Monday, May 25, 2009

Mariners Minor League Wrap-Up for May 24

And we're back. I took an extra day at Mariner Central to cover the Farm Report on Saturday, as Lonnie was under the weather. Sunday's report comes now, a little late due to a long, bushwhacking day of my own.

VENEZUELA~! VSL Mariners 5, VSL Rays 4
VSLMs: 3-3... VSL Rays: 2-4

Yoervis Medina: 5 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 6 K
Maykel Ynfantes: 3 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 2 hit batters
Manuel Campos: 1 IP, 1 H
Rafael Torrealba: 2-4, double
Carlos Ramirez: 1-3, RBI, walk
Jose Hernandez: 2-4, K
Kenny Hart: 2-4, R, RBI, K
Larry Gonzalez: 3-4

The Rays actually took a lead off the young, erratic Maykel Ynfantes (which would typically get spelled Michael Infantes) in the 6th to take a 4-1 lead, but Ynfantes settled down, pitched into the 8th and RBI singles by Aruba's Kenny Hart and catcher Larry Gonzalez in the top 8th gave the VSLMs the lead for good.

Reliever Manuel Campos got some help with one out and a runner on 2nd in the top 9th: The Rays' Omar Narvarez lined right to Michael Acevedo in LF, who threw back to 2nd to double off the runner and end the game.

We're only about 6-7 games in, but why not throw out some defense efficiency and FIP data?

- League ERA: 3.78. It's always tempting to get excited about a Venezuelan teenager running an ERA in the 2's with great K/BB ratios, but keep in mind that most of his opposition are fellow teenagers that struggle to get the ball out of the infield and are easily fooled by any sort of offspeed or breaking pitch. Running such an ERA may not even get you noticed.

Ultimately it still comes down to tools catching the scout's eyes. Since the visa process is such a pain and uprooting a Venezuelan from his home and bring him north is such a culture shock, teams are very selective about who they bring up. You'll see VSL hitters and pitchers post great numbers, but stay in the league 2-3 years or never get the call to come north, while some unlikely pitchers get the call despite anonymous campaigns.

- The VSLMs have been a bit unlucky: Their 4.33 team ERA is below average, but their FIP is 3.58.

Meanwhile, the league leading VSL Mets (2.42 ERA) have an FIP of 4.19, good for 6th out of 7 teams in the VSL. They've been very lucky despite a league low 21 pitching strikeouts, a league high 11 hit batters and a league high 17 errors, so regression should hit them hard.

The VSL Cards have had the best FIP so far at 2.85, and their 3.40 ERA is 2nd overall.

- Notice I said seven teams, rather than eight. The Astros pulled their VSL team from the league and the VSL got a bit smaller. While there's a huge and growing talent base in the South American nation, the political situation in Venezuela always makes matters a bit difficult (Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez is not a big fan of the United States). With the recession forcing some clubs to tighten up, not as many teams may be willing to harvest talent, opting to sign young prospects on the spot and immediately bring them north instead.

- League defensive efficiency: 0.673. The VSLMs are right around average with a 0.678. The VSL Pirates lead the league with a 0.696 while the Phillies and Rays tie for the bottom at 0.647.

The Dominican Summer League begins play on Saturday, May 30. You'll be surprised how many walks young players in a nation known for free swinging hackers can draw. More on that once plays begins in the Caribbean.

A: Clinton 2, Great Lakes 1
CLI: 23-20... GLK: 22-21

Brett Lorin: 6 IP, 3 H, 1 ER (HR), walk, 7 K
Stephen Penney: 2 IP, 2 K
Ruben Flores: 1 IP, 1 H, 3 K
Nate Tenbrink: 3-3, R
Maximo Mendez: 1-3, RBI, K
rest of Lumberkings lineup: 2-22, walk, 7 K

The Lumberkings got all the offense they needed in a two run 2nd inning rally assisted with some good luck on groundballs getting through the infield of a so-so Loons defense.

From there, Brett Lorin cruised through six innings despite hanging a bunch of stuff and giving up almost nothing but flyballs with a 10 mph wind out to RF. The one ball that cleared the fence ultimately proved to be the only run he allowed. Great Lakes has themselves a decent offense (.753 team OPS, 3rd overall in the Midwest League) so I'm not exactly sure what happened here other than Lorin inducing poor contact: He did have seven strikeouts and Great Lakes' batters are 4th in the MWL with 353 K's.

Groundballs: 1
Flyballs: 10 (1 HR)
Line Drives: 2
Pop Ups: 1
Walks: 1
Strikeouts: 7

A+: High Desert 10, Lancaster 9
Mavs: 30-14... Jethawks: 13-31

Nathan Adcock: 6.1 IP, 7 H, (7 R) 5 ER, 3 walks, 3 K
Travis Mortimore: one out, 1 H, 2 ER (HR), walk, K
Steven Richard: 1.1 IP, 2 K
Phillippe Aumont: 1 IP, 1 H, 2 K
Tyson Gillies: 2-5, triple, R, 2 RBI, K
Ian Bladergroen: 2-5, 2 triples (!), 2 RBI
Carlos Peguero: 3-5, solo HR, solo HR, 3 R
Alex Liddi: 2-5, triple, R, RBI, K
Kuo Hui Lo: 0-4, sac fly RBI, K
Jose Yepez: 1-5, double, R
Jeff Dominguez: 2-3, 3 R, SB
Gavin Dickey: 2-4, 2 doubles, 2 RBI, K
Wind: 20 mph out to CF

There was absolutely no way Nathan Adcock was going to have a good game in Lancaster (whose park is probably more offense-flammable than High Desert's) with the wind gusting out to CF. Sure enough, a pair of two out doubles in the bottom 1st left the Mavs in the hole 2-0 after one.

But there was absolutely no way High Desert wasn't going to have a good day at the plate either. Alex Liddi tripled in Carlos Peguero to make it 2-1, and Kuo Hui Lo's flyball went through the glove of CF Nick Moresi to TIE THE BALLGAME at 2.

Somehow we got scoreless frames until the 4th, where Carlos Peguero went deep in the top half to make it 3-2 Mavs, and the Jethawks responded with a run of their own in the bottom half to tie it again at 3.

The Mavs got a pair of runs off TWO triples in the 5th, one from Tyson Gillies and a two out triple from Ian Bladergroen to make it 5-3 Mavs. The Jethawks came up empty in the bottom half, and the Mavs got a pair of two out doubles from Jose Yepez and Gavin Dickey to make it 7-3.

Adcock was doing okay, but a leadoff grounder by Roger Clemens' kid (Koby) (259/362/383) squirted from SS Juan Diaz to put him on, Adcock walked the next batter and David Flores (234/284/379) doubled home both runners to make it 7-5. A sac bunt and sac fly made it 7-6 before Adcock escaped.

Juan Diaz himself led off the top 7th by watching his grounder go E-6. Ian Bladergroen hit a SECOND triple to cash him in and make it 8-6 Mavs. But the party was over for Adcock in the bottom 7th, not that he didn't spend the party watching his friend puke up a wine cooler in the master bathroom. Adcock issued a one out walk and got out of there.

Groundballs: 10 (plus 1 bunt)
Flyballs: 10
Line Drives: 2
Pop Ups: 1
Walks: 3
Strikeouts: 3

Travis Mortimore walked the next batter, struck out the next, then assembled the three true outcome triforce by watching Marcos Cabral (278/354/424) take him deep to make it 9-8 Jethawks. Steven Richard took the ball and struck out the next batter to end the disaster inning.

Fortunately, no lead is safe in the Cal League, especially in offense-nuclear conditions like these. Jeff Dominguez singled with one out, stole 2nd with two outs, and Tyson Gillies beat out a grounder to 2nd to let Dominguez in and TIE THE BALLGAME.

Richard pitched a 1-2-3 8th, going groundout groundout strikeout, and Carlos Peguero lifted another pitch over the wall in the top 9th to give High Desert a 10-9 lead. Phillippe Aumont, struggling lately, came in to work the 9th and went flyout, strikeout, infield hit and strikeout to end the game.

AA: West Tenn 6, Huntsville 3
WTN: 17-25... HUN: 20-19

Dan Christensen: 7 IP, 6 H, 3 ER (HR), 2 walks, 3 K (94 pitches, 60 strikes)
Anthony Varvaro: 2 IP, walk, 3 K (35-20)
Mel Stocker: 1-5, R, RBI, K, SB
Marshall Hubbard: 1-2, double, R, RBI, 2 walks, K
Matt Mangini: 2-4, R, RBI
Yamid Haad: 1-3, double, R, RBI, walk
Oswaldo Navarro: 1-2, RBI

The JAXX spent this series getting rolled by the Stars and they were on their way to taking a 3-1 loss when the top 9th happened.

Facing an old friend, Juan Sandoval, Greg Halman blooped a single to lead off and took another base when it got by LF Vinny Rottino. Sandoval uncorked a wild pitch, then walked Marshall Hubbard. Matt Mangini singled to cash in Halman, and Sandoval uncorked anotehr wild pitch to bring in Hubbard and TIE THE BALLGAME at 3. Erick Monzon gave away an out to move Mangini to 3rd, and Sandoval got the hook for Robert Hinton.

Hinton intentionally put on Johan Limonta, then watched Yamid Haad double to left to bring in Mangini and make it 4-3 JAXX. Oswaldo Navarro dropped in a single to bring in Limonta and make it 5-3 JAXX. Mel Stocker's 4-3 groundout brought in Haad and made it 6-3 before Brent Johnson struck out to end the big rally.

AAA: Tacoma 6, Memphis 5
TAC: 23-20... MEM: 22-19

Doug FISTER: 6 IP, 9 H, 5 ER (2 HR), walk, 3 K (84 pitches, 59 strikes)
Tyler Johnson: 1 IP (9-5)
Brodie Downs: 2 IP, 1 H, walk (27-15)
Jerry Owens: 2-4, R, RBI, walk
Jeff Clement: 1-5, double, 3 RBI, 3 K
Mike Morse: 2-3, double, R, walk
Brad Nelson: 1-4, 2 run HR
Chris Woodward: 1-3, double, 2 R, walk, K

Doug FISTER did not have a good night. He let the weakest offense in the PCL tag him for five runs in six frames, including Jon Jay's first home run of the season (267/337/323). He left with a 5-2 deficit.

Groundballs: 7
Flyballs: 8 (2 HR)
Line Drives: 4
Pop Ups: 2
Walks: 1
Strikeouts: 3

The Rainiers' only runs to that point had come in the 4th off Brad Nelson's 1st Rainiers homer with a man on and one out. The Rainiers did capitalize on a one out Chris Woodward double in the 7th, as Jerry Owens got a grounder down the middle into CF to cash him in and make it 5-3.

The story of the 7th came in the top half, however, as Tyler Johnson made his 2009 debut after a long injury layoff, going flyout, groundout, groundout in 9 pitches. A few more of these easy outings and he may force a move in the Mariners bullpen in a couple weeks.

Brodie Downs made his 1st appearance in six days, working a scoreless 8th, then getting into trouble by loading the bases with one out in the top 9th. But he got a tapbacker to start a 1-2-3 double play, flipping to Adam Moore for one, who threw to Mike Carp at 1B for two to end the frame.

With two outs in the bottom 9th, however, and Chris Woodward coming up, it looked like the end of another flat loss. But Woodward drew a walk, Jerry Owens drew a walk (and if he had done more of that this spring, maybe he's still leading off for the ChiSox) and Prentice Redman struck out on a pitch off the plate to end the game.

Except strike three was WAY off the plate and past catcher Matt Pagnozzi to put Redman on and leave everybody safe. While that was a gift from reliever Josh Kinney, Redman had no business swinging at that crap and he is very lucky Kinney's pitch was that far off the mark.

Jeff Clement came up and paid everyone off with a double to right that cleared the bags, allowing Redman to ironically score the winning run.

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