"When you're playing those games, you're putting players in a position where they have to execute they way you need to
play to be able to win."
Nearly everyone in the Mariners' system got to do that during the
2010 season. With the exception of the rookie-level Arizona
League team, every Seattle affiliate -- including teams in
Venezuela and the Dominican Republic -- made it to the
postseason. Triple-A Tacoma and short-season (Northwest
League) Everett won titles, while Clinton made it to Game 5
of the Class A Midwest League championship series. Overall,
the system finished second among all Major League teams with
a .544 winning percentage. Every team, save the AZL club,
finished above .500.
"We played meaningful games until the end," Grifol said. "I
could be happier with the way things went as far as putting
our players in the position to expedite their
The Mariners didn't exactly stack rosters to make this
happen. It wasn't uncommon up and down the ladder to see
things like 21-year-old Michael Pineda in the Tacoma
rotation or teenager Nick Franklin to jump two levels to
play in the Double-A Southern League playoffs.
"I've heard comments that you can win in the Minor Leagues
if you want to; we didn't do that," Grifol said. "We
composed our rosters with our prospects where they needed to
be. That's one of the things we were most proud of.
"I can't talk about this without talking about that our
scouting department, both international and domestic. you
bring players into the system and you turn them loose and
let them go with the good coaching staffs I think we
Keeping guys at one level all year was not a result, then,
of the Mariners wanting to stack a playoff-bound roster. Two
things were at play: The Mariners' system has more prospects
than it used to and, philosophically, the organization likes
keeping players together whenever possible.
"We're starting to create a talent pool in this system where
it's tougher to move up the ladder," Grifol said. "We also
don't want to interrupt solid seasons. We want to keep teams
playing together and create some camaraderie throughout the
Organizational Players of the
MLB.com's Preseason Picks
Dustin Ackley, 2B: The No. 2 overall pick in the 2009
First-Year Player Draft, Ackley was pushed aggressively and turned things
around after an awful start. He made it up to Triple-A in
his first season, hitting .267/.368/.407 combined. Not bad,
considering he hit .147 in April, but not enough to make him
this system's player of the year.
Michael Pineda, RHP: We were high on him back in 2009
and now fully healthy, we thought he'd take off. And that he
did, tying for the system lead in strikeouts (154 in 139 1/3
IP), tied for second in wins with 11 and third in ERA
(3.36). He held hitters to a .227 batting average against,
though the 21-year-old had some difficulty when he moved up
to Triple-A, yielding nine homers in 62 1/3 IP and finishing
with a 4.76 ERA there.
MLB.com's Postseason Selections
Rich Poythress, 1B: Yes, the 2009 second-rounder had
the benefit of calling High Desert his home all year, but
his numbers are just too enormous to overlook. The
University of Georgia product led all of the Minors with 130
RBIs while blasting 31 homers and hitting .315. The
California League All-Star definitely enjoyed hitting at
home (.339/.413/.579) but he was no slouch away from the
friendly confines (.291/.346/.581), hitting three more
homers in five fewer games on the road.
Anthony Vasquez, LHP: A senior signing out of USC as an
18th-round pick in 2009, it's safe to say the expectations
for this southpaw weren't too high. Though 23, he had to
start in Class A Clinton and work his way up. After eight
starts there (1.29 ERA), he was in hitting-crazy High
Desert, where he excelled (3.07 ERA) and gave up just six
homers in 13 games there. Then it was up to Double-A where
he continued to perform well. At three levels, Vasquez had a
combined 2.46 ERA to lead the organization. He walked just
24 in 171 2/3 total innings while striking out 125.