Each Monday, I will give our readers a rundown of the best and worst from the minor league week that was within the Seattle Mariners system. The goal is to concentrate only on true prospects, but if any 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.
Here is this week's version of the hot and not so hot.
Forrest Snow - Tacoma Rainiers: 7 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 9 SO
Snow has been up with Tacoma for about a month now, and he had two great relief appearances before a disastrous one, and then had one disastrous start before this one. Admittedly this isn't the same Omaha team that was lighting up the PCL in the early going, but there are still a few big league hitters on that club.
Snow--just 22-years-old and just a little over a year removed from his collegiate career with the Washington Huskies--carved them up on 91 pitches (63 strikes) over his 7 innings of work. He works primarily with a fastball/slider attack and is a thinking man's pitcher much more than an overpowering guy. In fact, at 6-foot-6 and 195 pounds, he is definitely a lot like former Mariners starter Doug Fister. This outing is a good start for him to hopefully earn that comp.
Kalian Sams - Clinton LumberKings: .400/.500/.950 (8-20), 3 HR, 7 RBI, 4 BB
Sams has a familiar profile: big power, big strikeout numbers. In fact, the 2006 International signing out of the Netherlands is a lot like his fellow Countryman in the organization--Greg Halman--in that regard. Since beginning his career with the M's in 2007, Sams has 67 HR, 45 SB and 505 strikeouts in 363 games. But this past week, Kalian lead the Midwest League in OPS (1.450, a figure just outside the top-10 for all levels of minor leaguers), hit .400 and drew four walks.
He turns 25 this week, but because of his lack of organized playing experience, he is still young in the baseball sense of the term. So is this week the sign of him starting to figure some things out, or just a mini hot streak? Judging by his struggles for much of the second half thus far (.213/.277/.393), most likely it is just the latter, but his tools are still interesting enough that you shouldn't simply ignore him altogether. And his strikeouts are down significantly from the last few seasons.
Andrew Carraway - Jackson Generals: 11 2/3 IP, 11 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 9 SO
Carraway was a 2009 college teammate of Danny Hultzen, John Hicks and Steven Proscia at Virginia. In fact, Hultzen and Carraway tied for the team lead in wins (9) for the Cavaliers that season. While he isn't quite of the same pedigree as his former teammate turned No. 2 Overall pick, Carraway does have some potential. He dominated in his first season in '09, survived High Desert in '10, and has pitched very well (3.55 ERA, 1.07 WHIP) in Jackson this year.
Carraway has excellent control (1.7 BB/9 career) and commands his 90-91 MPH fastball well, down in the zone. Despite his very good numbers this week, he went 0-2, but he is still 8-5 on the season and boasts a 27-13 record in his minor league career. He turns 25 in a few weeks and was drafted as a senior, so he has some polish already.
Johermyn Chavez - Jackson Generals: .174/.321/.174 (4-23), 5 BB, 6 SO
Chavez--of course acquired in the Brandon Morrow trade--had a fantastic season in 2010 in High Desert, but his 2011 campaign has just never got off the ground. He wasn't showing any power early on, then he bottomed out to .133/.214/.267 in June, and despite an eight game stretch that saw the big right-hander hit five home runs, he still has just 13 long balls and just 13 doubles on the season after mashing 32 and 30, respectively, last season.
This past week was more of the same. He drew some walks--and his walk rate has improved this season, as it has every full-season of his minor league career--but the average is below .220, and the slugging percentage has been living in the .350 - .370 range all year. Chavez was thought of as easily one of Seattle's top-10 prospects prior to 2011, but he now looks destined to drop down several spots in those rankings...and likely to repeat Double-A in 2012.
Ambioris Hidalgo - Pulaski Mariners: 8 1/3 IP, 12 H, 9 ER, 6 BB, 8 SO
Strictly by the numbers, Hidalgo was the worst two-start pitcher in the APPY last week. His 9.72 ERA, 2.16 WHIP and .324 opponent's average are downright ugly numbers. In fact, the earned runs are more than he gave up in his previous six starts combined.
What that should tell you, however, is that Hidalgo does have some pitching ability. The 20-year-old is getting his first taste of stateside ball this year, and he is at least holding his own, as he's still averaging a strikeout an inning. He's been doing well inducing grounders and is limiting damage from left-handers, but the Dominican righty still has a lot of polish left to put on his game before he becomes someone you need to have in the front of your prospect mind.
Julio Morban - Clinton LumberKings: .118/.167/.176 (2-17), 1 BB, 7 SO
Morban has had an amazingly up-and-down season in 2011. He started out like a man on fire in April, fell off a cliff in May, got hurt in June and was out for most of July, then came back on fire again in August. Until this past week. The ugly strikeout rate is again gobbling up his production, and even though his walk rate has nearly doubled since the break, the strikeouts are the biggest standout in his game right now as he has 90 Ks in 270 plate appearances.
He was touted as one of the better hitting prospects of the 2008 International market and he has above-average speed and athleticism, but the 19-year-old--who has lost significant time in each of his pro seasons to injury--has never showed a consistent enough approach or consistent enough contact to take advantage of those considerable tools. For all his flash and promise, he has a .252/.308/.374 mark this season and he has spent as much time in the outfield corners as he has in center. Again, he's 19, but 2011 isn't turning out to be the breakout season that was hoped for.
All Stats for the week of 8/15 - 8/21