Mariners Minor League Roundup

What's going on with each team down on the Mariners farm system? Who's hot? Who's ice cold? These are the type of questions you can find the answers to every week with InsidethePark's Mariners Minor League Roundup.

Tacoma Rainiers
17-20, 5.0 GB, Pacific Coast League, Pacific North

Call to Arms: The Rainiers' recent struggles (2-4 on current road trip) can be attributed to the inconsistencies of the starting rotation, where Felix Hernandez and Jorge Campillo have been the only constants. Southpaws Damian Moss (1-3, 3.51 ERA) and Andrew Lorraine (2-3, 4.78 ERA) have been hit and miss somewhat, while Rich Dorman (2-3, 6.49 ERA) has yet to regain the form that made him on of the better pitchers in the system a year ago.

Tacoma surrendered 6.7 runs per game in six games last week, and have dropped to 13th in the PCL in ERA at 4.75. Recently promoted lefty George Sherrill (2-3, 2.30 ERA) has anchored an improving bullpen while Jared Thomas (3.50 ERA, 22 K) and Chris Buglosvky (1-1, 3.68 ERA) have been steady arms.

Campillo (2-1, 3.05 ERA) was lifted in the third inning of his start last week, presumably to be prepared to make a spot start for the Mariners at Safeco Field later during the current homestand. But that isn't a certainty.

Cha Seung Baek has been placed back into the starting rotation after returning from the DL with a sore elbow. Baek made one relief appearance last week, going two innings and allowing an earned run.

Right-handed reliever Jeff Heaverlo's struggles have magnified to the point where he's having problems getting anyone out, let alone consistent outs. The league is hitting an astounding .440 off Heaverlo, who's allowed 33 hits in 16.1 innings.

Rainiers Leaders (through May 15)
Batting Average: C. Snelling, .405*
Home Runs: A. Rifkin, 10
RBI: A. Rifkin, 29
Steals: S. Choo, J. Strong, 7
Doubles: Three tied at 8
Starters ERA: F. Hernandez, 2.30
Bullpen ERA: J. Thomas, 3.50
Innings: F. Hernandez, 43.0
Strikeouts: F. Hernandez, 39
Wins: F. Hernandez, 5*
Saves: J. Heaverlo, 1

San Antonio Missions
19-18, 6.0 GB, Texas League, West Division

Missions Bats a Little Light: While the Missions rank fourth in the Texas League in ERA, and lead the league in both saves (11) and shutouts (3), the offense hasn't followed suit. San Antonio is hitting just .261 as a team and sports the worse strikeout-to-walk ratio in the league at 251-97. The Missions are also second-to-last in doubles and have the third-worst on-base percentage.

With the exception of T.J. Bohn, Nate Espy and to a lesser extent, Jesus Guzman, the Missions remind the casual observer way too much of the 2004 Seattle Mariners. Yikes.

Skipper Dave Brundage's crew did manage to score 4.6 runs per game last week, keeping them above .500 despite a 5-loss week.

Missions Leaders
Batting Average: T. Bohn, .331
Home Runs: J. Hoorelbeke, J. Nelson, 5
RBI: J. Nelson, 31
Steals: T. Bohn, 9
Doubles: T. Bohn, 11
Starters ERA: J. Sandoval, 2.50
Bullpen ERA: J. Harris, 2.73
Innings: T. Oldham, 41.0
Strikeouts: J. Huber, 28
Wins: J. Harris, B. Livingston, 3
Saves: S. Green, 10

Inland Empire 66ers
13-23, 7.0 GB, California League, South Division

Big Week for Sixers Sticks: Inland's bats woke up from a mediocre state of hibernation (.256 average through May 8) to hit .316 in six games last week. The 66ers went 3-3 last week but remain in fifth place in the California League's South Division, which brings one to ask, "How did they not win more than half of their games last week when they hit .316!?" Hitting .316 is fine and dandy but when you post a .428 slugging percentage during the same timeframe and go just 9-for-34 with runners in scoring position, it won't often translate into wins.

Led by first baseman Bryan LaHair's four-homer, 10 RBI week, the middle of the order produced consistently as Adam Jones and Wladimir Balentien had strong showings.

The Sixers rank seventh in the league in runs scored, seventh in average and second-to-last in doubles. More consistency in the extra-base hit department would allow the 66ers' starters a little bit of cushion – something they haven't had much of all season long.

66ers Leaders
Batting Average (Min. 25 PA) : M. Rogelstad, .367*
Home Runs: W. Balentien, 8
RBI: B. LaHair, 26
Steals: M. Nesbit, W. Balentien, 4
Doubles: M. Rogelstad, 9
Starters ERA: J. Mackintosh, 2.59
Bullpen ERA: C. Key, 2.28
Innings: J. Mackintosh, 48.2
Strikeouts: M. Moorhead, 34
Wins: C. Key, 4
Saves: Four tied at 4

Wisconsin Timber Rattlers
20-18, 5.0 GB, Midwest League, Western Division

Rattlers Bitten by Cold Bats: After spending much of the first six weeks as the darlings of the organization, the Timber Rattlers' bats have gone ice cold. In seven games last week, the T-Rats hit just .234/.297/.355 and managed just 4.4 runs per game.

Wisconsin remains two games over .500 with a 20-18 record, good for third in their division.

Manager Scott Steinmann's club is staying afloat on the strength of the league's fourth best pitching staff (3.59 ERA), despite ranking third worst in walks issued with 154. Right-hander Mumba Rivera ranks third in the Midwest League with five wins and Jason Snyder ranks third with 49 innings pitched.

Matt Tuiasosopo has tallied 26 strikeouts in his last 28 games but is still hitting .323. The right-handed hitter has gone 95 at-bats without a long ball, the longest drought in his young career.

Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera is making up for lost time after returning from an ankle sprian that cost the glove wizard most of the month of April. Cabrera is playing three infield positions (2B, SS, 3B), flawlessly, no less, but is grabbing the headlines with his bat. The Venezuelan native hit .345 for the week and is batting .354 on the season with two home runs and nine RBI. The switch-hitter has seven multi-hit games since April 29 and his .532 slugging percentage may suggest he has a bit more pop in his game than he showed a year ago.

Timber Rattlers Leaders
Batting Average: M. Tuiasosopo, .327
Home Runs: R. Johnson, 4
RBI: Y. Chen, 16; M. Tuiasosopo, 12
Steals: Y. Chen, 24
Doubles: R. Johnson, O. Navarro, 8
Starters ERA: M. Rivera, 2.66; J. Snyder, 2.93
Bullpen ERA: C. James, 0.00; C. Bello, 1.85
Innings: J. Snyder, 43.0
Strikeouts: J. Snyder, 27
Wins: M. Rivera, 5
Saves: E. O'Flaherty, 5

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