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M's talent scattered throughout system

M's talent scattered throughout system

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Before the 2008 season began, MLB.com took an in-depth look at every big-league team's Minor League system. Now it's time to recap and analyze all 30 organizations, from top prospects to the recent Draft class.

The Mariners had a heck of a year, and not in the way they envisioned. Spring Training brought talk of a divisional title and postseason aspirations, but the regular season brought front-office and managerial firings and generally uninspired play at the Major League level.

While there wasn't much to be happy about in the Emerald City, life down on the farm isn't all that bad for the Mariners. There is some top-flight young talent coming up through the ranks, some expected, some surprising, all interesting for one reason or another. Whether it will be of benefit to the M's in 2009 remains to be seen.

Here's a closer look at some of what Seattle has coming through the system following the 2008 season.

Organizational Players of the Year

MLB.com Preseason Picks

Carlos Triunfel, IF: We went with the teenaged Triunfel as our preseason choice for Player of the Year, mostly because he had already spent half a year in High Desert and figured to have a nice run over a full California League season. He did well, hitting .287, one point lower than he hit in 208 at-bats for the Mavericks in 2007. He stole 30 bases and drove in 49 runs, all solid numbers, enhanced by the fact that he's only 18.
Triunfel's two-run blast

Nick Hill, LHP: OK, so we went out on a limb with the West Point product as Pitcher of the Year after he had such a splashy debut in Everett in 2007. Hill struggled in the Southern League and didn't fare much better in the California League, going 2-8 overall with a 4.93 ERA over 102 1/3 innings. He did, however, pitch to a 2.45 ERA in his final 10 games (14 2/3 innings) at High Desert.
Hill fans his third batter


•  Monday, Oct. 6: Washington Nationals
•  Tuesday, Oct. 7: Seattle Mariners
•  Wednesday, Oct. 8: San Diego Padres
•  Thursday, Oct. 9: Pittsburgh Pirates
•  Friday, Oct. 10: Baltimore Orioles
•  Monday, Oct. 13: Atlanta Braves
•  Tuesday, Oct. 14: San Francisco Giants
•  Wednesday, Oct. 15: Cincinnati Reds
•  Thursday, Oct. 16: Colorado Rockies
•  Friday, Oct. 17: Detroit Tigers
•  Monday, Oct. 20: Kansas City Royals
•  Tuesday, Oct. 21: Oakland Athletics
•  Wednesday, Oct. 22: Texas Rangers
•  Thursday, Oct. 23: Cleveland Indians
•  Friday, Oct. 24: Arizona Diamondbacks
•  Monday, Oct. 27: Florida Marlins
•  Tuesday, Oct. 28: Toronto Blue Jays
•  Wednesday, Oct. 29: St. Louis Cardinals
•  Thursday, Oct. 30: Houston Astros
•  Friday, Oct. 31: Minnesota Twins
•  Monday, Nov. 3: New York Yankees
•  Tuesday, Nov. 4: New York Mets
•  Wednesday, Nov. 5: Los Angeles Angels
•  Thursday, Nov. 6: Chicago White Sox
•  Friday, Nov. 7: Milwaukee Brewers
•  Monday, Nov. 10: Chicago Cubs
•  Tuesday, Nov. 11: Boston Red Sox
•  Wednesday, Nov. 12: LA Dodgers
•  Thursday, Nov. 13: Tampa Bay Rays
•  Friday, Nov. 14: Philadelphia Phillies

MLB.com Postseason Selections

Greg Halman, OF: Halman was steady as he moved through the system this season, hitting .268 in the Cal League and .277 in the Texas League. His strikeout-to-walk ratio left something to be desired (142-to-32). Patience will come at the plate, though.
Halman homers twice

Michael Pineda, RHP: Pineda turned 19 in January, went to a new country and starred in the Midwest League with a 1.95 ERA. The native of the Dominican Republic has the folks in Seattle eager to see what he can do in the Cal League next season.
Pineda strikes out 14

Climbed the Ladder

Matt Tuiasosopo, 3B: Tuiasosopo had a splendid season at Triple-A Tacoma, batting .281, which was 21 points higher than he hit the previous season at Double-A West Tenn. He had 13 homers, 73 RBIs and a solid .364 OBP. He collected 11 hits over his final five PCL games and earned a callup to Seattle, where he hit .159 with a pair of RBIs in 44 at-bats.
Tuiasosopo's tater

Adam Moore, C: Moore had an equally brilliant season, only his came at West Tenn. He hit a career-high .319 with 14 homers and 71 RBIs while posting a .396 OBP. His eight errors were tied for third-most among SL catchers, however, while his 23 passed balls ranked second, leading to speculation he may have to find another position if the Mariners want to keep his bat in the lineup. Seattle is a deep organization at catcher, and Jeff Clement is the current heir apparent to the real estate behind the plate, so Moore might benefit from a move.
Moore mashes one

Shawn Kelley, RHP: Kelley clearly demonstrated he knows how to climb the ladder, pitching in three leagues this season and succeeding in all of them. He had a 3.52 ERA over 7 2/3 innings with Wisconsin to begin the season before getting bumped up to High Desert. He didn't allow an earned run in 12 innings there before being moved up to West Tenn, where he went 3-1 with a 2.11 ERA over 42 2/3 innings in 29 games. Overall, he collected 15 saves and had a 3-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio while holding opponents to a .218 batting average.
Kelley Ks the side

Bryan LaHair, 1B: LaHair had been at Tacoma since midway through the 2006 season before getting the call to join the parent club this summer. He was having another solid year in the PCL (.263, 316 AB, 12 HR, 53 RBIs), then held his own with the Mariners (.250, 136 AB, 3 HR, 10 RBIs).
LaHair's first Major League hit

Greg Halman, OF: Halman experienced a helter-skelter 2007 season but rebounded this year to put up some nice numbers while splitting time between the California and Southern leagues. He combined to hit .272 with 29 homers and 83 RBIs. Overall, he stole 31 bases and has put himself in position to start 2009 at Triple-A and possibly even get a look as a bench player on the parent club.

Kept Their Footing

Phillipe Aumont, RHP: It's a bit difficult to judge the former first-rounder because he missed two months in the middle of the season with a sore right elbow. Still, when Aumont pitched for Class A Wisconsin he was fairly effective, going 4-4 with a 2.75 ERA over 55 2/3 innings in 15 appearances (eight starts). He struck out 50, held opponents to a .224 batting average and even collected a pair of saves.
Aumont's fourth strikeout

Mike Saunders, OF: Saunders split the season between West Tenn and Tacoma, spending a few weeks in Beijing with the Canadian Olympic team in the process. While he performed better in the Southern League (.290, 248 AB) than he did in the Pacific Coast League (.242, 95 AB), it's worth noting that his Triple-A season was interrupted by the Olympics and he was dealing with a shoulder issue that required arthroscopic surgery upon his return to North America.
Saunders' three-run shot

Carlos Triunfel, IF: Triunfel can't do much more than he has as a teenager rising through Seattle's system. He didn't have an explosive year in the Cal League, but he didn't embarrass himself, either. He was solid and steady throughout and should continue his climb next year at Double-A.

Jeff Clement, C: Clement's bat was finally beginning to look as if it was ready to deal with Major League pitching (he hit .325 in August) before a left knee injury ended his season early in September. He eventually had arthroscopic surgery. Whether that will be an issue next spring remains to be seen. Whatever the case, he's demonstrated he doesn't need to spend any more time in Tacoma.
Clement cranks one

Slipped a Rung

Yung Chi Chen, 2B: After missing virtually all of 2007 after dislocating his shoulder in April, Chen unfortunately saw his 2008 season come to a halt in June when he tore the meniscus in his right knee. Surgery ended his year as well as his bid to play for Taiwan in the Olympics. He hit only .249 through 69 games with Tacoma before the injury and hasn't demonstrated an overwhelming ability to stand out when he is on the field.

Robert Rohrbaugh, LHP: Rohrbaugh earned Seattle's Triple-A Pitcher of the Year Honors in 2007 but couldn't follow up that success this season. He was 7-5 with a 5.25 ERA in 19 games (18 starts), missing time in July and August due to a sore shoulder.

Nick Hill, LHP: The left-hander was not nearly as effective as he was in 2007 in the short-season Northwest League, but he did seem to gain a measure of composure and a sense of how to pitch in the Cal League by season's end. He got roughed up in the Southern League earlier, probably because he was rushed. Finding your way in the Cal League is a tough road for a young pitcher, but others have done it, so he slips a rung.

On the Radar

Mario Martinez, 3B: The non-drafted free agent finished eighth in the Appalachian League with a .319 batting average to go along with five homers and 32 RBIs. His 16 errors were among the leaders where Appy League third basemen were concerned, but his 170 total chances also were tops at the hot corner.
Martinez goes deep

Michael Pineda, RHP: Pineda was named the Mariners Most Valuable Pitcher in the 2007 Dominican Summer League and he showed why this year in his first full season in the United States. He was 8-6 with a 1.95 ERA in 26 games (21 starts) for Wisconsin, finishing second in the Midwest League in ERA. He fanned 128 in 138 1/3 innings, walking only 35. His ERA was what it was, despite giving up 16 earned runs over 36 innings in July.

Draft Recap

1. Josh Fields, RHP: Fields didn't sign after the M's made him the 20th overall selection. Seattle is hoping he'll sign before Spring Training.

2. Dennis Raben, OF: Raben hit .275 with five homers and 14 RBIs in 91 at-bats for Everett of the Northwest League.
Raben rips a homer

3. Aaron Pribanic, RHP: Pribanic went 1-2 with a 15.43 ERA in three Arizona League games. He allowed eight earned runs on eight hits over 4 2/3 innings.

Others of note: Right-hander Steven Hensley (fourth round) was 2-1 with a 5.22 ERA in eight games (six starts) for Everett. He struck out 32 and walked nine over 29 1/3 innings. ... 6-foot-7 right-hander Brett Lorin (162nd pick) was 1-2 with a 4.80 ERA in 13 games (11 starts) while splitting time between Everett and Wisconsin. ... 3B Nate Tenbrink (222nd pick) hit .198 with five homers and 21 RBIs for Everett. ... 6-foot-8 right-hander Kenn Kasparek (272nd) was 5-4 with a 3.98 ERA while splitting 15 appearances (13 starts) between Pulaski of the Appalachian League and Everett. ... IF Fred Bello (612th) hit a combined .284 in 81 at-bats in Pulaski and the Arizona League. He also had seven stolen bases.

Kevin Czerwinski 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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