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Minor League Recap

The minor league baseball season ended yesterday. Faithful readers might remember a minor league preview that I posted as the season began. I looked at players outside the Mariners top prospect lists that could establish themselves as parts of the Mariners future.

How did these players do? Let's take a look:

Featured Players

Carlos Triunfel, SS/2B - I was hoping he would "put it all together" and realize the potential many saw in him when he was uber-young. It didn't happen. Triunfel posted career highs for doubles and home runs, but he played in Tacoma, one of the more hitter-friendly environments in the Mariners system. Triunfel fell well short of 100 strikeouts on the year, a sign that he makes consistent contact, but his batting average and on-base percentage suggest an overly aggressive hitter.

I had the pleasure of watching Triunfel throughout the season as I went to Rainiers games. My lasting image of him is flailing away at Jamie Moyer's 70-80mph assortment of junk. Triunfel has MLB talent, but I never got the sense that he goes to the plate with a good idea what the opposing pitcher might try to do with him. It seems like his biggest issues can be fixed with experience, but he has been in the minors for six years now. Maybe Triunfel is who he is.

Mauricio Robles, LHP - I suggested that Robles could make the majors with a little more control. He walk 22 batters in 21 AAA innings, and after getting demoted to AA he continued to walk batters with reckless abandon. Robles did not throw strikes this year. His prospect status is on life support at best. He still posted a good strikeout rate, his saving grace.

Rich Poythress, 1B - I said of Poythress that his walks and extra-base hits would tell the story. He was hurt for a good portion of the season, which limited him to 303 at-bats. However, he walked just as many times (50) this season as he did in 450 at-bats last year, a clear improvement. The extra-base hits dwindled though, particularly home runs. Poythress seemed to focus on contact this season, given his reduced power and remarkably reduced strikeout rate (only 33 all season!) I expect him to open up in AAA Tacoma next season, which is a more hitter-friendly environment than Jackson. Maybe that pumps up his power numbers. The unexpected switch from power to contact hitter this past season keeps Poythress in the category "mystery prospect" for me. Will he turn out? What will he do well if he turns out?

Carter Capps, RHP - Capps is currently in the Mariners bullpen, where he likely will reside for many years to come. He rode his triple-digit fastball to overwhelming success in Jackson and it probably won't take much longer for him to find success in the majors. The big three starting pitchers in AA got all the attention coming out of spring training, but Capps beat them all to the majors.

Jack Marder, C/UT - Marder's biggest issue this season was injuries. The Mariners decided to move him off of catcher near the end of the season just to try to keep his bat on the field. Marder posted an OPS over 1.000 on the year, probably proving for good that he is a better hitter than he ever showed in college. His injuries, along with the eruption of several High Desert prospects this season, kept Marder under the radar even as he pieced together an impressive season.

Tyler Burgoon, RHP - I wrote that a strong showing by Burgoon could garner him more attention. He did well (3.25 ERA, 80 Ks in 63.2 IP), but the praise hasn't followed. He is another victim of the success several other Mavericks had this season, but he continues to climb the minor league ladder. If he does well in AA next season we could be looking at a 2014 Mariner - or even one that shows up late next season.

Jabari Blash, OF - There was good and bad in Blash's season. He showed much more power, making that tool that scouts said he had seem much more legitimate. However, he also struck out 134 times in low-A, and he turned 23 years old during the season. That strikes me as a pretty advanced age to have such significant contact issues in a low-level league. I see Blash's upside, but I don't see how he reaches it with the trajectory he is on.

Jordan Shipers, LHP - Shipers produced one of the great moments in the Mariners minor league system this year when he threw a no-hitter on July 11. Overall, he had a nice season in Clinton. Shipers posts low walk and strikeout rates, meaning he probably has to survive as a smart, pitch-to-contact kind of guy. He could struggle in High Desert next year, which is where I think he will be.

Honorable Mentions

Scott Savastano, UT - Probably a non-prospect, but his epic performance as the winning pitcher with the walk-off home run in the 18th inning of the longest Rainiers game of the season is without a doubt the best moment in any game in the Mariners minors this season.

Forrest Snow, RHP - Struggled with control this year, and continues to post higher ERAs than it seems like he should with his strikeout and baserunner rates.

Daniel Carroll, OF - Lost most of the season to injuries.

Stephen Pryor, RHP - Flew threw AA, with a pitstop in AAA, on his way to the major leagues. It looks like he is set to stay in the Mariners bullpen too.

Stefen Romero, 2B - Should have made him more than an honorable mention. He established himself as a star in High Desert, and then hit even better when he jumped up to AA. There will be some buzz around him in the offseason and during spring training.

Jimmy Gilheeney, LHP - Gilheeny pushed into AA at the tail end of the year and strung together some solid starts. His numbers look like they were hurt quite a bit by High Desert's friendly hitting confines. He could get a little more recognition in AA next season, where he is probably in a better position to post solid numbers.

Guillermo Pimentel, OF - Overall, the numbers were pretty bad, but they got significantly better as the season progressed. Pimentel is very young and raw. Repeating the Midwest League would make sense.

Cameron Hobson, LHP - Hobson got pushed up to High Desert early in the season and was victimized by the hitter's paradise.

The minor leagues are more fun to watch with Jack Zduriencik because he and his staff have a knack for finding talent. The first wave of Z products have hit the majors and it appears that the team is getting better as the season goes along. Minor League dominance does not equate to Major League stardom, but I still prefer a system where several players are producing at whatever level they are at.