2005 Everett AquaSox Preview

The full season leagues are at the halfway point and the First Year Player's Draft is complete. With the temperatures rising in the Puget Sound area, that can only mean one thing. No, the apocalypse is not upon us. But the Everett AquaSox are opening their season at home tonight at Everett Memorial Stadium.


This season's squad will house just five returning players from last year's club, but will have seven members of the M's 2005 draft class, five members from the class of 2004 and six from the class of 2003.

Of the drafted, only one, 2003 second rounder Jeff Flaig, was taken in the first three rounds and only two others were taken prior to round five – left-hand pitchers Robert Fagan, the M's fourth rounder in 2003, and 2005 fourth rounder Justin Thomas.

But the 2005 Everett AquaSox are not without prospects and solid all-around talent, and the roster can – and will – change as the most recent crop of draftees continue to ink contracts and receive their assignments for the summer.

Catcher Daniel Santin, a 23rd rounder in 2003, may be the most intriguing of the young group. Santin, a left-handed hitting Miami native, put up gaudy numbers in the Arizona Rookie League last season, hitting .325/.384/.506 with four homers in 41 games. The 19-year-old impressed the organization enough to play in three games with the Sox at the tail-end of the season.

Another returnee, Brian Schweiger, 22, will share the catching duties with Santin. Schweiger hit .264 in 32 games for the AquaSox a year ago. Taiwanese product Chao Wu may or may not see time with the Sox and could open his season in Peoria.

Right-handers Edgar Guaramoto 20, and Marwin Vega, 18, and left-hander Fagan, 20, have the biggest upsides on the mound for Everett, and Thomas, 21, and right-hander Eric Carter, 21, should provide the staff with leadership and steady efforts.

The Sox are well-balanced in the pitching department, with six left-handers at their disposal, including '05 draftees David Asher, an 8th round pick out of Florida International, and Adam Brandt, the M's 28th rounder last June.

Brandt, 23, was 2-1 with a 3.38 ERA in the Arizona Rookie League last season, saving four games and striking out 26 in 21.1 innings.

The infield will consist of Hyung Cho, 22, Flaig, 20, Dean Zorn, 18, Luis Valbuena, 19, and Bryan Sabatella, 20. Cho hit .298 in 42 games in the system last season and played in 13 games in the organization this season.

Flaig is slated to share time at first base with Sabatella, who can also play third base. Zorn, an Australian native signed two winters ago, is likely to see a lot of time at the hot corner and possibly shortstop.

Valbuena is a middle infielder likely slated for second base, leaving Cho as a possibility at shortstop as well as second and third base.

The outfield is likely to see a starting trio of 23-year-old returnee Trevor Heid in center, 2004 draftee David Hall, 21, in left and draft-and-follow signee Michael Saunders in right. The 18-year-old Saunders signed this spring and might be the most exciting prospect in the field for the Sox. At 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, the left-handed hitting 11th rounder from Victoria, B.C. has intriguing power potential and also played third base in high school.

Alex Gary, the M's 22nd rounder in this June's draft, will also see time in either corner of the outfield.

Pedro Grifol returns for his third season with the AquaSox after four years as a scout of the south Florida and Puerto Rico regions for the Mariners. Grifol is 73-79 in his two seasons with Everett, including a second-place 41-35 record last season.

Marcos Garcia returns for his second year as pitching coach with the AquaSox after serving in the same role in Peoria in 2003. Garcia was originally signed as a non-drafted free agent by the Mariners and played six seasons in the minors.

Dave Myers begins his first season as a special assignments coach with the Mariners organization after 18 years as manager and coach. Myers was 732-645 as a manager and was the third base coach for the M's in 2001-2004.

Jim Horner retired as a player after last season in Triple-A Tacoma and nine seasons overall. Horner will undoubtedly work with the catchers in Everett, putting his experience to good use.


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