Each Monday, I will give our readers a run down of the best and worst from the minor league week that was within the Seattle Mariners system. I will try and concentrate only on true prospects, but if a player has an exceptionally noteworthy good (or bad) week, he could appear here as well. I will try not to throw in repeat players too often to try and give you a better look of what is in the system by spreading the coverage around.
Let's takes a look at this week's version of good and bad:
Erasmo Ramirez - Tacoma Rainiers: 8 1/3 IP, 7 H, 1 ERm 0 BB, 11 SO
Ramirez had an up-and-down season with Jackson (4.73 ERA, 19 BB/81 SO in 110 1/3 IP) before his promotion to Tacoma. His first start for the Rainiers was good on the surface, but 11 baserunners and a 1:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio will not get it done in the PCL...as he found out in his second start: five innings, nine hits, six earned runs on just one walk and one strikeout.
But Ramirez clearly learned something from those first two starts, and he put on quite a pitching display for the large Tacoma crowd Sunday night with a brilliant performance, striking out 11. But the exclamation point was the zero walks. Ramirez has always shown good control while lacking ideal command: he had both Sunday night, and the results are just a teaser as to what the 5-foot-11 right-hander can be with plus command.
Jose Campos - Everett Aquasox: 8 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 SO
One night and about 60 miles north, Everett's young phenom Jose Campos may have outdone Ramirez as he flirted with perfection. In the longest outing of his pro career (8 innings), the 19-year old Campos allowed only two hits and no earned runs while striking out seven. But more impressive, the 19-year old righty from La Guaira, Venezuela was perfect for 6 1/3.
Campos is relying primarily on his mid to high 90s fastball right now, but the right-hander also throws a changeup and slider that are generating swinging strikes in the Northwest League. The victory lowered Campos' ERA at home to 0.95 in six starts, and increased his strikeout-to-walk ratio at Everett Memorial to 40-to-three. In his last six starts (including two road games), Campos has a 1.46 ERA, a 42:4 SO:BB and a tidy little 0.78 WHIP.
Anthony Fernandez - Clinton LumberKings: 15 IP, 11 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 13 SO
Fernandez has quietly been very good this season for the LumberKings, and a big reason is he is generating a ton of ground balls. His size (6-foot-4) and high three-quarters delivery give him a lot of natural sink to his fastball, and his second half results show that he may be understanding how to use that to his advantage more.
In his 15 innings this week, he posted a 1.87 GB/FB ratio--exactly equal to his season total. But a closer look shows that since the All-Star break, Fernandez's ratio has increased to 2.24. Also his strikeout-to-walk ratio has increased from 1.5:1 to 2.9:1, his ERA has dipped from 4.17 to 2.15 and his oAVG has fallen from .260 to .222 in his 10 second half starts. The Dominican lefty may just be another M's prospect that is learning that important lesson of how to pitch with his stuff.
Chih-Hsien Chiang - Jackson Generals: .192/.250/.192 (5-26), 1 RBI, 2 BB, 7 SO
Chiang was lighting Double-A Eastern League pitchers up like it was going out of style in Portland, but his trade to the Mariners and has seemingly taken some of the fire out of him. His .340/.402/.648 line in the Eastern League has become a .260/.283/.300 line in the Southern League, and his 15 strikeouts in 50 at bats is troubling.
It has only been two weeks, and some players are just streaky, but it could also be that some of the shine on his stats in the Red Sox organization had something to do with him repeating the level there. Only time will tell, but the questions of Chiang's bat speed seem to hold a little more weight with his recent performance.
John Hicks - Clinton LumberKings: .278/.278/.278 (5-18), 4 SO
Hicks is a right-handed hitting catcher that needs work to refine his defense behind the plate and that scouts question the power in the bat. Right now, the Mariners have to be questioning the bat, period. In his first 23 games for Clinton, Hicks has only four extra base hits, has struck out 11 times and has yet to draw a walk. He has a .572 OPS on the year and just a .533 mark against right-handers.
Hicks' defense isn't good enough to carry him through the organization at this point, and Danny Hultzen's college battery-mate may just be having a hard time adjusting to wood bats, but I think everyone was expecting a better start out of the club's fourth round selection.
James Zamarripa - Arizona League Mariners: .059/.158/.059 (1-17), 6 SO
I honestly looked for a reason to write Zamarripa in on the "up" side of this ledger last week. The M's 6th rounder out of Rancho Cucamonga High School got off to a very hot start and was hitting north of .340 just a few weeks ago, but he has gone into a tailspin of late, and the strikeouts are starting to pile up.
Zamarripa hit .313/.357/.375 in 15 games in July, but the lefty centerfielder is hitting just .167/.286/.222 in 10 August games. He now has struck out 30 times in his 100 at bats in the desert, but he is also not yet 18.
*All Stats for the week of 8/8 - 8/14