While the Major League playoffs gets under way later this evening, the Arizona Fall League has dozens of top prospects starting the fall season, and the Mariners sent their top two talents to the desert.
It took Nags quite a while to get going this season, after a forearm injury left him on the DL from spring training through mid- June. Before that, it was his back that shortened his 2004 campaign, so it's been a rough two years for former 5th rounder. Pitching for the Javelinas will help him get more work, with the added bonus of being near the M's training facilities if worst comes to worst. The real story here is that the 24-year-old will be getting a chance to start again, and the with the addition of a couple of two-seamers, one sinking and one cutting, he may have the edge he needs to stay in the rotation – a concept the organization has not given up on, and would welcome with open arms.
RHP - Chris Buglovsky 4-5, 4.24 ERA, 35 G, 110.1 IP, 120 H, 52 ER, 40 BB, 72 K @ Tacoma
Pitching as one of the team's two primary swingmen, "Bugs" had a decent season, though not spectacular, particularly considering he'll be 26 in November. But having a rubber arm is a plus, regardless of a pitcher's stuff, and it was enough to get him some consideration as a call-up during the season. The former third-round pick of the Colorado Rockies will be pitching as much for the other twenty-nine teams as a place in the M's organization, as he's due to become a six-year minor-league free agent in the offseason, and could land himself a decent gig with a team hungry for pitching.
RHP - Mike Flannery
0-0, 4.26 ERA, 6 G, 6.1 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 K @ San Antonio
1-0, 6.56 ERA, 20 G, 23.1 IP, 25 H, 17 ER, 17 BB, 18 K @ Tacoma
Flannery has always had a great arm, but after seven years toiling away in the minor leagues he had just one good season to show for it; back in 2003 when he had a 2.31 ERA over 58.1 innings in double-A Carolina. His 2005 campaign started out similarly, posting a strong 2.21 ERA in 36.2 innings back in Carolina, but when he was traded to the Mariners, things started falling apart again. They need to find some way to get him back to what led to his success, and somehow get him stick with it longerm.
C - Jeff Clement
.273/.338/.364, 4 G, 11 AB, 4 R, 1 RBI, 1 2B, 1 BB, 2 K @ Everett
.319/.387/.522, 30 G, 113 AB, 17 R, 20 RBI, 5 2B, 6 HR, 12 BB, 25 K @ Wisconsin
Ordinarily, most teams would consider themselves fortunate to have one catcher that's an offensive plus, and would try to ride him as much as they could. In the case of the 2005 Peoria Javelinas, they have three catchers who are assets with the lumber in Clement, San Diego's George Kottaras (.303/.396/.469) and Colorado's Chris Iannetta (.276/.386/.490.) From a developmental standpoint, the M's would like Clement to get as much defensive work as possible, but there's a chance he might moonlight as the team's DH from time to time.
OF - Gary Harris
.282/.320/.376, 120 G, 457 AB, 68 R, 42 RBI, 21 2B, 2 3B, 6 HR, 22 BB, 72 K @ San Antonio
It's been said that foot speed plays the same even when bats get into slumps, but Harris seems to have lost a step or two moving up to the tougher Texas League. After averaging over thirty stolen bases the last two seasons, Harris only had fifteen this year and was caught the same amount of times. His triples took a serious hit as well, dropping from a system-leading eighteen last year to just two this year. Usually a center fielder, he also found himself at the corners more often with Jaime Bubela and T.J. Bohn taking turns as captain of the outfield. If he just doesn't have it anymore, it's hard to imagine him moving much further on the minor league ladder.
CF - Adam Jones
.295/.367/.494, 68 G, 271 AB, 43 R, 46 RBI, 20 2B, 5 3B, 8 HR, 29 BB, 64 K @ Inland Empire
.298/.364/.461, 63 G, 228 AB, 33 R, 20 RBI, 10 2B, 3 3B, 7 HR, 22 BB, 48 K @ San Antonio
After another year of mixed reviews on his defense at short, the M's decided to try something new and are now trying Jones out in center field, where his raw speed and arm strength might work more in his favor. Wherever they decide to put him, there's little you can complain about in terms of his offensive development over the course of the year. Jones is quickly climbing up the charts, and has adjusted to every challenge the M's have tried to throw at him. Now, let's see if he can keep the production up while he's learning the outfield.