Month One in the Desert

With April in the books, we take a closer look at how Seattle Advanced-A level affiliate High Desert has fared, where they are in the standings and in the training room and at who stood out for their performance during the first month of the minor league season.

It's official! You can tear off April from your 2013 calendar and mark that we are one month into the MiLB season. The Class-A Advanced affiliate to the Seattle Mariners, High Desert Mavericks, had a decent April, some ups and downs, a few more ups than downs it seems. We've started to notice who's good, who's not as good, and that Mavericks offense will always be dominant and Mavericks pitching... maybe not so much. This team is not stacked with prospects similar to the affiliates above, but they are a great group of ballplayers who could potentially be a big part of the Mariners future organization.

13-12 record, 3rd place in the California League Southern Division
Cal League ranks (10 teams)

Hitting: 1st in R/G (6.84), 1st in OPS (.867), 3rd in HR (25), 1st in BB (118), 5th in Ks (193)
Pitching: last in ERA (5.73), 8th in WHIP (1.51), t-last in HR (31), 4th in BB (89), last in Ks (187)

I couldn't think of any better way to describe the Mavericks of 2013 than a tweet from Mavericks Account Executive, Michelle Alipio, "The 2013 Mavericks team is a different story. No major prospects or big sluggers but they can be scrappy. Only problem is pitching." The Mavericks were about as average as you could be to begin the 2013 season with a record of 6-9 over the first 2 weeks, but have recently picked up winning 7 of their last 10 games. Avoiding the statistics of Mavs pitching, it has been the main concern this season (so far). It seems as if the starting pitcher has a good day, the bullpen has an awful day, and vice versa. That's where the "scrappiness" comes into play. This Mavericks team is full of good hitters who just know how to get on base. Players like; Chris Taylor, Jamal Austin, Kevin Rivers, and Ji-Man Choi. There is a good chemistry in the clubhouse between these guys also, tons of smiles and laughter and the will to play every day.

Paolini takes my vote for Mavericks Top Offensive Player for the month with strong batting numbers of .345/.453/.571 over his first 23 games. The Stratford, Connecticut local has become an offensive product of late for the Mavericks, batting .351 in his last 10 games and bringing home 12 teammates over that span making his total RBI count for the 1st month of play a team leading 20, a tie for 4th most in the Cal League. He is currently ranked 5th in the Cal League in batting average at .345, 5th in hits (29), 3rd in On Base Percentage (.453), and 2nd in runs scored (21). He has a 13% strikeout ratio as opposed to the team's overall 21%. Also a very underlooked note about Paolini is that he leads the Cal League in sacrifice flies with 3. Although Paolini has only spent 12 of his 23 games playing defensively, the right handed first baseman has a perfect fielding percentage splitting games in the outfield and first base.

TOP PITCHER: Stephen Shackleford - RHP
Shackleford has pitched 6 games at home, 4 on the road, only pitcher for the Mavericks this season to pitch an amount of games to reach the double digits, and still has yet to let an opposing player to come across home plate. Over 11.0 IP, the Louisville, Kentucky native has allowed just 3 hits and has walked only 4, leaving his WHIP at a team leading 0.64. The amount of hits is also the amount of saves he has this season (3) with a perfect save percentage. Control is no issue for Shackleford, he has 4 walks over the 11.0 IP and only one wild pitch. The 6'1, 185, right hander has a very aggressive delivery. Fastball sits right between 92 and 93, slider was checked in at 84. Shackleford has a 2seam that works well also but I couldn't get a set speed on the pitch, and I still have yet to see a changeup from the righty but I know he has it in his forte. I want to note that if it wasn't for the statistics, I would have had a hard time splitting between David Colvin, George Mieses, and Seon Gi Kim. Former Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens starter David Colvin is looking at a 1.88 ERA (2.16 ERA at Mavericks Stadium). Seon Gi Kim has had challenges at home, but impressed me more than any other pitcher on this staff; he also has a 1.00 ERA on the road. George Mieses has moved to the bullpen after being a starter last season for the Mavericks, and has struck out 1.4 batters per inning so far this season (12.7 K/p9).

SLOW STARTERS: Nathan Melendres - OF, Trevor Miller - RHP, Jordan Shipers - RHP
Nathan Melendres is an outstanding player, but just can't seem to get it together at the plate this year starting the season off 6-37 (.162). Nathan has picked up of lately going 5-16 (.313) with 2 HR and 7 RBI over his last 5 games. Trevor Miller finished the 2012 season off pitching for the Mavericks and no one had an answer for him as batters struck out left and right, which made many to believe Trevor was going to be the Mariners MiLB story of the 2013 season. However Trevor's start hasn't been so stellar. He currently has a 1-3 record with a 7.83 ERA and a 1.65 WHIP. If you were to average out his lines from each start it would look similar to this; 4.2 IP, 5.4 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 2.2 BB, 3.4 K (and to add to it sadly, 1.4 HR allowed per start).

TRAINING ROOM: Mike McGee, Tyler Blandford, Robert Shore, Jabari Blash
I personally shocked to hear that Mike McGee was back with the Mavericks until I saw he was injured. Mike just returned to the lineup roughly a week ago and should be a great asset to this 2013 group of Mavericks. I saw Tyler Blandford opening weekend and spoke to him about his injury, didn't seem to effect his spirits as he was very active during BP shagging balls. Currently, Jabari Blash, OF and Bobby Shore, RHP are on the 7 day Disabled List.

This group of scrappers is more talented than you may think, and if you're in the area they are certainly worth a watch as baseball in Adelanto is never dull.

Stay tuned to SeattleClubhouse for updates from me throughout the season on the Mavs!

Looking for more Mariners player interviews, news and articles? Want to keep up with which prospects are hot and cold for the M's? "Like" SeattleClubhouse on Facebook and follow SeattleClubhouse Contributor Taylor Ward on Twitter at @taylorblakeward and site Editor Rick Randall at @randallball.

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