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Mariners extend Minor League contracts

Mariners extend Minor League contracts

SEATTLE -- Three more Minor League teams in the Mariners' farm system will return next season.

That was assured on Tuesday when Greg Hunter, the Mariners' farm director, announced that affiliates in Tacoma (Triple-A), Everett (Class A short-season) and Pulaski (Rookie) had their player development contracts extended through the 2010 season.

The Mariners announced last week that the working agreement with Double-A West Tennessee, which started with the 2007 season, was being extended through the 2010 season. That leaves Class A Wisconsin and High Desert currently without a working agreement for next season, although each could receive contract extensions.

"We are pleased to be able to extend the contracts with our affiliates in Tacoma, Everett and Pulaski," Hunter said. "The proximity of both Tacoma's and Everett's facilities to Seattle has been a great asset to our organization and is also a nice opportunity for Mariners fans to see some of our younger players in action."

The Rainiers and Mariners first entered into a working agreement prior to the start of the 1995 season. In 14 seasons as the Mariners' Triple-A affiliate in the Pacific Coast League, the Rainiers have a 1,031-969 record, including an 80-64 record this season, finishing with a PCL-best 30-14 record after the All-Star break.

The Rainiers, who finished 3 1/2 games behind PCL Pacific North Division winner Salt Lake, were nearly unbeatable at home during the last part of the season, going 20-2 at Cheney Stadium, including 13 consecutive wins during one stretch. The team finished with its third 80-win season in 25 years and improved over the previous season by 12 games.

"I'm very excited that we've linked up once again with our Pacific Northwest partner for another two seasons," Rainiers president Aaron Artman said in a statement released by the Mariners. "Our relationship has only grown throughout the years and I know for our fans to see the Mariners' stars of tomorrow, it only adds to their great overall ballpark experience."

Everett has been the Mariners' short-season team for the past 14 seasons, winning the West Division title in 2002.

Among the current Mariners that has played at Everett are ace right-hander Felix Hernandez, closer J.J. Putz, second baseman Jose Lopez, first baseman Bryan LaHair, third baseman Matt Tuiasosopo, all-purpose utility player Willie Bloomquist and catcher Jeff Clement.

The Pulaski team won the Appalachian East Division title in its first year as a Mariners affiliate this season, but lost to Elizabethton in the League Championship Series.

With the addition of Pulaski to the Mariners' Minor League System in 2008, Seattle was the only team in the American League and one of three teams in the Major Leagues (also: New York Mets and St. Louis Cardinals) with nine farm teams. The 2008 season concluded with the Mariners' farm teams going a combined 441-450 (.495), including five teams finishing with a record above .500.

West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx and Pulaski made the postseason, but both lost in the first round of the playoffs.

Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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