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2011 Clinton Lumberkings

Minor league rosters should be coming out over the next few days, and my hope is to preview each M's affiliate by the end of the week. Announced today was the lowest of the full-season teams, the Clinton Lumberkings. Their full roster can be found here, but I've picked out players that particularly interest me:

  • Steven Baron, C - Baron started 2010 in Clinton, and frankly couldn't hit worth a lick. Will his hot spring carry into the regular season? He doesn't need to hit much as a catcher with well-regarded defensive skills, but he has to hit enough.
  • Marcus Littlewood, SS - The last time the Lumberkings started a shortstop right out of high school was, well, last year with Nick Franklin. Clinton, and the M's, wouldn't mind if history repeats itself. I don't think Littlewood is as polished as Franklin, so I think he will hit a bit more like a raw product (more strikeouts, hopefully with some solid contact sprinkled in). 
  • Mickey Wiswall, 1B/3B - A 2010 draft pick, Wiswall slid because he didn't have all that great of a season at Boston College. While he is undersized, his best tool is a left-handed power stroke. Looking at his numbers, it looked to me like he tried too hard to hit home runs his junior season, which worried me moving forward. However, in a couple months of pro ball, Wiswall batted .293 with 9 home runs in 45 games. The Midwest League is always a pitcher's league, so if Mickey can flash good power with good contact ability, he should emerge as one of the Mariners better power prospects.
  • Matt Bischoff, RHP and Tyler Burgoon, RHP - I'm combining these two because I have pretty much the same write-up for both. They are college relievers picked in 2010 by the Mariners. Both are kind of short right-handers in the bullpen. Both had good college careers, and successful pro beginnings in short-season ball (particularly Bischoff, though he is older and was at a lower level). Clinton might not be a big challenge for either of them, and if either of them flourish, I hope they get promoted quickly.
  • Tyler Blandford, RHP - I liked it when the M's grabbed this guy in the 2009 draft, though he hasn't logged a ton of innings as a pro yet. I like his stuff, and if/when he learns how to harness it, he should move quickly. Blandford should be making up for a little lost time over an injury last year. He is a candidate for a mid-year promotion if he pitches well in Clinton. It will likely be all about strikes with him.
  • Forrest Snow, RHP - A 36th round draft pick last season, Snow was a late-season revelation in the Lumberkings bullpen. He was overpowering, but is now set to start opening day for them. His 6'6" frame suggests power, but legitimate starting rotation prospects are not typically found late in the draft. It will be interesting to see how Snow, a UW product by the way, settles in to the Clinton rotation.
There are a couple noticeably absent names to me among the guys on the roster, and my hunch are a few guys will work out in Arizona, and one of them might be on a team yet to be formally announced. We will see.

Even though prospects playing in Clinton usually are years away (unless their name is Tom Wilhelmsen), this team could be fun to follow. Prospects could emerge in the lineup and on the pitching staff. Nobody on the roster strikes me as a potential star, but there's a large handful of players that I could see developing into useful MLB players.