May saw the Seattle Mariners make 21 transactions at the major league level and the trickle down effect that had on the various minor league affiliates sent virtual shock waves through the clubhouses, leaving their rosters nearly unrecognizable from the last time the calendar flipped. But we still had some standout performances of note. The Rainiers put together a 25-run, 30-hit game as a team and a number of players had noteworthy performances in that one; including Abraham Almonte going 6-for-6. But there were also negatives of note, roster losses and -- of course -- rainouts. Our Taylor Ward covered the High Desert Mavericks here. Here now is a closer look at the May standouts for Tacoma, Jackson and Clinton.
TRIPLE-A Tacoma Rainiers
35-22 record, 1st place in the Pacific Coast League Pacific Northern Division
PCL ranks (16 teams)
Hitting: 2nd in R/G (6.00), 3rd in OPS (.802), 1st in HR (66), t-4th in BB (224), last in Ks (551)
Pitching: 7th in ERA (4.28), 2nd in WHIP (1.36), 11th in HR (53), 1st in BB (159), 9th in Ks (427)
The Rainiers came into June in 1st place in the PCL Northern Division thanks to a balanced attack. The offense really shined through in May, and not just because of the explosion in Colrado Springs. The roster is now littered with guys that the Mariners were (are?) counting on at the big league level and the holdover prospects are holding their own, too.
TOP OFFENSIVE PLAYER: Nate Tenbrink - UTIL
Tenbrink continued to be a vital weapon for Tacoma as he started at six different defensive positions, giving the Rainiers some much needed flexibility with all of their roster turnover. He also posted a .943 OPS and clubbed 10 extra base hits while continuing to draw walks and hit for a solid average. All told now Tenbrink ranks 2nd in the organization in walks (33) on the year, 3rd in runs scored (40) and is tied for 6th among Seattle minor leaguers in steals (8), too. He is showing a lot of versatility and could be playing himself into a big league future as a utility guy.
TOP PITCHER: Andrew Carraway - RHP
With apologies to the dominating relief work that is being turned in by Brian Moran, we have to tip our caps here to Carraway. The right-hander who has average stuff at best just gets so much out of his tank every time out. In May he started six times, won three and posted a 2.68 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and .213 oAVG for the Rainiers. Not on the 40-man roster and without an out close kicking in, Carraway remains in Triple-A for now, but he has to be earning consideration for a big league audition at some point in 2013 with his effort.
GLAD THE MONTH IS OVER: Jonathan Arias- RHP, Denny Almonte - OF, Alex Liddi - 3B
Arias was forced into making a few extended appearances -- including two starts -- and got hammered (11.42 ERA, 1.73 WHIP, .355 oAVG) in the process. Almonte's struggles finally got so severe that he not only isn't with Tacoma anymore, he also no longer switch-hits, reverting solely back to his natural right side. Liddi may have received another big league call up, but the Triple-A veteran also struck out 38 times for the 2nd straight month and saw his OPS dip .197 from April.
TRAINING ROOM: Danny Hultzen, Erasmo Ramirez, Anthony Vasquez, Joe Dunigan, Jesus Montero
The same four from last month have been joined by Montero, who has a meniscus tear in his knee and could be out of action for more than six weeks. Ramirez is finally with Tacoma and pitching again now, but he's definitely not back at 100% yet. Hultzen is just starting to throw again, Vasquez remains in extended and Dunigan was scheduled to have his jaw un-wired (is that a word) recently.
DOUBLE-A JACKSON GENERALS
23-28 record, last place in the Southern League North Division
SL ranks (10 teams)
Hitting: 4th in R/G (4.27), 6th in OPS (.689), 6th in HR (35), last in BB (146), 6th in Ks (405)
Pitching: 2nd in ERA (3.17), 3rd in WHIP (1.20), t-7th in HR (38), 4th in BB (159), t-4th in Ks (402)
Jackson continues to be destroyed in one-run games and the pitching staff also got hit hard by the long ball in May, including the bullpen coughing up some late games via home runs. A lot of promotions have zapped the roster, as have some questionable 40-man casualties suffered through moves the big club made.
TOP OFFENSIVE PLAYER: Julio Morban - OF
Morban was healthy enough to get into 22 of the Generals' 25 games in May and he showed off his skills by hitting. .349/.391/.523 by collecting 30 hits and tying for the club lead with 13 RBI during the month. He did strikeout 25 times, but Morban is clearly a hitting prospect on another level than most in Jackson. Morban continues to impress as he has hit left-handers well (.281/.343/.469) again this year, too.
TOP PITCHER: Stephen Kohlscheen - RHP
40-man roster member and staring pitcher convert Chance Ruffin had a very strong month (2.22 ERA, 0.78 WHIP and .193 oAVG in 4 starts) but the tall, lanky right-hander Kohlscheen was overpowering at times for Jackson. He threw 13 innings in 8 games, striking out 15 while allowing only six hits (.133 oAVG) and two walks in his eight outings in relief, four of which covered multiple innings. He has a 1.75 ERA and 32 punchouts to just six walks in 25 2/3 frames on the 2013 season in Double-A.
GLAD THE MONTH IS OVER: Anthony Fernandez - LHP, Steven Proscia - 1B, Jack Marder - 2B
Fernandez returned to injury and has been a shadow of the pitcher that he showed himself to be in Jackson during the 2012 2nd half. Proscia struck out 25 times while getting only nine hits (.125/.160/.181). Marder continued to appear overmatched as he struck out 13 times in 55 plate appearances while managing a meager .188/.278/.208 slash.
TRAINING ROOM: Leon Landry - OF, Mickey Wiswall - OF, John Hicks - C
Landry hit the DL after injuring his hand, Wiswall has yet to play anywhere this season and Hicks just returned from missing two weeks with a groin injury.
LOW-A Clinton Lumber Kings
26-29 record, 5th place in the Midwest League Western Division
MWL ranks (16 teams)
Hitting: 10th in R/G (4.45), 7th in OPS (.701), 7th in HR (29), 12th in BB (158), 2nd in Ks (351)
Pitching: 9th in ERA (3.90), 6th in WHIP (1.34), 9th in HR (30), 10th in BB (188), 13th in Ks (349)
TOP OFFENSIVE PLAYER: Tyler Marlette - C
Marlette is sometimes a forgotten piece in the Mariners organizational catching depth. Even in Clinton, he's been splitting time with former 2nd round draft pick (as a shortstop) Marcus Littlewood. But Marlette has always had the profile of a high offense catcher and the numbers from May back up the talk that he is tapping into that potential. the right-handed hitting Marlette hit .361/.409/.574 in 18 games for the month of May, with eight extra base hits and five walks. Drafted out of high school, Marlette still has some development hills to climb, but he also has promising power that is starting to play more frequently in games.
TOP PITCHER: Dylan Unsworth - RHP
There isn't even any competition here. On a very talented staff Unsworth has been unquestionably the best and most consistent performer to date for the LumberKings on the hill. In five May starts the 20-year-old South African posted a 1.33 ERA, 0.67 WHIP and .186 oAVG without walking a batter. He has just two walks in 56 innings and nine starts on the year. Wiry but solid at 6-foot-1 and 175 pounds, Dylan has shown since joining the organization that he can get the most out of his stuff and that he won't hurt himself by walking hitters.
GLAD THE MONTH IS OVER: Rusty Shellhorn - LHP, Richard White - RHP, Timmy Lopes - 2B
Shellhorn got shelled hard in the one start where they really tried to stretch him out and that led to a 6.00 ERA, 2.00 WHIP and .350 oAVG for the month. He pitched out of the bullpen the other day and could be back there for a while now. White has always been in the bullpen but he had more trouble getting hitters out in May than he did keeping his hat on (always a problem for him in his delivery). Lopes continues to have a rough time generating results offensively as one of the younger players in the Midwest League, but it is clear that the coaching staff loves what he brings to the table regardless as he is almost always in the lineup.
TRAINING ROOM: Keith Werman - IF
No real damage to report in Clinton currently as everyone aside from Werman is healthy and active on the roster currently. Jabari Henry missed time in the middle of his white-hot hitting streak, but he's back now and hasn't missed a beat. Jochi Ogando joined the team earlier this month out of extended, but no injuries were reported there.
That wraps up our second monthly recap of the minor leagues for Seattle. Stay with SeattleClubhouse for all of the latest around the minor league affiliates.
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