Minor League Players of the Week

Youth is served in this edition of InsideThePark.com's Players of the Week. The best of the best in the minor leagues are at times career minor leaguers and often 10-year veterans of professional baseball. Not this week. The prospects at the lower levels of the Seattle Mariners farm system have won out and are honored this week.

Position Player of the Week: SS Michael Garciaparra, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers

The 20-year-old hit .392 for the week with four runs scored, six RBI, four stolen bases. He added four multi-hit games. Garciaparra did his best impersonation of his older brother, Nomar, a five-time Major League All-Star with the Boston Red Sox, by lighting up the Midwest League with 11 hits in 28 at-bats.

The culmination of Garciaparra's 2003 season did not began this week. Since the start of July, the former top draft choice by the Mariners has hit .373 and raised his average from .197 to .243 in that span. Timber Rattlers' manager Daren Brown, acting on the advice of Garciaparra himself as well as hitting coach Dana Williams, moved the multi-talented shortstop to the No. 2 spot in the order. The move has paid gread dividends. Look for Garciaparra to continue to let loose and turn his early season troubles into late-season success.

Other Notables:

Wisconsin 1B Jon Nelson, San Antonio SS Jose Lopez and OF Greg Jacobs, and Tacoma outfielders Chris Snelling and Jamal Strong.

Nelson matched Garciaparra's hit total with 11 in 28 at-bats, added nine RBI, four doubles, and his 13th homerun and stolen base of the year. Nelson finished the week hitting .263 with 13 homeruns and 67 RBI.

Lopez went 7-19 (.304) with his 11th homerun, two RBI, two doubles (29), and two runs scored. The Mariners prize infield prospect is hitting .270 with 55 RBI and 13 steals on the year.

Jacobs just rolled over his great success at Inland into more of the same with San Antonio. The 26-year-old outfielder went 9-25 (.360) with five RBI. Jacobs had two three-hit games and hit in five of the six he played in. Since his promotion the left-handed slugger is hitting .328.

Snelling, widely thought of as the purest hitter in the system, is not disappointing since his promotion to Tacoma. The 21-year-old left-hander is stroking PCL pitching to the tune of a .366 average. In his first week-and-a-half with the team, he has hit three homeruns and nine RBI in nine games.

Strong enjoyed a fantastic week, going 10-23 (.434) with three runs, two RBI, four multi-hit games and his 15th stolen base. Strong is now hitting .270 since his return from shoulder surgery.

Pitcher of the Week: RHP Felix Hernandez, Everett AquaSox

The 17-year-old phenom went 12 innings in two starts this week and allowed just one earned run on eight hits. In that time he struck out 17 batters and walked just five.

Hernandez continues his swift rise up the prospect rankings. The fireballer is now 6-1 on the year with a 2.13 ERA and 50 strikeouts in 38 inning of work.

Armed with a fastball clocked at 89-92 MPH, Hernandez's best attribute is his control and maturity, which are displayed richly in his 50/19 strikeouts to walk ratio.

Depending on what transpires in the past month of the season, Hernandez could return to Everett for 2004.

Other Notables:

Left-handers Bobby Livingston and Bobby Madritsch, and right-hander T.A. Fulmer.

Livingston went eight stellar innings and up just one earned run on five hits for his 13th win on the year. The 20-year-old Timber Rattler lowered his ERA to 2.64 on the season.

Madritsch, a 27-year-old southpaw, tossed a complete-game, two-hit shutout and fanned nine batters in his most complete start of the season. He improved his record to 10-5 on the year and maintains a 3.47 ERA with 122 strikeouts in just 119 innings for San Antonio.

Fulmer went 8.1 innings in his only start of the week, allowing just three hits and one run while walking one and striking out four. Fulmer, 23, is now 7-7 with a 2.71 ERA on the year with Wisconsin.

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 one better suited for stardom. Feedback is always welcome at DiamondGenius@hotmail.com.

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