Minor League Players of the Week

Every morning when a typical sports fan, baseball in particular, opens the sports page and turns to the box scores he often skims over the scores, stats, and standings. When the baseball geeks turn rampantly to the baseball pages and study the box scores, they seek out certain things; specific <i>crooked</i> numbers in those otherwise straight columns. This week, Mariners' minor leaguers racked up plenty of those <i>crooked</i> numbers. The challenge was handing out the awards.

Position Player of the Week: 1B Jon Nelson, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers
The 23 year-old right-handed slugger went 13-31 (.422) with two homeruns, 10 RBI, seven runs scored and four doubles. The 6-foot-5 former Northwest League MVP found his zone with two four-hit performances and hit safely in six of seven games. Nelson could very well earn a promotion to Inland or possibly even San Antonio by season's end. His 51 RBI leads the team and his 11 homeruns now ranks him fifth in the Midwest League.

Other Notables:

Nelson's competition this week was as deep as it was steep. Inland Empire OF Greg Jacobs, Wisconsin OF TJ Bohn, San Antonio 1B AJ Zapp, Everett OF Chris Colton, and Tacoma OF's Jamal Strong and Kenny Kelly all gave Nelson a run for his per diem.

Jacobs, a fixture in player of the week considerations, went 9-21 (.429) with four doubles, five runs scored and four RBI while taking over the league lead in hitting at .351. The lefty also leads the league in doubles with 31. He should soon get the call from San Antonio or Tacoma. Jacobs has eight homeruns and 51 RBI, both team highs.

Bohn, a 30th round draft pick in 2002, went 11-30 (.367) with two homeruns, five RBI, seven runs scored and hit safely in all six games for Wisconsin. The 23-year-old is hitting .256 on the year with 10 homeruns and 48 RBI.

Zapp, formerly a Braves prospect, went 9-25 (.360) with two homeruns - one a game winner in the ninth inning - five RBI, and four runs scored. The left-hand hitting slugger is hitting .298 with 19 homeruns and 58 RBI on the year. Zapp, 25, is also in line for a promotion and could see that soon as Tacoma's offense continues to struggle.

Colton, 20, broke out of a 10-game slump and raked his way to a .375 average for the week with two homeruns and seven RBI. The right-handed hitting Colton, a 2002 15th round draft choice, recently slid from third in the lineup down to sixth and the move paid off. His two homeruns this week came in the same game on Saturday. Colton is now hitting .250 for the year with three homeruns and 11 RBI.

Strong, a 25-year-old speedster, was not supposed to even see action until at least September after shoulder surgery this spring. Not only has Strong returned strong, he has taken well to his first action at Triple-A and hit .389 (7-18) with five runs scored and six steals this week. As the best leadoff hitters do, he took four walks to add to his seven hits and tormented the opposing pitchers once he reached base.

Kelly, 24, has been putting together a nice consistent stretch of hitting of late. Cutting down his strikeouts and putting the ball in play has been his moniker all year long. Now the power is returning and his average on the year has reached .253 after kneeling as low as .233 in June. Kelly went 7-19 (.368) with two homeruns, five RBI, six runs scored, three steals and added two great throws from the outfield corner in right. Kelly now has 12 homeruns and 35 RBI to go with 18 steals. Despite his struggles earlier in the year, he remains one of the Mariners best farmhands when it comes to combining speed and power.

The Minor League Pitcher of the Week boasts the same gaudy numbers and dominant performances as Jon Nelson had at the plate in the past seven days. There is one exception, however. There are TWO pitchers that deserve this award, so it's only fair to award two winners. Giving it to one just wouldn't seem fair.

Pitchers of the Week: Clint Nageotte and Travis Blackley, San Antonio Missions

Nageotte, 22, made two starts on the week and though his first start was not terrible, he won this award on the merits of the most dominating pitching performance in all of the minor leagues this season. After giving up four hits, four walks and three earned runs on Monday, he got a little bit more stingy on Saturday. That day, he pitched a complete game shutout, allowing just one hit - a single in the fourth inning - and no earned runs while striking out a career-high 14 and not walking a soul. The ace right-hander is second in the league in wins (9) and strikeouts (105) and third in ERA (2.76). Nageotte is another possible candidate for promotion later in the year.

Blackley, 20, also had two starts on the week and was as good as ever in not allowing a single run in 12.2 innings, giving up just seven hits. The Australian-born southpaw leads the Texas League in wins (11) and ERA (2.13) and is fourth in strikeouts (94).

Watch for both Nageotte and Blackley in the Futures Game next week.

Other Notables: Rett Johnson, 24, went 11.2 innings for triple-A Tacoma allowing just nine hits, one earned run, five walks and 12 strikeouts. The right-hander is now 3-1 on the year with a 0.73 ERA.

Bobby Livingston, 20, went eight strong innings Wednesday for Wisconsin, yielding eight hits and a walk in a 7-1 win vs. Quad City. The southpaw is now 11-3 on the year with a 2.42 ERA.

Ryan Ketchner, 20, has been nails since permanently joining the rotation in May. The left-hander went seven solid frames Thursday, giving up just one earned run on five hits, walking two and striking out 10. Ketchner is now 9-3 on the year with a strikeout-to-walk ratio that boggles the mind. His 97-17 mark is amazing but technically ranks just second on the team. Cha Sueng Baek has a 43-6 ratio in limited innings.

Jason resides in North Tacoma, WA, where his father is his best friend, his mother has a better fastball than he does, and his nephew is the only person better suited for stardom. Feedback is always welcome at

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