Minor League Players of the Week - Aug. 4-10

When players are put under the spotlight there are two possible results. One can foil under the scrutiny and drown in the glaring eyes of the thousands of onlookers, or he can shine his own light even brighter than the aforementioned pressure cooker and pave his own way to superstardom. Some even show the rare ability to rise to the occasion more often than your average athlete. Who embodied these characteristics this week? Find out in InsidethePark's exclusive Minor League Players of the Week.

Position Player of the Week: 2B Ismael Castro, Inland Empire 66ers (Advanced-A)

Castro hit .434 in six games this week. The 19-year-old smacked two doubles and a triple and scored eight runs while extending his hit-streak to seven games.

The switch-hitting infielder also displayed great feel for the game while playing SS as well as his natural 2B position.

His everyday displays of skill cover all five major tools, and the teen phenom may soon join fellow teen Jose Lopez in San Antonio to form the minor leagues' best double-play combination.

The performance Castro has put forth at such a young age in the California League places him among the organization's top prospects and looks to promise a very bright future.

Castro is hitting .275 with three homeruns and 25 RBI on the season. His 19 doubles, two triples and nine steals show his speed and offensive versatility.

Other notables include Tacoma Rainiers OF Adrian Myers, 1B J.R. Phillips, Everett 2B Nick Orlandos and Inland Empire 1B/DH John Castellano.

Myers went 9-24 (.375) with eight RBI, bringing his total for the year to 41.

The 28-year-old recently gained a permanent starting role after the trade of Kenny Kelly. Since that trade Myers is hitting .339.

Phillips, 33, hit .370 in 27 at bats with his 10th homerun and five RBI. The lefty slugger has come on strong of late and is solidifying the cleanup role in Tacoma.

Orlandos hit a gaudy .400 (10-25) with five runs scored and raised his season average to .320 to go with 10 steals, eight doubles and two triples. The 23-year-old is flashing his glove on a nightly basis and might be due a promotion soon.

Castellano, 25, drove in seven runs on 10 hits in 29 at bats. He hit safely in all six games and tossed in three multi-hit games to top it off.

When pitchers are evaluated the first thing taken into account is the overall makeup of a pitcher and his natural talents. After that it's all about development. This week's InsideThePark.com Pitcher of the Week award will be shared by one pitcher with possibly the best overall makeup of any pitcher on the Mariners farm system, and one with raw talents that need shaping over a few years of development.

Pitchers of the Week: RHP Jeff Heaverlo, Tacoma Rainiers (AAA), and LHP Thomas Oldham, Everett (SS-A)

After missing the 2002 season, Heaverlo has spent the better part of 2003 trying to regain his usual feel for pitching.

His two starts this week are great signs and evidence he is getting it back and getting it back quick.

The 25-year-old twirled 13 strong innings allowing just two earned runs on 11 scattered hits.

In his 2nd start the former-University of Washington grad went seven shutout innings, lowering his ERA to 4.69 on the year and earning his fifth win.

The 1999 first-round pick has all the tools upstairs to make a solid starting pitcher for the M's. The only issue is how fast he recovers his physical skills.

Oldham went six scoreless frames yielding six hits and a walk while striking out seven.

The M's selected Oldham in the eighth round of the recent June draft. Armed with three plus pitches, the former Creighton Blue Jay has displayed the raw skills the club saw in him this past season.

His next two seasons are the key developmental years for the 21-year-old left-hander. If he handles those learning experiences, as he has handled his recent endeavors in Everett, things will work out just fine.

Oldham is now 3-2 with a 2.47 ERA in his first action in the Northwest League.

Other notables include flame throwing Everett righty Felix Hernandez and Tacoma's ace right-hander Rett Johnson.

Hernandez went six shutout innings allowing just four hits while walking three and striking out five. The 17-year-old hurler is 7-1 on the year with a nasty 1.84 ERA.

Johnson returned to form this week going eight strong innings allowing just four hits and two earned runs. The 24-year-old prospect struck out six and walked just two in win. RJ is 5-2 with a 1.85 ERA in his 68 innings of work in Tacoma.

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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