Seattle has lost two of their top hitting prospects to injury over the past six days. Jackson outfielder Julio Morban and Clinton third baseman D.J. Peterson each suffered injuries that will keep them out for the remainder of the 2013 season; Morban a broken leg on a slide into second base this past Monday and Peterson a facial fracture on a hit by pitch Thursday night.
Morban, a 21-year-old outfielder signed out of the the Dominican in 2009, was hitting .295/.362/.468 for the Generals at the time of his injury. He was added to the Mariners' 40-man roster last winter and impressed the club in spring training, getting into 13 games in big league camp and hitting .300/.382/.600 and turning in a two-homer game. The lefty swinging Morban played 86 games for Jackson this season, making 2013 his season with the most extensive playing time to this point in his career. He set personal bests in doubles (20), walks (28) and on-base percentage during the year and served regularly as Jackson's No. 3 hitter.
Generals Director of Media Relations and Broadcaster Chris Harris told me that Morban was obviously in a lot of pain when it happened but that the prognosis wasn't nearly as bad as the injury that Carlos Triunfel suffered when he was in Jackson back in 2009. The fracture is said to be in the fibula by the ankle and he's already come out to Seattle and had his surgery to install a plate to help the fracture heal. It sounds like 6-8 weeks is the timeframe for general recovery.
Peterson, Seattle's top selection in the 2013 MLB Draft when they took him 12th overall out of New Mexico, was on a tear for Clinton, hitting .293/.346/.576 at the Low-A affiliate and leading the Midwest League in home runs (7) since his promotion to the club back on July 24th. The 22-year-old right-handed hitter hit .312/.382/.532 in 29 games for Short Season Everett in the Northwest League prior to his promotion to Clinton and boasts a combined season line of .303/.365/.553 with 13 home runs, 47 RBI and 20 walks in 55 games.
After being hit in the mouth with a fastball from Wisconsin's Jorge Lopez in the 3rd inning on Thursday night, Peterson went to the hospital for treatment and monitoring. He ended up needing surgery as he was diagnosed with an open fracture of the left mandible and he now has his jaw wired shut. That could last 6 weeks. Outfielder Joe Dunigan suffered the same fate earlier this season for Tacoma and he was out of action for about 10 weeks and it took him 3 1/2 months to make it back to the Rainiers.
Prior to their injuries, Morban and Peterson both were among the top candidates for assignment to the Arizona Fall League for the Mariners, in my opinion. With those two no longer figuring to go to the top prospect league this offseason, Seattle is no doubt looking at a number of options to fill their allotted spots in Peoria. While neither injury figures to have any long-term lingering effects, they do still put a damper on a couple of the best offensive seasons in the Mariners' system.
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