Minor League, Major Results

SeattleHardball.com publisher Scott Sepich takes a look at this season's standouts down on the farm, including a first-round phenom, a former football player, and a Dutch slugger.

The Mariners might not be tearing it up so far in 2008, but there are some players down in the minor leagues who should give Seattle fans hope for the coming years. Let's take a look at some guys who have been at the top of their game in the first quarter of the season.

Jeremy Reed, Tacoma. Reed's journey from full-time major league center fielder to full-time minor leaguer has been well-publicized, and he was passed over for Wladimir Balentien when the M's looked inward to replace Brad Wilkerson, but Reed is having his best AAA season thus far. Through 36 games, Reed is batting .348 with six home runs and 10 doubles. He was walked more times (15) than he has struck out (13) and leads the Rainiers with a .972 OPS. Reed has never OPS'd better than .806 in a AAA season previously.

Ryan Feierabend, Tacoma. Feierabend is making a strong case for a mid-season call up should one of the Mariners' banged-up starters need a trip to the DL. Just 22 years old, Feierabend struggled mightily in 13 appearances with the M's last season (1-6, 8.03 ERA in 49 1/3 innings) but has rebounded to become one of the top pitchers in the PCL this year. In seven starts this season, he has a 1.67 ERA and has allowed just two home runs in 43 innings. His 1.00 WHIP (BB+H/IP) is far below his career minor-league average of 1.39.

Marshall Hubbard, West Tenn. Michael Saunders gets more publicity as a top prospect (and Saunders has been very good), but Hubbard has been the offensive beast so far this season for the Diamond Jaxx. The 26-year-old is finally hitting his stride in his third season of AA ball. Hubbard leads West Tenn in hits (47), doubles (13), RBI (30), batting (.353), slugging (.579), and on-base percentage (.453). And he's yet to commit an error at first base.

Chris Jakubauskas, West Tenn and Tacoma. The late-blooming Jakubauskas, who is only a year removed from the independent leagues, was so good in six starts with West Tenn this year that M's moved him to Tacoma and threw him right into the rotation. In eight starts between the two clubs, Jakubauskas has allowed 5 earned runs in 43 1/3 innings (a 1.04 ERA), surrendering just two home runs in that span.

Mumba Rivera, West Tenn. The 27-year-old closer for the Jaxx has converted all five of his save opportunities and struck out 18 batters in 15 1/3 innings, allowing just 10 hits and three runs in the process.

Gregory Halman, High Desert. There hasn't been much to get excited about offensively for the Mavericks this season, but Halman has been a bright spot with a team-leading nine home runs and 16 stolen bases (without getting caught). The Haarlem (that would be the Netherlands, not New York) native still strikes out too much (49 in 151 AB) but makes up for it with a team-best .503 slugging percentage.

Kyle Parker, High Desert. Parker has been the steadiest and most reliable starter for the Mavs this season, leading the team with four victories. Parker has struck out 48 batters in 52 innings while giving up just two home runs, and his 1.13 WHIP leads the team by a wide margin.

Gavin Dickey, Wisconsin. Runs have been hard to come by this year for the Timber Rattlers. Former University of Florida football player Dickey has provided some offensive spark since joining the team. In 19 games, Dickey is batting .373 (25-for-67) with seven doubles and five stolen bases. His .916 OPS leads the team.

Phillippe Aumont, Wisconsin. Last year's first-round draft choice is being brought along slowly by the Mariners, but he has impressed in his first pro season. Aumont is on a set schedule (three innings every sixth day) and didn't allow an earned run until his seventh and most recent appearance. For the season, Phillippe has a 0.87 ERA with 23 strikeouts and just six walks in 20 2/3 innings.

Michael Pineda, Wisconsin. The 2007 DSL Mariners pitcher of the year has made a nice transition to American ball. Pineda's 0.63 ERA leads the team, and he has allowed fewer baserunners (28) than innings pitched (28 2/3). In 21 2/3 innings as a starter, Michael has allowed one run.

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