The computer systems are down at work and there is literally nothing I can do until they return, so I figured now is as good a time as any to finish up the second part of the post I wrote over the weekend. I am currently listening to the Michael Gray show, but may have to split this up between this break and my lunch time, so I apologize in advance if there is anything off about the grammar here (or about the fact that this is publishing at nearly 6PM PST so everything I just wrote sounds really bizarre).
The second half of Jay Yenchich’s article in the 2010 Mariners Annual was a section called Ten More to Watch. Nobody is listed in any order particularly, so I am just going to take them in the order they came in the article. Keep in mind, these are not rated players, just players we were to keep an eye on in 2010, players we thought at the time had potential.
1. 1B Mike Carp. Yencich touted Carp as, really, OK. Carp spent most of his time bouncing between Seattle and Tacoma, and he gave us a pretty stable first baseman and a nice swatter when necessary. I don’t know if Carp was ever what most refer to as “clutch” for the Mariners, but he seemed to come through when he was needed most…which, I suppose, is the definition of “clutch”. As you were…He left for Boston in 2013, played a little for the Rangers last year, and is now a free agent with average projections for this season. He became a fan favorite while he was here and a lot of folks were sad to see him go.
2. I’ll come back to number 2 later.
3. RHP Josh Fields. Fields is noted as having a “major league career ahead of him“, with a fastball topping out at 98, and a “pretty nasty” curve. Fields is listed as being not much more than a relief pitcher, a version of Mark Lowe. He is currently Mark Lowe-ing in Houston after spending very little time in the Mariners’ AA system and even less time in AAA.
4. 1B/OF Joe Dunigan. Dunigan was a 5th-round draft pick in 2008. Yencich said in 2010 that Dunigan had to work on his consistency, but was “clearly talented“. Since then, he has been hanging out in single and double A, making 100 plate appearances for the Rainiers last year. His line at 28 years old in Triple A is .193/.280/.375. You can draw your own conclusions as to where this is likely going to go.
5. SS Nick Franklin. Franklin, of course, was a switch hitting short stop who was drafted by the Mariners in 2009, and one of our biggest hopes. He is now a switch hitting second baseman who was projected to stay at SS, but has not been able to due to the Mariners having better players at the position, and probably other reasons I’m not aware of. Franklin seemed OK at 2B in 2013, but “OK” is 2013-Mariners-relative; a Mariners OK was maybe an Athletics Get Him Off The Field Now. Franklin was drafted out of high school, though, so he has some time to develop and may still be a decent player. For the Tampa Bay Rays.
6. SS Gabriel Noriega. Literally, my first reaction to seeing this name was “Who?!”, but if I know anything about baseball, it’s that if I don’t know about something in baseball, it probably exists anyway. Noriega was signed out of Venezuela in 2007 for $800,000 (that’s my “yeeeesh!” face I’m making) which seems like way too much, considering it’s now been 8 years since his signing and five years since the writing of Yencich’s article, and Noriega literally just saw playing time at AAA last year. I guess not all of them can be a Mike Zunino. Noriega’s only 24, though, so maybe he still has a chance, particularly after playing 101 games last year with a .281/.303/.362 line.
7. LHP Mauricio Robles. Robles came from the Tigers in 2010, and was promoted to AA from Detroit’s single A team. He was one of the minor leaguers involved in the Jarrod Washburn trade. His main issue at the time of the writing was apparently consistency, and his minor league career thus far seems to verify that. He went to the Phillies in 2013, and threw 4.2 innings for the big club that year in 3 games. He does not appear to have played at all in 2014.
8. LHP Nick Hill. A “sleeper candidate for rotation work in the future“, Hill’s strengths seemed to lie in his 2-seamer and ground balls. Hill is now 29 years old and has not yet been able to look at the green grass of Safeco, spending his time since 2007 in mostly double and triple A. His best year so far seems to have been 2009, where he pitched 95.2 innings over 36 games with a 2.65 FIP. He pitched 10 innings in Tacoma last year, but I don’t have much hope he’ll go farther. Maybe a few games could happen for him up here this year to take over for an injured bullpen member if he works well for the Rainiers. Maybe?
9. OF Johermyn Chavez. Apparently a two-time Blue Jays Player of the Year in their minors system, Yencich mentions that Chavez’s performance at the lower minor league level was comparable to Wladimir Balentien’s without the walks (or with the walks? I was not sure, reading it). Chavez struggled against left handed pitching, and had outlived his usefulness by 2013. He spent 2013 in the lower minors with the Cubs, and 2014 at A level, playing 36 games for the Royals’ affiliate.
10. CF Ezequiel Carrera. Carrera didn’t make it through 2010 with the Mariners. Yencich cited improved plate patience and lost power during 2008 for the player, and a promising degree of defensive talent, but we only got about half a year of it in Tacoma, 64 games. Carrera left midway through the season for Cleveland, where he stayed evenly dividing his time between the Indians AAA and big clubs, and then last year played for Detroit at both levels as well.
And this brings me to number 2. Gregory Hallman. Yencich had this to say in the Spring of 2010:
At his best, Halman has the athletic talent to make even the most remarkable feats look easy and natural. At his worst, he’s Rob Deer with half as many walks and more strikeouts. Halman has three full seasons under his belt and only one has been good, 2008, when he was nearly a 30-30 man and hit .272/.325/.527 between Hit A and Double A. Some considered that to be his big step forward, but last year he went back to his old ways and led the minors in strikeouts. Aside from his plate discipline, his future depends on his mental fortitude – to be ale to will himself out of slumps instead of trying to swing his way out.
Of course, we got to see a bit of what Halman was capable of, but we’ll never know what he could have been. Mental illness and anger took him away from us at far too young an age in 2011. RIP Gregory Halman. We still miss you.
To avoid ending this on a down note, though, I’d like to point out that we have come a long way as an organization since 2010. There have been a few missteps, but all in all, this team is a team we can really be proud of, and last season was proof of that. A lot of the guys that didn’t pan out for us were dealt elsewhere, where they’re not panning out for anyone else, either. In 2010, we were still dealing with a little bit of what was left of the Bill Bavasi era, and now we’re not; and anything that led to that is a positive, in my humble opinion. Jack Zduriencik has done and continues to do a pretty good job if you ask me. And that is something that makes 2015 a season to really look forward to.