Minor League Players of the Week

InsidethePark.com is proud to announce the Seattle Mariners' minor league players of the week for week two of the young 2005 season. This week's top pitcher is a name many people are starting to recognize, but the week's top hitter award goes to someone few have heard much about.

InsidethePark.com's Position Player of the Week

Nate Espy, 1B – San Antonio
Espy signed as a minor league free agent this winter and made this week's award a lot easier to figure than it usually ends up being. The 27-year-old Georgia native piled up 11 hits in 23 at-bats for a whopping .478 average over the past week. Espy hit his third home run of the year and collected four runs batted in, while scoring nine runs and drawing nine walks. The former Philadelphia Phillies draft pick smacked two doubles and a triple and had two or more hits in four of seven games for the Missions.

Espy is hitting .305 on the season, with three homers and eight RBI, and is sporting a .459 on-base percentage.

Honorable Mention

Jesse Hoorelbeke, DH – San Antonio
Hoorelbeke hit .455 for the week (10-22) with a home run and eight runs batted in, while anchoring the Missions' batting order and protecting the player of the week, Espy, in the lineup. The 27-year-old is hitting .310 with three home runs and 12 runs batted in for the Missions this season.

Chris Snelling, OF - Tacoma
Snelling returned to the field last week and made his presence felt immediately by collecting seven hits in 17 at-bats (.412) in his first full week of play. Snelling split time as the DH and left fielder and drove in five runs, including a game-winner in a victory over Fresno on April 18 and a clutch game-tying double on April 21 in a win versus Sacremento. Snelling is hitting .417 on the year, with six RBI and a gaudy .516 on-base percentage.

Wladimir Balentien, OF – Inland Empire
Another week, two more bombs for the Impaler. Big Bad Wlad smacked his sixth and seventh home runs of the year in back-to-back games this past week, a number that leads both the Mariners organization and the California League. The 20-year-old totalled four multi-hit games of the seven he started. Balentien is now hitting .299 with nine RBI in 16 games.

Keep An Eye On...

Jamie Bubela, OF – San Antonio
Bubela has returned from knee surgery and after a slow start he's on a hot streak in the Texas League. Bubela, 26, tallied seven hits in 21 at-bats (.333) last week, smacking two home runs and driving in seven. Regaining the speed that made him the player he is, Bubela swiped two bases and legged out a triple as he compiled three multi-hit games. Bubela is hitting .211 with two home runs, eight RBI and three steals on the season.

T.J. Bohn, OF – San Antonio
Bohn hit .364 (8-22) this week and hit safely in each of the six games he started. The 25-year-old outfielder scored six runs and stole three more bases to bring his total to six on the year. The Bohn had three multi-hit games, including a three-hit effort in April 20. The M's 30th round pick in the 2002 draft is hitting .333 on the year with a home run and five RBI.

Jon Nelson, OF – San Antonio
Nelson had a hit-and-miss kind of week; the 25-year-old had a two-homer game on April 22, and an 0-for-4, four strikeout night on April 20. The right-handed hitting Utah native is hitting just .246 for the year, but has three long balls and a Texas League-leading 17 RBI.

InsidethePark.com's Pitcher of the Week

Jason Snyder, RHP – Wisconsin
Snyder won his third straight start on April 20, going 7.2 shutout innings and allowing just three hits. The right-hander walked just two and struck out seven in a 2-0 victory over Burlington. The 22-year-old was 3-2 with a 2.47 ERA last season, split between the Arizona Rookie League and the Northwest League.

Snyder improved to 3-0 with the strong start versus the Kansas City Royals' Midwest League affiliate. The M's 17th rounder in 2003 is off to the kind of start that could propel the 6-foot-6, 220-pound Dixie College product quickly through the system. Snyder baffles hitters (.200 average) with a fastball clocked in the 89-92 mph range, mixed with a plus curve ball and a developing change. In 18.2 innings, Snyder has allowed just 13 hits en route to a stingy 2.41 ERA in three starts.

Honorable Mention

Jeff Harris, RHP – San Antonio
Harris was one of several Independent League signings last summer that former Mariners' scout Charlie Kerfeld found to fill the Tacoma Rainiers roster as the big-league callups kept piling up. Harris was the best of the bunch and was kept around this winter when he re-signed with the Mariners. This past week, the 30-year-old right-hander made three relief appearances and went 6.2 scoreless, allowing just four hits. Harris walked just one and struck out six as he picked up two victories. On the season, Harris is 2-0 with a 0.93 ERA and seven strikeouts over 9.2 innings.

Emiliano Fruto, RHP – San Antonio
Fruto is serving as the long man in San Antonio and had a great week in that role over the past seven games. The 20-year-old went eight innings, allowing one earned run on five hits while striking out four and walking just one. On the season, Fruto has held opponents to a .202 batting average in 12 innings pitched.

Felix Hernandez, RHP – Tacoma
Hernandez picked up his second loss of the year versus Sacramento on April 19, but his six innings were still nothing short of sensational. Even after surrendering three earned runs, King Felix's line was impressive. Allowing just four hits, Hernandez did walk four, but struck out eight, five on wicked change-ups that completely baffled the Rivercats hitters all night long. The 19-year-old is 1-2 on the season with a 1.59 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 17 innings.

Keep An Eye On...

Eric O' Flaherty, LHP – Wisconsin
The southpaw is adapting to a new role this season, after beginning his career as a starter. A back problem has pushed the Walla Walla natibe to the bullpen for the time being, and O'Flaherty has responded very well. In four scoreless innings last week, the 20-year-old picked up two saves while allowing just four hits. O'Flaherty has yet to allow a run this season in seven innings of work, and has three saves to his credit.

Craig James, RHP – Wisconsin
James has been every bit as good as any reliever in the system thus far, tallying eight strikeouts in 7.2 innings. Last week, James worked three shutout frames, allowing just two hits on his way to a save and a win. The Florida native is 2-0 this season and hasn't allowed an earned run in five appearances.

Chris Buglovsky, RHP – Tacoma
The right-hander has been used a lot early this season while the Rainiers' starting rotation has been in shambles with the release of Dan Reichert, the struggles of Rich Dorman and the injury to Cha-Seung Baek. The 25-year-old spun four solid innings last week, yielding just one earned run on four hits. Buglovsky may be the biggest reason why Tacoma Rainiers' skipper Dan Rohn still has his hair – and his sanity. Bugs has been instrumental in saving the Rainiers' bullpen from severe overwork. His 1-0 record and 2.79 ERA are just the beginning.

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