Steven Bisig-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

Mariners Minors: Generals Lose Championship Series

Lots of daily action in the M's minor leagues! Keeping tabs on the Mariners' top prospects like James Paxton, Danny Hutlzen, Taijuan Walker, and more.

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How'd John Hicks do?

Catcher John Hicks had a good season at the plate for the Mavericks

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Jackson Generals Season Recap: The Best Of The Mariners Farm

The Generals had a great season but also might be the best collection of minor league talent in Mariners history. Here is a recap of their season.

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Old News: Generals Lost That Championship Series

So I was away for five days and while I was gone, I was unable to update everyone on the Jackson Generals championship series. Since I've been covering the Mariners minor leagues all season long, I would hate to not just get this on the record.

They lost that series!

After taking a 1-0 series lead after a masterful performance by James Paxton, the Generals struggled to score runs in games 2, 3, and 4 and lost the series to the Mobile BayBears 3-1.

After James Gillheeney had an awful game two start, Taijuan Walker came in to save the say for game three by pitching 5.1 innings of 5-hit, 0-run, 0-walk baseball with 9 strikeouts. After being very concerned for Walker down the stretch of the season, he ended it on an extremely positive note that reminds us how damn good of a prospect he really is. The only pitcher out of the M's top 3 that didn't end on a high note was Danny Hultzen. But there's plenty of time for him to get better too.

The Generals held a 2-0 lead going into the bottom of the eighth, but two unearned runs scored against Yoervis Medina and forced a tie that was broken in the bottom of the tenth when Matt Davidson hit a 2-run walkoff home run against Jonathan Arias.

The fourth and final game of the series uneventfully ended Jackson's season when a solo shot in the third inning for Mobile's Jonathan Griffin was the only run of the ball game and the Generals lost 3-1 after managing just three hits in the final game.

They don't have to hang their heads low though. Sure, they lost the championship (that nobody else cares about but them) and their best players are going to Tacoma but at least we got to see a few more great starts from Walker and Paxton. Good memories.

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Generals Drop Game 2, Taijuan Walker Pitches Tonight

The Jackson Generals dropped game 2 of the Southern League Championship Series to Mobile by a score of 7-2 last night. Former Mariner Matt Mangini did most of the damage with a 3-run home run for the Mobile BayBears.

James Gillheeney got the start and allowed 6 runs in 5 innings with 9 hits, though he struck out 4 and walked none. Forrest Snow came in relief and pitched two perfect innings with two strikeouts and Jonathan Arias pitched a perfect eighth inning with three strikeouts.

The offense was mostly provided by Stefen Romero, who went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI. Catcher Mike Zunino was 0-for-3.

Taijuan Walker will try to turn the series back into the Generals favor tonight as the games head to Mobile. He allowed just 1 run over 7.1 innings in his last start, perhaps his best start in awhile although he did walk four.

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Generals Take Game 1 of Championship Series Behind Paxton, Zunino

The Jackson Generals took a 1-0 series lead in the Southern League Championship series last night with an 8-1 win over Mobile. Two of the Mariners top five prospects came up especially big in the game, with James Paxton having potentially his best start of the season.

Paxton went 7.1 innings and allowed 4 hits, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB and 10 K in the victory. Paxton has not allowed an earned run in 13.1 playoff innings and has allowed just five earned runs over his last 35.1 innings. He'll be headed to the Arizona Fall League on a very high note.

Catcher Mike Zunino, who had three home runs in the opening round, went 2-for-3 with a double, triple, walk, RBI, and three runs scored. He is hitting .444 in the playoffs. It seems likely that both Zunino and Paxton will start 2013 with AAA Tacoma, right on the cusp of joining the major league club.

Johermyn Chavez went 2-for-4 with a home run and 5 RBI.

James Gillheeney gets the game 2 start tonight at 4:05 PST.

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Jackson Generals Advance to Championship Series, Mike Zunino Advances to 'Legendary' Status

The Jackson Generals, the Seattle Mariners AA-affiliate, have advanced to the Southern League Championship Seriesfor the first time since 2005. The Generals entered the season with high expectations after learning that Danny Hultzen, James Paxton, Taijuan Walker, and Nick Franklin would all start the season there and there were few disappointments from them in the first half.

After Franklin and Hultzen were promoted to Tacoma in the second half, it would have been fair to expect a dropoff from the Generals, but new additions helped at least as much as the dearly departed. Brad Miller and Stefen Romero were called up from High Desert and hit .320 and .347, respectively. Additionally, Mike Zunino was called up for 15 games and hit .333/.386/.588 with 3 home runs.

Zunino has been even more phenomenal in the playoffs, hitting three home runs in Jackson's four games against Chattanooga. One of those homers came last night in the Generals clinching 8-2 victory that also saw Miller, Romero, Francisco Martinez, Chih-Hsien Chiang, and Nate Tenbrink have multi-hit games.

The Generals best-of-5 series against Mobile starts on Tuesday at 4:05 PST at Pringles Park in Jackson, Tennessee. If you live out there, the team is offering free admission. Why the hell would you miss it?

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Seattle Mariners: Tacoma Rainiers 2012 Season Review

The Rainiers were among the worst teams in AAA this season but did they have a few bright spots individually? No, not really, but I'll break down a recap on all of the seasons you need to know about.

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Mike Zunino Continues Hot Hitting, Taijuan Walker Tonight

The Jackson Generals beat Jacksonville 3-2 last night, with Stefen Romero going deep and Mike Zunino going 2-for-3. Zunino is now hitting .370/.423/.652 in 14 games for Jackson before he'll head to the Arizona Fall League after the season is over. For Romero, it was his 23rd homer of the season and he's actually hit better since his promotion from the High Desert.

Brad Miller adds more power to the Mariners bunch of middle infielder prospects, hitting his 40th double of the season in the win.

Anthony Fernandez got the start but no decision as he went just four innings, and Felix's big brother Moises Hernandez got the win in relief. Jackson improved to 79-59 on the season.

Taijuan Walker will be making his 25th start of the season today. The young right-hander has struggled for most of the second half of the season and it would be encouraging to see him pick it up today. Walker has allowed four runs or more in three of his last four starts.

The game kicks of at 12:05 PST.

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Rainiers Win 8-4 Heading Into Season's Final Series

There are just four more games left for the Tacoma Rainiers this year. For some, they probably can't wait for it to be over and for others, they're just getting themselves ready to head to Arizona.

Danny Hultzen is one who probably is elated that he won't have to pitch again in 2012. Hultzen made the start for Tacoma Wednesday and went 2.1 innings, allowing 6 hits, 6 ER, 5 BB and 3 K. He finishes his season having allowing 10 earned runs in 3 innings over two starts with nine walks. He'll have some time to figure out where his command and "polish" went. Just for comparisons sake, against the same lineup, Brian Sweeney came in relief and gave up one hit and zero walks over 4.2 innings.

The Rainiers got the win yesterday by a score of 8-4 after Nick Franklin went 3-for-5 with a double. He will be one of the players headed to the Arizona Fall League to work on some things in hopes of playing with the Mariners next season.

Erasmo Ramirez went 5 innings, allowing 5 hits, 2 R, 0 ER, 2 BB and 3 K. Erasmo has allowed no earned runs over his last 12.1 innings to drop his triple-A ERA to 3.72 in fifteen starts.

Tacoma wraps up their season with four games at Fresno starting tonight.

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Zunino, Franklin, Paxton Among Mariners AFL Participants

The Seattle Mariners have announced the players that will be playing in the Arizona Fall League this season to get more work, with few surprises.

Top 2012 pick Mike Zunino will continue to put work in, much like Dustin Ackley did a few years ago when he dominated the AFL. Zunino is hitting .367/.458/.720 in 40 games this season with Everett and Jackson. I fully expect him to be named as a top 25 prospect going into next year and a strong showing in the AFL will only help that and help his chances of being with the big league club sooner, rather than later.

Joining him will be shortstop Nick Franklin. He has hit .278/.347/.455 in 115 games this season with Jackson and Tacoma but has struggled with the Rainiers mostly, hitting .241/.307/.415 with 64 strikeouts in 266 at-bats. Franklin played in only 88 games in 2011, so this is going to give him a chance to get more acclimated to a 162-game season.

Also potentially needing more time is James Paxton, though he has pitched 100.1 innings this year, he missed about a month with injury. He needs to work on cleaning up his control and Paxton could even challenge for a rotation spot out of Spring Training. A few AFL starts won't hurt.

RP Logan Bawcom, RP Bobby LaFromboise, 1B Vinnie Catricala, IF Stefen Romero, P Carson Smith will join them.

Catricala has really struggled this year, hitting .227/.294/.339 in his Tacoma debut, while Romero has broken out with a .345/.386/.585 season for High Desert and Jackson. It should give the club a better idea of what they've got with both.

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Mariners Minor League Update for 8/28

Oh crap, I have been so busy thinking about Russell Wilson that I've completely ignored the Mariners minor league system that I've been following all summer. For shame. For Russell, but also for shame. Here is a quick update on the last four days:

Danny Hultzen had his worst start of the season on Friday! 0.2 innings, 2 hits, 4 R, 4 BB and 1 K. Maybe it's better that I had ignored the minor leagues for a few days. For all intents and purposes, Hultzen needs some time off.

Nick Franklin hasn't gotten a hit since Thursday and is 0-for-10 in that time. Really? Am I seriously effecting how well the M's minor leagues player play? I am sorry for not paying attention.

The Rainiers have won three in a row, so there's that. Erasmo Ramirez went 7.1 innings on Saturday and allowed 4 hits, 1 R, 0 ER, 6 K, and 2 BB. Alex Liddi went 2-for-3 with a double and a homer on Sunday in a 2-1 Tacoma victory. Luis Rodriguez was 4-for-5 with 2 doubles and 2 RBI in a 7-5 win on Monday, while Darren Ford was 3-for-5 and Liddi homered again.

Not all is lost.

The Jackson Generals went 2-2 while I was away. Brad Miller was 2-for-2 with 2 walks on Friday with a double in a 2-1 win. He has doubled four times in his last five starts. Forrest Snow pitched four shutout innings in his first start since July 25th after spending time in the bullpen. He struck out 4 and walked 0, with his biggest issue this season being walks, it was a good return to starting.

Rich Poythress was 2-for-3 with a home run and 2 walks in an 8-5 loss to Chattanooga on Saturday. Mike Zunino was 2-for-5 with two doubles. Zunino was then 3-for-4 with a home run in a 5-4 win on Sunday. He's hitting a ridiculous .389/.450/.750 with 3 HR in 10 games for Jackson, 4 walks and 4 strikeouts in 40 plate appearances. He's been so ridiculously good to start off his minor league career, don't be surprised if he forces the team's hand to bring him up sooner than you'd ever expect. (Next season. He is not on the 40-man roster.)

James Paxton made the start on Saturday. He went 4 innings, allowing 5 hits, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 BB and 5 K. It's not cool to see him go back to his wild ways. He's like an "out of control teen" on Maury.

Stefen Romero also homered on Sunday. He's hitting .332/.381/.597 in 51 games with Jackson, which is a higher OPS than he had at the hitter-friendly High Desert.

Finally, the Generals lost 6-1 on Minday. Miller doubled. That's your highlight.

The HD Mavericks went 1-3 while I was away. They lost 2-1 in 12 innings on Friday, with James Jones, Leon Landry, and Steven Proscia all going 2-for-5. It was another 2-1 loss to Inland Empire on Saturday. The Mavs beat them 4-0 on Sunday though with Jones hitting two triples and driving in two, while Mickey Wiswall homered. Roenis Elias pitched 6.1 shutout innings with no walks, five strikeouts and two hits.

They lost yesterday to IE by another 2-1 score. Julio Morban hit a solo homer for the Mavs.

The Clinton Lumberkings went 3-1 while I was gone. Guillermo Pimental went 5-for-14 during that stretch without a walk or extra base hit. Relief pitcher Matt Brazis struck out two in 1.1 innings on Saturday and has 30 strikeouts and 5 walks in 16.1 innings for Clinton.

Daniel Paolini has hit a home run in each of his last three games with two doubles. He is hitting .325/.386/.850 over his last ten games with six home runs and 15 RBI. Paolini is hitting .288/.368/.477 on the season now with 16 HR and a 60:47 K:BB ratio in 392 at-bats. This is the first time I have ever written about him.

Finally, Victor Sanchez went 5.1 innings for the Everett Aquasox on Friday and allowed 5 hits, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB and 6 K. The 17-year-old has only allowed 1 ER in his last 16.1 innings with 14 strikeouts and 3 walks. He is possibly headed for a low-A Clinton assignment next season when he'll barely legal.

An interesting thing happened for the Aquasox on Saturday when ever single player in the lineup had exactly one hit in a 6-3 win over Yakima. Patrick Kivlehan has a home run and three doubles in his last three games.

Thus concludes my longest update of the season!

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Taijuan Walker Shaky In Loss

So check this out: "Walker Texas Anger" Pretty cool huh? I will be saving that one for when Taijuan Walker dominates the Rangers or something. Or now as I am angry that Walker is struggling to find great starts as the season winds down. Understandable for the recently-turned 20-year-old but maybe it's finally time to shut him down.

Walker gave up four runs in the bottom of the first inning at Mobile last night before settling down and finishing with a line of: 5.2 innings, 5 R, 4 ER, 7 hits, 2 BB and 3 K. He allowed a leadoff double before four more singles would end up driving in the runs. Mike Zunino also had a passed ball to setup the final single that would drive in the last two of the inning. He also allowed a homer to David Nick in the fourth.

The young pitcher is now 7-8 with a 4.22 ERA on the year with 105 strikeouts and 48 walks in 117.1 innings. He dominated April and May before a terrible June, settled down in July but has had a poor August that's seen him strike out just 13.5% of batters compared to the 30.2% of batters he K'd in the first month of the season. Walker has also struggled on the road, a 5.04 ERA away compared to a 3.34 ERA at home.

His last truly dominating performance was July 26th against Montgomery when he struck out 8 and walked none in 6 innings and he has allowed at least one extra base hit in twelve straight starts beginning June 15th. He has given a home run in three straight.

It will be interesting to see if they start him in Tacoma next year or wait until he truly dominates AA again.

Mike Zunino was 0-for-4 in the 5-2 loss.

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Tacoma Loses 6-1, Danny Hultzen Pitches Tonight

I don't think that I've said this all season long, but the Tacoma Rainiers are bad. I focus on the players, because the players are really the only thing that matters, but they're a team too kind of. Despite how often they get players replaced with promotions and demotions. But through it all, Tacoma is in last place at 57-76 in the PCL Northern division and 17 games back of Reno.

They are even 11 games back of Salt Lake, the team ahead of them in the standings.

No different last night as the Rainiers lost 6-1 to the Las Vegas 51s, despite another half-decent start from Hector Noesi, who went 6 innings and struck out 6 while walking 2 and allowing 3 runs. Noesi is coming off of his most dominant start of the season after he struck out 11 and allowed 1 hit in 7.2 innings over first place Reno.

Noesi has been much better than right after he was demoted. He has a 3.21 ERA in August after posting a 10.80 ERA in July right after his demotion.

Nick Franklin was 2-for-5 in the loss and is hitting .295/.340/.545 in his last ten games.

Danny Hultzen will make just his third start of the month tonight after the organization has decided to slow him down at the end of the season. Tacoma has just eleven games left before they don't make the PCL playoffs and it's probable Hultzen will have just two starts left, if not this being his last.

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Rainiers Blow 5-0 Lead But Nick Franklin Homers Again

Mariners shortstop prospect Nick Franklin has had rough spots during several points in his minor league career, but seems to have gotten the hang of adjusting to those struggles every time. After being promoted from Jackson to Tacoma in June, Franklin struck out in 34.1% of his plate appearances in 41 June PAs and then 28.2% of his plate appearances in 117 trips to the plate in July.

However, Franklin has had a nicer August, striking out in just 17.1% of his 76 plate appearances and even better, he's continued to hit for power.

Tacoma led 5-0 after three innings against Reno last night, with Franklin hitting his 7th homer of the season for Tacoma and his second in as many days. But Reno had a 5-run fifth inning off of Erasmo Ramirez (5 innings, 5 R, 7 K, 1 BB) and then went on to win 6-5. To be honest though, I don't care much for the wins and losses for Tacoma as much as how the players do and my favorite player there is Franklin so let's focus on that for a second.

In about one more day, Franklin will have the same amount of plate appearances for the Rainiers as he did for the Generals. His numbers across both levels:

AA Jackson: 239 PA, .322/.381/.502, 4 HR, 17 2B, 4 3B, 24 BB/38 K, 9 SB, 42% Groundballs, 18% Line Drives, .180 Isolated Power

AAA Tacoma: 234 PA, .250/.312/.434, 7 HR, 10 2B, 4 3B, 18 BB/60 K, 3 SB, 32% Groundballs, 18% Line Drives, .184 Isolated Power

Clearly, his triple slash line was better at AA, but there are many encouraging signs about what he's done for Tacoma and the one thing we must always remember is that Franklin, 21, was already young for the Double-A level. He's incredibly young for AAA and is playing against more players with major league experience.

But he's also shown more power in Tacoma and is hitting fewer balls on the ground, where you'll always have your lowest batting average. Franklin dominated at his previous level and now he's holding his own at a level that few would have ever expected him to be at when he was drafted out of high school. The most worrisome thing about his game when he was promoted were the strikeouts, but it's something he had slowly been improving at throughout his career, so there was hope he'd improve at it again. Franklin has struck out just six times in his last eleven games. He has only walked twice over that time, another issue, but something he could still adjust to.

It will be interesting to see if the Mariners call Franklin up in September, so that he may start adjusting ahead of time for 2013.

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Mariners Prospect Matt Brazis Is "Ridiculous Day" At The Deli

When prices were so low, they were ridiculous.

With the 851st pick of the 2012 MLB Amateur Draft, the Seattle Mariners select Matt Brazis, RHHP, Boston College. This is not a phrase that anybody really cared about, outside of the Brazis family and really faithful Boston College baseball fans. After his first 21 professional innings, I think we should think a little bit more about the guy that was drafted after 850 other prospects.

Brazis was taken in the 28th round by Seattle, a round after they had selected a pitcher named Blake Holovach that had a 5.08 ERA at the University of Missouri and had 44 strikeouts, 34 walks in 79.2 innings. Of course, there are reasons that Brazis was not a highly regarded prospect.

First of all, he is a relief pitcher. I'm not going to say that it's easy to find good relief pitchers, but relatively speaking to other positions in baseball, it can be done. The Mariners found relief pitchers in classrooms and bars. It's hardly even a TV movie anymore. Second of all, Brazis missed a big chunk of his junior season with injury and according to Larry Stone: "Baseball America notes that Brazis hasn't pitched much the last couple of years but correctly predicted he'd get drafted on the basis of raw stuff. They cite his plus fastball and average slider."

He might only have one pitch, based on that report. Well, right now it looks like the pitch is working.

Brazis debuted with short-season Pulaski and made seven relief appearances: 8.1 innings, 1 hit, 0 R, 0 BB, 19 strikeouts.

He was promoted to low-A Clinton and has made six appearances: 12.2 innings, 5 hits, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 24 strikeouts. His total numbers over two levels are 43 strikeouts and 2 walks in 21 innings.

These numbers are a lot of fun. Still, Brazis turns 23 next month and the average age of hitters in the Midwest League is 21.5. It's also easier to get by with a "plus fastball" at lower levels but will need other pitches to survive a stop like AA. We can't make hard determinations on future success based only on numbers with these kinds of exceptions, but it's fun to think that maybe with the 851st pick of a draft, Seattle got a major league player.

There's a lot of time left for a lot to go wrong, but Brazis hasn't done anything so far other than right. He's one to watch now, and let's enjoy these ridiculous numbers while we can.

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Danny Hultzen Pitches 5 Hitless Innings in Rainiers Win

There is definitely something weird about Danny Hultzen's success when he has success, but I try not to question it when he does something positive. Hultzen, who has been slowed to a snails pace since the end of July as the team tries to limit his innings, went 5 innings yesterday against Reno and gave up 0 hits, 1 ER, while walking 3 and striking out 6.

He's just one of those pitchers where I don't bat an eye to see him throw a hitless start and still allow a run.

The control is still an issue, as it has been throughout his AAA season, but he did what he's good at: limit runs, hits, and rack up strikeouts. Somehow at the end of most of his days, Hultzen leaves a game without too much damage where it really counts; the scoreboard.

In two August starts, Hultzen has pitched 8.2 innings, allowing 2 hits, 1 R, 5 walks and 9 strikeouts. In total with Tacoma he's struck out 50 and walked 29 in 41.1 innings with a 4.35 ERA. There are at best a couple of Hultzen starts left this year as the team probably prepares for him to join the major league rotation at some point next season, if all goes well. It appears that maybe Hultzen is pitching better after some rest, because he had allowed 10 earned runs over his last two starts of July.

Hultzen wound up with a no decision as he left the game with a 1-1 tie. Reno took a 2-1 advantage in the top of the sixth, but Nick Franklin tied it up with a solo shot in the bottom of the inning. Brandon Bantz and Alex Liddi homered over the next two innings, respectively, as Tacoma went on to win 4-3.

Franklin Gutierrez was 2-for-4. The consistently-injured veteran has more plate appearance with Tacoma this year than he does with the Mariners.

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Mike Zunino 3-for-3 in Third Game with Jackson

Three is the magic number.

If Mike Zunino (#3) continues to hit this well, he's going to find himself towards the top of many "Top 100" lists to start next season. The Mariners top draft choice (3rd overall) was 3-for-3 with a walk in the Generals 5-2 win over Mississippi last night and is 4-for-8 over his first three games in AA.

Zunino finished his career at Everett by hitting .373/.474/.736 with 10 HR in 29 games and the Golden Spikes Winner is solidifying himself as a solid hitter that can stay behind the plate. A rare quality to find in any catcher and a reason that he might elevate himself up to the top 20 of some prospect lists if the 21-year-old can finish the season strong.

Nate Tenbrink was 3-for-5 with a triple, Stefen Romero was 2-for-4 with a triple, and Leury Bonilla added a triple himself. That's a lot of triples. Three triples. Meta.

Brandon Maurer pitched 6 shutout innings to move his record to 9-2 on the year with a 3.20 ERA.

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Leon Landry Tearing It Up In High Desert

I was in central California this past week, right around the High Desert, and got a first-hand account of what it might be like to hit a baseball there. Hot, humid, and thousands of feet above sea level, it certainly seems like if you trip over a rock you might fly a hundred yards. It's certainly acting that way around Leon Landry's bat since he was acquired for Brandon League.

In 13 games with the Mavericks, Landry is hitting .491/.508/.877 with 3 HR, 7 doubles, 3 triples, 50 total bases, 6 SB, 6 strikeouts, 2 walks, and 16 RBI. He was 2-for-4 at Lancaster last night, his eighth multi-hit game over his last ten.

Brandon League has an ERA of 12.27 for the Dodgers.

Landry had already played in 80 games in the California League this year before being traded and was hitting .328/.358/.559 with 20 stolen bases, and even Mendoza himself could probably hit .300 there, but you'd rather he was hitting well than hitting poorly, right? You are here because you're a Mariners fan, right?

Still, it will be nice to see what Landry does next season, which will probably be at AA Jackson.

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Peguero Hits Go-Ahead Home Run as Tacoma Rallies

The Tacoma Rainiers blew a 5-0 lead in the fourth inning yesterday, finding themselves down 6-5 going into the eighth, but "King of the Swing" Carlos Peguero hit a 2-run, 1-out home run to give the Rainiers the 7-6 lead and eventual win. Peguero, who is known for his massive home runs and massive-high-amounts-of-swing-and-misses, connected at just the right time in order to secure the Rainiers victory.

In 62 games for the Rainiers, Peguero is hitting .291/.373/.598 with 20 home runs, but also has struck out a phenomenal 90 times. He didn't strike out once yesterday, but had struck out 14 times in his previous 5 games.

Also getting offensive yesterday were Carlos Triunfel and Guillermo Quiroz, who both homered, and Alex Liddi who was 2-for-3. Erasmo Ramirez ended up giving 6 ER in 5 innings without a single strikeout, and Brian Sweeney ended up picking up the win in relief. Danny Farquhar picked up his second save.

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Danny Hultzen Makes First Start In Two Weeks

The Seattle Mariners organization stated that they were going to start slowing Danny Hultzen down, and they meant it. Hultzen went from July 28th until last night without making a start, and then was lifted before getting out of the fourth inning despite pitching relatively well.

His final line: 3.2 innings, 2 hits, 0 R, 2 BB, and 3 K.

Through three innings, Hultzen had 3 K and no walks, but was lifted after recording two outs and two walks in the fourth and had thrown 64 pitches. He had been mostly dialed in up until the point and could have possibly escaped the jam if the team wasn't holding him back right now.

In the end, the Rainiers ended up blowing a 2-0 lead by allowing a run in each of the last three innings to fall to Nashville 3-2.

On a rehab assignment, Charlie Furbush pitched 2 innings of relief and allowed 1 hit, 0 R, 0 BB, and 1 K.

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Danny Hultzen Still Waiting for Next Start

Seattle Mariners pitching prospect Danny Hultzen has not made a start for Tacoma since July 28th, as the organization has decided to pull in the reigns on the 2011 #2 overall pick. Hultzen has struggled for Tacoma for the most part, giving up 10 earned runs in his last 9.2 innings and GM Jack Zduriencik told the press that it was time to "back off him a little..." at the end of July.

It turns out so far that has meant Danny is getting at least two weeks of rest.

The positive side of Hultzen's Tacoma debut is that he has 41 strikeouts in 32.2 innings, but his 24 walks are a major problem. If there was one thing about Hultzen that catapulted him to the top of the draft, it was his polish. But it appears that there is no chance of him joining the team this season. That's fine, though. There is nothing that Hultzen could do for Seattle in 2012 that would mean much, other than stay healthy and improve himself so that he can join the rotation next season.

While the hitting for the Mariners has been frustrating, watching the majority of this rotation take the mound has been equally as bad. When you're only sure thing at starter is Felix Hernandez (and that's a great sure thing) you're unlikely to be a contender. But Hultzen, Taijuan Walker, and James Paxton make for an exciting future.

As soon as he's allowed to pitch again.

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Rainiers Lose 5-3, But Nick Franklin Homers

The Tacoma Rainiers lost 5-3 to the New Orleans Zephyrs today with Hector Noesi going to 0-4 with a 7.24 since his demotion to Tacoma. On the bright side, shortstop Nick Franklin went 1-for-4 with a home run and avoided striking out for the second straight game.

Yes, with 54 strikeouts in 42 games, it is relevant when he goes consecutive games without a K. In fact, he's struck out just three times in his last six games. Franklin had strikeout problems in his first two minor league seasons but improved significantly for Jackson to start the year. Those numbers spiked when he was promoted to AAA, but he may be getting it under control

Perhaps Noesi is also getting things under control. Despite picking up another loss, Noesi went 7 innings, allowing 6 hits, 3 R, 3 BB and 5 K. He went 7 innings in his previous start with just 1 walk allowed, and now has two quality starts in a row. We can be hopeful that he's figuring it out finally and will be able to contribute at the major league level at some point, even if it's next year.

Justin Smoak was 0-for-2 with 2 walks and is hitting .216 for the Rainiers, and Carlos Peguero also homered and walked twice.

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Is Taijuan Walker Running Out of Gas?

M's top prospect Taijuan Walker hasn't been quite his dominant self recently and went just 75 pitches over four innings in the Generals 7-6 win last night. Walker gave up four hits, one run, two walks, and three strikeouts with four groundballs against four flies. He also had a wild pitch.

On the season, Walker is at 98 innings pitched, which is about the same as the 96.2 innings he pitched last season for Clinton, but he hasn't been quite as sharp in total this year. Here's a comparison of numbers between last season and this:

Last season: 2.89 ERA, 69 hits allowed, 4 HR, 39 BB, 113 K, 1.54 Groundout/Airout ratio, .202 average against.

This season: 4.04 ERA, 89 hits allowed, 6 HR, 42 BB, 94 K, 1.07 GO/AO, .245 average against.

The numbers are down across the board, but there's always more than meets the eye. Number one is the most obvious one, and that's the fact that Taijuan was 18 in low-A last season and is 19 in AA this season. He skipped over the pitcher's Hell known as High Desert and is among the youngest players in AA this season. When you look closer at the numbers, it's even more impressive to see how he's survived a whole season at AA so far.

The most important part of the numbers being that in June, Walker posted a 9.14 ERA with 15.4% walks per plate appearance and a .379 BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play, for those unfamiliar, which shows that he got very unlucky on contact) against. Then you look at July and see that Walker posted a 3.41 ERA, 8.6% walks, 20.7% strikeouts, 51% groundballs and a .250 BABIP against. While Walker hasn't been as good at any point this season as he was in April (30.2% K, 7% BB) he was as good in July as he was in May.

When Walker said that he just lost his curve in June and then found it in July, we can trust him.

The Generals have 26 games and the playoffs left, meaning that Walker could make between 4 and 6 more starts on the season and push himself up to perhaps 120 innings on the season which sounds about right. As much as I'd love to shut him down and keep him from being injured, a worry I have with all pitchers, I'd say that he definitely does not appear tired. He just appears to be a teenager in an advanced league.

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Now Pitching: Taijuan "Lannister" Walker

Taijuan sort of sounds like a Game of Thrones name, right? It's sort of like Tyrion or Tywin. I mean, it's really close to Tywin. But it's Taijuan.

If Taijuan "White Walker" Lannister were a real character in the Game of Thrones, I expect that he'd be one of the great ones. He'd be like Robb Stark, a younger leader taking his men into battle with his fierce skills and qualities that you look for in a fantasy-based role-playing character.

But then he'd also be bad-ass and dead like a White Walker. I guess in the book they are called "The Others" but that was already on TV in LOST so they changed it to the White Walkers. I never read the books. People always say, "READ THE BOOKS!" but I'm like, "Uhh, they're making a great TV show. I don't have time for the books right now when they're making a great TV show."

Anyways that was all to distract you to get to the point that Walker is pitching right now. Walker gave up no hits, one walk and one strikeout in the first inning and as I'm writing this, he just gave up a run in the second. He's in trouble, time to turn on that fire and ice he's got in that powerful right arm.

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Walker is Coming

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James Jones With Another Hot Second Half

One Mariners prospect that I have not mentioned once this year is High Desert outfielder James Jones. That's because Jones annually waits until July before he starts hitting. Jones actually started to hit well in May of this year and has been on a seriously hot (because its in the desert) run ever since.

I guess I first noticed him today because he was especially good last night despite only recording one hit. Jones went 1-for-1 with a double, three walks, and three stolen bases in the Mavericks 4-0 win over Lake Elsinore. He's hitting .342/.458/.605 with 5 stolen bases in his last ten games and hitting .326/.424/.549 with 14 stolen bases in 35 games since the All-Star Break. Jones is definitely having his best season since he was drafted in the fourth round of the 2009 draft, but he's also repeating the level and the California League is a hitter's paradise.

For Jones, 23, to have any real chance of being a real prospect to watch, he's going to have to hit well at Jackson and skip his regular early-season struggles.

Jones is hitting .305/.381/.507 this year after hitting .247/.347/.378 at the same level last year.

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James Paxton Pitching Like He Wants To Join the Mariners

And who wouldn't want to pitch for the hottest team in baseball? That would be like asking for a trade to the Yankees because you want to play for a contender. Clearly the Mariners are the best contender in baseball and James Paxton has pitched like a guy that wants to join the bigs ever since his return from the DL.

Last night in Birmingham, Paxton went 6 innings, allowing 5 hits, 0 R, 1 BB, and 8 strikeouts, inducing 8 groundouts and just 1 flyout in a 9-1 Jackson victory. Since coming off the DL, Paxton has now struck out 32 and walked 9 in 32.1 innings. That's a dramatically better walk rate than before when he was walking over 15% of batters compared to just 7.5% in July and walking 1 of 23 batters last night.

Brad Miller went 3-for-3 with a home run and is now hitting .400/.486/.633 in 8 games for Jackson. The shortstop might only have a future at a corner outfield spot, but he's been hitting like a corner outfielder this season anyway.

Joe Dunigan and Nate Tenbrink also homered.

The Mariners might not actually make the playoffs this season and Paxton might not make a start for them, but it's okay to feel good about both the big league club and the prospects right now. By the start of next season, Paxton, Miller, Danny Hultzen, Nick Franklin and the Mariners could all be one big, happy family.

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New Mariner DJ Mitchell Off To Good Start with Tacoma

Trading Ichiro Suzuki was shocking to see as a Mariners fan, but seeing him traded for less-than-stellar prospects was not since Ichiro is no longer Ichiro! But D.J. Mitchell hasn't done much to disappoint over his first two starts with Tacoma.

Mitchell started for the second time last night and went 7 innings, allowing 5 hits, 2 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, and 4 K. He's now allowed 1 ER over his first two starts (12 innings) for a 0.75 ERA. Tacoma beat Tuscon 3-2, with Mitchell picking up a no-decision.

Justin Smoak went 1-for-3 with a double and is hitting .219/.324/.313 in nine games for Tacoma. Alex Liddi went 2-for-3, his second straight multi-hit game, and is hitting .226/.308/.366 on the year.

Meanwhile, some guy named Taijuan Walker (who?) went 6 innings for Jackson and struck out 3 with 7 hits allowed, 1 walk and 3 ER in a 4-1 loss to Birmingham. It's not a great start for Walker but he did induce 9 groundouts compared to 3 flyouts and threw 99 pitches, 66 for strikes.

James Paxton starts for the Generals tonight.

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Carter Capps Called to the Majors

The trades of Steve Delabar and Brandon League have opened up some spots in the Mariners bullpen and they're likely replacing those two with players that are younger and (Yippee!) better.

Carter Capps has been biding his time while he's been on a minor league tear all season, the inevitable moment where he gets his shot at the majors is finally here. Capps, a third round pick last season out of Mount Olive College, struck out 72 batters in 50 AA innings, while walking just 12 with a 1.26 ERA. He also recorded 19 saves.

Capps just debuted in AAA Tacoma and struck out three of the four batters he faced without allowing a baserunner. If you're in one of those fancy fantasy dynasty baseball leagues, it seems likely that Capps would be second-in-line to be the closer behind Tom Wilhemsen by next season.

Joining Capps in the bigs will be Stephen Pryor, making his second go-around with Seattle this season. Earlier in the year, Pryor struck out 5 and walked 3 in 5.1 relief innings with 1 run allowed. Pryor, a fifth round pick in 2010, has pitched 38.2 innings in the minors this season with 47 strikeouts and 19 walks and a 0.93 ERA. He's a little wild, but if the 22-year-old can control that, the M's have another long-term piece in their bullpen.

If neither of these guys work out, then it's likely that Capps will go back to his hometown and join the family business of mining olives on Olive Mountain.

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Hultzen, Paxton, Zunino, and Recapping the Mariners Minors Weekend

James Paxton took the mound for the Jackson Generals on Friday and went 6 innings, allowing 4 hits, 1 R, 3 BB, and 4 K. It's been five starts since Paxton has returned from the DL and he is 2-0 with a 2.39 ERA and 24 strikeouts/8 BBs in 26.1 innings. Those are encouraging numbers, but he's also allowing significantly more flyballs and batters are hitting .278 against him in July.

Brad Miller was 1-for-4 with a double in the 5-3 Generals win. In six games with Jackson now, Miller is hitting .364/.440/.545.

Anthony Fernandez went 7 innings for Jackson on Saturday and allowed 2 ER on 7 hits with 0 walks and 7 strikeouts. He now has a 2.89 ERA in AA, but the Generals lost to Montgomery by a score of 3-2. Jackson lost again on Sunday, 4-1.

Danny Hultzen started for the Rainiers on Saturday and had a second straight rough outing. He allowed 7 R, 6 ER, in 5.2 innings with 6 strikeouts and 3 walks. Hultzen now has an ERA of 5.23 in seven AAA starts, though the strikeouts are high; 41 Ks in 32.2 innings. He hasn't mastered the command and control of his stuff, however with 24 walks allowed.

Tacoma won the game 8-7 though, as Darren Ford was 4-for-5 with a home run and 6 RBI.

The Rainiers lost both games of a doubleheader to Tuscon yesterday. Update on Justin Smoak: He's hitting .208/.321/.292 since his demotion.

For good news about Mariners players and prospects, head down to (or up from Seattle) Everett. Mike Zunino homered for the Aquasox on both Saturday and Sunday, and went 3-for-5 on Friday. The catching prospect is hitting .356/.465/.746 over his first 16 professional games.

Finally, Victor Sanchez got the start for Everett on Saturday and didn't allow a walk for the first time all season. The 17-year-old went 6 innings and allowed 6 hits, 5 R, 3 ER, but also struck out 8 and walked none. It tied a season-high in Ks and was the first time he walked less than two.

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Atta Kid: Taijuan Walker "Back On Track"

It can be difficult to be a teenager just in general, let alone as one of the top pitching prospects in baseball, but Taijuan Walker seems to have overcome his growing pains as of now. Walker had a terrible June after he lost confidence in his secondary pitches, but has regained that confidence when he realized he's one of the best pitchers in the world (Under-20 division.)

Facing Rays-affiliate Montgomery, Walker went 6 innings, allowing 2 hits, 0 R, 0 BB, and 8 K. In his last two starts, Walker has pitched 12 innings, 7 hits, 1 R, 2 BB, and 11 K. This, after posting an ERA of 9.15 ERA in June.

Walker talked to milb.com about his struggles:

"I had been working a lot," he said. "June didn't really go well for me, and so I had to go back and work on some things. I was just trying to build confidence and get back on track."

And how he got back.

"You just have to trust yourself," he said. "Everyone's going to have struggles at some point when they're a pro. You just have to work to get yourself out. So whether it's busting my butt in the gym or working hard in bullpens, I did whatever I had to do to get back on track. I think I'm there now."

Shortstop Brad Miller, playing in his third game since his promotion to Jackson, hit his first AA home run and went 2-for-4. Carter Capps, a phenom reliever, picked up his 19th save.

I think as Mariners fans, we're all just relieved that the young Walker is back to his old ways.

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Justin Smoak's 2012 Tacoma Debut, Nick Franklin Strikes Out A Lot

Former Mariners first baseman Justin Smoak made his demotion debut last night and went 1-for-3 with a walk in a 4-3 loss to Tuscon. Smoak was hitting .189/.253/.320 in 344 at-bats for Seattle this year, and hit .271/.377/.481 in 35 games for Tacoma back in 2010. Here's hoping to players figuring out why they sucked so bad by playing against weaker competition.

Shortstop Nick Franklin went 1-for-4 with two RBI but also struck out three times. He has now struck out 43 times in 29 AAA games, an incredible 35% of his at-bats. Makes me miss Greg Halman, God rest his soul.

Fellow demotee Hector Noesi got the start and struck out 9 batters in 5.1 innings but walked 3, allowed 4 hits, 4 R, and 3 ER to pick up the loss. He is now 0-2 in three starts with a 10.54 ERA. Chance Ruffin, who appears to be contractually obligated to pitch in every game, pitched a scoreless inning of relief to lower his ERA to 7.12. He's now got an ERA of 3.00 in his last ten appearances.

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Forgotten Man Brandon Maurer Strong in Loss

I haven't written much about Mariners pitching prospect Brandon Maurer this season, but he's having a solid year, the longest one of his career so far. Maurer, who missed most of 2010, pitched a gem last night but the Jackson Generals ended up losing by a score of 2-0 after the bullpen surrendered a pair of runs to Montgomery.

Maurer went 7 innings, allowing 4 hits, no runs, 2 walks and 8 strikeouts. He is now 7-2 with a 3.51 ERA, 96 K/40 BB in 115.1 innings with just 3 home runs allowed. He has an ERA of 2.81 over his last ten starts.

He pitched just 79.1 innings last season, a career-high since debuting in 2008, between Clinton and High Desert and posted a 4.99 ERA. It will be interesting to see just how far the M's will push him this season and I expect him to debut in Tacoma next year while being on deck for a spot start of bullpen spot in the majors if all goes well.

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Mike Zunino Homers, Victor Sanchez Gets the Win

Victor Sanchez, 17, had a good start for Everett last night, going 6 innings and allowing 4 hits, 1 R, walking 4 and striking out 5. You'd like to see fewer walks (it was a season-high) but he otherwise held his own again against much older competition as the Aquasox beat Yakima 3-1.

Catcher Mike Zunino went 1-for-4 with a home run, his fourth of the season. He's now hitting .378/.465/.784 in his first ten professional games with five walks and six strikeouts. Patrick Kivlehan went 2-for-3 and also homered, and Michael Faulkner went 2-for-3 himself.

Meanwhile, Danny Hultzen hates pitching in Colorado. It's a good thing he won't have to do it much as a Mariner.

Hultzen went 4 innings at Colorado Springs and gave up 6 hits, 4 R, 4 ER, 4 BB, and 5 K. The strikeouts are nice and he kept the ball in the park, but was out of control once again. He's got a James Paxton-like 21 walks in 27 innings for the Rainiers.

Justin Smoak will be joining Hultzen and Nick Franklin (1-for-4) in Tacoma today. So that's a thing. A sad thing, but probably a good thing.

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On The Mound Today: Danny Hultzen and Victor Sanchez

As fans of the minor league system (and I assume that if you've been following me on this site, that's what you are) we have been spoiled this year. You realize that, right? It won't be long before we realize that it's not often you get this many exciting starts per week from a team's minor league system.

Danny Hultzen, Taijuan Walker, James Paxton, Victor Sanchez round out the top of the system. While Erasmo Ramirez, Forrest Snow, Andrew Carraway, Brandon Maurer, Anthony Fernandez, James Gilheeney, Jordan Shipers, Stephen Landazuri, and Dylan Unsworth have also provided varying levels of interest, among others. But mainly it's those top four that you pay most attention to, right now. Hultzen and Sanchez will be making their next respective starts today.

Hultzen has steadily settled down in each start for Tacoma since his June 23rd AA debut. He is now 1-1 with a 3.52 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 23 innings. He's also walked 17 but gave just two free passes in his last start, which lasted a AAA-high six innings. Hultzen will likely pass the 100 inning threshold for the season today. The game is just getting under way and you can follow here.

Tacoma lost both games of a double-header to Colorado Springs yesterday. Shortstop Nick Franklin was 2-for-4 and is hitting .243/.326/.435 in 27 AAA games.

Way down in short-season Everett, 17-year-old Victor Sanchez will makes his eighth start of the season. I hope he's not too tired from watching the Teen Choice Awards. Did he vote Bieber? We'll never know for sure, but we'll probably assume for sure. Sanchez is 4-1 with a 4.01 ERA, 32 K and 15 BB in 42.2 innings. He's coming off his worst start of the season, but he's been otherwise phenomenal for his age. The game against Yakima kicks off at 7:05 PST.

It's likely that Sanchez, if all works out, is the next "Best Prospect" in our system by 2014. By then he'll still be a teenager, and I'll still be a Belieber.

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Taijuan Walker Has His Best (But Still Not Great) Start In Awhile

Mariners pitching prospect Taijuan Walker entered last nights game for Jackson after having given up three or more runs in each of his last seven starts. He had also failed to get past the fourth inning in three of them. However, he seems to be getting back on the right track after last night's 7-3 win over Huntsville.

Walker went 6 innings, allowing 5 hits, 1 ER, 2 BB, and 3 K. We've seen better from Walker, but we've also seen a lot worse recently. Carter Capps was exceptional again, going 2 innings and striking out 5 batters to pick up his 18th save of the season.

Chih-Hsien Chiang went 1-for-4 and drove in two runs, and Stefen Romero went 1-for-4 with a double and a run scored, but also struck out three times.

I wonder if Walker just missed his buddy Danny Hultzen since his promotion to Tacoma. Don't worry Taijuan, you'll see him again soon enough and probably for a very long time after that.

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Rainiers Win 2-1 in 18 Innings After Danny Hultzen Spits Reasonably Hot Fire

Danny Hultzen made his longest and best start in AAA yesterday and Tacoma beat Sacramento by a score of 2-1. Great pitching and no hitting? Hey Danny, it's like you're already a Mariner!

Hultzen went 6 innings, allowing 3 hits, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, and 8 K. It was the most innings, most strikeouts, fewest hits, and fewest walks that Hultzen has allowed in five AAA starts thus far. Overall, he is now 1-1, 3.52 ERA, 30 K, 17 BB, and 25 hits allowed in 23 innings for Tacoma.

Stephen Pryor, amping up for a return to the big leagues, pitched a scoreless seventh inning with 1 hit allowed, no runs, no walks, and one strikeout. Bobby LaFramboise and Steven Hensley actually combined for 7.2 innings of scoreless relief and Scott Savastano picked up the win by pitching the 18th inning and the hitting the walk-off home run. Now THAT'S how you earn a win.

Nick Franklin was 0-for-6 with five strikeouts and Mike Carp was 2-for-4 with an RBI.

Meanwhile down in Everett, Victor Sanchez had a bad start for the Aquasox. The 17-year-old phenom allowed 7 R, 6 ER in 4 innings with 6 hits, 2 walks, and 2 strikeouts. Mike Zunino was 0-for-2 with two walks in the 11-4 loss. He's hitting .412/.500/1.000 in five games.

Also, reasonably hot fire.

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Mike Zunino Is Better Than a Lot of Guys That Won't Make Majors

To rate a prospect, one can not ignore the competition that he faces. However if we did ignore it, Mike Zunino might be the best hitter in the minor leagues this week.

Just weeks ago, Zunino was playing in another College World Series and named the top amateur baseball player in the country. Today, he's a professional baseball player for the Everett Aquasox in a league that's five rings below the majors. It's not hard to see why this might be too easy for him.

Zunino was 3-for-4 on Tuesday night against Salem-Keizer with two home runs, giving him three dingers in the last two nights. Just four days into his pro career, Zunino looks poised to move up a level and try some tougher competition on for size.

It's hard to say exactly when Zunino will move up and where he'll start next season, but he's definitely on the fast track as of tonight. Unlike most of the pitchers that he's dominating.

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Mike Zunino Hits First Home Run As Millionaire

Seattle Mariners catching prospect and 2012 third overall pick Mike Zunino hit his first career home run as a professional yesterday in the Everett Aquasox 11-2 win over Salem Keizer. Zunino was 2-for-5 in the game and now 4-for-11 in his three game career with a double and that home run. It will be interesting to see how long Zunino may stay at Everett, since Class A Short-Season ball is probably a step below the competition he faced at Florida.

35th 7th round pick Taylor Ard out of Washington State and 4th round pick Patrick Kivlehan also homered. A pitcher named Rusty Shellhorn got the win, so have fun with that.

A few levels up, Jackson beat Tennessee by a score of 10-8, with Stefen Romero refusing to cool down and going 2-for-3 with 2 R, 2 RBI, and a walk. Romero is now hitting .377/.425/.688 with 4 HR, 26 RBI, 7 BB and 7 K in 20 games for AA Jackson. It seems like only a matter of time now before Romero is called up to take a spot in the Mariners order to see what he can do at the big league level.

It was only a year ago that Kyle Seager was basically in the same place.

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James Paxton Showing Continued Improvement in Control

James Paxton made his third start since returning from the DL yesterday, and he continues to look like a different pitcher on the mound. Paxton went 6 innings, allowing 8 hits, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, and 6 K in the Generals 6-1 win over Tennessee. He now has allowed just 2 walks in 14.1 innings since his return. Compare that to the 5 walks he had in 2.2 innings before hitting the DL, or the 23 walks he had in 46.1 innings for the season before hitting the DL and you'll see how surprising this change is.

And he's doing it without losing much in the way of strikeouts, though he's given up more hits. Batters are hitting .296 off of Paxton in July and he has allowed considerably more flyouts than groundouts. In order to be successful, Paxton will have to find a balance between getting strikeouts without allowing walks, but also not throwing it right down the zone to allow more hits and to not have those hits go into the air more often than they stay on the ground. Oh, the trials and tribulations of being a starting pitcher.

Still, the southpaw will be more successful in Safeco as a strikeout/flyout pitcher than as a strikeout/walk/walk/walk/walk pitcher.

Joe Dunigan was 2-for-4 with 2 HR, and he now has 18 home runs on the season. Stefen Romero was 2-for-5 with a HR and 3 RBI, and Chih-Hsien Chiang was also 2-for-5 with a home run.

Anthony Fernandez, who is 4-0 in four starts with Jackson, makes the start tonight.

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Updates On Walker, Hultzen, Paxton, Franklin, Sanchez and More

It's been a busy weekend of M's pitching prospects since the M's affiliates all returned from the break. Here is a breakdown of what's happened over the last few days:

It was a mixed bag of results for Danny Hultzen on Friday: 5 innings, 8 hits, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 7 K, 1 HR allowed in the Rainiers loss to Colorado Springs. Similar to what he did in Jackson, Hultzen is limiting runs after having allowed just 3 ER in his last 14 innings, but he's yet to find his control.

Nick Franklin was 1-for-5 with a HR in the game on Friday and was 2-for-5 with a triple yesterday. He's now hitting .259/.323/.471 in 20 games for Tacoma and is really starting to heat up.

The Rainiers won 16-9 over Colorado Springs yesterday. Carlos Triunfel was 4-for-5 with a HR and 5 RBI. Mike Carp was 2-for-4 with a double and 5 RBI. Hector Noesi made the start and was terrible, allowing 8 hits, 5 walks, and 7 ER in 3.1 innings.

Stephen Pryor had a scoreless, hitless inning of relief.

Taijuan Walker made his first start in nine days yesterday, trying to right a ship that has been quite out of control lately. The results: 6 innings, 3 hits, 4 ER, 5 BB, 6 K, 2 HR. Not quite in control. Walker did limit hits and got some strikeouts but two of his hits allowed went for home runs and he allowed way too many free passes.

He was eventually able to settle down and his final inning (K, popout, K) might have been his best. But there's still a lot of room to grow on Walker and that's why we won't see him in Seattle this season.

James Paxton, who has been much better in two starts since returning from the DL, is scheduled to make the start for the Generals today.

The High Desert Mavericks won 15-13 yesterday behind a lot of strong hitting efforts but none stronger than the 3 HR of Steven Proscia. James Jones, Jack Marder, and Dennis Raben also homered. Brad Miller was 2-for-5 with a double and a walk.

I'll spare you pitching details.

Jordan Shipers should be making his first start since his Wednesday no-hitter for Clinton tomorrow.

Finally, Victor Sanchez isn't a name I've said around here very often but that's only because he plays in Everett and is very far away. But let me say it now: Victor Sanchez, Victor Sanchez, Victor Sanchez.

Victor Sanchez can't even buy cigarettes until next January but he's holding his own against hitters that are several years older than him. He's made six starts for the Aquasox and is 4-0, with a 3.03 ERA and 30 K/13 BB in 38.2 innings. The big 6'1", 200 pound righty could make his full season debut for Clinton next season. He made his last start on Thursday and struck out five with two walks and three ER in six innings.

Just imagine what he could do when he is able to start smoking cigarettes!

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Seattle Mariners Minors: Update on the Mariners 2011 Amateur Draft

How are the Mariners doing with last years draft class? Let's take a look!

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Jordan Shipers Tosses No-Hitter, Almost No-Striker-Outer for M's Affiliate Clinton

There hasn't been much pitching below AA for the Mariners this year that I've been fond of. Sure, there's Victor Sanchez, who might be the best pitching prospect in the system outside of Taijuan Walker if he weren't so far away, but there's little else to pay attention to.

Then there was Jordan Shipers.

He was a 16th round pick in 2010, but he mostly fell because of signability issues with his commitment to Missouri State. The Mariners wound up signing him for $800,000, which is astronomically higher than the recommended slot bonus for a 16th round pick. The payoff has not been immediate, with Shipers posting an extremely low strikeout rate (50 of them in 90 innings) but he does have a 3.50 ERA in 16 starts with Clinton this year. It's a little bit lower after tonight.

Shipers went 9 innings against the West Michigan Whitecaps, striking out two (yeah), walking two, and allowing not a single hit.

While the strikeouts have disappeared (he struck out almost a batter per inning in his debut last season) Shipers has now allowed just five earned runs in his last 27 innings. Perhaps this no-hitter could propel him to take the next step and live up to those $800k expectations.

And isn't that just what the Mariners need? Another non-hitting prospect?

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Mariners Minors: Anthony Fernandez Moves To 4-0 Despite Shaky Start

Quick-rising Mariners southpaw Anthony Fernandez came into last nights game for the Jackson Generals on quite the hot streak. He opened his AA career with the Generals first-ever set of back-to-back complete game starts and had allowed just three earned runs in his first 25 innings with the Generals with three walks and 17 strikeouts. He wasn't nearly as efficient last night, but still picked up the win and allowed only one earned run.

Fernandez's final line: 5 innings, 7 hits, 1 ER, 6 BB, 4 K in Jackson's 3-1 win over Montgomery. He now has a 1.20 ERA in 30 innings with a .210 batting average against.

Carter Capps recorded his 15th save of the season with two innings of scoreless relief and he now has a 1.47 ERA in 43 innings with 63 K and 12 BB. Capps, 21, could find himself in the Mariners bullpen come September.

Chih-Hsien Chiang and Ralph Henriquez each homered in the victory.

Meanwhile, Stephen Pryor made a rehab start for High Desert and was... not good. Pryor allowed 3 walks, 2 ER, and 0 K in 0.2 innings for the Mavericks. Mike Carp also made a rehab start for HD and was 4-for-5 with a double and 3 RBI in the 12-10 victory over Modesto. Both are expected to move up to either Tacoma or Seattle on Wednesday.

SS Brad Miller was 3-for-5 with 3 R, a double, a triple and 4 RBI. He is hitting .429/.429/.612 in his last ten games.

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James Paxton Still Looking For Elusive Seventh Inning, But Finds Strikeouts Again

Seattle Mariners left-handed starting pitching prospect James Paxton made his second start since returning from rehab yesterday and posted his highest strikeout total since April 26:

4.1 innings, 6 hits, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, and 8 K in the Generals 8-3 victory over the Montgomery Biscuits. (Now halfway into my first year of covering minor league baseball, I'm becoming more and more familiar with minor league team names like Biscuits! "Oh, they played Montgomery? Those damn Biscuits.")

Paxton, one of the wildest pitchers in the minor leagues before he hit the DL, has now walked just one batter over his first 8.1 innings since returning to action, with ten strikeouts. He was also having a problem with efficiency, not getting past the fifth inning often, but he only had 76 pitches (50 for strikes) in his 4.1 innings as he works his way back to full health. So far, he's looked pretty good since his return and as a Mariners fan I'm hopeful that he's back on the right track to being a solid left-handed starting pitching prospect.

Stefen Romero extended his hitting streak to nine games last night by going 3-for-5 with a run and two RBI. He's now hitting .397/.451/.698 in 16 AA games.

Taijuan Walker and Danny Hultzen each pitched an inning the MLB Futures Game yesterday. Hultzen allowed a run on three hits and struck out one, while Walker allowed a hit, no runs, and struck out one. Indeed, this is the future!

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Taijuan Walker Settles Down After Rough Start in Jackson Win

Mariners pitching phenom Taijuan Walker was trying to shake off a rough June in which he posted a 9.15 ERA, but got off to a bad start against Mississippi last night after allowing three straight hits to start the game and allowing three ER in his first two innings. However, he was much more like the Taijuan we came to know and love after those first two innings.

Walker struck out the side consecutively in the top of the third inning (two called) and then had a 1-2-3 bottom of the fourth. Walker came out for the fifth inning as well and struck out Jason Christian for his fourth and final strikeout of the game. All told, Walker went 5 innings, allowing 5 hits, 3 ER, 2 BB and 4 K on 73 pitches and picked up the win as the Generals won 11-4.

Joe Dunigan and Johermyn Chavez both homered and Chih-Hsien Chiang was 3-for-5 with a double. Red-hot Stefen Romero remained red-hot after going 2-for-5 with a double and a RBI. Romero is now hitting .408.

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Hultzen and Paxton Pitched Well On Tuesday, Walker Pitching Tonight

Sorry for the delay but the Fourth of July distracted me from updating you on Danny Hultzen and James Paxton, so you may already know the results but I'm going to recount them anyway as if it was yesterday morning. Happy Fourth of July!

Hultzen made his third triple-A start on Tuesday and went 5 innings against Fresno, allowing 6 hits, 2 R, 1 ER, 6 K and 3 BB. The control is still an issue for Hultzen, who now has twelve walks in twelve innings with the Rainiers, but he's racking up strikeouts (15 now) and has lowered his ERA to 5.25. He also picked up his first AAA win as Tacoma won the game by a score of 8-2. Outfielder Mike Wilson homered twice, Carlos Peguero homered once and was called up to Seattle, and Nick Franklin was 1-for-4 with a double and 2 RBI.

Tacoma didn't get yesterday off like most of us did, and they beat the Salt Lake Bees by a score of 6-5. Franklin was 2-for-3 with two more doubles and two walks. The phenom SS/2B is now hitting .222/.300/.444 in thirteen games for Tacoma with five doubles, two triples and a home run. However he has only walked five times while striking out 20 times in 54 at-bats. Plate discipline was an issue for Franklin at lower levels but he had showed immense improvement in that area with Jackson this year, but to be hitting at AAA at age 21, some of these issues are to be expected. He'll have plenty of time to work out the kinks with Tacoma before he gets a call to the bigs.

Alex Liddi was 3-for-5 for Tacoma yesterday and is hitting .297/.384/.514 in AAA. Peguero homered again yesterday before his call-up. Brian Sweeney picked up the win and is 4-2 with a 4.70 ERA.

Meanwhile, down in Jackson, James Paxton made his first start in over a month and went 4 innings, allowing 2 hits, 0 R, 2 K and most importantly, zero walks in the Generals 6-1 loss to Montgomery. Paxton hadn't made a start with 0 walks since his debut this season and was one of the wildest pitchers in the minors before hitting the DL. I'm sure he used some of that time to work on how he could be more efficient and effective when he was healthy again and though he only struck out two batters, it's good to see him have a bit more control. He needed just 53 pitches to make it through four innings.

Anthony Fernandez made the start for Jackson last night after having pitched back-to-back complete games in his first two starts with the Generals and went 7 innings, allowing 7 hits, 2 ER, 1 BB and 4 Ks to move to 3-0 with a 1.08 ERA in AA. Fernandez was the victor over Ben Sheets, who was making his 2012 debut in the Atlanta organization. Stefen Romero, one of the hottest hitters in all of the minor leagues right now, was 2-for-4 with a double, a triple and three RBI. He's now hitting .409/.471/.750 in 12 games for Jackson after hitting .357/.391/.581 at High Desert. It will be interesting to see how quickly the 23-year-old moves up in the organization as he's showing the same kind of surprisingly great production that Kyle Seager had shown a year ago.

Taijuan Walker, who really struggled in June, will be making his 15th start of the season at 5 PST tonight against Mississippi. Walker was 0-3 with a 9.15 ERA in June, but still remains one of the top 10 prospects in baseball. Let us never speak of that June swoon again.

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Tonight: Danny Hultzen AND James Paxton!

The Mariners minor league season started with much excitement because of the Jackson Generals trio of Danny Hultzen, James Paxton, and Taijuan Walker but the last month has been much of a flutter with Hultzen struggling in his first two AAA starts, Walker having a bad June, and Paxton on the DL since May 25th.

Welcome back to the bang!

Hultzen will be making his third start for Tacoma at 7:05 PST against Jason Stevenson (2-1, 5.01 ERA) and the Fresno Grizzlies. In 75.1 innings with the Generals, Hultzen had allowed 10 ER for a 1.19 ERA but he's seen 6 ER cross the plate in his first seven innings with Tacoma. He only allowed a single run in his last start but failed to make it past the fourth inning and walked four batters with six strikeouts.

The Rainiers beat Fresno 4-3 last night after Luis Jimenez singled with two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the twelfth inning.

Meanwhile down in AA Jackson, Paxton will make his first start in over a month, facing off against Jacob Thompson (5-5, 5.17 ERA) and the Montgomery Biscuits at 5:05 PST. In his last start, Paxton went 2.2 innings, allowing 4 hits, 4 ER, 5 BB and only 1 strikeout. Paxton was dominant in his first start of the season, striking out 10 and walking none, but has struggled to find control, consistency, and efficiency since then. The lefty is walking 6.2 batters per nine innings. He'll not only have to regain his health, but he'll have to show he's got better control if he's going to be joining Hultzen in AAA this season. With better command, Paxton could join the Mariners rotation next season and be among the league-leaders in strikeouts before too long.

The Generals beat Montgomery by a score of 2-1 last night, with Forrest Snow going 6 innings, 5 hits, 1 R, 1 BB and 4 strikeouts. He's now made four starts since being demoted and is 1-2 with a 3.32 ERA and only six walks in 21.2 innings. Carter Capps picked up his 13th save of the season and struck out 2 in 1.1 innings. He now has an ERA of 1.14.

Also, this guy Felix something-something is pitching in Seattle.

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Taijuan Walker Runs Away From Terrible June

Saturday concluded the month of June 2012, and Taijuan Walker probably couldn't be happier about it. The pitching phenom just concluded the worst statistical month of his short career. Walker faced the Pensacola Blue Wahoos on Saturday and went 5 innings, giving up 6 hits, 3 ER, 3 BB and striking out 3. On the bright side, Pensacola had 11 groundouts and only one flyout, giving Walker one of his best days this year when it comes to keeping the ball on the ground, but struggles with command and efficiency plagued him all month.

Taijuan had an ERA of 1.64 in April and 2.82 in May, making him one of the most effective, talented, and successful pitchers in AA despite being the youngest player in the league. However, he had a 9.14 ERA in five June starts and walked 15.4% of batters, double what he had allowed coming into the month. Walker walked two batters or less in eight of his first nine starts but walked three or more batters in four of his five starts in June. He also had allowed just one home run coming into June and then gave up three during the month.

Whether it's fatigue or just being a teen, Walker is struggling right now but should get back on the right track eventually because he hasn't lost his killer fastball and curveball combination. Let's just hope that he's a much bigger fan of July.

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Dominant Anthony Fernandez Pitches 2nd Straight CG for Jackson

Pop quiz hot shot: Who was the last pitcher to pitch a 9-inning complete game for the Mariners affiliate Jackson Generals? Was it Taijuan Walker, one of the top prospects in the world? Danny Hultzen, the number two pick last year? James Paxton, the hard-throwing lefty that struck out 52 batters in 46.1 innings before hitting the DL?

No, it's right there in the headline you dimwit. Anthony Fernandez.

Called up to replace Hultzen when he was moved up to Tacoma, Fernandez (yet another southpaw), made his Jackson debut on June 23rd and pitched the Generals first complete game in three years, allowing six hits, 1 ER, 1 BB and 5 strikeouts in his nine innings. It was only the second time in his minor league career (signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2006) that he had gone nine innings but he had been fairly dominant in the unforgiving High Desert. Fernandez had a 3.68 ERA for the Mavericks with 79 Ks and only 14 BBs in 88 innings.

So Jackson had lost one of their top players in Hultzen and replacing him with anyone else in the organization was going to be a downgrade, but Fernandez is making a strong argument that he can be just as effective. If not moreso...

Last night he took the mound for the second time in AA and for the second time he pitched a complete game, this time pitching a shutout at Pensacola with 8 strikeouts and only 1 walk. Fernandez, 22, is quickly moving his way up prospect boards and up the organizational ladder. He's rarely ever pitched bad during his minor league career, but has never been known to have "the stuff" that would make him a great pitcher in the major leagues. However, if he keeps pitching like this he could find himself at the back-end of a major league rotation before we know it.

He's already proven to be much more than just a "replacement."

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Moyer "Beats" Hultzen in Battle of Generation Z vs Generation A

The highly-anticipated matchup between Jamie Moyer and Danny Hultzen ended with a "hmph" after Hultzen was unable to go past 4 innings and reliever Steven Hensley did much more than just squander a 3-1 Rainiers lead in the fifth.

Hultzen went 4 innings, allowing 3 hits, 1 ER, 4 BB and 6 K needing 90 pitches to get through those 4 innings against the Las Vegas 51s lineup and only 52 pitches going for strikes. Hensley came out for the fifth with a 3-1 lead, faced seven batters, and recorded zero outs while six of those batters went on to score. The 51s ended up winning 11-4.

Moyer, 49, picked up the victory after 5 innings, 7 hits, 3 ER, 1 BB and 6 Ks against the Rainiers lineup. It was his debut for the Toronto Blue Jays affiliate and he most likely won't spend much time with the team but as fate had it, he wound up making a start and picking up a win against one of his former team's top prospects.

Nick Franklin was 2-for-5 with a triple and is now hitting .233/.281/.367 in seven games with the team.

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Indeed: Danny Hultzen Will Face Jamie Moyer Tonight!

Yesterday my headline read "Jamie Moyer vs Danny Hultzen?" and today I just made a single change for it to read: "Jamie Moyer vs Danny Hultzen!" I love it when the baseball Gods make my job easier.

Also familiar with baseball Gods is Moyer, who is older than most popular Gods in Greek and Roman mythology.

Moyer returns at the age of 49 not to face his old team, the Seattle Mariners, but to face the AAA Rainiers just a little bit south of his former home team. The player that he faces off, Danny Hultzen, is going to be making just his second AAA start of his career and in just his first full-season as a professional baseball player. It's a battle of old crafty lefty versus young crafty lefty, except that this crafty lefty has a significantly better repertoire of pitches than Moyer ever had.

However, Hultzen would be lucky to make out a career even close to resembling the one that Moyer has had for three years longer than Hultzen has been alive. It is at least, without a doubt, one of the most interesting pitching matchups you'll see in the minor leagues this season.

The Rainiers beat Las Vegas last night behind Blake Beaven, who pitched 6 innings, 5 hits allowed, 1 R, 3 K and 1 BB in the 4-1 victory. Chance Ruffin actually had a scoreless, hitless, walkless inning of relief, which is one of the most rare things you'll witness in Tacoma this year. Luis Rodriguez was 2-for-3 with a home run.

Finally, the Jackson Generals lost 5-0 and Forrest Snow struggled with 85 pitches (just 48 for strikes) in 4.2 innings. Pensacola (Reds) pitcher Tony Cingrani, one of the fastest rising pitchers in the minor leagues, went 8 innings, 3 hits, 15 K and 1 BB in the win.

Anthony Fernandez gets the start for Jackson tonight.

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Blake Beavan Tonight. Danny Hultzen vs Jamie Moyer Tomorrow?

I had written a much longer article about the possibility of Jamie Moyer facing off against Danny Hultzen until I realized it's already been covered and may not even be a reality. The Rainiers game against Colorado Springs was postponed yesterday, so the whole rotation could get a bump back and it wouldn't be Hultzen versus Moyer. Or they could do the right thing and start Hultzen tomorrow, which would be entirely reasonable and understandable.

I'm just upset because I did this great comparison on the day that Hultzen was born and what Moyer was doing that day at the age of 27. Oh well!

For now, you'll have to pay attention to Blake Beavan as he makes his third start since being demoted to Tacoma. Beavan is 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA and 5 strikeouts, 5 walks in 12 innings with 17 hits allowed. He has given up a home run in each of his starts.

In other news, the Jackson Generals beat the Pensacola Blue Wahoos 4-2 last night behind a 4-for-5 effort from Nate Tenbrink who also homered for the first time in Jackson this season. I had forgotten about Tenbrink until just now, but he's making his triumphant return and could be an interesting utility bat to watch in the future. That would probably be his ceiling though.

Tenbrink hit .318/.409/.521 with AA West Tennessee in 2010, but has yet to advance to AAA.

Forrest Snow makes the start for Jackson tonight.


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Now Pitching: Taijuan Walker

Taijuan Walker, the top prospect in the Seattle Mariners organization and popping up on top 10 prospect lists in all of baseball, is now making his thirteenth start for the Jackson Generals this season. He is trying to right a ship that’s been wobbly in the month of June.

After being well above-average for the first two months of the season, Walker has struggled to find that brand of control and dominance that he displayed earlier this year after allowing 13 ER in 12.2 innings with 15 strikeouts and 9 walks in June. Overall, the teenager has a 3.79 ERA with 59 K and 23 BB in 57 innings on the year.

He is facing Huntsville right now and already completed a scoreless, hitless first inning. He went 4 innings in his last start against Huntsville with 4 hits, 2 ER, 4 K and 2 BB. The Generals are already up 3-0 in the first inning today.

You can follow the action from the Jackson Generals website.

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Danny Hultzen's AAA Debut Goes Not Well

We waited for weeks to see Danny Hultzen promoted and his debut at a higher level might make us wish for the “Good ol’ days” of AA. Hultzen made his AAA for the Tacoma Rainiers last night and ended up throwing only 41 of of his 81 pitches for strikes while walking five over three innings and allowing five earned runs in Tacoma’s 8-4 loss to Colorado Springs.

This coming after Hultzen had allowed five earned runs total in his last 71.1 innings at AA Jackson. He also struck out three and allowed five hits. Colorado Springs isn’t a very soft landing spot for a debut, but where your pitching isn’t as good of an excuse when you only throw just a hair above half of your pitches for strikes.

Nick Franklin made his third start for Tacoma and was 1-for-4 with a double, giving him one hit in each of his three starts but he has struck out an incredible seven times over his first eleven at-bats.

So far, both Hultzen and Franklin have proven that they’re too good for AA but still need a healthy adjustment period in AAA. The next #FreeDannyHultzen meme might not come for a few weeks, though it’s important to note that he also gave up 5 ER in his AA debut before becoming the most dominating pitcher at the level.

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Taijuan Walker and Danny Hultzen Officially Part Of "The Future" (All Star Game)

Somewhere between flying cars and self-drying jackets lies the future and part of that view into what dreams may come are two of the most prized pitching prospects in baseball: Taijuan Walker and Danny Hultzen.

The two players were named today to the MLB Futures Game to represent the U.S. at All-Star weekend in Kansas City.

It wasn’t long ago that the Seattle Mariners farm system lacked elite talent and classified among the least-exciting in baseball, but since Jack Zduriencik and company took over, the depth and quality of prospects has only gotten better and better, culminating in these two starting pitchers putting their names among the best pitchers in the world that aren’t in the majors yet.

Taijuan Walker, not yet 20 years old, was considered a major unknown and a major project when Seattle drafted him in the supplemental first round of the 2010 draft. Two years later he is finding himself on many lists for “the top 10 prospects in baseball” after showing dominance against much older competition. This season in AA (he’s the youngest pitcher there) he has posted a 4-3 record, 3.79 ERA, 57 innings, 59 K/23 BB and a .249 average against.

Walker has struggled in June, allowing 13 ER in 12.2 innings, but growing pains should be expected for any teenager that has advanced so quickly and the combination of his high-90s fastball and devastating curve still make scouts drool over the possibilities of a pitcher who has yet to come close to reaching his full potential.

Many people feel that Danny Hultzen has reached most of his full potential, but if that’s the case, we should be perfectly fine with it since he’s been the most dominating pitcher in the minor leagues this season, arguably.

Hulzten faced 290 batters in AA and allowed 38 hits, only eight of which went for extra bases. He induced 50% groundballs and struck out 27.2% of batters faced while posting an ERA of 1.19 in 75.1 innings. Batters are hitting just .151 against Hultzen.

Over his last seven starts for the AA Jackson Generals, Hultzen pitched 44.2 innings, allowed 2 ER, and gave up 23 hits. After struggling with control in early May, Hultzen walked just 9 batters in his last 37.2 inning and struck out 44. He’ll begin his test against AAA hitters on Saturday and then face the best prospects the world has to offer at the July 8th Futures Game in Kansas City right next to his buddy Taijuan Walker again.

And then hopefully one day in the future, they can both pitch right next to King Felix for a very long time.

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Nick Franklin Powers Rainiers to 9-1 Victory *cough* Ks-3-Times

Shortstop Nick Franklin, the top position prospect for the Mariners, made his AAA debut for the Tacoma Rainiers last night and struggled to start the game with three strikeouts and a walk in his first four plate appearances. However, he finished the night right with a 2-run double in the ninth inning off of Taylor Sinclair.

The only hitter that was in the Pacific Coast League this year that is younger than Franklin is Angels superstar centerfielder Mike Trout, so just finishing nicely and drawing a walk is a great start for the middle infielder.

Franklin started at second base last night, so he’ll be mixing time around the infield with Carlos Triunfel, the former top prospect at short. Triunfel was 1-for-4 with a home run last night. Alex Liddi started at 1B and was 2-for-4, Adam Moore started at C and was 2-for-3, and Vinnie Catricala was at 3B and went 1-for-4 with 2 RBI.

Blake Beavan made his second start for Tacoma and went 7 innings, allowing 9 hits, 1 ER, 3 K and 2 BB. He now has an ERA of 3.00 in 12 innings with the Rainiers.

Down in Jackson, Forrest Snow made his first appearance for the Generals after being demoted from Tacoma with an ERA of 8.42 in 13 games. He went 5.2 innings, striking out 4 and walking none with 1 ER allowed in the Generals 4-3 loss to Huntsville. Stefen Romero made his AA debut for Jackson and went 2-for-4 with a double.

Jonathan Arias also debuted for Jackson and picked up the loss by allowing the go-ahead run in the ninth. He had struck out 36 batters in 35 innings for High Desert.

Generals OF Joe Dunigan was named Southern League Hitter of the Week after hitting 3 HR. An award he can put next to his HR Derby trophy that he also just won.

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Tacoma Rainiers Lose 9-0 But Here Come The Big Dogs

All season long I’ve basically just focused on the Jackson Generals because the Generals have good prospects and almost no other Mariners Minor League Affiliate does. Sure, there’s interesting guys here and there, but the top four prospects were in Jackson. Well, half of the big four has just moved up to the Northwest and now are literally and figuratively just outside reaching Seattle.

Yesterday the Rainiers did nothing to discount the fact that they need more talent if they’re going to accumulate meaningless wins. T-Town lost by a score of 9-0 to the Reno Aces after Jarrett Grube gave up 6 ER in 5 innings and Chance Ruffin allowed 3 ER in 1.2 innings.

Grube is not a prospect (now 0-4 with a 9.34 ERA) but Ruffin once was and is an interesting case. Relief pitchers are rarely ever a “big get” in a trade but at least Ruffin looked like he’d be a solid, well-above-average reliever at some point. That point is not now.

Chance has now pitched 37.1 innings and allowed 44 hits, 38 ER, with 32 K and 26 BB. As long as we’ve been calling for Danny Hultzen to get promoted, we should have been calling for Ruffin to get demoted in order to work some things out because it is definitely not working in AAA.

Vinnie Catricala was 2-for-4 yesterday, his fourth multi-hit game in the last seven, and he’s raised his line to .228/.277/.342 on the year. Blake Beavan makes his second start for the Rainiers this season tonight at 7:05 PM and you can expect Nick Franklin to make his AAA debut.

More important is today’s poll on the Rainiers website:
What is your favorite flavor of Tim’s Cascade Potato Chips?

Jalapeno
Salt and Vinegar
Mango Habanero
Dill Pickle

This can’t really be a serious question. What kind of satanist votes for anything other than Jalapeno?

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After All-Star Game, Danny Hultzen and Nick Franklin Sent to Tacoma

It wasn’t the prettiest of All-Star games as the North (the division that the Jackson Generals are in) lost for the first time in eight years by a score of 6-2. Things got off to a great start after Danny Hultzen did his usual thing (0 R in one inning of work) and Denny Almonte led off the game with a home run, giving the North a 1-0 lead.

But errors by Nick Franklin (0-for-3 with a walk) and Jesus Sucre (0-for-2 with a walk) helped contribute to the loss, as well as a shaky appearance from phenom Taijuan Walker (R allowed, hit batter.) So no, it was not the best you could ever hope for from the Mariners prospects, but on the bright side Joe Dunigan won the HR Derby. Oh, and Hultzen and Franklin are being promoted as expected.

Hultzen leaves AA with a 1.19 ERA in 75.1 innings with 79 K/32 BB. Franklin leaves behind a .322/.394/.502 triple slash with 4 HR, 26 RBI, 38 K/24 BB, 9 SB, 17 doubles and 4 triples. He is survived by Francisco Martinez.

You can bet that we’ll be very on top of it when Hultzen makes his first AAA start, which should come this weekend against Colorado Springs.

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Danny Hultzen to Start Southern League All-Star Game, Then Should Exit Southern League Promptly

Danny Hultzen’s last start in the Southern League might just come in today’s All-Star game (4:15 PST start time) and that would be the second best way his run in AA could end. The best way, of course, would be if it had ended three weeks ago.

Hultzen has laughed in the faces of all AA batters this season and despite how low his ERA is, it continues to get lower with every start since he hasn’t allowed an earned run since May 23rd. That’s almost a month, folks. He’s like the minor league version of R.A. Dickey!

Wait, wait, come back. That’s a compliment now.

Hultzen now boasts an ERA of 1.19 with his 8-3 record and 79 strikeouts in 75.1 innings. Whether it be in AAA or the majors, Hultzen has no business at this level anymore.

It wasn’t long ago that Hultzen was considered an overdraft with the number two overall pick, a “number three starter” ceiling that would be too expensive and didn’t have the kind of “stuff” you’d expect from a guy drafted over Trevor Bauer and Dylan Bundy. Well, maybe he’s not Bundy, the Orioles uber-prospect and probably the top prospect in baseball, but Hultzen has carved himself out quite the career thus far and silenced many of the doubters for now, dominating AA competition and starting the All-Star game.

Let’s just hope it’s his last AA start.

Joining Hultzen today are: Taijuan Walker, Denny Almonte batting leadoff, Nick Franklin hitting third, Jesus Sucre hitting fifth, Joe Dunigan, and Carter Capps.

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Nick Franklin Wins SL Player of the Month. Walker Rocked, Jackson Loses

It was a rough weekend for the Jackson Generals but brightened a bit from more good news about the players on the rosters, just on the edge of becoming major stars in the major leagues.

Firstly, Taijuan Walker had his worst start of the season on Friday, allowing 6 hits and 6 ER in 3.2 innings with 4 K and 3 BB. Walker has now given up 13 ER in his last three starts, covering 12.2 innings. Rough patches can be expected for players of all ages, and there shouldn’t be much concern about the teenager.

Yesterday, Forrest Snow made his AA debut for the Generals and went 5.2 innings, allowing 2 R, 1 ER, 4 K and 0 BB. Snow was demoted from Tacoma after having an ERA of 8.42 in 13 games. He had struck out a batter per inning, but showed almost no control and allowed a bunch of hits and a bunch of home runs. Snow skipped over AA last season but has now found his way there anyway. Jackson lost the game yesterday by a score of 4-2.

Finally, shortstop Nick Franklin was named Topps Southern League Player of the Month for May after hitting .394/.457/.648 with 6 stolen bases in 6 attempts. He committed just one error at short and hit .472 at home. It’s the first time a Mariners-affiliated player has won the award since Mike Wilson in June of 2008.

He’s struggled in June, but he was red-hot in May and could find himself in Tacoma after the All-Star break.

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Taijuan Walker Is About To Be Like "LOL!" To Chattanooga Batters

Written in the key of a 19-year-old:

sup LOOKOUTS,

the name is taijuan walker, dont forget it, LMFAO. nah, for real tho you prolly wont after tonight. kid be throwin FLAMES this season dont u know bout it? only a teenager and hes ballin son. you prolly ball ‘in control’ but t-flame balls out of it….

4 wins, 2 losses (more like LOLsses cause they was lucky!!!), 3.04 era, 55 strikeouts and only 20 bb’s in 53.1 innings BOIIII!!!!! what you even know about dat?

oh yeah, you know a lil bit bout it cause you saw this kid in yo home park two weeks ago and he made 9 of y’all go back to da dugout on a K, ROFL!!!

yeah, maybe you got lucky and scored 4 runs but t-flame will NOT let dat happen again!!!! y’all are foolin wit your hitters, aint none of em gonna made da big leagues but skywalker bout to be in the bigs next year, not even able to buy a drink!

fyi – HE’S CLOWNIN!

see you tonight at 5:05 pacific STANDARD time but nuthin standard bout taijuan, china. he’s gonna strike out a billion batters tonight! ROFLMAOKYMASGNTY!!!!

(rollin on da floor laughin my ass off, kissin yo mama and sayin good night to you)

(end key of 19-year-old)

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#FreeDannyHultzen Bound to Become Meme After More Shutout Innings

Seattle Mariners prospect and 2011 #2 overall draft pick Danny Hultzen isn’t just one of the best pitching phenoms in baseball, he’s also bound to add “Seattle Meme” to his list of accomplishments.

Yesterday, Hultzen went 5 innings against the Chattanooga Lookouts and allowed 4 hits, 0 R, 1 BB, and 4 Ks. It wasn’t hist most dominant outing of the season, but it did extend his scoreless innings streak to 27 2/3. Hultzen hasn’t allowed a run to score since May 23rd and he has only given up 2 runs total since May 5th, a run that covers 44 and 2/3 innings.

That’s an ERA of 0.40 over his last seven starts.

He hasn’t given up more hits than innings pitched since April 29th. He has only allowed 24 hits in his past 49 innings. He has given up just eight extra base hits (five doubles, one triple, two home runs) in 75.1 innings all season.

Prospects in baseball should be challenged and then advance. Be challenged, then advance. Challenge then advance. Danny Hultzen hasn’t really been challenged much at all in AA this season and it’s time for him to advance, perhaps skipping Tacoma and sliding himself into the Mariners rotation for the second half of the season, not that aggressive for a pitcher who has an ERA of 1.19 this season.

By the time that I post this, Hultzen may have been promoted already. But until that’s official, say it with me: #FreeDannyHultzen

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Tacoma Rainiers Touch Home Plate 14 Times After Series of Roster Moves

The Rainiers roster wasn’t rendered run-less right after Ramirez and rest get recalled. Right?

After putting Stephen Pryor and Mike Carp on the DL, and Blake Beavan and Alex Liddi down to Tacoma, the Rainiers will be saying goodbye or “See you later!” to Erasmo Ramirez, Casper Wells, Franklin Gutierrez and Steve Delabar. Ramirez gets the start on Thursday and Wells is in the lineup tonight.

But this is about Tacoma and their 14-10 victory over Salt Lake today.

Luis Rodriguez went 3-for-5 with 2 HR and 4 RBI, Mike Wilson went 4-for-5 with 2 HR and 3 RBI, and Luis Antonio Jimenez went 2-for-3 with 1 HR and 4 RBI with 3 walks. Clearly, this team isn’t going to be hurting on offense after saying “adios” to that quatro.

Third baseman Vinnie Catricala was 2-for-3 with a HR, his 4th of the season, and he’s now 5-for-10 in his last three games after a 22 at-bat hitless streak.

Additionally, Carlos Peguero was 2-for-5 with a double, Carlos Triunfel was 2-for-5 and Travon Robinson was 1-for-2 before being replaced by Scott Savastano in the order. C Adam Moore was 0-for-6 and is struggling since returning from the DL.

Jandy Sena got the start for Tacoma and went 3.1 innings, 7 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 0 K. Chance Ruffin went 0.2 innings, 2 H, 3 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K. Cesar Jimenez picked up the win and allowed 3 ER in 2 innings.

Beavan will work on his stuff as a starter in Tacoma, taking Ramirez’s rotation spot and Liddi just needs to start playing every day.

Delabar pitched 5 innings, allowing 1 H, 0 R, 3 K and 2 BB. Erasmo had 37.2 innings, 29 K, 7 BB and an ERA of 3.11. He took a no-hitter into the eighth inning last week. Franklin Gutierrez heads back to Seattle and was hitting .211/.279/.289 in 10 games with Tacoma. Wells hit .224/.400/.469 in 16 games but walked (15) more times than he struck out (13.)

No word yet on when Danny Hultzen will move up!

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Jackson Wins First Half Title and a Look at "90s Night with Mr. Belding"

The Jackson Generals defeated the Jacksonville Suns yesterday to finish the first half of the Southern League schedule with a league-best 39-26 record. They easily took the North division while Mobile, the Diamondbacks affiliate that featured Trevor Bauer, Tyler Skaggs, and Patrick Corbin, finished at 38-27.

Nick Franklin went 2-for-5 in the 8-0 victory while All-Stars Jesus Sucre and Joe Dunigan also had a 2-for-5 night themselves.

Brandon Mauer (5-1) went 7.1 shutout innings with 7 strikeouts and only 1 walk allowed. All-Star Carter Capps pitched a shutout, hitless inning with 1 K and 2 walks allowed. All-Star replacement Bobby LaFromboise (the Generals 8th All-Star named this season) also got an out for Jackson in relief.

The Generals have been every bit as good as they were hyped up to be plus a whole lot more, but one has to expect that the team will be a shell of it’s former self when players like Danny Hultzen, James Paxton, and Franklin are eventually promoted. But hey, that’s why they have a “First Half Title” right?

I also want to talk about a poll on the Jackson Generals website regarding “What is your most anticipated promotion for the 2012 baseball season?”:

- World’s Largest BBQ Sandwich Ribfest
- Half Pint Brawlers Midget Wrestling
- Elvis Tribute Night
- 90s Night featuring Mr. Belding

Dear Major League Baseball, you could learn a thing or two from your younger brothers. You need more 90s nights with people like Mr. Belding. Thanks!

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Jackson Generals Get Shutout Twice in One Day

There are amazing accomplishments (like a no-hitter) and then there are AMAZING accomplishments, like playing a doubleheader and not scoring any runs. The Mariners had an amazing accomplishment on Friday, but the Generals had an AMAZING one on Sunday.

Jackson, the top team in the Southern League on the strength of a rotation built like stud horses at the Belmont, played two games yesterday which usually means double the fun, but this time meant double the pain against Jacksonville.

The Generals fell 7-0 in the opener with only five hits managed against pitchers Bryan Evans and Bobby Bramhall. Steve Garrison got the start for Jackson and allowed 6 R, 4 ER in 3.1 innings. Nick Franklin was 1-for-4 in the melee.

Second game means time to re-power up right? Certainly Jackson was due to score some runs. But by “some” I really mean none, since once again they managed only five hits (but this time in seven innings!) and 0 runs. Franklin was 0-for-4 and Gabriel Noriega actually managed a 2-for-2 day with a double.

Taylor Stanton got the start for the Generals and allowed 8 R, 7 ER in 4 innings.

Dear James Paxton, please come back. Dear Danny Hultzen and Taijuan Walker, make all of the starts until he does. That’s what Jackson is all about.

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Danny Hultzen Is Too Good for AA

Taijuan Walker better watch his back because Danny Hultzen is making every effort to come after him in the race for “Ms Best Prospect!”

Last night Hultzen went 8 innings, allowing 2 hits, 1 BB, 0 R and striking out 8. It’s his third straight start without allowing a run (covering 19.2 innings) and over his last four starts combined his numbers look like this:

25.2 innings, 1 R, 1 ER, 14 hits allowed, 2 doubles allowed, 0 HR allowed, 31 K, 7 BB. The only sticking point now is his control, but he’s clearly cleaned up that issue lately and looks ready to advance and maybe as far as the majors. He’s allowed 2 hits or less in 7 of his 12 starts for the Jackson Generals.

With 70.1 innings pitched this season, one must wonder how many total innings the organization will have him pitch and where it would be best for him to spend the rest of those innings in 2012. At the very least he should be promoted to AAA to face a lot of “major league and former major league” talent but it would be hard to imagine him struggling much in the majors right now. After all, part of Hultzen’s appeal when he drafted second overall was his polish and MLB-readiness.

The Mariners just combined to no-hit the Dodgers but Kevin Millwood also tweaked his groin and Blake Beavan and Hector Noesi have had struggles this season. It might be time to see what the prospect who has been unhittable in the minors, can do in the majors.

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Taijuan Walker Struggles in Loss, Danny Hultzen Starts Tonight

Just because you’re one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball doesn’t mean you won’t have your bad nights. Especially when you’re still a teenager playing against competition years older than you.

Taijuan Walker, who doesn’t turn 20 until August, went 3 innings against Jacksonville yesterday and allowed 6 hits, 4 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, and 2 K. It was by far his worst start of the season.

Overall this pushes Walker’s ERA to 3.04 over 11 starts and 53.1 innings with 55 K and 20 BB.

Southern League All-Star Joe Dunigan went 2-for-4 with a HR and fellow All-Star Denny Almonte was 2-for-3 in the 4-2 loss. Nick Franklin was 0-for-3 with a walk.

Going tonight is Danny Hultzen, a fellow top pitching prospect along with Walker. Hultzen has struggled a bit with his command but that hasn’t stopped him from being nearly unhittable over his first 11 minor league starts. Hultzen has a 1.44 ERA and 32 hits allowed in 62.1 innings this season.

The game starts at 4:05 PST and you can choose between gameday, gameday audio, or Milb.tv from the Jackson website to follow.

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M's Affiliate Jackson Generals Has All of the Stars; Send 7 to All-Star Game

Per Larry Stone, the Jackson Generals are so talented that they’ll basically be playing the Southern League All-Star game by themselves.

Nick Franklin, Danny Hultzen, Taijuan Walker, Carter Capps, Jesus Sucre, Denny Almonte and Joe Dunigan will be representing the Generals and show that they are the true “Yankees” of the minor leagues.

I’ve spoken to death on how amazing Hultzen, Walker, and Franklin have been so I won’t quite go there again (really amazing) but just a quick update on the rest.

I talked about Almonte earlier and how he’s improved this season, hitting .289/.369/.469 with 9 HR and 12 SB in 57 games while reducing strikeouts.

I’ve spoken a lot about Capps, a future M’s regular in the bullpen. He’s pitched 29.1 innings with a 1.53 ERA and 44 strikeouts against 7 walks. RHB are hitting .169 against him.

Sucre, a catcher, is hitting .316/.358/.362 with 1 HR. Hey, when you’re a catcher you can do that and be an All-Star, right Dan Wilson?!

Joe Dunigan is hitting .274/.342/.497 with 8 HR and 24 RBI with 8 SB. He may never make the majors but he’s hit for power in the minors.

Left off is the injured James Paxton, one of the organizations top 5 prospects, but he’s missed over a week and before that had struggled with his command, walking 32 in 46.1 innings.

The Generals are 37-23 and of course in first place in the North Division of the Southern League. Expect them to lose some games after all of these All-Stars are promoted.

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Jackson Beats Chattanooga 7-4, Nick Franklin Still Good

SS Nick Franklin, the top Mariners hitting prospect, was 0-for-his-last-6 coming into todays game against the Chattanooga Lookouts and that simply will not stand. After all, it was only on the third of June that he went 4-for-4 with a HR, his second in as many days.

Franklin picked up the good stick again today and went 2-for-4 with a run scored in the Jackson Generals 7-4 win over the Lookouts. The switch-hitting shortstop with speed and power maintains his high average, OBP, and slugging percentage and seems ready for his promotion as soon as a spot opens up in Tacoma. There’s not much more he can learn in AA.

(Insert alcoholic joke.)

He’s completed his twelve steps! Okay, looks like I inserted it for you that’s what she said. (I’m really testing my boundaries of what I can say today.)

Centerfielder Denny Almonte went 3-for-4 with a home run and a double and is now hitting .289. Almonte always displayed power but the former 2nd round pick has always struck out like strikeouts were the last gallon of milk at a Russian supermarket. He struck out 161 times in 128 games last season but has “only” K’d 59 times in 57 games this season.

Brandon Maurer picked up the win for Jackson with seven strikeouts in eight innings but the one major problem with Maurer is that his name isn’t Danny Hultzen, Taijuan Walker, or James Paxton. But that seems like a simple fix at a courthouse.

That’s all folks!

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Franklin Gutierrez 4-for-12 with Tacoma So Far

It’s only been four games, but did you notice that Franklin Gutierrez is playing baseball again? “Death to Flying Things” and "Death to Healthy Things,’ Gutierrez played in only 92 games last season and hit .224/.261/.273 with one home run while still seemingly recovering from an intestinal problem that was so bad, you’d be craving Taco Bell as relief.

Somebody give me a drumroll… please!

Now recovering from a foot injury, Gutierrez hasn’t played in a major league game since September 4th of last season. He has now returned to playing action and has gone 4-for-12 (three singles and a double) with four walks and two strikeouts with the Tacoma Rainiers.

Gutierrez is expected to be one a 20-day rehab assignment, meaning that if all goes well, he’ll be back with the Mariners around June 23rd.

Starting in his place has been Michael Saunders, who is hitting .258/.332/.430 in 54 games. Saunders is hitting .433/.469/.667 with a home run and four doubles in his last seven games and seems to potentially be coming around for the first time after previously being the Mariners top prospect three years ago.

The Rainiers lost 8-1 to Sacramento today.

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Nick Franklin, Danny Hultzen, Erasmo Ramirez, Get Shiny, Non-Tangible Awards

‘Twas a good week to be a minor league Mariner for some as three players in the system picked up Player of the Week awards, which I can only imagine doesn’t include a trophy but maybe includes a fake medal or certificate of achievement.

Erasmo Ramirez was named the PCL Pitcher of the Week after tossing 13.1 innings over two starts with 12 hits allowed, 15 strikeouts, 2 walks, and 2 earned runs, picking up a win in each start. Erasmo started his season in the majors and was demoted, but the 22-year-old could see the bigs again soon.

Despite going 0-for-7 during a June 1st doubleheader, Nick Franklin was named the Southern League Hitter of the Week. Franklin picked up 11 hits over the week and hit a pair of three-run home runs over the weekend while going 6-for-9. Over his last ten games, the SS is hitting .400/.455/.750 but has struck out 11 times. Not a huge deal when he hits like that, but something to think about.

Finally, Danny Hultzen, the #2 pick of 2011 was named Southern League Pitcher of the Week on the same day that the M’s are going to make the #3 pick of the 2012 draft. Hultzen made two starts, went 11.2 innings, 7 hits allowed, 0 R, 11 strikeouts, and 5 walks while picking up a pair of wins. He now has a 1.44 ERA in eleven starts with only 32 hits allowed in 62.1 innings.

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Taijuan Walker Ks 9, Gives Up Season-High 4 Runs, Danny Hultzen Now Pitching.

Mariners prospect Taijuan Walker wasn’t at his best last night, walking four and giving up four runs, but he did strikeout a season-high nine batters in six innings.

Walker has now made 10 starts on the season and has pitched 50.1 innings with 53 K/18 BB and a 2.68 ERA. He wasn’t on his best in every area yesterday, giving up his second home run of the season, but he did allow only three hits while fanning those nine batters.

Nick Franklin was 2-for-5 with a three-run home run in the seventh inning that gave the Generals a temporary lead. Francisco Martinez scored on a wild pitch strikeout in the ninth inning to give Jackson the 6-5 win.

Danny Hultzen gets the start this morning and you can follow along on the Jackson Generals website right here. Hultzen has allowed just five earned runs in his last nine starts combined.

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Jackson Generals Sweep Doubleheader, Taijuan Walker Starts Today

The Seattle Mariners AA Affiliate Jackson Generals swept Pensacola in a doubleheader yesterday by scores of 6-1 and 2-1. Brandon Mauer pitched a seven inning complete game in the opener, allowing four hits and one run with five strikeouts.

C Jesus Sucre went 4-for-4 with two RBI and has collected fifteen hits in his last eight games. 3B Francisco Martinez went 2-for-2 with two walks. Martinez has struggled this season but is hitting .300/.378./.425 in his last ten games and has 19 stolen bases this season.

Jandy Sena pitched 4.1 shutout innings in game two and Steven Hensley picked up the win by going three innings and gave up a hit and a run with four strikeouts. Carter Capps pitched two hitless, scoreless innings in the middle with four strikeouts of his own. Capps, one of the M’s top relief prospects, has a 1.65 ERA this season.

Martinez was 2-for-5 in the 2-1 victory.

Top prospect Nick Franklin went 0-for-7 on the day.

Other top prospect and one of the top pitching prospects in baseball, Taijuan Walker, makes his tenth start of the season at 4:15 this afternoon.

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Mariners Minors Thursday Update

A look around yesterdays action in the Mariners minor leagues:

AAA Tacoma Rainiers lose to Reno 13-5:

The Rainiers moved down to 23-30, last place in the PCL North, after getting their butts handed to them by Reno. Anthony Vazquez gave up nine runs and thirteen hits in 4.1 innings. Vazquez now has a 6.22 ERA in ten starts on the season.

Trayvon Robinson was 3-for-5 and is hitting .333 over his last ten games. Casper Wells was 1-for-3 with a double and is hitting .350 for Tacoma in six games. Vinnie Catricala is heating up a little bit after a terrible start to the season, going 2-for-4. He’s hitting .279/.311/.488 in his last ten games.

Jeff Marquez gets the start for Tacoma tonight.

AA Jackson Generals lose 7-3 to Pensacola:

Taylor Stanton only went 2.2 innings and gave up nine hits and six earned runs. Mauricio Robles, demoted from a starter in Tacoma to a reliever in Jackson went 3.1 innings, giving up 0 hits and striking out five.

Nick Franklin was 2-for-4 and is now hitting .342.

Lefty James Paxton recently hit the 7-day DL but it shouldn’t be too serious.

Tonight’s game was postponed.

High Desert loses 9-1 to Modesto:

The Mavericks managed only three hits off of the Modesto Nuts’ Tyler Matzek. SS Brad Miller was 1-for-3 with a double and is hitting .341/.471/.463 in his last ten games.

Anthony Fernandez took the loss. Angel Raga gets the start tonight.

Clinton Loses to Kane County by a score of 13-10:

Finally, another M’s minor league team, another loss, another bad pitching outing. Jeremy Dobbs went 4 innings for the Lumberkings and gave up eight hits and six earned runs.

Ramon Morla and Jharmidy DeJesus each homered for Clinton and Jamal Austin was 3-for-6. Austin is hitting .311/.354/.444 in his last ten games. Ji-Man Choi was 1-for-5 and is hitting .355/.429/.484 in eight games since his 2012 debut.

Clinton falls to 18-34.

Jordan Shipers, who has a 2.45 ERA in ten starts, was set to start but their game was also debuted and moved to a double header tomorrow.

So, theme for the M’s yesterday: Lose, give up a lot of runs, get postponed today. The major league team scored more runs yesterday than all of the minor league teams combined. (Not including the VSL Mariners, who scored 2, if that counts!)

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Danny Hultzen Shuts Out Pensacola, ERA at 1.59

If you’re like me, you’ve gone around the internet trying to defend Danny Hultzen and still heard many people call him nothing more than a “number three starter” that won’t amount to a whole lot in the big leagues.

Also if you’re like me, you’ve seen Hultzen just go out there about his business every start and wind up with a W and a lower ERA than he had before. Hultzen gave up five runs in his first start of the season and has now given up five earned runs in his previous nine starts combined.

Last night against Pensacola he went 6 innings, allowed 5 hits, 0 R, 2 BB, and 5 K, lowering his ERA to 1.59 and upping his record to 5-3. Hultzen has pitched 56.2 innings on the season and has 61 K, 27 BB and a .155 batting average against.

Denny Almonte provided the offense for Jackson, going 2-for-4 with a HR and 3 RBI and Nick Franklin went 2-for-3 with two doubles to up his average to .340.

The Mariners might suck right now, but the future hasn’t looked this bright in over 20 years.

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Taijuan Walker Has "Meh" Start

Seattle Mariners top prospect Taijuan Walker didn’t have his best start of the season today, but did pick up his fourth win on the year, beating Montgomery by a score of 4-2. Walker went 5 innings, allowed 6 hits, 2 earned runs, 3 strikeouts, and 2 walks.

He also had a .67 groundout-to-flyout ratio.

Left fielder Chris Pettit went 2-for-4 with a home run and SS Nick Franklin went 1-for-5 with a double and an RBI. Franklin is now hitting .333/.399/.504 on the season with six stolen bases. He’s hitting .382/.475/.618 over his last ten games. That kind of production could get him to Tacoma soon and right on the cusp of the majors and we know how badly the Mariners need some hitting help.

Carter Capps picked up his fifth save of the season with three strikeouts in 1.2 innings. Capps, a future closer candidate, now has a 1.78 ERA on the season.

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Danny Hultzen with Career-High 12 Strikeouts

You know that the politically correct thing to say is “I don’t care how I do individually as long as the team wins” but in Minor League Baseball that isn’t really true. I don’t care how the team does as long as you looked great.

The Generals lost 2-1 yesterday but Danny Hultzen was a beast.

6 innings, 5 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 12 K

Hultzen, the 2nd overall pick last June by the Seattle Mariners, managed double-digit strikeouts for the first time in his young career and after struggling with control earlier in the season, he has only walked two batters in his last 13 innings with 20 strikeouts.

By posting a 20:2 K:BB ratio in 13 innings, Hultzen looks even better than the pitcher the Mariners thought they were getting when they selected him over bigger names like Trevor Bauer and Dylan Bundy. (Not to say that Hultzen is now the best prospect, but if he keeps pitching like this, he’ll be a star in the majors, not just a #3 starter like some people still want to believe.

For the season, he now has a 1.78 ERA in 50.2 innings with 56 K and 25 BB. A few more starts like this and Hultzen will be in AAA Tacoma soon, if not the Majors.

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Mariners Prospect Stefen Romero Hits for the Cycle for High Desert

Hitting for the cycle is somewhat overrated and hitting in High Desert is like hitting on the moon, but might as well be happy that a Mariners prospect had himself one hell of a day.

Stefen Romero got the start at DH for just the 5th time this season, but maybe that helped him focus on just hitting. He went 4-for-5 with a single, double, triple, and a home run and yep, that’s what we call “The Cycle.”

Romero is a 23-year-old former 12th round pick of the M’s and is hitting .350/.374/.588 for the Mavericks in 41 games this season. Primarily a second baseman this season, Romero has hit much better at home, but isn’t doing badly on the road:

HOME: .397/.415/.692
ROAD: .313/.343/.505

Like with most hitters, we won’t know as much until we see how they perform at AA and get out of the desert.

The Mavs ended up winning the game by a score of 12-8. SS Brad Miller was 3-for-5 with a HR, LF Jack Marder was 3-for-5 with a HR, and 1B Mickey Wiswall was 2-for-5 with a HR and 5 RBI.

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Taijuan Walker Returns from Minor Injury, Returns to Dominating Minors

It wasn’t long ago that Taijuan Walker was a “minor of age” himself, not able to buy cigarettes, vote, or adult magazines, but the 19-year-old is old enough to do that stuff now and apparently old enough to dominate hitters much older than he is.

Walker suffered a minor scare on his ankle during his Mat 14th start that caused him to leave after 2.2 innings but he returned on Monday to face Mobile and didn’t disappoint.

The “New Kid On The Walk” went 5 innings, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K.

On the season he now has a 2.06 ERA, 41K/12 BB in 39.1 innings. For the youngest pitcher in the league, that has to make you all tingly inside as a Mariners fan. If you don’t feel tingly from reading that, maybe you’ll require a gerbil.

The Generals won that game 4-2, powered by a 3-run HR by Francisco Martinez. In the first game of the double header, Brandon Maurer took the loss after giving up 2 ER and striking out 6 in 5.1 innings. It was a tough 2-1 loss for Jackson.

The Generals have the day off today.

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Danny Hultzen Has Strongest Start of His Career

His anticipated matchup against Trevor Bauer was cancelled yesterday after Bauer was promoted, but if Danny Hultzen continues to pitch like this, he’ll find himself in AAA soon as well.

Hultzen went 7 innings and allowed 3 hits, 1 ER with 8 strikeouts and only 1 walk. This coming after he had allowed 11 walks in his last 11.1 innings. After the game, Hultzen mentioned it’s something he’s been working on with pitching coach Lance Painter:

“I had been doing a lot of work with our pitching coach after this string of starts where I was walking everybody,” said Hultzen. “We sat down and tried to figure out what was going on, and it was a tremendous help working with a guy that knowledgeable about the game. Watching video, making little adjustments throughout the game that he knows of, a lot of credit to him for that.”

Hultzen matched a season-high for innings, a season-low for walks, and his second-most Ks on the season. He lowered his ERA to 1.81 on the year in 44.2 innings with 44 K and 24 BB.

Jackson ended up beating Mobile by a score of 4-2.

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Danny Hultzen vs Trevor Bauer Tonight! (JK!)

Edit: Danny Hultzen is still pitching tonight but Bauer has been promoted to AAA.

The Minor League Game of the Day and one of the better pitching matchups you could hope for happens in Jackson tonight as 2011 #2 pick Danny Hultzen faces 2011 #3 pick Trevor Bauer in a showdown of “Who Got the Better Pitcher?”

Of course, it’s not all as meaningful or as important as that, but that’s what some people will make it out to be. What will be more meaningful for us Mariners fans is seeing Hultzen regain his control after walking 11 batters in his last 11.1 innings. He was described as a pitcher that wouldn’t need much time in the minor leagues but so far he’s had his ups and downs in AA, so it still seems like it could be a little while before he’s even promoted to Tacoma.

You can listen to the game at 5 PST here on the Jackson website.

I also wrote a short preview of the game for FakeTeams here.

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High Desert Scores 11 and Still Loses by 15 Runs

Midway through their game against the Visalia Rawhide today, the High Desert Mavs have now allowed 35 runs in their last 14 innings.

It started yesterday when the Mavs fell behind 2-0 against Visalia in the 1st inning, then 7-1 by the 2nd, 15-1 by the 3rd, and 22-5 by the 4th. When it was all said and done, the Mavs had allowed 26 runs on an incredible 31 hits, washing out the 11 runs and 19 hits that High Desert had managed themselves.

Starter Chris Sorce gave up 6 R in 1.1 innings, Willy Kesler gave up 9 R (6 ER) in 1.1 innings, and Angel Raga gave up 7 R in his own 1.1 innings of work.

On the bright side, catcher Jack Marder went 3-for-6 with a triple and a home run for the Mavs and centerfielder Julio Morban was 4-for-5. The 20-year-old Morban is now hitting .371/.412/.685 on the season and doesn’t have terrible home/road splits. He may work his way onto some prospect lists soon.

Rightfielder James Jones is heating up and hitting .387/.486/.742 over his last nine games.

The Mavs currently trail Visalia 9-1 in the fifth inning of todays game. I guess, as we saw yesterday, that it could be worse.

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Rainiers Lose, Generals Lose, Hultzen v Bauer on Thursday!

The Mariners Minor League teams have played some games today, but more importantly first: Taijuan Walker “should be just fine” as farm director Chris Gwynn told Larry Stone.

PHEW!

Now that the long national nightmare is over, here’s what’s happened so far today:

Forrest Snow continued his reign of terrible terror today, allowing 7 runs, 6 earned, in four innings of work with 4 strikeouts and 3 walks. Snow has made eight starts this season and allowed 4 or more earned runs in all but one of them. His season ERA now sites at 8.17!

Snow is only 23, and maybe (no, definitely) doesn’t belong in AAA. At some point, will he switch with one of the big three in Jackson?

After that, Chance Ruffin came in and allowed 4 ER in 1.2 innings and his ERA is at 9.55. Man, wouldn’t it have been nice if Drew Smyly was the PTBNL in the Doug Fister trade last season? One the bright side, Stephen Pryor made his fourth appearance since being promoted from AA and struck out two in two innings. He now has 6 innings, 1 H, 9 Ks, and 3 BBs for the Rainiers.

The Rainiers ended up losing to Round Rock by a score of 11-3. Trayvon Robinson was 1-for-5 with a two-run home run.

Pryors former team, the Jackson Generals, ended up losing to Tennessee by a score of 10-8. Brandon Maurer got the start and allowed 5 ER in 2 innings, with 7 hits allowed, 2 K and 2 BB. Mauricio Robles pitched two innings of relief, allowing 2 ER and walking 4 without a strikeout.

The Generals have the day off tomorrow but watch out for Thursday’s highlight game when #2 pick Danny Hultzen faces off against #3 pick Trevor Bauer.

Finally, the Venezuala Summer League has officially kicked off and the VSL Mariners beat the VSL Rays by a score of 6-4. There’s usually not much to see in this short-leagues and it’s hard to really tell who is good based on numbers. 3B Yordi Calderon is repeating the league and was considered one of the better players there last season.

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Taijuan Walker Hurt? James Paxton Struggles. What a Crappy Double-Header Feels Like.

It has been a tough day for 2/3rds of the Mariners beautiful trio of pitching prospects. Yes, we’ve got to pray. PRAY. Pray. PRAY. We’ve got to pray just to make it today. (MC Hammer reference, to be safe.)

The Jackson Generals are playing a double-header against Tennessee today and it could have been a glorious day seeing James Paxton and Taijuan Walker each pitch but it couldn’t go much worse. In game one, Paxton went 3 innings and allowed 3 hits, 4 walks, 5 ER, 2 HR and just two strikeouts in a 15-4 loss. Yoervis Medina came into the game in relief of Paxton and allowed 6 ER in a single inning.

Steven Proscia, recently promoted from High Desert, hit two home runs for the Generals.

But the game will be remembered instead for Paxton taking a step back after he was so much more efficient in his previous three outings. Could it get much worse than this? Hello Taijuan Walkers ankle!

The M’s top prospect (in my humble opinion) came into the second game tonight and went 2.2 innings, 3 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 3 K before he exited after apparently favoring his ankle after covering first base. The trainer came out and Walker was pulled.

Considering that he is still a teenager and the M’s are being as cautious with him as a high school science student is with an egg, it could be nothing. Let’s pray that it is nothing.

The Generals currently lead the game 3-1 in the bottom of the fifth. Follow here.

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Andrew Carraway Promoted, Danny Hultzen Starting, James Paxton Dealing

The Mariners announced that they are promoting a starter from AA Jackson to AAA Tacoma but it’s not one of the big three, it’s the technical “number one starter” for the Generals, Andrew Carraway.

With Brian Sweeney going on the DL for the Rainiers, Carraway will take his spot and continue to prove that he deserves a shot with the big league club: Carraway was 4-0 for Jackson with a 2.61 ERA in 38 innings with 32 K and 7 BB. The 25-year-old was a 12th round choice in 2009 and is already proving to be a very good pick for the Mariners, no matter what he does from here.

The Rainiers are also proving to be an interesting team to follow finally: with Carraway, Erasmo Ramirez, and Forrest Snow, these names aren’t just filler.

Steven Proscia was promoted to Jackson to replace Rich Poythress, who went on the DL.

Danny Hultzen gets the start for the Generals at 4:15 tonight against Tennessee. The lefty is 2-3 over six starts with a 2.35 ERA but needs to cut down on his walks; he has allowed 19 in 30.2 innings.

Not doing so bad lately is James Paxton and I have a gut feeling that he’ll be the first of the big three to reach Seattle. Since his awful start on April 21st (6 ER in 2.1 innings) he has made three starts:

17.1 innings, 2 ER, 21 K, 7 BB.

Paxton has allowed two runs or fewer in six of his seven starts this season and batters are hitting .198 against him. He has also gone five innings or more in each of his last three starts, something he only did once prior to that.

I’d expect Paxton to be in the Mariners rotation by midseason if he keeps this up.

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Is Taijuan Walker the Best Pitching Prospect in Baseball?

I wrote a piece today for FakeTeams, our SBNation Fantasy blog that I also write for, on Seattle Mariners pitching prospect Taijuan Walker today.

Walker isn’t only special for the numbers that he’s putting up but also based on his age relative to the league. Taijuan is not only the youngest player in the Southern League but he’s the only teenager and there are only two other guys in the league that are under 21.

Yet, Walker is basically having his way with much more experienced hitters and holding his own with much more experienced pitchers. Here is an excerpt of what I wrote:

Perhaps it’s the fact that Walker is not alone as a “top prospect” for Seattle, with much of the attention being shined on his AA Jackson Generals teammates Danny Hultzen and James Paxton. For a guy that is only 19-years-old, we can’t really quantify how valuable it may be for him to not be “the guy” but simply be “one of the guys.”

There is no pressure on Walker to perform right now or even this year, but eventually people are going to take notice. Eventually I believe you’ll hear a lot of people say these words: “Taijuan Walker is the best pitching prospect in baseball.”

You can read the full piece here and get a glimpse not only on Walker, but about Felix Hernandez, as well as some of the other top pitching prospects in the game and why Walker might have become the best of the bunch.

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Mariners Minors Monday Mupdate: Checking In With Seattle's Top Prospects Part One

When the best hitter on your major league team is Kyle Seager, it’s not too soon to start looking towards the future. No offense to Seager, but a 24-year-old that was never highly touted should only be your best hitter if he’s taking the league by storm. Seager isn’t bad, but most elite hitters have more than three walks in 25 games.

And afterall, it was only last season that Seager was finally getting noticed after hitting .333/.399/.495 in 90 minor league games and now he’s the big league regular at third. Who could be joining him?

Here’s a look at the top Mariners prospects coming into the season and how they’re doing:

Taijuan Walker, SP, 19 at AA

The big right-hander is the M’s top prospect right now and even at his young age is having the best season of any of the “Big Three” in Jackson.

27.2 innings, 21 H, 1.30 ERA, 28 K, 8 BB, 1 HR

There is a reasonable chance that Walker, Baseball America’s #20 prospect coming into the year, will be a top 5 prospect going into 2013 and maybe the number one pitching prospect in baseball. He’s younger than any other pitcher in the league by two years and that includes Diamondback’s top prospect Trevor Bauer.

Compare his numbers to Bauer, BA’s #9 prospect and the 3rd overall pick last season: 41.1 innings, 51 K, 25 BB, 1.96 ERA, 27 H, 1 HR.

Bauer doesn’t have the innings restriction that Walker has, so he has a larger sample, but Walker walks a lot fewer batters and has a much better K/BB ratio. All while being two years younger than any pitcher and two years younger than any hitter besides the 20-year-old Christian Bethancourt from the Braves organization.

If the season ended today, I believe Walker would have to be considered the top prospect in the loaded Southern League and one of the top ten prospects in all of baseball.

I think we found a rightful Prince for the King.

Danny Hultzen, SP, 22 at AA

The number two overall pick last season, Hultzen has had bright spots and low spots, with his lowest spot coming in his start on Saturday when he walked seven batters in 4.1 innings. Overall numbers:

30.2 innings, 15 H, 2.35 ERA, 34 K, 19 BB, 1 HR

As you should expect from anyone making a debut, Hultzen is working through his rough patches. Otherwise, he still looks like he’ll make a solid number two and maybe one of the best left-handed pitchers in baseball if all goes well.

What’s phenomenal at this point is his 4.4 hits allowed per nine innings which leads the league by 1.7 H/9 for anyone with over 30 innings. Batters are hitting just .142 against Hultzen and he has a 1.11 Groundout-to-Flyout ratio.

Get your control under control and Hultzen will be just fine. It just might not be until September before we see him in the majors.

James Paxton, SP, 23 in AA

The final part of the big three is the wild but exciting Paxton, a southpaw that might either strike out 10 or walk 10 on any given night.

28.2 innings, 21 H, 2.51 ERA, 36 K, 18 BB, 1 HR

He’s had phenomenal starts, bad starts, and okay starts but once he strings together enough okay-to-great starts, he’ll be in the majors. He just needs to be more efficient with his pitches so that he can go six innings more regularly. He’s only gone six (and it was exactly six) once this year.

But batters are hitting .202 off of Paxton and he’s striking out over 11 per nine. In five of his starts he has allowed a total of two combined earned runs and in the sixth start he allowed six earned runs.

We just need more consistency and efficiency or he’ll get eaten alive in the majors.

Nick Franklin, SS, 21 at AA

Despite being one of the youngest teams in the league, the Generals boast the most talent and that’s why they’re in first place. Franklin is a big reason why and even though his power and speed seem to be down, he’s controlling the strike zone better than he ever has.

In 2010, Franklin surprised everyone with a 23 HR/25 SB season at Clinton but then he struggled and got hurt at High Desert last season. We weren’t sure what we’d be getting this year, but he’s been good for Jackson all things considered.

.299/.364/.443, 2 HR, 11 RBI, 11 R, 1 SB, 8.9 BB%, 13.4 K%, .144 ISO

His power hasn’t been as good as it was in 2010 (.205 ISO with Clinton) but as one of the youngest hitters in AA, he’s holding his own and after striking out over 19% of the time last season, he’s gotten that way down. (Strikeout rates stabilize at 150 plate appearances and Franklin is at 112.)

He hasn’t been a world beater but give him time and he’s still the SS of the future for Seattle.

Francisco Martinez, 3B, 21 at AA

Another youngin’ for Jackson, is Martinez the 3B of the future for Seattle? Luckily, Seager has taken some pressure off of the other competitors (or added to it) by having a solid season while others have struggled.

Martinez is hitting .278/.341/.348, with 0 HR, 7 RBI, 6 2B and 11 SB.

He’s walking at a good clip (11 walks in 126 PAs) but zero power. Surprisingly, Martinez has stolen eleven bases after swiping ten bases all of last season. If he can finally tap into the supposed “power” that he has and continue to walk and steal bases, Martinez will be a very good prospect but he hasn’t gotten there yet.

However, like Franklin he’s one of the youngest hitters in the league. Give him time.

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Seattle Mariners Minors: James Paxton Ks 5, Taijuan Walker Shutout Through 4

One of the best double-header back-to-back pitchers you’ll see in the minor leagues this season, the Jackson Generals duo of Taijuan Walker and James Paxton are currently pitching each game of a double-header.

In game one, Paxton went 5.1 innings and had 5 K, 2 BB, 3 H, and an unearned run in the Generals 3-1 win over Pensacola. Stephen Pryor continues to dominate in the bullpen; he went 1.2 innings and was perfect with four strikeouts.

3B Francisco Martinez was 2-for-3 with 2 R and a double.

The Generals are locked in a 0-0 tie in the fifth inning with Walker on the mound. He has gone four innings with three hits allowed, two strikeouts and two walks. His season ERA now sits at 1.38.

Not bad for one of the leagues youngest pitchers.

You can follow all of the action on Gameday here and see if Jackson can pull out the victory.

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Seattle Mariners Minors: Now Pitching: James Paxton

Seattle Mariners left-handed pitching prospect James Paxton is now on the hill for the Jackson Generals. The southpaw has had some struggles this season but is coming off of his best start of the season last week:

6 innings, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 9 K

It was his most efficient outing of the season, the first time he went six innings all year in five starts. However, in the start before that he gave up 6 ER in 2.1 innings and in the start before that he walked eight batters in 4.2 innings.

Overall this season, Paxton has 31 strikeouts and 16 walks in 23.1 innings. The strikeouts are very impressive but you’d like to see him be a little bit more like Cliff Lee and a little bit less like Brandon Morrow.

You can follow the game through Gameday, Radio, or milb.tv here from the Jackson website.

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Mariners Minors Monthly Awards: Taijuan Walker and More

The Hitter, Pitcher, and Disappointment of the Month for April!

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James Paxton Solid with 9 Ks, Taijuan Walker Starts Tonight

The Mariners exciting trio of James Paxton, Taijuan Walker, and Danny Hultzen keeps the Jackson Generals as one of the best minor league teams to cover in baseball and even better when Paxton is as good as he was last night.

After getting roughed up in his last two starts, Paxton was back on track against the Tennessee Smokies yesterday: 6 innings, 9 K, 2 BB, 3 H and 1 unearned run. Paxton had completely lost control in his previous two outings but he kept the ball in the zone and went a season-high six innings, probably making it his most efficient start of the season as the Generals won by a score of 7-2.

Denny Almonte went 3-for-3 with two home runs. The former 2nd round pick has had one of the highest strikeout rates in baseball during his career, which has kept him from being considered a good prospect, but he’s having a career year in 2012.

Almonte is hitting .359/.412/.654 with 6 HR, 5 2B and a more reasonable 23 strikeouts in 20 games. Last season, Almonte struck out 161 times in 128 games. The year before, he struck out 192 times in 127 games. He’s been a leader in the lineup for Jackson this season.

Taijuan Walker makes his fourth start of the season tonight for Jackson at 5:05 PST. He has 21 strikeouts and 5 walks allowed in 16 innings with a 2.25 ERA. By now, most people have to consider him to be Seattle’s #1 prospect, though he probably won’t join the rotation until 2013.

Jackson is now 15-7 on the season and in first place.

The Tacoma Rainiers won by a score of 6-4 over Las Vegas. Guillermo Quiroz, Chih-Hsien Chiang, Scott Savastano, and Leury Bonilla had two hits apiece. The top prospect in Tacoma, 3B Vinnie Catricala, went 1-for-3 and now has a five-game hitting streak to raise his average to .205.

Mike Carp has been devastatingly bad for the Rainiers and who knows how long until he returns to Seattle. He went 1-for-5, ending a string of 18 hitless at-bats. He is hitting .128/.190/.154 in 39 at-bats on the year.

Shawn Kelley picked up his third save of the season.

The Rainiers are 9-12 and Jeff Marquez gets the start at 7:05 PM.

The High Desert Mavericks split a doubleheader against San Jose and travel to take on Inland Empire tonight. The Mavs lost the first game 3-0 and won the second game 6-0.

Catcher John Hicks went 2-for-2 with a home run in the second game. Anthony Fernandez went 7 innings, allowing 2 hits and striking out 7 in the shutout.

Finally, the Clinton Lumberkings also picked up a victory yesterday by beating Great Lakes 8-4 with a 6-run fifth inning.

Jabari Blash went 2-for-5 with 2 home runs and 5 RBI. Blash is only hitting .167 on the season, however.

Ambioris Hidalgo picked up his first win of the season for Clinton.

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James Paxton Set to Make Fifth Start After Terrible Outing in Previous Start

If you’ve been following along with me all year on the Mariners minor league system thank you for your patience while I was away. But we’re back and so is James Paxton!

When we last left off with James, he allowed 7 R (6 ER) in 2.1 innings with five walks. In his first two starts, Paxton had a 17:1 K:BB ratio in 10.1 innings. However in his last two starts covering only 7 innings, Paxton has 13 walks and only 5 strikeouts.

Those that wanted to see him move up quicker probably now realize that he is still very much a work in progress. He will look to get back on track against the Tennessee Smokies at 5 PM PST tonight. You can listen to the game here.

Last night the Generals beat the Smokies by a score of 5-1 by another strong outing from Andrew Carraway: 5 innings, 5 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 3 K. Carraway is now 3-0 with a 2.63 ERA in five starts.

Denny Almonte went 3-for-4 and Joe Dunigan hit his sixth home run of the season.

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James Paxton Roughed Up In His Fourth Start

Seattle Mariners prospect James Paxton, one of the top pitching prospects in baseball in the American League, had a terrible fourth outing on the season today against Huntsville.

Paxton only went 2.1 innings, allowing 7 hits and walking 5 with 7 runs allowed. He only recorded one strike out.

He had come into the game with an ERA of 1.20 and 21 strikeouts in 15 innings, though he was having issues being efficient and using too many pitches. This time, inefficiency was the least of his concerns, Paxton simply couldn’t get anybody out or find the strike zone.

Jandy Sena has relieved Paxton and pitched 3.2 shutout innings while the Generals have been able to rally and take an 8-7 lead with the game now in the top of the 7th inning. Joe Dunigan has homered twice for Jackson and Denny Almonte added his third home run of the season.

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Hultzen Pitches 6.1 Scoreless Innings, Proscia Hits 3 HR, All Minors Win!

It was a good day to be affiliated with the Mariners as every minor league affiliate picked up a win yesterday, the strongest showing coming from top prospect Danny Hultzen in a 2-0 Jackson victory.

Hultzen went 6.1 innings, allowing 2 hits and 2 walks, 0 R and 5 K. He hasn’t allowed an earned run (2 unearned in his previous start) in his last 12 innings with just three hits allowed and 14 strikeouts. His season ERA now sits at 2.81 and he’s only allowed earned runs in one inning this year.

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Stephen Pryor pitched a scoreless ninth for his fourth save of the season.

SS Nick Franklin finally broke out of his slump after going 2-for-4 with a double and a stolen base. Rich Poythress homered for the first time this season.

Andrew Carraway and the Generals start a weekend series in Huntsville this evening.

The Tacoma Rainiers also pitched a shutout, beating Sacramento by a score of 1-0 on a solo shot by Guillermo Quiroz in the third inning. (If you’re counting at home, that’s a combined 18 shutout innings by the Generals and Rainiers and all three runs scored on a homer.)

There’s not much good news from the hitting department: Vinnie Catricala continues to struggle, going 0-for-3 with 2 strikeouts and now hitting .172. Mike Carp went 0-for-3 with 2 strikeouts and is now hitting .148. Carlos Triunfel went 0-for-4 and is hitting .241. Trayvon Robinson went 0-for-4 with 2 strikeouts and is hitting .246.

Meanwhile Anthony Vazquez continues to dominate. He went 7.2 innings, allowed 4 hits and lowered his season ERA to 0.87 in 20.2 innings. Vazquez was pretty bad with the M’s last season but he could be on the cusp of returning to the big leagues. Also on the cusp should be relief pitcher Shawn Kelley, who picked up his second save of the season. He has now pitched 8.1 innings with 12 strikeouts, 3 walks, and a 2.16 ERA.

Jarrett Grube pitches for the Rainiers in their final game of the series in Sacramento tonight.

Steven Proscia homered three times for the High Desert Mavericks in a 14-8 win over Inland Empire. Proscia is now hitting .356/.420/.711 on the year and the 21-year-old seems to be enjoying High Desert like most hitters.

Jack Marder went 2-for-4 with a home run and James Jones went 2-for-3 with his first home run of the season. SS Brad Miller was 2-for-4 with a double and a walk.

George Mieses (1-1, 4.96 ERA) picked up his first win of the season and struck out six in six innings. Roenis Elias gets the start against Inland Empire at 7:05 tonight.

The Lumberkings round out the victorious affiliates with a 2-1 win over the Lake County Captains. Steve Baron went 2-for-4 with an RBI and Trevor Miller allowed just 1 R over 7 innings to pick up his first win of the year. Interestingly, Miller didn’t walk anybody or strike anybody out.

Clinton really continues to struggle offensively. It’s early, but Guillermo Pimental is now 6-for-50 on the season (.120/.154/.200) and one has to wonder if he was ready for full-season ball.

Cameron Hobson gets the ball tonight for Clinton as they try to stay on the winning side.

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Danny Hultzen Set To Make Third Start Tonight, Minors Results for 4/18

Danny Hultzen fanboys, get ready. The left-hander is set to make his third start of the season for the Jackson Generals tonight at 5:05. (Audio) The number two overall pick from last season has pitched 9.2 professional innings now and has 16 strikeouts against six walks. He only allowed one hit in his last start.

The Generals will try to get back onto the winning path after losing 3-2 to Mississippi last night. Jackson managed only three hits against right-hander David Hale. Brandon Maurer had six solid innings for the Generals (4 hits, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 K) but Yoervis Medina allowed 2 R in only 0.1 innings to take the loss.

The potentially fast-rising Carter Capps threw another scoreless inning, giving him 7.2 scoreless innings on the year with 11 strikeouts. 3B Francisco Martinez went 1-for-3 with a double. In the “Really Bad Streak” department, SS Nick Franklin is 2-for-his-last-24.

The Tacoma Rainiers picked up a 2-1 win over Sacramento last night to move to 6-8 on the year. Trayvon Robinson hit a sac-fly in the top of the tenth for the go-ahead run. Chih-Hsien Chiang, acquired in the Erik Bedard deal, went 3-for-4 and is now hitting .342/.359/.395. Not hitting so well are Vinnie Catricala (.182) and Mike Carp (.167)

Former Washington Husky Forrest Snow had his best start of the season: 6 innings, 3 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 8 K. He lowered his ERA on the year to 6.43.

Anthony Vazquez (2-0, 1.38 ERA) gets the start for Tacoma at 7:05 PST.

The High Desert Mavericks lost to Lancaster by a score of 8-6 but as usual there were a lot of hits: C Jack Marder went 3-for-4, RF Julio Morban went 4-for-5, 3B Mario Martinez went 2-for-5, and 1B Mickey Wiswall was 2-for-4. Morban and Wiswall also homered.

Stefen Romero went hitless but is still hitting .411 on the year. Brad Miller went 1-for-4 with a walk and an RBI.

Potentially the most interesting Maverick of the night however was starting pitcher James Gilheeney. Despite pitching in the most hitter-friendly league in the minors and at one of the highest-scoring parks in the league, Gilheeney went 5.1 innings, 5 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 1 HR.

On the year: 15.2 innings, 18 K, 4 BB, 1.15 ERA.

Gilheeney is 24-years-old, and was an eighth-round draft choice of the Mariners in 2009. He may just be too advanced for the league but there’s really nowhere for him to be promoted to with all of those talented pitchers in Jackson. If a pitcher from Tacoma gets called up however, it’s always possible that he could skip Jackson or replace a promoted pitcher from Jackson. Gilheeney seems like the most obvious candidate to leave the High Desert, which is only going to increase run-scoring in the league.

Finally, the Lumberkings of Clinton blew the lead in the ninth and then lost in the tenth to Quad Cities.

In exciting fashion, Clinton was down a run with the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the ninth when Jabari Blash and Ramon Morla each scored on an error after having earlier advanced on a balk. The bases were loaded again for Steve Baron but Michael Dowd was caught trying to steal home.

Quad Cities was then down to their last out with a runner second but Juan Castillo doubled that runner in. Wes Alsup came into pitch the 10th for Clinton and completely self-destructed: BB, Passed Ball, K, BB, BB, Flyout, BB the winning run in.

Jordan Shipers, probably the best pitching prospect in Clinton, got the start and was very good: 6.1 innings, 6 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 HR, 2 BB, 5 K. He now has a 1.04 ERA over three starts and 17.1 innings.

Blash was 2-for-5 with a home run.

Trevor Miller gets the ball for Clinton (3-10) at 4:30 this evening.

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Taijuan Walker Ks 7 in Win, Other Mariners Minors News

On Monday I named Taijuan Walker as the M’s Minor League Pitcher of the Week. It seems like he wants a repeat of that.

Walker went 6 innings, allowing 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB and striking out 7 Mississippi Braves. He has now made two starts and has 15 strikeouts and 2 BBs in 11 innings of work, and doing it while being 3-4 years younger than the competition. Jandy Sena pitched three shutout innings for the save.

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Joseph Dunigan provided the offense with a HR and he is now 8-for-his-last-15 with 2 HR and only 1 strikeout. Dunigan is 26, however, and not considered a “prospect.” SS Nick Franklin continues to struggle and is now hitting .250/.313/.386.

Brandon Maurer gets the start for the 9-4 Generals at 9:05 AM.

Meanwhile, the Rainiers, Mavericks, and Lumberkings all lost yesterday.

Tacoma dropped the game to Sacramento by a score of 5-1. Carlos Triunfel went 2-for-3 and is swinging a hot bat lately with an eight-game hitting streak. He is hitting .286/.327/.429 on the year, not bad for a 22-year-old SS in AAA. Vinnie Catricala had a hit and an RBI but is batting .196/.222/.235 on the year.

Mike Carp went 0-for-4 with 3 Ks.

Mauricio Robles went 5 innings for Tacoma and had issues with command, walking 4. He also allowed 3 hits and 2 R with 4 Ks. The 5-8 Rainiers play again at noon today.

The HD Mavericks went to Lancaster and took an early 3-0 lead before allowing the JetHawks to score 9 runs in the bottom of the second in an eventual 11-3 loss.

Stefen Romero went 2-for-4 and is hitting .451 on the season still. Kevin Rivers was 3-for-4 and Jack Marder went 1-for-5.

Chris Sorce got the start for the Mavs and he had the opposite of a Taijuan Walker: 1.2 innings, 9 H, 9 R, 8 ER, 1 BB, 1 K. James Gilheeney (2-0, 0.87 ERA) gets the start at 7 PM tonight.

Finally, the Clinton Lumberkings lost again, this time a 2-1 defeat to Quad Cities. Kyle Hunter came into relief of Stephen Landazuri in the seventh inning after Clinton took a 1-0 lead but quickly allowed two runs and the Lumberkings couldn’t score again. Landazuri walked 5 batters in 6 innings but only 2 hits with 4 Ks. He now has a 1.15 ERA in 15.2 innings.

Five players in the Clinton lineup are hitting .200 or worse. Now that’s what I call “Mariners.”

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James Paxton Walks 8 in 7-1 Jackson Victory, Taijuan Walker Set to Make 2nd Start

I don’t know if you can be “effectively wild” but James Paxton certainly did his best to be just that. Paxton went 4.2 innings and walked eight batters but only allowed two hits, one run, and struck out four. The lefty threw 59 pitches and only 26 of them went for strikes.

Luckily for Jackson, Mississippi starter Zeke Spruill was ineffectively bad and gave up 14 hits and seven runs in six innings and Jackson won 7-1.

Joseph Dunigan went 3-for-4 for Jackson with a home run and a double, while third baseman Francisco Martinez had his own 3-for-4 night. Johermyn Chavez went 2-for-4 with a double, Rich Poythress had a double and two RBI, and Denny Almonte went 2-for-3 with a double and two RBI.

19-year-old phenom Taijuan Walker is set to make his second start of the season at 5:05 PST and you can listen here.

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Elsewhere in the Mariners Minorsphere, the Tacoma Rainiers failed to hang onto an early 2-0 lead and lost by a score of 3-2 when Chance Ruffin allowed a two-out triple in the ninth, followed by a throwing error on Ruffin that let the winning run in.

It’s been a rough season for Ruffin, owner of a 10.80 ERA.

Trayvon Robinson went 2-for-4 in the loss and Mike Carp went 1-for-4 as he rehabs before a return to Seattle.

Mauricio Robles gets the start at 7:05 PST.

The High Desert Mavericks won by a score of 7-3 in 13 innings against the Lancaster JetHawks. Stefen Romero went 4-for-7, Brad Miller went 1-for-6 with a double and 3 RBI, and Mario Martinez had a two-run HR in the win.

Tyler Burgoon picked up the win in relief.

Chris Sorce gets the start for the 8-3 Mavericks at 7:00 PST.

Finally, the Clinton Lumberkings continue to struggle this year and lost by a score of 6-3 to Quad Cities. Ambioris Hidalgo struggled badly and went 4.1 innings, allowing 6 hits, 5 R, 3 BB and only 1 K.

Jamal Austin went 2-for-4 for Clinton and Steve Baron went 1-for-4 with an RBI. Jharmidy De Jesus drove in two runs on a double. Clinton is now 3-8 on the year.

Potentially the most interesting pitcher in Clinton this season is Stephen Landazuri, who has 11 Ks in 9.2 innings. Landazuri gets the start at 5:00 PST.

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Mariners Minors Monday Mupdate: Taijuan Walker and Steve Baron

It's the Hitter and Pitcher of the Week! For Mariners' Minors!

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Jackson Generals Lose in 16 Innings, James Paxton Makes Third Start Tonight

The Mariners AA-affiliate Jackson Generals lost 4-3 in 16 innings to the Mississippi Braves yesterday, and some batting averages took a tumble in the low-scoring, nearly-two-regular-games-long affair.

SS Nick Franklin went 1-for-8 and he’s now hitting .275/.341/.425 in 40 at-bats. Franklin is 3-for-his-last-22. Francisco Martinez was 1-for-7 and is now hitting .195, Rich Poythress went 0-for-7, as did Denny Almonte. The highlights would be Daniel Carroll’s 4-for-7 and Joe Dunigan’s 3-for-7 and falling a HR short of the cycle.

Andrew Carraway pitched 5 innings for Jackson but allowed 10 hits and 3 ER. Brian Moran, Stephen Pryor, Bobby LaFromboise and Carter Capps combined for eight shutout innings but Eric Campbell allowed the go-ahead run in the 16th on a home run from Philip Gosselin.

Lefty James Paxton makes his third start of the season at 5:05 PST tonight.

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The Tacoma Rainiers got battered by a score of 7-1 by the Fresno Grizzlies yesterday. Former top prospect Carlos Triunfel went 2-for-4 with his first HR of the season in the loss. He has six hits in his last twelve at-bats, with three hits going for extra bases.

Jeff Marquez makes the start for Tacoma at 7:05 tonight.

The High Desert Mavericks beat Inland Empire by a score of 8-3 behind 12 hits and five batters had two hits-a-piece. The Mavs best prospect, SS Brad Miller, went 2-for-4 with a double and a walk. He’s reached base in every game and is hitting .372/.471/.837 on the year. He also made his ninth error of the season.

C Jack Marder and IF Stefen Romero are both still hitting above .400.

Roenis Elias picked up his first win of the season and pitched 7 innings, allowing just 4 hits, walking none and striking out 4.

The Mavs start a series at Lancaster this evening.

Finally, the Clinton Lumberkings lost to Beloit by a score of 5-2. Cameron Hobson really struggled, going five innings and allowing three hits but walking four, giving up a HR and striking out just two. Stephen Kohlscheen was dominating in relief, however, going four innings and striking out eight while walking none.

The top prospect for Clinton might be OF Guillermo Pimentel and he’s really struggled, with just one hit in his last 20 at-bats and hitting .135/.179/.243 on the season.

Ambioris Hidalgo gets the start at 5 PM PST tonight for Clinton.

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Danny Hultzen Pitches a Thriller with 9 Ks but Jackson Loses

Seattle Mariners left-handed pitching prospect Danny Hultzen made the second start of his minor league career on Friday and was much more dominant than he was in start one. Hultzen went 5.2 innings and allowed only one hit while striking out nine but two runs scored in the sixth, none earned, when Steven Hensley gave up a double in relief.

Hultzen is now 0-2 but has 16 strikeouts and 6 walks in 9.2 innings with 5 hits allowed.

Denny Almonte went 3-for-4 and Daniel Carroll homered for Jackson in the 4-1 loss, dropping Jackson to 7-2 on the year.

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Meanwhile in Clinton, the Lumberkings fell to the Beloit Snappers by a score of 5-2. Jordan Shipers went 6 innings and struck out six with only one walk allowed but four runs were scored off of relief pitcher Wes Alsup.

Jharmidy DeJesus went 2-for-4 for Clinton.

The High Desert Mavericks game was postponed.

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Jackson Generals Win 4-1, Danny Hultzen Makes Second Start of the Season

Mario Yepez broke a 1-1 tie in the eighth inning yesterday on an RBI single and the Jackson Generals won 4-1 behind that hit and five decent innings from Brandon Mauer.

Decent: 1 R allowed. Not Decent: 7 hits, 3 walks and only 2 strikeouts.

But there are three pitchers you want to watch pitch in Jackson and Maurer, no offense, isn’t one of them. (And is getting left in the dust by Andrew Carraway as well.) One of those pitchers, 2nd overall pick Danny Hultzen, will make his second start of the year at 4:15 this afternoon.

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Hultzen wasn’t exactly bad in his first start of the year, striking out 7 in 4 innings, but he couldn’t get an out in the fifth inning and ended up allowing 5 runs.

Listen to the game here and if you have milb.tv, the game will be broadcast on there as well.

The AAA Tacoma Rainiers finished up their series with Colorado Springs with a 9-3 loss.

Trayvon Robinson went 1-for-3 with a home run, his first of the season. Luis Jimenez, Adam Moore and Johan Limonta each went 2-for-4.

The Rainiers top prospect, 3B/DH Vinnie Catricala, is showing that indeed he might need more time in the minors. He is currently hitting .219/.212/.250 to start the season with five strikeouts and no walks in 32 at-bats.

Perhaps the best pitching prospect in Tacoma is Mauricio Robles, and he walked four and allowed 3 ER in 4.2 innings pitched with 2 hits allowed and 5 strikeouts. Shawn Kelley was rather dominant, pitching 2.1 innings and strikeout out 5 without a hit allowed.

Chance Ruffin was rather not dominant (submissive?) and allowed 6 ER in 1.1 innings pitched, even though he only gave up a single hit. Ruffin walked three, hit a batter, and threw a wild pitch.

Forrest Snow takes the mound for the Rainiers at 7:05 PST tonight.

The High Desert Mavericks won surprisingly easy yesterday despite only scoring six runs, a 6-2 victory over Inland Empire.

Jack Marder was 2-for-3 with a walk and 2 runs scored and Julio Morban went 3-for-4 to join the .400 club on the year for the Mavs. Top HD prospect, SS Brad Miller, went 0-for-4 but drew a walk to maintain an “on-base” streak to start the year. He is currently hitting .371 but he committed his eighth (that’s got to lead the minors) error. High Desert is now 6-2.

George Mieses takes the mound for the Mavs at 7:05 PM PST.

Clinton picked up a rare win, beating the Beloit Snappers by a score of 5-2. Steve Baron, often touted as a huge draft mistake, went 2-for-4 with 2 doubles and is now hitting .333/.364/.524 on the season. It’s too early to say that Baron has improved much at the plate, but it’s not too early to say he hasn’t.

The strong Guillermo Pimental, one of the M’s top international prospects, is struggling in his first stint of full-season ball. He is hitting .154/.185/.308 in 26 at-bats with only 1 walk and 7 strikeouts.

Former 22nd round pick Stephen Landazuri had a pretty good for Everett last season but he’s off to an even faster start in 2012. He pitched 5.2 innings last night with 7 strikeouts, 3 walks, and 4 hits allowed after pitching a perfect four innings in his first appearance of the year. Landazuri now has 11 strikeouts, 3 walks, 4 hits allowed and a 1.86 ERA in 9.2 innings. He just turned 20 in January.

Jordan Shipers is another pitcher to watch and he gets the start at 4:30 this evening.

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Rainiers Put On a Show in 15-5 Win, Lumberkings No-Hit for 5.1 Innings in Loss

The Tacoma Rainiers and Clinton Lumberkings, on opposite sides of the Mariners minor leagues affiliations, put on opposite sides of offensive output on Wednesday.

The Rainiers scored 15 runs on 22 hits against Colorado Springs and everyone except for Carlos Triunfel had at least two hits a piece. Trayvon Robinson, Luis Antonio Jimenez, Adam Moore, Chih-Hsien Chiang and Scott Savastano all had three hits each with home runs from Guillermo Quiroz and Johan Limonta.

The only name in the lineup I haven’t mentioned yet is Vinnie Catricala (the best prospect in Tacoma) and he went 2-for-5 with an RBI.

Jeff Marquez got the start for Tacoma and went 5 innings, allowing 9 hits, 2 ER, 0 BB and 3 K.

The Rainiers move to 4-3 and face Colorado again today at 7:05 with Mauricio Robles getting the start.

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On the other side of the spectrum are the lo-A Clinton Lumberkings and they had four hits total against Cedar Rapids, with starter Austin Wood (Angels) going 5 innings and allowing 0 hits, 2 BB, and 5 K. In his first start of the year, the Angels prospect struck out 10 in 5 innings.

Daniel Paolini broke up the no-no with a double in the sixth inning off of Joe Melioris. Jabari Blash also doubled and added a walk to his 1-for-3 night.

Clinton dropped to 1-5 on the year.

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High-Scoring High Desert Mavericks Out-High-Scored by Higher Score, Lose 10-6

The High Desert Mavericks (how high you say? Like 3000 feet!) continue to put on an offensive show, but the San Jose Giants put on an even more offensive show and beat the Mariners-affiliated Mavericks 10-6 on Wednesday.

Still, five regulars on the Mavs are still hitting over .400 on the year. Brad Miller (.419) extended his hitting streak to seven games by going 1-for-4, Jack Marder (.424) went 2-for-4 with a home run, and Stefen Romero (.464) was 2-for-5 with 2 RBI.

Catcher John Hicks is hitting a paltry .393 but was 2-for-4 on the day.

Starter Chris Sorce was doing just enough to keep the Mavs in business and allowed 4 ER in 5.2 innings, but six runs were scored on reliever Austin Hudson (3 unearned) and the Mavs lost for the second time in a row. That record of 5-0 seems oh so long ago.

High Desert begins it’s first road trip of the year tomorrow, facing Inland Empire at 7:05 PM EST.

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"Old Man" Eric Campbell Powers Jackson to Victory, Paxton Ks 7

James Paxton was the person to watch today for the Jackson Generals and he didn’t disappoint: 4.2 innings, 4 hits, 1 R, 1 BB, 7 strikeouts for Paxton, who moved his ERA up to 0.87 over two starts. He now has pitched 10.1 innings on the year and has a 17:1 K:BB ratio. The issue with Paxton right now is efficiency, as it took 88 pitches to get through those 4.2 innings.

Paxton was the one to watch but 3B Eric Campbell stole the show, hitting a top of the 9th tie-breaking home run to lead the Generals to the 2-1 win over the Tennessee Smokies. Campbell, 26, is in his ninth minor league season, having previously spent time in the Braves and Reds organizations. This is his first year with Seattle, and he’s been a part-time player so far.

Top prospect Nick Franklin went 0-for-2 but drew 2 walks and has reached base in every game so far this season. He is hitting .360/.429/.560 in 25 at-bats.

The Smokies and Generals meet again tomorrow at 3:15 PM PST.

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Tacoma Rainiers Fall HR Short of the Cycle, As a Team! Lose 2-0; Other Mariner Minors News

Scott Savastano had a double and a triple for the Tacoma Rainiers and Carlos Triunfel had a single and a walk. Those were the only Rainiers to reach base yesterday against Christian Friedrich and Colorado Springs.

Friedrich pitched 7.1 innings, gave up 2 hits, walked 1 and struck out 6. The Rockies former top prospect, Friedrich is trying to bounce back from posting an ERA above 5.00 for each of the last two seasons and the Rainiers just gave him a lot of help and confidence.

Matt Fox went 5 strong innings for Tacoma and gave up 4 hits and 1 R with 5 Ks and a walk. He is 0-2 with a 2.25 ERA. He is also turning 30 this year.

The High Desert Mavericks lost for the first time this year, and they went out the way you’d expect the High Desert Mavericks to go out: a 15-7 trouncing by San Jose. Four of the San Jose hitters had 4-hits each.

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Jack Marder had 4 hits of his own for the Mavs and Stefen Romero was 3-for-5 with a pair of doubles. Brad Miller kept his hot streak going with a double and a walk and is still hitting .444 on the year. Marder is hitting .414, Romero is hitting .478, John Hicks is hitting .375, Steven Proscia is hitting .444, and Julio Morban is hitting .364 after going 0-for-4 last night.

James Jones is hitting .263 and that’s just asking to get cut!

You’d think that with a 15-7 loss, the starting pitcher would have sucked, but Anthony Fernandez went 5 innings and allowed just 2 runs with 7 strikeouts. But Wee Willy Kessler gave up 4 hits and 4 ER without recording an out and Taylor Stanton allowed 7 runs on 10 hits in 1.1 innings.

Chris Sorce gets the start for the Mavs tonight.

Finally, the Clinton Lumberkings lost to Cedar Rapids 4-3 yesterday after Wes Alsup walked a batter in the ninth of a tie game, then a wild pitch, then a single to give the Kernals the win.

Cameron Hobson got the start for Clinton and pitched 5 solid innings of 3-hit, 1-R, 5-K baseball. Daniel Paolini went 2-for-4 with a walk, 2 RBI, and a double. Jharmidy De Jesus went 2-for-4 as well.

Ambioris Hidalgo makes his second start of the season today.

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Now Pitching: James Paxton, for Mariners-affiliate Jackson

Mariners left-handed prospect James Paxton is making his second start of the season for Jackson… RIGHT NOW. If you have milb.tv, you can follow along from here. Otherwise, there is Gameday to keep track of all of the strikeouts and complete lack of walks and hits allowed by Paxton.

In his first start of the year, Paxton struck out 10 and walked 0 over 5.2 innings. It’s not without reason to think that Jackson could be in Tacoma or Seattle (Basically, somewhere in Washington! Which is always good unless he gets sent to Everett, which would not be good!) sometime in the near future, ahead of even Danny Hultzen.

Jackson beat the Tennessee Smokies 5-1 last night behind a 3-for-4 effort from Rich Poythress and seven innings of 2-hit, 1-run pitching by Andrew Carraway.

I’ll be back soon to update you on the rest of the M’s minors, but as of right now, it’s PAXTON WATCH!

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Tacoma Rainiers Win 4-2 Behind Anthony Vazquez, Vinnie Catricala; High Desert Now 5-0.

Anthony Vazquez may have been one of the worst starting pitchers in recent Seattle Mariners history (and that’s saying a lot) but he still seems perfectly appropriate for AAA Tacoma. Vazquez pitched 7 innings of 1-hit ball against Colorado Springs last night, striking out 5 against 1 walk and allowing one solo home run.

Shawn Kelley struggled in his only inning, allowing 3 hits and 1 R, but Chance Ruffin closed things out with a perfect ninth inning, striking out two and picking up his first save of the season. Vinnie “Vincent” Catricala, one of the Mariners top hitting prospects, went 3-for-4 and drove in 3 runs.

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Tacoma is now 3-2 and they face off against Colorado again tonight at 7:05 PST.

The High Desert Mavericks maintained their perfect record after beating San Jose 6-5 and moving to 5-0 on the season. First baseman Steven Proscia went 3-for-3 with a home run and a double, and SS Brad Miller went 2-for-5, lowering his batting average to .478.

I expect that catcher John Hicks could move quickly out of High Desert and join former Virginia teammate Danny Hultzen soon in Jackson. He went 1-for-5 and is currently batting .421/.522/.684 in the very short season.

Roenis Elias did not have a good start for High Desert (4 innings, 4 BB, 3 K, 3 ER) but the bullpen gave up just 2 runs in five innings of relief and Jonathan Arias picked up his second save of the season.

Anthony Fernandez gets the start against San Jose tonight as the Mavs try to stay perfect.

The Clinton Lumberkings ended up losing 7-6 to Cedar Rapids after failing to maintain an early 6-1 lead. I guess they wanted to be like their big brother Seattle Mariners.

Leadoff hitter Jamal Austin went 2-for-4 for Clinton, but there were few other highlights. Starting pitcher Trevor Miller gave up 6 hits and 2 ER without a walk in five innings of work, but three Lumberkings errors led to three unearned runs. Cedar Rapids actually had five errors of their own, but it wasn’t enough for Clinton to overcome their own follies.

Cameron Hobson makes his second start of the season tonight for Clinton. You can follow on radio here.

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Taijuan Walker Ks 8, Jackson Wins

Taijuan Walker couldn’t have asked for a better first start for the Jackson Generals. Well, he could have, but he would have been a greedy bastard.

Walker struck out eight batters and walked one over five innings, with 2 runs allowed. Carter Capps came into relief of Walker and allowed the first three hitters to single before managing to get out of the jam and pitch three scoreless innings.

Stephen Pryor pitched a scoreless ninth and picked up his third save of the season to move Jackson to 4-1 on the season. The hitters helped too:

Shortstop Nick Franklin doubled, and Johermyn Chavez, Francisco Martinez both added two-baggers of their own. Rich Poythress had a FOUR-bagger with a man on and four bags is twice as valuable as two. His quad-bagger proved to be the difference in the 3-2 Jackson win.

Generals-ly speaking, this was a good day for all those involved for Jackson.

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Carter Capps Gets Himself Into (and out of) Jam

This isn’t how you like to start an inning, if you’re Carter Capps (or anyone for that matter):

Pitcher Change: Carter Capps replaces Taijuan Walker.
Drew Garcia singles on a ground ball to center fielder Denny Almonte.
Andy Wilkins singles on a line drive to right fielder Johermyn Chavez. Drew Garcia to 2nd.
Seth Loman singles on a line drive to right fielder Johermyn Chavez. Drew Garcia to 3rd. Andy Wilkins to 2nd.

But at least it ended like this:

Jose Martinez strikes out swinging.
Jared Mitchell flies out to left fielder Daniel Carroll.
Justin Greene called out on strikes.

Capps struck out four in his season debut, over 1.2 innings. He now has pitched 2.2 innings and struck out six to start the 2012 season.

The Generals also hold onto a 3-2 lead after six inning, and Taijuan Walker is still eligible to pick up a win for his season debut.

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Taijuan Walker's 5th: Walk, groundout, flyout, double (Run Scores), Strikeout

Walker has allowed a run to score on a leadoff walk, followed by a two-out double from Erik Morrison. Kenneth Williams was called out on strikes to end the inning.

Taijuan Walker now stands at: 5 innings, 4 hits, 2 ER, 1 BB, 8 K, two groundouts, four flyouts. He may not come out for the sixth, but if he does we will keep you updated!

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Taijuan Walker Watch: 7 Strikeouts Through 4

Seattle Mariners top prospect Taijuan Walker is having a stellar debut for the AA Jackson Generals so far. Through 4 innings against the Birmingham Barons, Walker has struck out 7 and walked zero, with three hits allowed and 1 ER.

Walker has faced 14 batters so far and struck out half of them, with six going down by way of the swinging strikeout.

The lone run allowed by Walker came on a triple by Kenneth Williams, followed by a wild pitch from Taijuan. The Generals lead 3-1, behind a double from Nick Franklin, later being driven in by Rich Poythress on a RBI single.

Johermyn Chavez has also doubled, while Jesus Sucre and Gabriel Noriega each have one RBI each.

Danny Hultzen also struck out 7 through 4 innings yesterday before allowing the first three baserunners to reach in the fifth and being pulled without recording an out. Hopefully, Walker doesn’t follow the same fate.

More news on “Walker Strikeout Watch!” as it develops.

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Hultzen Shaky in Debut, Taijuan Walker Set to Make First Start This Morning

Top draft pick Danny Hultzen made his Mariners minor league debut last night, but left in the fifth inning and ended up allowing five runs, four hits, and walking three over four innings of work. Hultzen was cruising in his first three innings, but ran into the trouble in the fourth.

After allowing the first three batters to reach base in the fifth, Hultzen was pulled from the game. He did strike out seven batters, however. Jackson ended up losing the game 9-2.

The Generals were shut down for the most part on offense, managing just three hits, one of which was a two-run double from shortstop Nick Franklin. After four games, Franklin is 7-for-14 with two extra base hits.

Taijuan Walker makes his 2012 debut at 9:05 AM, and you can listen to the game here.

The Tacoma Rainiers also lost in a rout, falling 8-2 to Salt Lake. The Rainiers’ Forrest Snow allowed 4 ER in 5 innings, with 5 hits and 5 walks allowed. Snow struck out four batters and gave up a pair of home runs.

Trayvon Robinson went 2-for-4 with a triple, while Luis Antonio Jimenez and Guillermo Quiroz each homered in the loss.

Anthony Vazquez gets the start tonight, facing off against Colorado Springs at 7:05 PST. The game can be heard on radio, or if you have MiLB.TV you can watch it here.

The Mavericks of High Desert beat Lancaster 8-6 yesterday and SS prospect Brad Miller homered twice. Miller is now 9-for-18 with 2 doubles, 2 triples, and four home runs through four games. And who said it was easy to hit in High Desert?

Roenis Elias gets the start for the Mavericks tonight at 7:05 PST.

The Clinton Lumberkings were off yesterday. Trevor Miller gets the ball tonight against Cedar Rapids.

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Nick Franklin Homers, Jackson Moves to 3-0; Danny Hultzen Debuts Today

Shortstop Nick Franklin homered for the first time this season for the Jackson Generals, in a 7-5 victory over Birmingham. Franklin is now 6-for-11 to start the year.

Catcher Ralph Henriquez broke a 5-5 tie in the eighth inning, and Stephen Pryor picked up his second save of the season. Top draft pick Danny Hultzen is set to make his minor league debut at Noon PST today. Listen here.

The Rainiers moved to 2-1 after an 8-2 victory over Salt Lake with Carlos Peguero hitting his second HR of the season. University of Washington grad Forrest Snow will make is 2012 debut for the Rainiers today.

The High Desert Mavericks put on a show against Lancaster yesterday with a 16-2 victory. Julio Morban homered twice and went 4-for-5, and SS Brad Miller went 3-for-4 with a HR. Jack Marder went 5-for-6 and James Gilheeney struck out 8 in 5 innings.

George Mieses gets the 3:05 PM start today for the Mavericks.

Finally, Jordan Shipers made his 2012 debut with the low-A Clinton Lumberkings and picked up the win after striking out four in five innings and allowing one earned run. Guillermo Pimental went 2-for-4 with a HR.

The Lumberkings do not play today.

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Paxton K's 10 in Jackson Win, Rainiers Comeback from 7-1 Deficit to Win

James Paxton had a solid 2012 debut yesterday, striking out 10 in 5.2 innings and walking none with two hits allowed in the 2-1 Jackson Generals win. Shortstop Nick Franklin went 2-for-4 with a RBI and Carter Capps picked up his first save of the season after striking out four in 1.2 innings.

Rich Poythress drove in the other run and third baseman Francisco Martinez was 1-for-2 with a run.

The Generals and Barons face off again at 4:05 PST with Brandon Mauer facing off against former Padres top prospect Simon Castro. You can listen to the game here.

The Tacoma Rainiers also won, beating the Salt Lake Bees 8-7 after being down 7-1 in the fourth inning. Carlos Peguero went 3-for-3 with a home run and a double, and Trayvon Robinson went 3-for-5. Angels’ top prospect Mike Trout went 2-for-5 in the loss.

Starter Jeff Marquez got knocked around for seven runs in four innings, but Shawn Kelley handled his “demotion” well, picking up the save after two scoreless innings.

Mauricio Robles faces off against Eric Hurley at 7:05 PST.

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Seattle Mariners Minors: James Paxton Set to Make 2012 Debut for AA Jackson

The first of the Mariners amazing trio of pitchers in Jackson makes his debut tonight.

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