Mariners Minors Transaction Update: June 1-15

Nowhere on the internet today can you find a thorough breakdown of all the Mariners minor league transactions that even compares to the one InsidethePark's Joseph A. Yencich does twice a month. In this installment, "Mr. Transaction" provides a rundown of all the movement from down on the farm, spanning Single-A through Triple-A.


May 29:
-RHP Rich Dorman placed on the DL

Reliever turned starter in 2004, Dorman struggled with command of his fastball in April and never got rolling in the Rainiers rotation. Once he began to find a bit of a groove, the right-hander injured his finger and was placed on the DL. Luck is not on his side, at least not yet this season.

May 30:
-RHP Sean Green promoted from San Antonio
-RHP Oliver Arias sent to Inland Empire
-C Miguel Olivo optioned to Tacoma

After some struggles early on, Green pitched well enough with the Missions to get himself named to the Texas League All-Star Team for the Western Division, posting a 2.96 ERA with 14 saves in just 21 appearances. Once he settles into life with the Rainiers, he could slide into a setup or even the closer's role as the need comes up.

The system's designated traveling pitcher for this season, Arias made what might be his last set of major flights before he finally gets to settle into Peoria or Everett for the rest of the year. The hitters in High-A and Triple-A seriously overmatched him, as he had a 7.27 ERA between the two stops and walked almost a batter per inning. If he's learned anything from the experience, then the next group of hitters he'll be facing won't be such a challenge.

Even though he's been demoted to Tacoma and the Mariners have drafted catcher Jeff Clement in the first round this year, the front office still insists that Olivo is part of their future catching plans. Now, if only he could start hitting. Olivo has gone 8-for-42 (.190) since arriving in Triple-A, and while three of those hits left the park and one more went for extra bases, it would be nice to see some more of the garden variety hits mixed in there too.

May 31:
-SS Mike Morse called up to Seattle
-SS Wilson Valdez designated for assignment

All the Mariners asked for in promoting Morse was just a bit more offense than Valdez had been providing. He's done that and more in his time in Seattle thus far. There have been a few "rookie mistakes" on the field, like throwing to the wrong cutoff man, but that sort of thing will iron itself out with more time and experience. As far as giving the team a boost, he's done just that.

When the Mariners sent Valdez to Tacoma, it was hard to tell how the middle infield would be set up with both him and Betancourt as capable defensive shortstops playing on the same roster. The only game Valdez played in, Betancourt had off, but that issue was solved the next day when Valdez was traded to the Padres, who will give him a better chance of keeping that major league dream alive.

June 2:
-IF Scott Spiezio begins rehab assignment
-SS Yuniesky Betancourt promoted up to Tacoma

Oblique injuries are notorious for how long they take to heal, and Spiezio's case was no exception, as it took him about a month and-a-half before he could even get into a game again. But after hitting .346/.367/.577 in seven games for Tacoma, he's been sidelined with a groin injury, which is another one that tends to take quite a while to heal. There's no telling when he'll be back at this point.

Betancourt was starting to heat up again in San Antonio when a space opened up for him in Tacoma, where he's manned the field with Jose Lopez as the potential Mariners' double play combo of the future. While his defense is undeniably top tier, his hitting is a little shaky. Sometimes he's the hottest hitter on the team, if not the entire league, and sometimes he can't buy a base hit. It averages out to nice enough numbers, but it is cause for concern and scouts would like to see him hitting on a regular basis.

June 3:
-SS Wilson Valdez outrighted to Tacoma

June 9:
-2B Jose Lopez activated from the disabled list
-OF Greg Jacobs released
-SS Wilson Valdez traded to the San Diego Padres
-RHP Michael Bumstead acquired in trade with San Diego Padres

Now that he's been given ample time to rest, Lopez shouldn't have to worry about his hands getting sore from swinging the bat, knock on wood (just not with a hand). In games since coming back, Lopez has been trying to find his stroke, but Morse hasn't been doing too badly in his first major league stint, so the M's might not be as inclined to bring Jose up just yet.

The two drug-related suspensions and various inactive stretches already had Jacobs in the doghouse coming into the season, but when struggling to hit .203/.238/.373 in 16 games with the Rainiers , it only raised further questions. Having enough outfield depth to not worry about what impact a 28-year-old minor leaguer could have, the Mariners gave Jacobs his release.

Bumstead was one of two minor league relievers acquired in exchange for Valdez. He can start or relieve, so he's not a bad player to have around the team, but "erratic" would be one of the ways you could describe his career. He's pitched for about two teams per season throughout and at each of his stops, his ERA has either been below 3.00, or around or above 5.00. There's no middle ground there. If the good Bumstead shows up, he could be a valuable pickup. If not…

June 13:
-3B Justin Leone reinstated from the disabled list
-C Bryce Terveen sent to extended spring training

It's been a long time coming back for Leone, who had missed well over a month by the time he was reinstated. The injury to his hand from getting hit by a line drive turned out to be worse than originally expected, and while the bone itself didn't break, it ended up being bruised pretty badly. He was back in the lineup and playing third base Tuesday morning, and went 0-for-3 at the plate.

With both Olivo and Ryan Christianson trying to get as much playing time as they can, it's been getting harder and harder to find any for Terveen. It seemed like the only time he was catching was when he had to warm up whatever relief pitcher would be coming into the game next. As a result, the M's sent him back to their facilities in Peoria, where there might be a little more time for him to practice than in Tacoma.


May 30:
-C Rene Rivera called up to Seattle
-C Luis Oliveros promoted from Inland Empire

Without any other viable backups in the system (and having no desire to go out and make a trade for another temporary fix), the Mariners went with the kid again and called up the 21-year-old Rivera to be the team's number two catcher. Rivera's provided his usual slick defense in what few games he's gotten into, but his bat has been a surprise, as he hit .421/.421/.526 over his first five games, despite playing like more of a catch-and-throw guy at various points in his minor league career.

Oliveros has been taking the trip back and forth between Inland Empire and San Antonio as has been needed with Rivera's promotions, but he just seems to like hitting in the Texas League better than in California. This is a bit of surprise, considering he posted his best single season numbers there in 2003, but he's batted .371/.389/.429 (stats through Tuesday) since joining the Missions, and they need whatever help they can get.

June 2:
-IF Eric Blakeley arrives from Tacoma

It would be too much to ask Blakeley to start playing like Betancourt on the field, but he works out well as a utility infielder and in doing so, he pushes Eddie Menchaca, a good defensive shortstop in his own right, out of the same role and back to his more natural position. The Missions are taking a little hit in their offense either way, but their defensive strengths shouldn't suffer too much.

June 9:
-RHP R.D. Spiehs acquired in trade with San Diego Padres

For a guy who's been a reliever his whole career, Spiehs doesn't seem like that bad a prospect, this year aside. He had a combined ERA north of six on two levels with the Pads this year, but for his career coming into the season, it was 3.47 over three years with San Francisco and San Diego. He has a low 90s fastball, a sharp slider and a decent change-up, so it seems like he has the stuff to be successful.


June 1:
-RHP Mumba Rivera promoted from Wisconsin
-C Justin Ruchti reinstated from the disabled list

When a pitcher undefeated as a 24-year-old in the Midwest League through 10 starts and the system's a little thin on pitching, it's time for an all-star nomination and promotion. Rivera got both, and is now taking the hill every five days in California, but he's been plagued by a little problem as he's gone through this year. Namely, he's been walking a lot of batters, and while he could survive on that when Midwest players couldn't get a hit off him, it's getting a little more difficult to survive with the tougher competition. It's only two starts in though, and he should adjust.

It was only a minor ankle injury that was holding Ruchti back from playing, so it's no real surprise that he came back from the disabled list right on schedule. He's one of the best defensive catchers in the system, calls a great game, and pitchers absolutely love to throw to him, but his offense is anemic, even for a catcher. He'll have to start turning it around if he ever wants to make it as a player.

June 9:
-RHP Oliver Arias sent to extended spring training
-RHP Phil Wilson arrives from San Antonio

Wilson signed with the Mariners after the Devil Rays released him, having picked him up from the Angels in the minor league Rule 5 draft this winter. Quite a journey, but he wasn't quite ready for Double-A, so it's back to the California League, where he's spent parts of all five of his minor league seasons. He was a third round pick out of high school by the Angels back in 1999, but just hasn't fully adjusted to professional baseball yet.


June 1:
-LHP Julio Santiago called up from extended spring training

Santiago blew into Peoria like a desert storm last season, raining down 12 strikeouts and then vanishing without a trace after just 10 innings. When the T-Rats needed a starting pitcher after Mumba's promotion, they called up manager Scott Steinman's former club in Arizona and now, Santiago is part of their five-man rotation. He's gone 0-1 in his first two starts, so he's struggled a little against the more challenging competition, but as the Columbian native starts to adjust, stay tuned for more storm warnings.

June 7:
-RHP Mark Lowe placed on the disabled list
-RHP Randy Frye called up from extended spring training

Three and two-thirds innings into a start on June 4, Lowe was hit on his pitching hand on a drive up the middle by the Southwest Michigan third baseman. Lowe managed to slow down the ball enough to get the out, but the price was the broken bone as two x-rays later revealed. Don't expect Lowe to back in a game for at least a month, maybe longer, depending on how bad the break was.

Speaking of bad breaks, Frye had one of his own when he missed the whole of last season with a shoulder injury. Frye was Michigan's top prep player in 2002 and was drafted in the fourth round by the Mariners as a result, but he hasn't quite lived up to the selection so far, posting a career 6.02 in two seasons split between Peoria and Everett, in large part due to an awful debut season. He's another candidate to jump into the rotation if need be, but they may take it slow, considering his shoulder.

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