August M's Minor League Players of the Month

As the minor league season wore down and some Seattle affiliates pushed towards the playoffs while others simply played out the string, there were some great individual months at all of the Mariners minor league levels (still in play). Here are the seven unofficial awards for the top player in the month of August from each of those Mariners' minor league teams.

Arizona Rookie League

Daniel Missaki - RHP: 0-0, 0.87 ERA (1 ER, 10 1/3 IP), 0.77 WHIP
Missaki just signed with Seattle back in April after being the youngest player to appear in the WBC in 2013. The Japanese-born right-hander threw for (and was signed out of) Brazil, which has been his home country for some time now, and reportedly impressed a number of teams. He impressed in the Arizona Rookie League in August, too, showing to be virtually unhittable in four games of long relief while being the 3rd youngest player in the league.

His fastball was 87-88 in the WBC (and qualifiers leading up to it) and he was said to be more command than power, but he also pitches with a splitter and forkball and has said that he tries to model himself after Yu Darvish. Two appearances of three innings and five strikeouts in his last three games is encouraging no matter how you slice it, and Missaki is interesting one to watch.


Edwin Diaz - RHP: 2-1, 1.59 ERA (6 ER, 28 1/3 IP), 0.81 WHIP
After a 2012 season that was a little underwhelming for a 3rd round pick, Diaz was simply fantastic all year for Pulaski in 2013. His August was again among the best pitching months in his league and in the M's organization as he had another sub-2.00 ERA and sub-1.00 WHIP in five strong starts while the M's pushed into a playoff spot.

The 6-foot-2, 165 pound right-hander was selected as his league's Pitcher of the Year and was our choice as the June Player of the Month for Pulaski, too. He allowed a season high of three earned runs in only one start this season and allowed zero or one in 1 of his 13 starts. August was his lowest strikeout-per-nine month, but he still was dominant for Pulaski down the stretch. I had him ranked at No. 45 on my 2013 pre-season Top-50 Mariners prospect list, and he is sure to be one of the highest climbers when I re-rank.


Austin Wilson - OF: .296/.367/.606 (21-71), 21 G
Wilson's brief prospect history with Seattle has already been a roller coaster. People were ecstatic when the athletic outfielder "fell" to the M's in the 2nd round in June, but his slow start had many asking what was wrong with the powerful right-handed hitter. His August put those concerns on the back burner as he was outstanding after returning from a brief leg injury. 10 extra base hits, including five homers, to go along with a much improved strikeout rate and 17 RBI started to really show Austin's talent level.

The 21-year-old cracked 20 extra base hits on the season and was Northwest League Player of the Week for August 19th-25th. Expectations are always high for early round picks and I've already offered my opinion that Wilson could take a while to develop, but he is certainly a very talented player that is starting to see that talent play out in games.


David Holman - RHP: 3-2, 2.38 ERA (11 ER, 41 2/3 IP), 0.98 WHIP
Being the son of a former big leaguer in the organization has plusses and minuses, and Holman has admitted that he sometimes feels like people think that he hasn't truly earned his spot with the Mariners, but near-perfect Brian Holman's 23-year-old son showed a lot over the last month of the season in Clinton. One of 12 hurlers in the system to see six starts in the month, he lead everyone in innings and won as many games as he walked hitters down the stretch for a LumberKings team that was fighting for their playoff lives.

Holman doesn't overpower but he uses his size (6-foot-6) well to get good downward plane on the ball and he generated just under 60% ground balls during his six starts and held opposing hitters to a .591 OPS as a starting pitcher this year. The 50th round pick from the 2010 draft now owns a 3.61 ERA and 1.20 WHIP in his 177 innings covering three seasons in the system, and he's earning some more respect as he continues to thrive.

High Desert

Kevin Rivers - OF: .345/.446/.645 (38-110), 27 G
Teammate Patrick Kivlehan stole a lot of the headlines for much of the second half in High Desert, but when the minor league regular seasons came to a close for the Mariners it was Rivers who was at the top in RBI (97), thanks in large part to a monster August. The former undrafted free agent signee drove in 27 runs in 27 August games and 57 runs in 66 second half games for the Mavs, outpacing Kivlehan and the rest of the M's farmhands by seven or more RBI.

Rivers hit in the middle of High Desert's lineup (3rd, 4th or 5th) in 110 of the 128 games he played in this season and hit .297/.381/.515 overall, collecting 61 extra base hits (including 20 HR) and drawing 66 walks. Further impressing, Rivers OPS'd better on the road (.909) than at home (.883) on the season. The left-handed hitter is limited defensively but he actually primarily played right field this season and also chipped in eight steals.


Jabari Blash - OF: .319/.451/.648 (29-91), 27 G
Blash really seemed to take off when he was promoted to Jackson on August 3rd, and the results easily made him the pick for best player for the Generals in the month. The power was definitely there as he slugged nine home runs (giving him an organization-best 25 long balls for the season), but Jabari also drew 20 walks during the month, including back-to-back games in which he combined to draw seven free passes. The package of patience and power with Blash is something that I've touched on before, but August was the best extended stretch that the big right-handed hitter has even put it together for.

Blash drew 60-plus walks for the 3rd straight season and also stole 14 bases while playing solid defense at both outfield corners at two levels this season. The strikeout rate dropped a bit once again, but it was still up over 25% on the year. Regardless, Blash's profile is that of a very talented player that can make noise at the plate when he's going right. The late season success in Double-A should help build his confidence heading into 2014.


Abraham Almonte - OF: .333/.455/.565 (36-108), 28 G
Rightfully rewarded with a call-up to Seattle a few days ago, Almonte has been one of the Rainiers' best players ever since he arrived in Tacoma back in mid-May. August was the most complete of those months as he showed everything that could make him a valuable commodity to the Mariners, hitting five homers, drawing 23 walks and stealing five bases for Tacoma in 28 games down the stretch.

The switch-hitter raked from the left side with the Rainiers, hitting .333/.411/.513 while making things tough on infielders by consistently getting out of the box and down the line quickly. His speed led to 25-plus steals for the sixth time in his eight pro seasons and he set personal bests in a number of offensive categories in his first season with Seattle. Now up with the big club, the added athleticism and defensive versatility in a switch-hitting package should get a long look from the M's in September.

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We'll be breaking down the best overall seasons and the best debuts in the coming days, so stick with SeattleClubhouse throughout the year for all of the most complete coverage of the Seattle Mariners minor league teams and players.

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