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2009 Clinton LumberKings At a Glance

Brett LorinThe all-star break is just a week away, and the Mariners just played their 81st game yesterday, marking the exact halfway point in the season. This is the perfect time to take an extended look at how the year has gone so far for the entire organization. So, each day this week will feature a look at prospects shining on different minor league teams for the Mariners. Up first are the Clinton LumberKings, the M's class A affiliate. Here are some LumberKings to keep an eye on:

Denny Almonte, RF - Just 20 years old, Almonte is one of the more intriguing position prospects in the Mariners organization right now. He is a switch hitter, and is on pace for a 20-25 home run season. That is quite impressive, considering his age and the pitcher-friendly league. Almonte is still very raw at the plate (just 20 walks and 103 strikeouts), but over half his hits are going for extra bases. He will develop more plate discipline and refine his stroke as he matures though.

Cheyne Hann, RHP - Already 24, Hann is definitely old for the league. However, his numbers are eye-popping, and this is his first full season of professional baseball. He was signed as an undrafted free agent, and it is hard to believe someone this productive at any level was not one of the top 1,500 players in their draft class.

Kenn Kasparek, RHP - Kenn is much more hittable than Brett Lorin, but his strikeout rate is as good, and his home run rate is much lower despite also being a fly ball pitcher. Kasparek is 23, so he needs to move somewhat quickly to have a major league career.

Brett Lorin, RHP - Lorin has not pitched since June 19, but he may be in line for a promotion once he is healthy again. The righty has overpowered the Midwest league all year. The only spot of concern is his home run rate, which is a little high for the league, but not surprising considering he is a fly ball pitcher. However, Lorin needs to be challenged by stiffer competition to ascertain if home runs are a legitimate concern.

Blake Nation, RHP - First of all, he has a great name. He also is following up a successful season in Pulaski with a successful one in Clinton, even with a few starts thrown in. Nation is primarily a reliever though, and an imposing one at 6'8".

Aaron Pribanic, RHP - Pribanic is all about ground balls. His ground out to air out ratio is a ridiculous 2.64 to 1, and he is yet to allow a home run in 71 innings pitched. His batting average against is a measley .199 too. Though Pribanic does not strike many batters out, he will rise through the system as long as he keeps getting a bunch of weak grounders.

Kris Sanchez, 1B - Already 25, Sanchez is too old for the league to really say he is a bona fide prospect. However, he's at least worth rooting for. Sanchez signed as an undrafted free agent (remember, baseball's draft is 50 rounds long), and he tore up pitching in Pulaski last year. His bat has been tremendous in Clinton, and his bat will be what carries him wherever he goes, if he can become a fringe prospect.

Scott Savastano, 1B - Savastano is also a bit old for the league at 23, and for his age it would be nice to see more power. However, his 6'4" frame has room to fill out, the Midwest league is pitcher-friendly, and his plate discipline are all reasons to believe he will develop some more power. He also has shown the ability to steal some bases.

For all the criticism Bill Bavasi received (and deserved), it also needs to be pointed out that all of the pitchers on this list are from the 2008 draft, the last one Bavasi presided over. The Mariners had solid drafts under Bavasi, and his last looks like no exception. Check back in tomorrow when I take a look at High Desert, and hitting will take center stage.