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2011 Jackson Generals

The West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx are no longer. The M's haven't switched AA franchises, but the D-Jaxx are now the Generals. As much as I loved the double-x, there is something about the new name that I really like. It feels traditional and baseball-ey, doesn't it? To me it does, at least.

I will be checking on the Generals often, because the roster is loaded with prospects that interest me. Here we go:

  • Andrew Carraway - I have a soft spot for all the guys I put on my MLB draft watchlists, and Carraway is among them. He had a rough year at High Desert, but his peripherals don't spell complete gloom and doom. His K/BB was still great at 120/31. Carraway also had a high home run rate, which of course escalated his ERA...but, the homers might have been a product of the home park. If homers and high batting averages follow Carraway to Jackson this year, he's probably nothing more than minor league depth. However, if he rebounds some, he could be a starter cut out of the Doug Fister mold.
  • Johermyn Chavez - After last season, it looks like the M's might have got a diamond in the rough in the Brandon Morrow trade. Chavez is the reason I'm still not willing to say anything bad about that deal. Like any hitter coming from the California League, Johermyn has to prove he can hit somewhere besides a band box, but he also flashed good power in the pitcher-friendly Midwest League a couple seasons back. A good year in AA will allow people to really get excited about Chavez's chances as a major-leaguer.
  • Josh Fields - The supposedly fast-rising prospect has been stuck in AA for going on three years now. Injuries have hampered him, but a lack of control has been a problem too. Still, the pure stuff is fantastic, and I think it is enough for him to finish the year in Tacoma one way or another. If Fields can stay healthy, and start throwing a few strikes, he will emerge much like Dan Cortes did last year.
  • Kenn Kasparek - I've already made the Doug Fister comparison once, but I probably should have really saved it for this guy. Kenn, like Fister, is listed at 6'8". He also is a flyball-prone guy that relies on control more than anything else. His numbers weren't flashy at all in High Desert last season, but his pitching style was built for failure in that environment. Given how bad the situation was for Kasparek, doing okay is a more promising sign than I think most realize. I could see Kasparek's home run rate going down again this season, and he could hit Tacoma's rotation next year with nary a peep. Still, he intrigues me, because I think he has the upside to develop into an end-of-the-rotation innings eater.
  • Brian Moran - I loved Moran coming out of college, and I still love him. He had a great first full pro season, which was split between Clinton and High Desert. I wouldn't be surprised to see Moran split this season between Jackson and Tacoma. I don't know why you would be looking for 2012 spring training darkhorses already, but if you want one, here's a real good one. A fast-rising lefty bullpen arm may not be a sexy prospect, but he's a legit prospect.
  • James McOwen - McOwen was the guy with the really long hit streak back in 2009. It got to the point where we would hear a blurb on every M's telecast until the streak was finally broken. Well, after McOwen had a hitting streak that got him on the map, he lost all of 2010 to injury. He had a really good performance in the inaugural season for the Australian Baseball League, and now hopes to pick up where he left off. 
  • Rich Poythress - As expected, Poythress looked awesome in the California League. He hit for power, and batted all sorts of runners in. He looked like a prototypical slugger. Now, it's up to him to get similar results in a tougher, less hitter-friendly league. Personally, I like his chances, and it would do the Mariners a world of good to get some power prospects coming through the system.
  • Erasmo Ramirez - To me, this is one of the more interesting decisions the M's made in the whole farm system this year. Ramirez was brought over to the states to play ball a little bit into the 2010 season, and he did very well in Clinton. Now, the M's are having him skip High Desert altogether. He should be one of the youngest players in AA at 21 years old, so it will be interesting to see how he does. As an undersized righty that relies on command more than anything else, there is a reason that Erasmo hasn't generated much buzz yet. However, some success this year will get him on the radar.
  • Kyle Seager - I thought Seager was a great pick when the M's got him, because he looked to me like a valuable reserve infielder one day. However, he showed a bunch more at the plate than I anticipated last season. Power usually has to be taken with a grain of salt in High Desert, but with Seager, I think it translates well. Most of his power came in the form of doubles, or in other words, line drives into gaps. Those should translate well as he progresses. If Seager continues to square up the ball with the patience he showed last season, the M's will have an underrated infield prospect on their hands.
  • Nate Tenbrink - I am disappointed to see Tenbrink back in AA, though I think it has to do with numbers as much as anything else. He does a little bit of everything, which just screams terrific bench player to me. I don't think more time in Jackson will hurt his development, but I thought he was ready for Tacoma. Watch him go out and tank in Jackson, but really, I think Tenbrink is one of the most underrated prospects in the M's system. He isn't flashy, but he looks to me like a guy with tools that translate to an MLB "safety blanket" type - the kind of player that makes you feel like you can survive without your star for a few weeks, because he is there to plug holes when needed.
  • Carlos Triunfel - It seems like we've been talking about Triunfel forever, but he is still only 21 years old. After a bad leg injury ruined 2009, Carlos bounced back in 2010 with unassuming results, to say the least. The best news is that his K rate remained pretty low, especially for someone as young as him. However, Triunfel didn't sting the ball much, and his speed wasn't anywhere to be seen either. This is a big year for Triunfel, all things considered. He gets to repeat a league, and his leg should be 100% now. There is a chance that Triunfel unlocks some of the potential that scouts raved about a couple years ago. If he does, I wouldn't be shocked to see him promoted to Tacoma, with Nick Franklin taking his place in Jackson.
  • Anthony Vazquez - Very, very quietly, Vazquez started the year all the way down in Clinton, and finished it in West Tennessee. While Vazquez was a little bit older (he is now 24), he still climbed three levels in his first full pro season, and nobody seemed to notice. Part of it is because he profiles as the definition of a crafty left-hander, but it is hard to argue with his results last year. I'll take a dependable starter for the end of my rotation, thank you very much.
That's 12 guys I just listed, or in other words, half the roster. I don't think Jackson has many stars, but it has a large group of guys that could develop into MLB regulars, or quality depth. I didn't think this year's roster could stack up to the rather star-studded bunch from last year (7 of MLB.com's top 10 M's prospects appeared in West Tennessee at some point last season), but I think it does admirably well. A good season for the Generals would be a very good sign for the depth of the M's farm system.