Mariners Minor League Roundup

The time has come for another afternoon stroll around the Seattle Mariners farm system. See how the future of the Major League club is performing from the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers to the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers of the Midwest League. And of course, everywhere in between.

Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers, Pacific Coast League:
The Rainiers rebounded from a tough first week to win all but two games this week, including five straight to begin things on Monday. Tacoma outscored their opponents 35-25 this past week, scoring five runs a game and hitting .272 with six home runs.

The Rainiers pitching staff stiffened up somewhat after a bit of a lackluster first weekend, posting a more respectable 3.80 ERA in for the week, and holding the opposition to three runs or less in four games.

The offense was led by 1B A.J. Zapp (11-30, 2 HR, 5 RBI), CF Jamal Strong (7-12, 2 RBI, 3 runs), and SS Jose Lopez (8-21, 2 RBI). DH Bucky Jacobsen won Friday night's game with a two-run single in the seventh to put the Rainiers ahead for good. Catchers Wiki Gonzalez, and Pat Borders, 2B Mickey Lopez, and OF Hiram Bocachica, all homered during the five game winning streak, raising the club's season total to 13.

The Rainiers rotation went five plus innings in all but one start and went into the seventh for the first two times of the year. The bullpen was solid though fairly inconsistent all week, especially considering the number of innings being covered night in and night out. Lefty George Sherrill continues to throw seeds at right-hand hitters and the sweeping slider against left-handers. The club regained righty J.J. Putz over the weekend to bolster the relief corps. Putz spent a few days with the Mariners while Rafael Soriano was sent to Inland Empire to build up his arm strength. The 26-year-old Putz rejoined the Rainiers after the M's activated 3B Scott Spiezio. The Rainiers are now 6-5 on the year.

Up Next:
April 19- Rafael Soriano vs.Tucson
April 20- Clint Nageotte vs. Las Vegas
April 21- Travis Blackley vs. Las Vegas
April 22- Matt Thornton vs. Las Vegas
April 23- Cha Seung Baek vs. Las Vegas
April 24- Bobby Madritsch @ Edmonton
April 25- Clint Nageotte @ Edmonton


Double-A San Antonio, Texas League:
For a team that surrendered as many runs as it scored, the Missions were as efficient as a team can possibly be. San Antonio rode the victory train to a 5-2 record for the week, hitting .299 and posting a 4.14 ERA.

The Missions improve to 7-4 on the season and were led offensively by DH John Lindsey (7-12, 2 HR, 4 RBI), and OF Shin-soo Choo (7-20, HR, 4 RBI). Choo and Lindsey fill half of the middle portion of the lineup, and are creating a similar scare tactic that last year's Missions club sent up to the plate.

The pitching staff was given a big lift when newcomer Chris Buglovsky spun six scoreless innings, allowing just two hits. Fellow right-hander Gustavo Martinez tossed four stellar innings of his own allowing just an unearned run after walking four. Martinez did not allow a hit and struck out five. Right-handed starter Juan Done went five solid innings, allowing five hits and an earned run in a 3-1 win over Midland. Southpaw Troy Cate went six more tough innings allowing one earned run. Cate, 23, is cruising along as the staff ace and taking care of business. Jared Hoerman, last year's save leader, picked up save no. 3 on Sunday.

Up Next:
April 19- Troy Cate vs. Midland
April 20- Chris Buglovsky vs. Midland
April 21- Elvis Perez vs. Midland
April 22- Juan Done vs. El Paso
April 23- Gustavo Martinez vs. El Paso
April 24- Troy Cate vs. El Paso


Advanded-A Inland Empire 66ers, California League:
The Sixty-sixers sure upheld their end of the organizational bargain by winning all six games of the week. The Inland Empire crew didn't just simply win six games. They dominated with far superior pitching and timely hits.

Not only did the Empire outscore their opponents 30-10 while hitting .281 as a team, the pitching staff was flat out disgusting in allowing only seven earned runs all week long en route to a 1.15 ERA. The starting rotation came in with a minuscule 0.90 ERA for the week.

The offensive attack was led by tablesetters Juan Gonzalez (7-22, 2 runs, 2 RBI), and Ismael Castro (5-18, 5 runs, 4 RBI), as well as Catcher Rene Rivera (6-14, 6 RBI) and OF T.J. Bohn (6-21, HR, 4 RBI). Bohn also added two more outfield assists, showing off his cannon arm in center field.

The pitching staff is full of stars and none will go without mention. Left-hander Bobby Livingston extended his scoreless innings streak to 14.2 with a 6.2 inning outing in a 3-2 win over Bakersfield. The 66ers ace allowed just four hits while striking out five.

Phenom Felix Hernandez, 18, fired five scoreless innings, striking out ten, in relief of Rafael Soriano, joining Inland for a rehab start.

Right-handers Juan Sandoval (6 ip, 2 H, 0 ER, 2 K), and T.A. Fulmer (6 ip, 3 H, 0 ER, 8 K) are top of the rotation starters posing as No. 3 and No. 4 staff members.

Up Next:
April 19- Bobby Livingston @ Lancaster
April 20- Rafael Soriano @ Lancaster
April 21- Felix Hernandez @ Lancaster
April 22- T.A. Fulmer @ Lancaster
April 23- Rich Dorman vs. Lancaster
April 24- Bobby Livingston vs. Lancaster
April 25- Cesar Jimenez vs. Lancaster,br>

Intermediate-A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, Midwest League:
Ever wondered how a team could lose three of seven games in a week where the pitching staff boasts a 2.29 ERA? Ever wondered how a team could win four of seven games while hitting .193 with just four home runs? For the answers to both questions, look no further than the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. An invisible offense and a pitching rotation that is taking full advantage of the pitcher-friendly confines of the Midwest League, make for an effective combo thus far for the T-Rats.

The absent offense was fueled somewhat by the home run power of OF's Waldimir Balentien, and Samuel Bradford, Jr., Catcher Chris Collins, and leadoff man Josh Womack.

The pitching is endless in the M's system and it surely doesn't stop in Appleton. Ace lefty Thomas Oldham continued his fantastic start to the 2004 season, adding five shutout innings to his season tally. Right-hander Michael Moorhead went six shutout innings, allowing just two hits in his second solid start of the year. Nibaldo Acosta did his best to keep the Rattlers in the game when they were no-hit on Monday. Acosta's seven scoreless innings were his best start of his professional career. The Wisconsin staff as a whole held opponents scoreless for 22 straight innings and tossed 51 scoreless innings of the 62 pitched during the week.

Up Next:
April 19- Thomas Oldham @ Burlington
April 20- Michael Moorhead vs. Burlington
April 21- Ryan Feierabend vs. Burlington
April 22- Nibaldo Acosta vs. Burlington
April 23- Eric O'Flaherty vs. Burlington
April 24- Thomas Oldham @ Beloit
April 25- Michael Moorhead @ Beloit



Jason A. Churchill resides in Tacoma, Wash., where his father is his best friend and his nephew continues to develop the fastball-splitter combo that he hopes to have mastered by age 3. Jason enjoys the failures of the New York Yankees and despises the slider speed bat. Feedback is always welcome at JasonAChurchill@InsidethePark.com.

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