Minor League Players of the Week - 7/10-7/16

Every week, at least one player makes his mark on a roster and gets noticed as the best on his team for that time period. Sometimes, he might edge out a fellow prospect with all-around play, and other times he might outshine the others with an undeniable performance. And then, there are the few times when a player simply amazes continually. Times like those allow for easy choices for InsideThePark.com's Player and Pitcher of the Week. This just happens to be one of those weeks.

Position Player of the Week: OF/DH Chris Snelling, San Antonio Missions

The 21-year-old, Australian-born outfielder seems to have returned to form and has torn up the Texas League in recent weeks.

The lefty-swinging, top prospect hit .423 last week (11-26), with a homerun, six runs scored and four RBI. He had at least one hit in all six games played, including four multi-hit outings.

Snelling has played more outfield recently and could be enjoying his last moments in a Missions uniform, as the Mariners organization's upper levels yearn for more offense.

Hitting in third and fourth in the San Antonio lineup, Snelling might be suited best to hit second, sixth or seventh in the majors and playing leftfield.

Though not blessed with great speed, Snelling still can go get it in the outfield, and his better-than-average arm assures the M's of an everyday, in-the-field player for years to come barring injury.

Other notables:
Snelling's competitors last week were the usual cast of characters. Inland Empire OF Greg Jacobs, the California League's leading hitter, Tacoma's All-Star C Pat Borders and Snelling's teammate 1B AJ Zapp…

Jacobs had his worst week since May and still landed on the also-ran list.

He touched up Advanced-A pitchers at a .333 clip (8-24), including a homerun, four RBI and four runs scored in six games.

It's puzzling why Jacobs isn't seeing time in San Antonio or Tacoma at this point…

Borders, 40, has defied all rational thought among baseball people with his performance this season. He turned 40 in the same year he made his first AAA All-Star game.

Hitting above .300 all season long landed Borders on the PCL All-Star squad, as well as two stints with the parent club. As long as he can pick up a wooden stick and slide a slab of leather on his left-hand, the former World-Series MVP will have a place to play the grand game of baseball.

Borders went 7-18 (.388) last week with a homerun, three RBI, and three runs scored in five games…

A.J. Zapp, 25, has semi-quietly put together a brilliant season. His top-10 batting average and league-leading 21 homeruns show his potential as a left-handed stick in the middle of a lineup.

Zapp had another good week going 9-25 (.360), with four RBI and three runs scored. He went homer-less for the first time in four weeks, but continued to smack the baseball consistently.

Zapp, like Snelling, can count down the few days he has left in San Antonio. The former Braves draft choice will likely make his next stop in AAA Tacoma.

The Seattle Mariners organization has built a farm system known recently for its depth in starting pitching. From right-handers Rafael Soriano and Clint Nageotte (both former InsideThePark.com Pitchers of the Week) to left-handers Travis Blackley and Ryan Ketchner all the way down to teen-phenom Felix Hernandez, the M's are steep in the pitching department. But another creeps closer to the big-leagues with every start.

Pitcher of the Week: Rett Johnson, Tacoma Rainiers

After beginning the year in AA San Antonio, Johnson made the jump to AAA Tacoma four weeks ago. Five starts later, the PCL opponents are begging for the M's to either call him up to the bigs or send him back down.

The 24-year-old is 4-1 with a nasty 0.53 ERA for Tacoma, and has yet to make a less than spectacular start.

Johnson made just one start for the week, but he made it count. On Friday evening, RJ took the hill and three-hours later had a complete game, four-hit shutout, with seven strikeouts and just one walk.

His move to the big leagues might not wait until the September roster expansion, if he keeps up the current pace. His recent success in the PCL reminds Mariner brass of Joel Pineiro and his climb through the ranks, and we all know how that one turned out.

Other notables:
Ketchner, 20, pitched eight innings for Inland Empire, allowing just six hits and one earned run while striking out two without a base on balls.

The left-hander is now 10-3 on the year with a 3.36 ERA - 2.56 since joining the starting rotation…

T.A. Fulmer, 23, nearly trumped Rett Johnson with his eight shutout innings. The right-hander allowed just two hits and one walk while striking out eight in his best outing of the year.

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 JasonAChurchill@cs.com.

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