Mariners Minors Transaction Update: June 16-30

InsidethePark's Joseph A. Yencich brings you another installment of the Mariners Minor League Transaction Update, your one-stop shop to all the player movement from down on the farm.

TACOMA

June 15th
-RHP Felix Hernandez placed on the disabled list


For the record, the M's top prospect has come down with a case of shoulder bursitis, a recurring condition where the shoulder capsules begin filling with fluid and some soreness occurs. Ordinarily, this would be enough to make most Mariners fans jump ship, but one can't help but wonder if the front office took a minor injury and snatched it up as an excuse to rest him and keep him fresh for the second half (when maybe, just maybe, he'll make his major league debut). He had been averaging five and two-thirds innings per start, and that number had only been climbing in recent weeks.

June 16th
-RHP Jorge Campillo placed on the disabled list
-C Wiki Gonzalez begins rehab assignment


While this was another "abandon ship" moment for minor league pitching prospects, it's hard to be surprised that Campillo's elbow might be a little tired right about now. He's been pitching since the start of the Mexican League season last year, so that's about 15 months now. Not quite as crazy as what George Sherrill did by the end of last season, but getting pretty close, and Sherrill hadn't been starting. There's no timetable right now for Campillo's return, but he definitely needs the time off.

On the DL for just over a month with a hamstring injury, Gonzalez finally returned to action with the Rainiers. Though it shows up as a rehab assignment on the records, the recent promotion of Miguel Olivo to be Seattle's backup catcher seems to suggest that Wiki won't be back immediately. Still, he remains on the 40-man roster and continues to hit well, so seeing him later in the season wouldn't be out of the question.

June 17th
-RHP Joseph Woerman called up from extended spring training
-LHP Adam Brandt called up from extended spring training
-2B Jose Lopez recalled to Seattle
-3B Greg Dobbs optioned to Seattle


A few times per season, usually before the short-season leagues open up, you'll see the classic "cup of coffee" roster move, where a pitcher will be called up from a lower level to make one appearance and be sent on his way. Woerman found himself in this situation when the Rainiers were caught two pitchers short. He got through a couple of innings of work, but allowed four runs on two hits, one of them a home run, and six walks. Now that he's back in Everett, he may have a chance to slip into the rotation and get some regular innings.

Brandt's cup of joe with the Rainiers has been a little different, in that he's still on the roster, despite having pitched only one inning in the past two weeks. One of the top pitchers in Peoria last season, Brandt had a 3.38 ERA and 26 strikeouts to 8 walks in 21.1 innings for the Mariners' Arizona League team. He'll probably vie for a spot in the AquaSox rotation, that is, when the Rainiers finally decide that they're done with him.

It only took Lopez 11 games in Tacoma, split between DL stints, to get back to Seattle. For the first five games, things were going quite smoothly for him, as he played one game at third and four more at second, his likely position in the future, and batted .263/.250/.368 in 19 at-bats. But since that time, manager Mike Hargrove has put veteran Bret Boone back in the lineup and Lopez has been riding the pine.

With Dave Hansen already on the roster and Scott Spiezio due back soon, the Mariners had three players available who had the same basic attributes, so they opted to send Dobbs, the least experienced of the three, down to the minors. Dobbs hit .176/.194/.265 in just 34 at-bats since making the team out of spring training, but with the Rainiers, he's been hitting

June 25th
-RHP Clint Nageotte called up from Peoria


After a long absence with elbow and forearm troubles, Nageotte finally resurfaced in Peoria, albeit only for one game, in which he was perfect through three innings and struck out six. That was enough for the people in player development, and a few days later he got his ticket back to Tacoma. But there is still some concern over his elbow and back, so they're going to keep him in the ‘pen for the time being where he has a better chance of helping the big club sooner. There's nothing that says he can't learn the change-up and move out later.

June 28th
-C Miguel Olivo promoted to Seattle


The numbers don't look too great at .233/.293/.400, but Olivo's hitting was starting to come around by the end of his tenure in Tacoma. He was also working with Mariners minor league catching instructor Roger Hansen for the duration, and that has helped him separate what he's doing at the plate from what happens behind it. He'll remain the backup catcher behind Pat Borders until his hitting noticeably improves.


SAN ANTONIO

June 24th
-SS Adam Jones called up from Inland Empire


Even though he's well regarded within the organization and has had a breakout season thus far at the plate, the promotion of Jones caught some prospect watchers off-guard. He was second on the Sixers team in extra-base hits when he was called up and has just about every physical tool one could ask for from a shortstop, but mixed in with that were 64 strikeouts in 272 at-bats. Along with that, Jones still hasn't quite turned physical ability into consistent play on the field. Scouts are still divided on whether to keep him at short or move him to center field. Promoting a player who won't even turn 20 until August is a little unconventional, but Jones is completely confident in his abilities, so he could pull it off.

June 28th
-C Rene Rivera optioned from Seattle


For a guy making the jump from Double-A ball, Rivera didn't do that badly. He hit .364/.382/.545 in 33 at-bats, and add that to his .292/.320/.400 average back in San Antonio, and it looks like he might be finally living up to some of the offensive potential that made him a second round pick. Rivera, in all likelihood, is part of the future catching corps, but a little more work on his hitting couldn't hurt.


INLAND EMPIRE

June 12th
-LHP Nick Bourgeois placed on the disabled list


One of the strangest phenomena in all of the minor leagues is the tendency for players on different teams in the same system to come down with similar injuries within days or weeks of each other. Perhaps most strange is the recent injury to Bourgeois, which also afflicted Jon Nelson before him. That is to say, both minor leaguers were unhappy with an in-game performance, and opted to take out their anger on an inanimate object in the clubhouse. Both paid the price for it with broken bones. Fortunately, this injury can be easily prevented…

June 15th
-RHP Brandon Moorhead placed on the disabled list
-RHP Tanner Watson reinstated from the disabled list


Moorhead has had a rough season thus far. The Cal League competition has been hitting him hard, and he's already given up more home runs this season than he did in all of last season. On top of that, it took him eight starts before he finally got his first win. Now, when the Sixers rotation was already looking thin, Moorhead is out with shoulder inflammation and can't help his team. But the good news is that he should be back within another week or so…

Watson started the season on the shelf with a shoulder injury before starting his second tour of duty with the Sixers. Though the pitching staff in San Bernadino has been in a state of disarray the entire season, the Mariners weren't too pleased with Watson giving up 11 runs in just three and two-thirds innings, and since he's struggled in the past anyway, they decided the staff would probably be better without him 10 days later.

June 18th
-LHP Troy Cate reinstated from the disabled list


One of the steroid suspensions from earlier in the season, it took Cate quite a while to get back in the game, due to some soreness in his shoulder. This will be the third year in which Cate has spent some time in the California League, and he's set to pitch mostly out of the ‘pen this time, as the Sixers are without a capable southpaw reliever at the moment. He hasn't shown much since his initial season with the AquaSox, but left-handed pitching is always a hot commodity and if he can start returning to that form, he'll have some value.

June 23rd
-SS Asdrubal Cabrera called up from Wisconsin
-RHP Chad Fillinger called up from Wisconsin
-RHP Aaron Looper placed on the disabled list


The promotion of Adam Jones not only opened a spot for Cabrera against the tougher California League competition, but it also provides him with the opportunity to play shortstop everyday, something he couldn't do in the infield rotation of Matt Tuiasosopo, Yung-Chi Chen and Oswaldo Navarro. The 19-year-old has been holding his own against the more advanced pitching, batting .333/.368/.611 in the four games since his call-up.
One of the most reliable pitchers out of the T-Rats bullpen in the first half, Fillinger was named to the league's all-star team for a good reason. Namely, he was striking out just over 11 batters per nine innings and was frequently found among the Midwest League's leaders in that category, despite pitching out of the bullpen. His early results with the Sixers haven't been indicative of his ability, but once he adjusts, the entire pitching staff will benefit.
Coming back from Tommy John surgery, Looper was doing surprisingly well in his first couple of weeks back, but recently his pitching has become more erratic and he now finds himself on the disabled list yet again. Odds are that it's his elbow giving him grief yet again, which isn't too surprising, as he might now have been ready quite yet. There's no timetable on when he'll be back.

June 25th
-RHP Tanner Watson released
-LHP Miguel Martinez released


Among the crowd of players who seemed to hit a wall in the California League in recent years, you have Miguel Martinez, who once looked like a bright left-handed relief prospect after a stellar season in Wisconsin in 2003. But since joining the Sixers last season, his ERA has been 6.39, and his career ERA has jumped by over two points. It's possible that with all the arm angles he uses, that he developed an injury and just never told the club, but it's a moot point now.

June 29th
-CF Sebastien Boucher promoted to Inland Empire
-RHP Craig James promoted to Inland Empire
-LHP Derrick Ellison reports to Inland Empire


Most teams were shying away from Canadian prospects in last year's draft due to issues with getting new work visas, but the Mariners weren't, and now Boucher is looking like a steal in the seventh round. The fleet-footed outfielder, who has drawn comparisons to Kenny Lofton, hit .326/.411/.461 in 178 at-bats with the T-Rats this year, and stole 11 bases along the way while playing near perfect defense in the outfield. His presence on the Inland roster would give them a true center fielder, something they've lacked most of the season.

Even though he only allowed three runs in his first 28.1 innings with Wisconsin and struck out over a batter per inning, James did so rather quietly and wasn't even named to the league's all-star team, a serious offense in the minds of the ITP staff writers. James has the stuff to succeed, plain and simple, with an aggressive attitude on the mound and a serious power arsenal. Like Boucher, his presence on the roster will make everyone around him better.

Signed to a minor league contract from the independent Frontier League a week earlier, Ellison gives the Sixers another left-hander out of the ‘pen, something they've needed with Martinez gone and Bourgeois on the shelf. The 26-year-old won three championships in the Frontier League, and was pitching in the closer's role for Rockford when he was signed. It's believed that this is his first contract with an affiliated team.


WISCONSIN

June 23rd
-C/1B Luis Soto called up from Everett
-RHP Roman Martinez reinstated from the disabled list


Sometimes, it can be a little rough for players coming in from a summer league and trying to make an impression in the states, particularly when a new draft is bringing in college-level hitters every year. Soto was one of those guys lost in the shuffle in Peoria, despite posting an .800+ OPS both years he was there. Now, he's finally been recognized and sent to Wisconsin, giving them a spare first baseman and catcher. Of course, if Marshall Hubbard were promoted, he would take over as the primary first baseman…

Fortunately for Martinez, the wrist he fractured almost a month ago was on his glove hand, not his pitching hand. He's pitched just two innings since coming back, allowing an earned run in one of them, but there's nothing out of the ordinary about that, just the usual rust. The Wisconsin pitching staff is undergoing a few changes at the moment, so they'll need to rely on him more in the near future.

June 29th
-LHP Donny Langdon reports to Wisconsin


Langdon got a handful of innings in with Evansville in the Frontier league in each of the past two seasons, but at 23-years-old, he's not too different in his experience form a fifth-year senior signing right around draft time. With Kurtztown University in his senior season, he led the team innings pitched with 67 and struck out 72, but he also walked 34 in that same span. It seems to be something that's plagued him throughout his career, so it may be something to watch for, as the T-Rats ‘pen has been afflicted with the same thing this season.


EVERETT

June 20th
-LF Casey Craig sent from San Antonio


Craig got stuck with a bad role this season, that of the traveling reserve outfielder. Doomed to be called in from Peoria only to ride the pine, Craig managed to eke out only eight games from a stint in Inland before being sent on his way, and after that he spent nearly a month in San Antonio with only two at-bats to show for it. Being in Everett gives him the chance to play everyday, but the league has nothing on him and he doesn't appear to be challenged by it. He needs to be playing at a higher level.

June 25h
-RHP Joe Woerman sent from Tacoma


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