Each Monday during the minor league season, 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. The goal is to not only keep you up to date on the goings on, but to try and give you a better look of what talent is in the system by spreading the coverage around.
Here now is the extended Spring Training version of the hot and not so hot.
Vinnie Catricala - Tacoma Rainiers
Coming in to the spring, every Mariners fan had figured out who Catricala was, but the fact that he hadn't played above Double-A was still enough to allow some to be hesitant to accept the numbers he had managed to put up last season. Those doubts should be erased by now, after Vinnie posted a .313/.361/.531 slash line in 12 games in big league camp. And it wasn't just the numbers, he showed a very advanced approach at the plate with good discipline and got hits foul line to foul line.
Once he returned to minor league camp, the numbers just got downright silly. Catricala seemingly had at least one extra base hit in every minor league game and had several multi-hit games, too. He's slated to start the season in Tacoma, where he will work hard on his defense at third base. He could very well be the first player called up in 2012, and if he continues to hit, he may not return to the minor leagues.
Carlos Triunfel - Tacoma Rainiers
Triunfel has amazingly been written off by a lot of people that have just simply grown impatient. He's been rumored to have had maturity issues and did have some weight issues a few seasons back, but more than anything, many have just soured on his bat. Still just 22, his bat was showing very well in minor league camp this season as he was not only hitting the ball consistently, but hitting it hard and for extra bases.
Over the final three Triple-A matchups in minor league camp, Triunfel went 7-12 with every hit going for extra bases (five doubles, a triple and a home run). He gets good natural backspin and has a quick bat, he just needs to be a bit more selective. He isn't ideal defensively at shortstop but he isn't bad, either. A strong start in Tacoma to start the season could do wonders for his confidence.
Guillermo Pimentel - Clinton LumberKings
During the radio broadcast on Sunday, Mariners Director of Minor League Operations Chris Gwynn mentioned that Pimentel had been given the "Control the Zone" award for his approach during minor league camp. That is encouraging to hear, because to this point in his career, controlling the strike zone is about the only thing missing from his game.
Big raw power is his best tool, but he has a good swing and quick, strong wrists that could allow him to hit for average, too. His assignment to Clinton should be a challenging one, but Pimentel certainly has the talent to not only handle it, but to excel there. If he can, he will move even further up the prospect charts for 2013.
Chance Ruffin - Tacoma Rainiers
Ruffin entered camp with what looked like a pretty firm grip on a big league bullpen spot, but the emergence of a few other arms paired with his control and command issues have him slated for Tacoma to start the year. Having pitched for the Mariners and Tigers at the big league level last season, it was only natural to expect him to progress this year and take hold of a late-inning job, so his assignment to Triple-A has to be seen as a disappointment.
When he's right, Ruffin uses his 92-95 fastball and wipeout slider to dominate right-handers, but his work this spring opened a few more concerns about his ability to consistently get left-handers out. The Mariners want him to be a late inning option, and he still could be, but he needs some more fine tuning in Triple-A.
Dennis Raben - High Desert Mavericks
Raben didn't exactly do terribly in camp this spring, as I've talked to two guys that saw him this year that still rave about his power, but at almost 25-years-old and in his 5th year since being drafted, the fact that the former 2nd round pick isn't in Double-A yet is a big disappointment. And, frankly, it doesn't bode well for his future.
Everyone knows about the injuries, but he is at the point in his career now that he needs to take a step forward in his game, and it just doesn't look like it has happened yet. We could be getting close to the point where it can't happen as part of the Mariners system.
Yoervis Medina - Jackson Generals
Medina, of course, had an atrocious statistical year in 2011, but his stuff is still good and his physical gifts are still tantalizing. He is also in his second season on the 40-man roster, but it looks as though he is slated again to head to Double-A Jackson.
He has good enough stuff to get strikeouts, but he isn't overpowering. If his command remains suspect, he will continue to get hit. Medina needs to right his ship this season, or the Mariners -- who are going to face some tough decisions soon on the 40-man roster -- may be forced to make a tough decision soon and let him go or try to sneak him through waivers in a numbers crunch.