Minor League Roundup

InsidethePark.com's Troy Sowden graces us with the presence of his latest edition of the minor league wrap-up. Check out which affiliates are in the pennant races as they prepare for the final 40 games of the season.

As I write this, the news of Edgar Martinez's retirement still has me a bit shook up. Simply put, no player has had an impact on the Mariner's history like Mr. Mariner, nor has anyone done it with such class and grace. As irony would see fit, it is time to take a look at those who could impact the future, while savoring the countless sweet memories Edgar gave all of us in the past.

Triple-A: Tacoma Rainiers, Pacific Coast League
Season: 63-49 (1st in Northern Division)
Week of August 2-8: 4-2
Still clinging to a half-game lead over Portland, Tacoma seems determined to stay in the pennant race no matter how many players they lose to the big club. This week they got an arm back from Seattle, as the struggling Travis Blackley was sent down to regain his confidence, not to mention his control. His return to Tacoma was far from glorious, as he gave up eight runs in 5.2 innings, but even with the poor showing he still leads the PCL in ERA at 3.25.

Ryan Christianson hit at a .385 clip for the week with an on base percentage of .455. The designated hitter is now batting .294 since being called up to Tacoma.

Outfielder Jeremy Reed had a typical Jeremy Reed week, garnering hits in all five games he played in as well as adding his fourth home run as a Rainier. For the week, Reed hit a solid .318/.348/.455.

Greg Dobbs picked up a two walks, (surprise!), doubling his total in Tacoma. His .360/.407/.480 totals for the week were quite impressive.

Greg Jacobs' power surge has continued, as the outfielder smacked another home run on Monday to give him a total of 14 this season between San Antonio and Tacoma. He also raised his batting average 17 points to .308 to go with a nice .370 on-base percentage.

Also of note, Bucky Jacobsen still ranks third in the PCL in home runs with 26, despite having been in a Mariner uniform for more than three weeks now.

Double-A: San Antonio Missions, Texas League
Second Half: 22-20 (1st in West Division)
Week of August 2-8: 1-4
The Missions have now lost 11 of their last 17 games, yet they still have a two game lead in their division. This week, they scored only 10 runs in five contests, an offensive drought of Mariner-esque proportions. It's clearly time for their bats to come alive if they plan on winning the second-half title.

Even with a recent cold spell, Shin-soo Choo's name is all over the Texas League's statistical leaderboards. His .306 batting average, ranks fifth, while his seven triples place him second, and his 68 RBI place him eighth. The 27 steals rank fourth. A top prospect since he first signed out of Pusan, South Korea, Choo is putting together his finest all-around season as a pro.

Like most of the Missions hitters, SS Michael Morse had a rough week, picking up just four hits in 19 tries. He did add his third Texas League home run, giving him 14 total for the season.

The Missions pitching staff has been somewhat inconsistent of late as well, but has clearly outperformed the offense. Chris Buglovsky was the tough-luck loser against Round Rock Friday. The 24-year-old right-hander surrendered but one unearned run in eight strong innings, but the bats could not put any runs on the board as the Missions fell 1-0. With the effort, Buglovsky moved to third in the Texas League with a 3.22 ERA.

On Thursday, fellow right-hander Rich Dorman picked up San Antone's lone win for the week. The Oregon native went seven innings, giving up just two hits and one run while striking out 10. Batters whiffing versus Dorman is nothing new, as he sits in fourth in the Texas League with 109 punch-outs on the year.

Advanced-A: Inland Empire 66ers, California League
Second Half: 25-19 (2.5 GB)
Week of August 2-8: 5-2
The 66ers recent surge in the standings continues, as they are now all alone in second place. As has been the story of late, plenty of strong hitting complemented the talented pitching staff and vaulting Inland Empire up the California League standings.

On the hill, newcomer Jon Huber immediately made his presence felt. Huber, the 23-year-old right-hander acquired from San Diego in the Dave Hansen trade, made his first appearance Monday in long-relief. His 4.2 scoreless innings were enough to vault him into the starting rotation. Of course, the 10 strikeouts didn't hurt either. Saturday versus Visalia he made his first start with the 66ers, striking out seven more in 5.1 two-hit innings. Visalia did manage to plate three runs against Huber, which crushed his ERA which stands at 2.70.

Juan Sandoval has quietly put together an impressive season. The Dominican Republic native picked up two wins this week to jump his record over .500 for the year at 10-9. His 3.83 ERA is good for ninth in the California League and his 141 innings pitched is second on the team to Bobby Livingston.

Speaking of Bobby, the lefty 'upped his record to 10-4, as he picked up the win in the wild 14-9 victory over Rancho Cucamonga. Livingston yielded seven runs in 6 2/3 innings, but only three of them were earned as the 66ers defense committed three errors on the day. The 21-year-old Texan is enjoying a breakout season, as one look at the Texas League pitching leaders will tell you. Livingston is second in the Texas League with 122 strikeouts, fifth in ERA at 3.63, and his 10 wins ties him for third.

Thomas Oldham is yet another 66er pitcher making waves. In just his second start after being called up from Wisconsin, Oldham scattered six hits over five innings and held Visalia without an earned run. He struck out eight while walking three.

At the plate, Jesus Guzman continued his breakthrough year at the plate, as he hit .354 for the week. The 20-year-old third basemen added his fifth home run and nine RBI, not to mention three stolen bases. The young Venezuelan now sits at .302/.388/.428 in his first season in the U.S.

Since signing a contract with the Mariners back in May, SS Erick Monzon has come out of nowhere to be an offensive force. Another great week for Monzon saw him hit .375 while adding his sixth home run in his 22 games at Inland. The Tampa University alum now sits at .308/.356/.603 since signing before the draft as a fifth-year senior. The M's apparently got a steal.

Intermediate-A: Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, Midwest League
Second Half: 20-23 (7th Western Division, 9 GB)
Week of August 2-8: 4-3
The Timber Rattlers split a four-game set with the league's best team, Kane County. Adam Jones was the star of the game in the 5-2 win on Sunday. The 19-year-old went 3-4 with a home run, two RBI, and a stolen base. For the year, the shortstop with the howitzer arm is now hitting .267/.322/.415.

Bryan LaHair also homered this week, giving him five since being brought up from Everett. The left-handed hitting first baseman is showing legitimate power potential, with 14 doubles adding to his home run total to give him a slugging percentage of over .500.

Brandon Moorhead started his professional career as the AquaSox closer last season, but he was moved into the rotation to begin this year, and the results have been promising. After a seven- inning effort in which he struck out 10 to beat Clinton Wednesday, Moorhead's ERA now sits at 3.34. More importantly, he has struck out 116 batters in 102.1 innings, while walking just 37. If he can duplicate those numbers at the higher levels, he may never pitch another game in relief.

Another Rattler's hurler who's compiling a solid season after moving out of the pen is Jason Mackintosh. The 24-year-old was the Midwest League Pitcher of the Week two weeks ago, and justified that honor by striking out nine versus one walk over seven innings to open the Kane County series Thursday. Moorhead yielded but one earned run, picking up the win to raise his record to 5-4.

Short-Season-A: Everett Aqua Sox, Northwest League
Season: 23-13 (1st in West Division)
Week of July 26-August 1: 5-2
There's nothing like calling up a part of the northwest's royal family to jumpstart ticket sales, and the call-up of SS Matt Tuiasosopo from Arizona did not disappoint at the gate. A record Aqua Sox crowd of 5,104 showed up to catch Matt play in the double-header on Saturday.

Obviously, as the son of former NFL lineman Manu and brother of legendary University of Washington quarterback Marques, and current UW starting fullback Zach, Matt arrived in Everett with plenty of expectations. Oh yeah, that $2.1 million signing bonus and torris start in Peoria may have turned a few heads, too. Apparently immune to the pressure, he went out and did exactly what we have come to expect from someone with his surname; produce.

In 14 at-bats, the 18-year-old smacked two doubles and a home run, and added four singles. Overall, he has posted a sick .500/.500/.857 line in his first taste of A-ball.

Even better for Aqua Sox fans, the man they call Tui is not the only attraction at Everett Memorial Stadium. In the midst of all the Tuiasosopo hype, fellow SS Asdrubal Cabrera had another incredible week as if to scream, "Hey, don't forget about me!" The Venezuelan has "Gold Glove" written all over him, and he can hit too, as he showed in convincing fashion last week to the tune of .462/.563/.846. For the season the 18-year-old is hitting .296 while getting on-base 35 percent of the time.

In five games, first baseman Brandon Green hit .400/.455/.700, including three doubles and a home run. Plus, Green displayed his athleticism by picking up his seventh and eighth stolen bases.

Mike Wilson also had a strong week. The outfielder's batting stroke was good for a .333 average, including a home run and five RBI. On the base paths he added five runs scored and two thefts.

Infielder Yung-Chi Chen is off for a few weeks to play for his native Taiwan in the Olympics. He leaves as the Northwest League's leading base-stealer with 22, and he's far enough ahead he may be able to win the title upon his return. That is, of course, unless he is sent to Wisconsin when gets back, as has been rumored.

Another solid outing leaves Shawn Nottingham at the top of the Northwest League leaders in most pitching categories. In 56 innings the left-hander has placed himself first in wins (6), third in ERA (1.93), and first in strikeouts (57). Closer Aaron Trolia is second in the league with six saves.

Rookie: Peoria Mariners, Arizona League
Season: 7-4 (2 GB)
Week of July 26-August 1: 5-1
The rookie M's did not seem to notice the promotion of their most recognizable player. The oft-injured Chris Snelling takes over that title, for now, but he too should be promoted before long. On a rehab assignment to get back into playing shape, the outfielder has had no trouble rediscovering his stroke in his first seven games, as a sweet .375/.531.583 line suggests. Perhaps most importantly, Snelling has already regained his patient approach at the plate, and he's walked five times while striking out just once.

Daniel Santin, a 2003 draft-and-follow, is starting to turn some heads. The catcher's slugging percentage of .547 is good for third in the league, and his batting average (.354) and on base percentage (.427) are both very impressive as well. You have to take Rookie League stats with a grain of salt, but the left-handed swinging Miami native is compiling numbers that are hard to ignore.

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