight, Begin overhauling the farm
Summary: Traded Putz for Guti, Carp, Vargas, and managed to get rid of Silva, Betancourt, and Johjima, while also using 3 of first 5 picks on Ackley, Franklin, Seager.
Grade: A+

2010, Year 2: Shed dead weight, Continue building the farm (and lock up Felix)
Summary: Signed Griffey and Sweeney, locked up Felix and acquired Cliff Lee, then swapped him for Smoak. Could have done without the Morrow trade and of course the Figgins contract. Selected Walker, Paxton, Pryor in rounds 1, 4, 5.
Grade: B-

2011, Year 3: Bring the youth up, Evaluate potential, Acquire more young talent
Summary: Hired Wedge, traded for Brendan Ryan, picked up Wilhelmson at a local bar, and signed low cost vets such as Cust, Olivo, Kennedy. Fielded an even mix of youth and vets, but loads of young talent in the pipeline for the first time in forever. At the deadline traded Fister for Furbush and Wells. Hultzen chosen with #2 pick.
Grade: B

2012, Year 4: continue youth movement, achieve .500 record
Summary: Swapped Pineda for Montero and made some shrewd acquistions in Jaso, Iwakuma, Luetge, Millwood, Perez, then saw a young roster come up 6 games short of .500, while improving by 8 games from prior season. Picked Mike Zunino #3 overall.
Grade: A

2013, Year 5: add 1-2 big pieces, contend for playoffs
Summary: Thus far we’ve seen a few low cost signings in Bay, Ibanez, Bonderman, and a 1 for 1 swap of Vargas-Morales.
Grade: ???

I’ve said this before, but in 4 1/2 years on the job, Bill Bavasi set this organization back 5 years, minimum. Last year I stated

“For the first time on Jack’s watch, I think the on field W/L record is important. .500 ball is a reasonable expectation this year, which would be a welcomed site for our eyes.”

Well, The M’s flirted with .500 in 2012 and showed noticeable improvement, albeit without much offense yet again. Entering year 5 the talk of laying the foundation and replenishing the system should be over, and playoff contention ought to be close. Zduriencik has said as much if you’ve heard any of his recent interviews.

If the blueprint holds form, the M’s will be adding 1-2 big pieces this offseason, and assembling a playoff capable team in 2013. This sounds great but it is nearly January and almost all the big name free agents have signed elsewhere, and the only acquisitions Seattle has made are Robert Andino, Jason Bay, Raul Ibanez, and a swap of Jason Vargas for Kendrys Morales. Not exactly blockbuster moves capable of propelling the M’s from 75 wins into contention. I suppose the big moves we hoped for are still possible if Jack can, for example, land Justin Upton and Michael Bourn, and add a veteran pitcher to round out the rotation. That would certainly be a competitive team, but is that the best route to take?

Given how the AL West is shaping up, it may be best to hang onto the prospects, add a couple decent pieces, and shoot for a respectable 80-85 wins in 2013, while waiting until next year to make the big splash. I don’t see a scenario, at this point, for the M’s to overtake Texas or Anaheim in 2013, and probably not Oakland either. So why go all in? I’m not suggesting Seattle give up any hopes they had for next year, just because the division rivals are pulling away, but I don’t want the M’s to mortgage the future to field a better team next year, but one that cannot be sustained.

Keeping a positive trajectory is crucial next year, seeing an improved offense is also important, but that’s about all we can reasonably expect in 2013. This puts real contention off until next year, and adds a year to the original 5 year blueprint, but taking the path that leads to sustained success is what is most important. We’ve seen the Washington Nationals do this, and Tampa Bay also, and with much less money. It may not be popular, given the fractured fan base, plummeting attendance, and a decade of bad baseball, but Seattle has never given a player a $100 million contract, and unless it is a Felix extension, I don’t see it happening for at least another year. And surprisingly, I’m fine with that.

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Seattle Mariners Throw No-Hitter

This won’t be a long post.  At least, I don’t plan on writing for very long.  We don’t usually do game recaps here at the Good Guys blog, usually we just focus on bigger ideas and lately we’ve been focusing on prospects.  Tonight though is cause for a little something to be said.

If you haven’t heard, six Mariners pitchers combined to throw a no-hitter.  Kevin Millwood started and was awesome but then he came out with a groin injury at the start of the 7th inning.  It’s a shame he couldn’t keep going because, from what I saw (I did miss the first few innings), he had a real chance to do it all himself.  But, fate had him coming out and, for some reason, that just seems fitting.

These Mariners are different then most teams we’ve seen before.  In the last couple of years they’ve started with a mix of veterans and young players and went from there but this year they started with mostly young players.  The young players have shown promise, but they’ve taken their lumps as well.  They’ve taken more lumps than anything else.  Over the course of the last road trip the team became exciting though.  They struck for 21 runs.  They kept games close, even when they lost.  They came back and won.  The Mariners were actually improving and getting better.

I remember around the third or fourth year of the Tyrone Willingham era in UW football.  We’d go to the stadium every week and after giving him the benefit of the doubt for the first few years, it was easy to see that the coach wasn’t getting his team to improve each week.  In fact, they were getting worse every week.  This is exactly how the last few Mariner last few seasons have been.  This is the first time we’ve seen real improvement.  Sure, we’ve seen winning streaks but not definite improvement.

The Mariners will continue to take their lumps.  They’re still young and will suffer a few more losing streaks throughout the season.  Justin Smoak will go through a cold spell (in fact, he’s going through a mini one right now).  Michael Saunders won’t continue to look like Josh Hamilton.  Kevin Millwood won’t throw 6 innings of no-hit ball.  But, I’m betting that the good times will start to outweigh the bad.

For a second tonight, I thought about the M’s making a run at the playoffs this year.  It’s most likely not going to happen and that’s okay because I’m truly starting to believe in the future of this club.  I have for a while now, but it seems that all of Seattle is starting to buy in.  Tonight the Mariners, Tacoma (AAA), and Jackson (AA) gave up a total of 4 hits combined.  It’s not just happening on the major league level right now, there’s encouraging signs everywhere.  Are you starting to believe?  This team is growing up in front of our eyes and tonight was another major step in the right direction.  Go M’s!

Andrew

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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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