Tag Archives: Trayvon Robinson

Tacoma gives out season awards, finish home schedule on high note

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The AAA Tacoma Rainiers played their final home game of the season on Sunday, beating the Las Vegas 51’s 2-1.

Alex Liddi hit a homer in the first and Carlos Peguero hit one in the 2nd (on an 0-2 pitch). Carlos Triunfel used his speed to beat out an infield single. Liddi also had a double that he absolutely pounded, but was picked off.

D.J. Mitchell (who Keith Law labeled as  an “up and down reliever”) was pretty solid overall, making up from not having his best fastball command by throwing his curveball for strikes to get some outs. He was defying logic in the first 4 innings, giving up no runs while walking one (and hitting another) and striking out just one. His control absolutely eroded in the 5th, and he finally gave up a run on a single but the 9 hitter Brian Bocock (Scott Savastano did a good job in left field to keep a 2nd run from scoring on the hit). Another baserunning blunder by Las Vegas turned into an out at home and the 2nd infield fly-ball of the inning got Mitchell out of it. He continued the theme of weak contact in the 6th, getting a 1-2-3 inning and Luke Hughes ball to center-field was the only thing that could remotely be called “hard contact”. The 7th inning began with a quick walk to Kevin Howard (9.7 BB% and .769 OPS with a 18.2 LD% this year in Las Vegas). He got the next hitter to ground-out but was taken out for Bobby Lafromboise. He fooled hitters with his breaking stuff and got 2 fly-outs to Darren Ford. He made Anthony Gose look really bad to start the next inning, getting him to strikeout on a changeup. He had no problems when he didn’t have the platoon advantage as well, getting Jonathan Diaz to strikeout. His fastball got up to 90 MPH when he used it to set up Yan Gomes for an off-speed pitch to strikeout the side. The Rainiers decided to bring him back out for the 9th and Lafromboise rewarded them by getting all 3 outs quickly.

Ending the home portion of the season also meant award time:

Luis Jimenez was named the hitter of the year for the Rainiers. The 30 year old played the whole season for Tacoma, mainly at DH (with a few bad games at first sprinkled in). He was 2nd on the team in OPS (just one point behind Carlos Peguero!) at .929 with a .213 ISO (all numbers are before Sunday’s game). He had a decent LD % at 15.1 and a solid K/BB (18.1 % to 12 %). The .361 BABIP is most likely unsustainable, especially with his (lack of) speed and the amount of grounders he hit (just over 50%). Of course, awards aren’t about sustainability, but player evaluations are. Does Jimenez deserve a call-up in September? The biggest obstacle is the fact that he is not on the 40-man roster, meaning someone would have to be DFA’d to bring him up. I’ll write an article before September begins on what I would do with the 40 man roster.

Carlos Triunfel was named the best defensive player. While there are virtually no defensive metrics for the minors (besides basic ones like fielding percentage and range factor, which can be extremely misleading), Tacoma was not a good defensive team this year. Trayvon Robinson made some really nice plays in the outfield, but had a couple of blunders as well, and played in 83 games for Tacoma versus Triunfel’s 123 (team leading). Trayvon is in the Majors anyway. Triunfel played both 2nd and short for the Mariners and made some really nice plays but also some mind-numbingly bad plays. There is talent there defensively, but it hasn’t come together for him completely yet. Darren Ford has quite a bit of range in center, but thanks to a hotel door, he has played in just 61 games this year.

Bobby Lafromboise was named the best pitcher. This was certainly the most surprising one, but he definitely pitched like he deserved it on Sunday. While he has certainly been good (1.47 ERA/2.47 FIP/3.91 SIERA), he is a reliever that has thrown just 34.1 innings. Josh Kinney was slightly better according to Defensive Independent Metrics in a couple more innings, but he was promoted to the big leagues. The starting rotation was so awful in the first half of the year (over half have been released) that it made it really easy to give it to a delivery. According to SIERA (1.41!), Brian Moran is certainly a guy that could be called Tacoma’s best pitcher (about the same amount of innings as Kinney and Lafromboise). Other than that, there just isn’t a lot of good candidates (perhaps D.J. Mitchell according to just ERA, but he joined the team late as well and didn’t have a lot of innings).

Mariners Lose to White Sox, Tacoma beats Las Vegas

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The Mariners lost to the White Sox 5-4

Jose Quintana has been putting up really good numbers (2.76 ERA/3.83 FIP/4.30 SIERA before the game) despite a real lack of stuff (91-92 MPH fastball, occasionally hitting 93 MPH, without an elite breaking ball), but the Mariners made him regress to the mean. Dustin Ackley used his speed to get on base with an infield single and after a Trayvon Robinson walk, Kyle Seager knocked a ball out of the park to right field. He knocked one out of the park to center field to keep things alive in the 9th.

Justin Smoak looked bad at the plate (batting right-handed) when he actually saw strikes, but to his credit, he did take a few breaking pitches low for a walk in the 1st. He walked later in the game as well against a wild Matt Thornton. Quintana had real problems throwing strikes, especially with his breaking pitches. It looks like his SIERA was the most accurate number. Miguel Olivo did the Olivo thing and chased to ground-out, but Casper Wells walked as well. Unfortunately, Trayvon Robinson had a long (8 pitch) at-bat in his 2nd time but weakly flew out on a pitch down the middle (he also weakly grounded out on a pitch that caught a lot of the late). He also had seriously problems with Addison Reed’s velocity. Quintana really settled down after the first inning until Dustin Ackley hit the ball the other way to the warning track. It was an out, but it is good to see him make hard contact. Seager hit a similar ball in the same area and it was also an out. Smoak hit a ball hard on the ground and Olivo hit a ball to the warning track (although not on a line like Ackley and Seager). Eric Thames had a good long at-bat before dribbling a grounder up the middle against Brett Myers.

I made fun of Chone Figgins starting and playing centerfield on the forums, but he did make a nice play at the wall on an Adam Dunn drive. His 2nd chance against the wall did not go near as well, as he whiffed on a ball that Alex Rios hit on a hanging slider off Josh Kinney. Olivo had a tough pitch to throw on, but really made a poor throw, nearly hitting a crouching Beavan. The next chance he got, Olivo delivered, throwing an absolute strike to 2nd for an easy out.  He had major problems blocking the ball in the 8th inning when Lucas Luetge came into the game (who was pretty wild). Robinson couldn’t get to a ball that I really thought he should have. Technically, he got to it, he just didn’t get the glove on the grounder and it went under his glove.

Blake Beavan was getting good movement on his fastball (mostly 91-92 MPH) to start the outing. However, he couldn’t control it. His breaking ball was also hanging in the zone as well. He was attempting to backdoor Adam Dunn, who torched the Mariners last night, with the curve and had some success getting a called strikeout (with a little help from the umpire). The fastball was too hittable though and he was walking guys, which he cannot do with his low strikeout totals. Since being promoted back to the Majors, he had walked just 3 guys. He walked 3 guys in the first 2.1 innings in this game. He hit Youkilis in the 5th in the back, further evidence that his control was just not there. He was not good, and the numbers (7.30 FIP and 7.64 xFIP) reflected that.

Charlie Furbush was 91-92 MPH on his fastball, but was mainly relying on his curve/slider against lefties, which is pretty normal. He had problems putting away Jordan Danks, as he was fouling away breaking balls that Furbush was throwing for strikes. He got him to ground-out then got his fastball up to 93 MPH up high to get a pop out foul when there was a guy on third with 1 out.  He then had problems putting away Dewayne Wise and it eventually cost him as a fastball down the middle was hit on a line for an RBI single.

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Brett Cecil (a personal cheeseball of mine) started for the 51’s and brought his slightly below average fastball with solid breaking stuff, which is usually a challenge for Tacoma. It wasn’t quite a typical day for the Tacoma offense though

Luis Jimenez was absolutely fooled by a pitch but beat out an infield single. If that wasn’t enough, he stole a base as well. He did traditional Jimenez things later with a double.

Carlos Peguero had one of the ugliest swings you will see at a park on what turned out to be a double on a low changeup.

Alex Liddi’s march against contact continued as he struck out swinging in the 2nd.In his next at-bat, he got a high fastball outside and was actually able to pull it for a line drive single.

Vinnie Catricala had a long at-bat, and actually walked.

Carlos Triunfel hit a ball hard to the wall, which was refreshing considering how bad he has been lately.He reverted back to bad Triunfel quickly though, striking out on a breaking pitch. He made a really good play at short though. When it is accurate (which it often isn’t), his arm is plus plus.

Nick Franklin had an ugly strikeout on a changeup in the dirt, which has been the story of his AAA career. He did walk though and creamed a fastball up high (but it was turned into an out).

Darren Ford got on the first two times, but was caught stealing again. It wasn’t even very close. This has been a huge problem for Ford. With his speed, he should not be caught stealing 13 times out of 37. Especially if he is going to slug .375 in the PCL. He also hit into a double play. Again, I would rather have Trayvon Robinson.

Erasmo Ramirez struck out 3 batters in the first inning (and then had to get another one as one of the strikeouts actually reached base). He was missing bats but his delivery looked a little more violent than I remember it being in previous outings.  He was throwing strikes with all his pitches and getting ahead and missing bats and getting weak contact. You can’t ask for anything else. The 4th was a little bit of a problem though, as he walked a batter and then gave up a hard drive by Luke Hughes to Franklin Gutierrez. He got out of the inning without the runner reaching 2nd though. Through 7 scoreless innings, Erasmo had 6 strikeouts and just 1 walk. At just under 90 pitches, he was brought back out for the 8th inning and continued to pitch well. He got a whiff down low, but then gave up a bloop single. Against Brian Bocock, he kept his fastball away but a breaking ball got away from Guillermo Quiroz to advance the runner to 2nd. A ground-ball (and nice play by Franklin at 2nd) moved the runner to 3rd but got the first out. Needing a strikeout, he got to face Anthony Gose, who is a definite strikeout candidate. After getting ahead with 2 strikes, Erasmo strangely turned to a lot of fastballs and watched Gose foul a couple of them off. He would walk him, ending his outing.

Shawn Kelley then took over and got a called strike with a good changeup and got a fly-out on an inside fastball. Las Vegas would run themself out of the inning but not before Kelley got a big whiff on his fastball. Kelley came out to pitch the 9th and dispatched of Yan Gomes with a high fastball. Luke Hughes struck out swinging to end the game.

 

The Mariners Win Seven Straight

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The Mariners have been playing encouraging baseball. Last Wednesday, King Felix threw a perfect game. This Tuesday, he had another good outing (2.18 FIP in 7.2 innings), although much different. John Jaso (151 wRC+ this year) did what we are used to seeing him do, hitting a big double. Jesus Montero also showed the power that scouts raved about before the trade but has been largely absent this year (90 wRC + this year).

This was the 7th straight win by the Mariners. They have now scored more runs than they have allowed and have a pythag of 62-62. They are playing their best baseball right now, but thinking about the wildcard at this point is silly. The Mariners are 7.5 games out of the wildcard and are last in the division at 12 games back. The Mariners are already as hot as they can possibly get. The winning streak may continue, but the Mariners aren’t going to go 30-8 for the rest of the year. The MLB season is full of ups and downs. Teams go through stretches where it appears that the team should be blown apart and all the pieces sold to the highest bidder. This is usually followed by mediocrity for extended stretches and some stretches where the team looks like a playoff teams. It is always dangerous to make narratives out of a small stretch of games.

It is all about managing expectations. Last night at Safeco, the stadium was more full than it usually is at just over 39,000 people (the Mariners are 11th out of 14 in attendance) and dressed in yellow. Even a terrible Coldplay song couldn’t ruin the moment. According to most of the players on Twitter (and Marketing Director Kevin Martinez) this was the best atmosphere they had seen Safeco. When King Felix quickly gave up a couple of hits, and the Indians pitcher Roberto Hernandez threatened to throw a no hitter, the good day look threatened. However, the Mariners were again beneficiaries of a King Felix outing, and strong bullpen work.

The next competing Mariners team will still be quite a bit different. As talked about in previous articles, the rotation will not be the same other than Felix and maybe Jason Vargas. The outfield needs improvement. Casper Wells and Michael Saunders are nice pieces, but hardly players that you build your outfield around. Franklin Gutierrez can’t stay healthy and we aren’t totally sure what Trayvon Robinson and Eric Thames are (I believe in the former and not the latter). In the free agent market, there aren’t a whole lot of options. Josh Hamilton will be the most expensive option available. Unless ownership has a sudden change of heart about spending money, there is no chance Hamilton becomes a Mariner. He is also on the wrong side of 30, has an extremely long history of injuries, and is inconsistent and overrated at the plate.

Nick Swisher is another option, but he is reportedly asking for 100 million. It is doubtful he will get that much money, but all it takes is one team.  The good thing about Swisher, other than the fact that he is better with the bat than any of the Mariners current outfielders, is that he is a possible 1st base solution. The Yankees have let him play some first base, even with Mark Teixeira’s huge contract. Eventually, he will probably have to play 1st base full time. He is a better option for the Mariners than Mike Carp (who can’t stay healthy anyway) and Justin Smoak. Should the Mariners sign Nick Swisher? I don’t know, but he should at least be talked about if they are willing to spend the money. If the Mariners are going to compete next year, they still need some position players. When the off-season gets here, we will talk more about potential free agents. Right now, it may be time to just reflect on some positive signs and progress for the Seattle ball-club.

A Trayvon Robinson Post

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Trayvon Robinson is an interesting player. That doesn’t mean he is a good player, he is just interesting. He is an athletic outfielder that has shown a little bit of power, speed, and an ability to play centerfield. There is no need to go over the whole story of Robinson again. The Mariners acquired him from the Dodgers in the complicated Erik Bedard deal. He got a stint in the Majors for the Mariners and really struggled. It was determined pretty early on in Spring Training that he would be playing for Tacoma to start the year instead of Seattle. Robinson responded by showing some flashes of his talent, walking quite a bit, but striking out too much and being mediocre overall with the bat.

Since being recalled, Robinson has played in 13 games in the Majors in 2012. Remember, this is all sample size so it makes no sense to look at his slash line. So what do his plate discipline stats say?

He is actually swinging at pitches outside of the zone more and pitches inside the zone less. That is not a good combination. Despite this, he is making more contact, with a contact percentage of about 10% better. Last year, he was making about as much contact as Casper Wells (who is notoriously strikeout prone) is this year, while now he is making contact about (slightly less) as much as Michael Saunders is in his breakout season (Saunders is really only making contact 1% more of the time this year than his career averages). He is swinging through less pitches, although he is still worse than league average in that respect. He has done this without sacrificing hard contact. He has hit more line drives so far this year, and less ground-balls. Again, this is small sample size, but Robinson seems to have a better approach at the plate, walking more and striking out less.

There were a couple of good signs I saw on Wednesday’s game that leads me to believe he has made some progress over last year. Earlier in the game, he drove a low pitch the other way against Jeremy Hellickson. It was a pitcher’s pitch, and Robinson made good contact on it. In a later at-bat, right after Justin Smoak chased a curveball to strikeout, Trayvon took a 1-1 curve low. After a pitch outside made the count 3-1, Robinson got a strike but didn’t make good contact with it and weakly grounded out. It was somewhat of an embodiment of Robinson’s career. He showed good approach but didn’t take advantage of a pitch. Trayvon Robinson is not a tools guy that doesn’t know how to play baseball. He doesn’t fall under that type of prospect.

How about defensively? He has passed the eye test in the field. However, UZR has been no fan at all, as he is rated as costing the Mariners 7.8 runs in his 56 career MLB games. DRS tells the same story, saying he has cost the team 7 runs. However, when I have seen him in both the minors and the majors, I have always thought he was a pretty good defender. For example, he made a great catch to save Hisashi Iwakuma on Friday night. I didn’t think his dive on Tuesday was that ill-advised, despite what some writers said. He wasn’t going to get to the ball and since the ball was in the corner, it didn’t matter if he whiffed on it. It lead to a triple, but I think best case scenario would have been keeping him at 2nd. However flawed defensive metrics might be, when the two major ones agree on the same amount of runs, it means something. So I read some old (within the past couple of years though) scouting reports on Robinson for comparison. The tools to be a good fielder is clearly there, but there were some questions about whether or not he took good routes to the ball. Some questioned his arm, so much so that he would have to move to the corner away from center field. There is another way to evaluate talent on defense as well, the “Fans Scouting Report” on Fangraphs. His instincts are given a 69 (all of the ratings out of 100), his first step at 75, speed at 79, with 39 arm strength. So the report actually believes in his ability to make correct routes. Overall, he is rated as a 61 defensive player. For comparison, that is tied with Dexter Fowler, A-Rod, Hunter Pence, and Darwin Barney. He is rated slightly better than Adam Jones and Josh Reddick. That is a pretty good player, even without the arm strength.

I think Trayvon Robinson can be a pretty good player in the major leagues. Due to his arm and lack of overwhelming power, he may be a 4th outfielder type. However, the Mariners have had good defensive corner outfielders without a ton of power before.

Tacoma continues to lose, Hultzen continues to struggle

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Because I hadn’t written a recap on Tacoma in a while and Danny Hultzen was pitching, I foolishly decided to write about Monday’s game against the Colorado Rockies’ AAA in which Tacoma lost 9-1.

The Rainiers were facing Alex White, who was mixing his pitches well, but was pretty wild for the most part. Darren Ford had a long at-bat before popping up. In one sense, it was a positive sign for Ford as he has had serious contact problems. In another sense, it was a negative sign as, just as if he had struck out, popping up weakly to shortstop hampers his ability to use his speed. He hit another ball hard on a line but it was caught for an out. In his next at-bat, he chased a slider way off the plate and missed it. He chased the next pitch in the dirt as well and tapped it to the pitcher. However, he was able to beat it out with his speed. He hit another routine type grounder that he beat out easily to get on base (the shortstop made a bad throw, so Ford got to take 2nd).

Mike Carp ripped a liner on a pitch down the middle. He pulled it for a single. He also pulled two pretty weak grounders to 1st. The first ball he hit the other way was hit pretty well but right at the left fielder for an out. Carp is on the last day of his rehab assignment I believe, and a roster decision will have to be made on Tuesday. My guess is that Carlos Peguero will be going back down.

Nick Franklin and Luis Jimenez both were fooled and pulled weak grounders to 1st. Franklin was jammed in another at-bat by a moving fastball but hit it pretty hard up the middle on a line but White caught it (Franklin weakly grounded out up the middle for a double play). He ripped a double in his next at-bat to right field. Trayvon Robinson got under a hanging breaking ball for a weak fly-out. He also was fooled by a low moving fastball and grounded weakly to first base later in the at-bat. He walked and struck out in his next two plate appearances. Brandon Bantz has good looking contact skills but it seemed like he was so worried about making contact that he was chasing or just trying to foul off pitches down the middle. He had a really long at-bat his first time around before chasing a pitch in the dirt and inside to strikeout.

Hultzen started with all fastballs and one down the middle to Tim Wheeler was pulled for a ground-ball single. This is after he had thrown one quite a bit high and one way inside. He fell behind 3-1 to the next hitter before throwing a quality fastball high and away in the zone to get a ground-ball to 2nd base (pretty similar to the previous one, but weaker) for a double play. He finally got a whiff to the next hitter on one on the outside corner and then threw a high fastball with 2 strikes and got a swinging strike 3. Still throwing exclusively (straight) fastballs, Hultzen gave up a ground-ball single up the middle on a low one. He then threw his first off-speed pitch, a change low and away to a lefty. Hultzen came back with fastballs, giving up 2 foul balls after getting into a 2-2 count. Those fastballs were low, and when he came back with a high one, he got another swinging strikeout. He started working his slider to the next hitter, a right-hander, and he didn’t have much control of it (and it really didn’t have much movement). After falling behind 3-1, he threw a fastball down the middle and a hard grounder (but not a smash by any means) got by Mike Carp and then was fielded poorly by Mike Wilson in right field. This put runners on 2nd and 3rd with 1 out before he got a line drive to shortstop, and a fly-out to center (after a whiff on a fastball) to get out of the jam. He started the 3rd with a fastball for a called strike, a backdoor slider (something he likes to do that I am not fully convinced is a good pitch), and a high fastball for a swinging strikeout. He got a whiff on the first pitch (slider) to Tim Wheeler before a wild slider made the count 1-1. An inside fastball (not really even a strike) was pulled hard to the top of the wall (it is a tall wall in Colorado, it may have been out in other parks) for a double. He then got behind 2-0 to the next hitter, corked a wild pitch to get the runner to 3rd, and then nearly threw another wild pitch but Bantz made a good diving snag of the ball. The bouts of wildness, leading to lots of baserunners reared its ugly head again. He just missed on a changeup outside to the next hitter, a lefty, to make it 1-0 before a wild slider made it 2-0. After working the count back full (with a fastball that foul tipped), he walked the hitter on a fastball that wasn’t close to the zone. With the bases full, an off-speed pitch was ripped hard into the stands foul before a high fastball (clearly his best pitch of the day) was swung through for strike 2. However, he threw an inside pitch and it was hit to left field, dropping in and scoring 2 runs. Hultzen bounced back though, throwing high and away fastballs to a lefty hitter and getting a strikeout. He still didn’t have control of his slider though, as the next at-bat showed, where he nearly threw a wild pitch with it. He got a whiff on a changeup, followed by a whiff on a high fastball for strike 2. After a couple of close fastballs, he threw an off-speed pitch over the heart of the plate and it was driven to the right field wall for another run. He finally got out of the inning with a weak grounder to 3rd. He can back for the next inning and quickly got a fly-out (that Mike Wilson made much more difficult than it should have been). He then got a relatively quick fly-out to centerfield. While his control/command still didn’t look sharp, it was good enough, along with his stuff to get outs. He got behind the next hitter, got to a full count, gave up a foul, then threw a high fastball for another walk. He lost control of his slider once again, and kept falling behind with his fastball. After walking the next hitter, he allowed a stolen base (and a balk once Hultzen realized they were running), got a jamshot foul, a whiff on a fastball, before planting a breaking pitch over the heart of the plate for strike and out 3 (all with Steven Hensley warming up).

Hensley came in to pitch the 5th, a day after a doubleheader. Hultzen threw 85 pitches in those 4 innings, striking out 5 but walking 4. He now has 21 walks in 27 AAA innings. Safe to say he isn’t ready for the next step just yet. Hensley was a little wild, but had good stuff and was keeping hitters off balance with his breaking stuff. His 2nd inning was less effective as the walks and bad luck lead to runs. Jandy Sena came in to finish the inning but immediately gave up a hit to the wall to cost Tacoma three more runs. Darren Ford would make a nice catch to finally end the inning on a line drive given up by Sena.

Stephen Pryor started the 7th and got a grounder and then a quick bloop single. His breaking ball looked very mediocre, but he continued to get outs, escaping the inning with no more base runners. His fastball command wasn’t there, but he got the first two outs in the 8th. A fastball up was hit pretty well and misplayed in the outfield by Wilson to make it a double. Another fly-ball ended the inning for Pryor.

Hultzen and Noesi pitch in Tacoma

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The Mariners’ first round pick in 2011, Danny Hultzen, made his 4th AAA start for the Tacoma Rainiers.

Hultzen had a lot of fastball command problems in the first at-bat. For most of the night, his velocity was at 89-91 MPH touching 92 MPH. The first at-bat lasted 9 pitches before he spiked a breaking pitch in the dirt for a leadoff walk. A wild fastball was then dropped by Guillermo Quiroz and allowed the runner to advance to 2nd. He calmed down after this and got a weak pop-up on a slider, a whiff on the fastball (followed by a foul back of the fastball) and a changeup for a swinging strike 3. That sequence to right-handed hitter Andrew Brown was about as good as Hultzen (or really any pitcher) can possibly be. A weak grounder and bad defense by Alex Liddi lead to a first inning run. Trayvon Robinson showed off some good defense to get Hultzen out of the inning. Hultzen’s change looked really good, basically neutralizing right handed hitters. Despite the decreased velocity of his fastball, he was still getting whiffs when he controlled it, especially at the top of the zone. He lead off the 2nd by getting whiffs on both his change and fastball for a strikeout. He then got a strikeout on what looked like his slider. He was throwing a lot of strikes and got ahead 0-2 to 3 straight hitters, but then gave up a homer. The 3rd contained a couple weak hits but had control of his pitches and was getting ahead of hitters. He got out of the inning by getting a whiff on a good changeup in the zone. In the 4th, he started off by getting behind 2-0, getting a foul back on a high fastball, and then giving up a hit up the middle on an identical fastball. While his fastball command was definitely better, the decreased velocity is sort of concerning. Most likely, he was just taking something off the fastball in order to control it better. Even with his good breaking pitches, there is a big difference in 89-91 MPH and 93-94 MPH. 7 of the 10 qualified pitchers in the Majors that average 93-94 MPH on their fastball have a better than average FIP -, while less than half of the pitchers that average 89-90 MPH on their fastballs are average pitchers or better.  Hultzen then threw a wild pitch than advanced the runner to 2nd but struck out the next hitter with a good breaking pitch. After an infield hit, he walked the next hitter on 4 pitches to load the bases. Hultzen got out of it by getting a fly-out to CF. He started the 5th by getting a quick fly-out and then a ground-ball on a good slider. However, Luis Rodriguez couldn’t make the play and it turned into a double. He struck out the next batter on an inside fastball on a 3-2 count after setting the hitter up on breaking pitches. He would walk the next hitter, missing on fastballs but then got a strikeout on breaking stuff (thanks to a great catch by Rodriguez on a throw from Quiroz, as the ball bounced).

Hector Noesi made his first AAA start of the year on Saturday night.

Noesi started with 93 MPH and got a weak grounder on a slider that turned into an infield hit to Nick Franklin. He got a whiff on a high fastball to the next hitter and then a whiff on a changeup for a strikeout (only to watch the runner advance to 3rd on a steal and error by Quiroz). A grounder that got through the infield put Tacoma down 1-0. After getting a weak pop up to Vinnie Catricala at 1st base on a fastball down the middle, he got a weak ground-ball to 3rd to end the inning. He walked the lead-off hitter in the 2nd on all fastballs and then walked another when he threw a 3-2 fastball low (a weak throw by Quiroz lead to another steal). After getting up 0-2 to the next hitter, Noesi threw a fastball down the middle. Luckily for him (in light of his 0-2 woes), it turned into a fly-out. After getting behind 3-0 (then 3-1), Noesi threw his fastball down the middle for a 3 run homer from the lead-off man (who hadn’t homered all year in over 200 at-bats). In the 3rd, a slider that hung turned into a double when Trayvon Robinson nearly made a great diving catch but missed it. Another ball dropped just on the line in right field to put runners on the corner. With 1 out, he had some problems putting away a hitter in a full count but got an infield fly-ball for out 2. His slider was definitely the best pitch Noesi had that night when he kept it down, but he walked yet another batter to load the bases in the 3rd. A fastball up and in to the 9 hitter was lined hard and turned into 2 runs and a slider to start the 4th was hung for a lead-off single. A fastball in the inside part of the plate looked like it would be a homer but broke foul. Noesi would end up walking the batter and then give up a deep fly-out to center. A wild pitch would be the 7th run allowed by Noesi, followed by his 5th walk, ending his outing.

All-Star Games and Hultzen and Franklin March On

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The big news is that Nick Franklin and Danny Hultzen have been promoted from AA to AAA. I don’t have a lot of room for numbers, but Hultzen was nothing short of dominant in AA with a 1.19 ERA/2.84 FIP/3.35 SIERA. He gave up line drives just 11.4% of the time, leading to a .460 OPS against. Franklin hit .323/.396/.507 (the slugging and on base percentage professional career highs) but has still has work to do defensively. Hultzen will start for Tacoma on Saturday. To make room for Franklin and Hultzen, Tacoma put Cesar Jimenez on the DL. They also released Johan Limonta, who was poor defensively without a real position with a very mediocre OPS of .726.

Francisco Martinez and Rich Poythress are about ready to come off the DL for AA Jackson, but Johermyn Chavez and Daniel Carroll are still pretty far off from coming back.

Danny Hultzen threw the first inning of the Southern League All-Star game. He was having a little bit of control issues to start the game, as he walked the 2nd hitter he faced on 4 pitches, mainly outside to the righty. However, he started by blowing 2 fastballs past the first hitter for swing and misses and a strikeout. He followed the walk by getting a double play to end the inning.

Denny Almonte worked a full count in his first at-bat and then pounded a homer on a low outside pitch. He hit another medium deep fly-ball in his next at-bat. Joe Dunigan was getting shifted on, and his first at-bat ended when he chased breaking balls to strikeout. In his 2nd at-bat, he whiffed on 2 straight fastballs, then hit some fouls before missing on another fastball. Nick Franklin walked in the first as Tyler Skaggs wasn’t throwing many strikes, and then stole a base on a curve. He hit a ball to the warning track the other way and had a 1 pitch ground-out to pitcher. His final at-bat was ugly, as he had a bad looking swing before he chased a breaking ball for a strikeout. His defensive woes continued when he made a bad throw on a potential double play. Another ball took a hop and gave him a lot of trouble. Jesus Sucre was the starting catcher, but he certainly didn’t look like an all-star at the plate. Sucre got fooled on a bad change and then on a high fastball (that he fouled off). He ended up flying out to left field on a breaking ball in the dirt. In his 2nd plate appearance, he hit the first pitch he saw for a hard ground-ball to 2nd base. Defensively, he didn’t look very good either, as a bad throw was stopped by Franklin with a good block. Another ugly throw by Sucre cost the team a run.

Taijuan Walker also got to make an appearance. He gave up a hard double and then hit the next batter. He did get a whiff on his fastball and a looking strikeout. A decent curveball turned into a ground-ball hit and his 2-seamer was getting called strikes. Carter Capps got to face one batter and he hit 99, 99, 100, then 99 MPH on the radar gun. He got a chopper ground-ball to Franklin and Franklin promptly threw it in the dirt, almost committing an error.

In the California League versus Carolina League all-start game, 5 members of High Desert were on the California League team. Julio Morban and Jack Marder did not play thanks to injuries. Stephen Romero was scheduled to start but came off the bench instead thanks to being hit in the head with a pitch on Saturday. He took over at 2nd and missed the first ball hit to him. In his first at-bat, he chased the first pitch and fouled it off. He then hit a weak ground-ball that got through and motored into 2nd thanks to some lazy defense. His 2nd time up he struck out swinging. Brad Miller came in to play 3rd base and made a good play there. Offensively, he pulled a low pitch for a double and had a walk against Dylan Bundy after the previous 2 hitters struck out. He swung and missed on the first pitch, but hit a couple of fouls. A 2-2 pitch just missed before a full count pitch wasn’t even close. In batting practice, he put on a show that caught several people’s eyes. John Hicks started at catcher and he lined out in his first at-bat. In his second, he had a big whiff on 3-0 on a high fastball. He then missed another before chasing one out of the zone for a strike. He made a not very good throw on a stolen base defensively.

Jamal Austin lead off in the Midwest All Star game and walked to lead off the game. He also had two hits, including a triple. Jordan Shipers got 2 outs but gave up an unearned run with a strikeout.

The AAA Tacoma Rainiers faced Trevor Bauer and the Reno Aces. Andrew Carraway started for Tacoma and got ahead of rehabbing Stephen Drew 1-2 before falling into a full count. He ended the at-bat by getting a called strike on a low and away fastball. He had an easy 2nd inning, and it looked like hitters couldn’t time his fastball. He struck-out Mike Jacobs on what looked like a high changeup for his 4th strikeout to start the 3rd inning. A hanger was hit for a line drive but turned into an out. Drew lined out to left his 2nd time up. The first baserunner Carraway gave up was starting the 4th, when Adam Eaton hit a weak ground-ball up the middle. A bloop hit with the runners going tied the game after a mediocre throw by Trayvon Robinson was not stopped by Vinnie Catricala even though he really should have stopped it. Carraway started the 5th with a swinging strikeout on a high fastball. His 6th and final inning was an easy 3 ground-ball inning.

Trevor Bauer was hitting 92-95 MPH on his fastball but was really wild for the most part. The Rainiers made him throw 24 pitches in a scoreless first. He did get a lot of late swings on the fastball. Robinson got up 3-1 but struck out on a 94 MPH fastball. Luis Jimenez banged a ball of the wall for a hard double, and had another long at-bat before a curve at the bottom of the strike zone was a looking strikeout. Alex Liddi had a walk and then hit a solo homer just over the right field wall. He then struck out on a breaking pitch way out of the zone. Carlos Peguero walked and mashed a long homer to right field. Catricala struck out looking but got a breaking ball up for a hit. Adam Moore walked but chased a breaking ball for a strikeout. Luis Rodriguez creamed a line drive double. Against Zach Kroenke, Catricala smashed a hard liner but it turned into an out.

Against Mike Demark, who was hitting 92-94 MPH, Jimenez was shifted on, but got up 3-0. Jimenez took a big hack and then took an outside breaking ball to walk. A hanging breaking ball was hit hard by Liddi for a single. Demark got Peguero to whiff on a pitch, then broke his bat on a foul and then whiffed on a ball up and in. After a good luck Mike Wilson infield single, Catricala took, then whiffed on fastballs for strikes before whiffing on another.

Steven Hensley took over for Carraway in the 7th for Tacoma. Hensley immediately walked Ryan Wheeler to lead off the inning on a long at-bat. Geoff Blum then hit what looked like would be a double play, but the umpire said that Luis Rodriguez (who has been excellent defensively) wasn’t on the bag. Hensley was throwing quite a bit of soft sliders, which isn’t a great looking pitch. He got a looking strikeout to end the inning. Hensley came out to pitch the 8th, and was hitting 94 MPH on his fastball. The fastball looked pretty good when he had command of it. He got a whiff on a slider that really didn’t look that good. A 3-2 fastball behind the batter was another lead off walk for Hensley. He followed it with a swinging 3 pitch strikeout on a slider. Eaton then got a slap single on a slider, and it could have been worse as Liddi almost didn’t get to the ball out in left field. He got a weak fly-ball out before being replaced by Steve Delabar.

Delabar got Stephen Drew to swing through a change in the dirt. In the 9th, he got a whiff on his fastball, but gave up a bloop single and then walked Blum. All of the sudden, he had massive control issues. A ground-ball loaded the bases before a wild pitch and a walk was followed by a strikeout on a high fastball. He then induced a weak grounder back to himself and fielded it and made a nice throw to home. However, Adam Moore dropped it and they didn’t get an out. Another grounder turned into out 2, but brought another run home. He got to 1 pitch away from getting out of the inning, only to give up a triple past Peguero. Scott Patterson then came in to face Drew. After putting a curveball in the zone to get ahead 0-1, the next 4 pitches were all balls. Drew then stole 2nd and the runner on 3rd tried to score. The throw home was good and ended the inning, but not before the runner (in a 4 run AAA game in the 9th) trucked Adam Moore. Moore had problems getting up, but there has been no announcement as far as an injury goes.

Organizational Offensive Woes and Jackson and Tacoma notes

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Clinton pounded into 5 double plays in a 6-2 loss on Monday. It was just another example of a theme that we have seen in the Mariners’ organization over the past few years. The organization just doesn’t have much hitting, at either the big league level or in the minors. Clinton has been terrible this year, losing nearly twice as many games as they have won. Clinton has an okay 4.16 runs per game, but their numbers aren’t all that good. As a team, they are hitting .244/.315/.362. That is basically like having a team full of Ryan Roberts’ from the Arizona Diamondbacks (at least as far as 2012 slash lines). That isn’t very good obviously. The Jackson Generals clinched the division last night, but it didn’t have anything to do with the offense. They are averaging just 4.05 runs per game (an organizational worst) and have a combined .708 OPS. For comparison, in 40 less games, the Venezuelan affiliate for the Mariners (who are absolutely tearing the cover off the ball) have scored 61 % of the runs that Jackson has.

Tacoma, the AAA affiliate that plays in the extremely hitter friendly PCL, has been no better. They have a below average .736 OPS and are 4th worst in batting average and on base percentage. Last week, they scored a run and a half per game. The epitome of the offensive woes was when Erasmo Ramirez took a no-hitter through 7 (on the same night of the 6 pitcher no-hitter and the latest Danny Hultzen gem) and got a pitcher loss in a 2-0 game. Carlos Triunfel went through a 1-43 drought, right after some ill advised calls for him to be promoted.

The big league Seattle Mariners are the 4th worst team in the MLB in slugging and batting average, and 3rd worst in OBP. They are under average (although not among the league worst) in stealing bases and hitting homers. In virtually every category of offense, the Mariners are below average, except strikeouts, as they strikeout the 5th most in the Majors.

Jackson didn’t really want to fit into the narrative and beat the Jacksonville Suns 8-0 on Monday night. Matthew Neil was the starting pitcher for the Suns and he had an okay looking 91 MPH fastball with a big looping slowish (79 MPH) curveball. He had a 4.37 ERA coming into the game, but left in the 5th thanks to shoddy defense. Chris Petit lead-off the game and was out on the very first pitch. He then swung and missed on a change-up. He also had a warning track double, and then a 2 out RBI double in the 7th and scored on an error. Nick Franklin played shortstop and from the left side of the plate went the other way for a hit and had an easy steal (he is 9/10 on the season). He also singled on a hard ground-ball up the middle. Denny Almonte had an ugly chase but battled back to get to a full count before flying out. He followed this by an infield fly-out and 2 bad chases followed by a ground-ball. Joe Dunigan had a long at-bat where he laid off some pitches but then was robbed by a great catch by Jake Smolinski. Jhamrmidy DeJesus looks a little silly at the plate, as he struck out looking on a fastball. He also ground-ball to shortstop. Chih-Hsien Chiang hit a ground-ball up the middle for an RBI. Jesus Sucre had a good luck ground-ball single off the 3rd baseman’s glove in the 4th. As the ball went into the outfield, Smolinski misplayed it, so Franklin scored and Sucre got to 2nd. He then advanced to 3rd on a wild pitch, but it didn’t matter because Dunigan hammered a fastball on the inside part of the plate and pulled it for a homer. Leury Bonilla had an ugly strikeout before Sucre and Dunigan (he end up throwing his bat he was fooled so badly) had ugly strikeouts against James Leverton. Dunigan hit a line drive single on a high fastball. I am not sure why he sees any fastballs, especially up. Gabriel Noriega made a bad throw at 2nd and struck out looking. However, he did get on base twice and hit his first extra base hit.

Brandon Maurer started for Jackson and was absolutely nasty, and struck out the first batter up by setting him up with fastballs and mixing in  a change-up. He was hitting 94 MPH on his fastball, and 73 MPH on his curve. He got a nasty looking strikeout with the curve, but also had a wild one where it didn’t break He was getting squeezed by the umpire, and after getting a ground-ball, he missed his spot and stopped working quickly (he usually works at a lightening fast pace) and got needlessly angry in a 1-1 count. He then gave up a line drive single before settling down and getting a swinging strikeout. After a bloop single, he let the runner get to 3rd on wild pitches, but got the strikeout to end the game. In the 3rd, he gave up a hard liner but it was caught (he did break a bat on a foul ball). In the 4th, he got his 5th strikeout and murdered a bat before giving up a double off the wall. He then got a grounder to end the threat. After an easy 5th, he issued his first walk to start the 6th, only to to get a weak ground-ball double play. A weak single up the middle started the 7th and a harder ground-ball turned into another single. A double play and a fly-out later he was out of the inning. After getting the first out in the 8th, he was taken out for Yoervis Medina. Medina immediately gave up 2 hard hit balls. After a bloop hit on a high fastball, he was taken out for Bobby Laframboise. He was getting swings and misses against the lefty hitter he faced with his weird left handed arm angle. He ended up getting an infield fly-ball. Carter Capps pitched the 9th and was hitting 97-98 MPH. After injuring the umpire, he got a fly-out only to walk 2 batters in a row. He was only throwing fastballs and had problems putting hitters away. He then struck out the next hitter and started using his very raw curve a bit.

Tacoma (AAA) lost their 5th in a row, losing 10-4 against Salt Lake (Angels). Vinnie Catricala hit his 4th homer to break a 0-23 streak. He also missed another homer foul and walked. The team overall was hitting a lot of grounders. Trayvon Robinson had a couple swings and misses but beat out an infield single. Luis Rodriquez had a rare bad throw that resulted in an error thanks to not much of a stretch by Luis Jimenez.

Jarrett Grube started and was throwing a ton of curveballs and it was getting him some swings and misses. Forrest Snow came in to pitch the 6th as he starts to adjust to being back into the bullpen. He immediately gave up a 2 run homer to Doug Deeds. Then he gave up a triple to Andrew Romine (on a not very good route by Robinson), followed by another triple. He then got a looking strikeout on a fastball and got a couple of swings and misses on his breaking ball before giving up a double. He also got a swing and miss on a high fastball. Scott Patterson pitched the 7th inning and he hung a pitch but it turned into an out. His curveball is really fun to watch when it is working. Carlos Peguero then made a goofy error, and a bad luck grounder got the run in. Patterson gave up another hit to the next batter. His fastball was very unimpressive. Peguero then made another brutal error on a ball hit right to him to end Patterson’s day. Oliver Perez came in and got a quick swing and miss on his fastball for a strikeout. According to the stadium/broadcast gun, his fastball hit 97 MPH. A ground-ball finally ended that long inning. He started the next inning by blowing a fastball away by a hitter for a strikeout.

Anthony Vasquez was placed on the DL by Tacoma. Jandy Sena was promoted by Jackson to take his roster spot. James Paxton threw a bullpen and focused on mechanics with the pitching coach as he tries to work back from the DL.

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