Hubbard Heating Up, Earning Respect

APPLETON, Wisc. - Unsung is defined in the dictionary as someone or something that is "not honored or praised; uncelebrated." Now take a look at the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers' roster. The first name that might catch your eye is shortstop Matt Tuiasosopo. Yung Chi Chen's name will pop out at you, and eventually your eyes will settle on right-handed pitcher Jason Snyder. And yet, further down that list lies prospects Rob Johnson, Oswaldo Navarro and Sebastien Boucher.

After that glance of the list, you might ask yourself; of all these prospects, who leads the team in batting average? In home runs? Slugging percentage? On-base percentage?

It's not Tui, or Rob Johnson, or Chen. Turns out, it's a player who quite possibly could be one of the most underrated players not only on the Rattlers, but in all the minor leagues - Marshall Hubbard.

Want some surprising stats? Entering play Wednesday, Hubbard is second in the Midwest League in slugging percentage at .572, tied for second with 11 home runs, tied for second with a .332 batting average and third with a .423 on-base percentage. And yet, if you asked anyone that knows anything about the Mariners' minor leagues to rattle off the top two or three prospects on the Rattlers' team, I am willing to bet that the name Marshall Hubbard would not even cross the mind of 80 percent of them.

Is it fair? Not necessarily, but it's something Hubbard has learned to take in stride.

"You can't dwell on that stuff," the Rattlers first-baseman said. "As long as you stay focused and concentrated and just keep a clear head about things."

Now if the Mariners knew what they were getting when they picked the North Carolina prospect with the 243rd pick (8th round) in 2004, they might have sent a private jet out to Tar Heel country to personally pick him up.

What exactly has been the key to his unheralded success?

"I've been working with (hitting coach) Tommy Cruz a lot. I've been aggressive but patient early in the count, so if I see a pitch I want, I'm hacking at it," Hubbard said. "The whole point of hitting is to get hitter's counts. A 2-0 count or a 3-1 count; making nice, easy swings and not trying to do too much with them."

Although this could be quietest .332 season to come through here in awhile, it might not take long before the name Hubbard is spoken in unison with those of Tui, Chen and Johnson. With promotions looming ever so close on the horizon, the left-handed swinging first-baseman is making sure that when the Mariners' front office scans the Rattlers' roster for some future gems, the name Marshall Hubbard will shine brightest of all.

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