Postseason Awards: High Desert Mavericks

With the minor league season coming to a close, we take a look at the Mariner's California League affiliate, the High Desert Mavericks. The Mavs had another tough season but there were some bright spots to be found.

With the 2008 season at an end, we'll spend a few days handing out some postseason accolades. We'll start at the top (Tacoma) and move downward through the system. Today, the High Desert Mavericks.

The Mavs had another rough season, finishing with the worst record in the California League at 58-82. With a league-worst ERA of 5.84, the Mavs allowed 131 more runs than any other team in the league. This is partly because the Mariners have kept their top pitching prospects away from the Cal League, where offense reigns supreme.

High Desert Mavericks (58-82, 5th in California League South)

First Half Offensive MVP: Greg Halman, OF

Halman just turned 21 a couple of weeks ago, which makes his domination of Cal League pitching all the more impressive. In 67 games with the Mavs, he hit 19 home runs and slugged .572. Greg still swings and misses a lot (76 K with the Mavs) and doesn't walk that much (16 BB), but he had tremendous potential that he's just growing into. Halman moved on to AA West Tenn in June and actually improved his batting average and on-base percentage. He could potentially be a 40-40 man in the future, as he stole 23 bases in 24 opportunities with the Mavs.

Second Half Offensive MVP: Carlos Triunfel, SS

Triunfel was so dreadful in the first half of the season that it looked like the M's top prospect might be taking a giant step backward in his meteoric rise through the Mariner system. Carlos is still just 18 years old, so he probably would have been forgiven for slowing. But, mostly, he could just never get in a groove early in the year. In May he was suspended for violating team rules then landed on the DL in June. It wasn't until he put the issues behind him that he started to shine. He hit his first professional home run in late June, then added six more in July. Triunfel hit .340 in the last two months (53 games) with seven homers, 32 RBI, and an OPS of nearly .900. Pitching MVP: Kyle Parker

On a pitching-challenged club, it's tough to find someone who stands out. Parker only pitched once after June 17th, but prior to his injury problems he was chosen as a Cal League All-Star. In 16 starts, Parker posted a 4.27 ERA (which is very good in High Desert) with 67 strikeouts in 84 1/3 innings. He allowed only seven home runs --- the fewest of any Mav who started at least 10 games. He was also the only Mav starter to allow less than one hit per inning (75 in 84 1/3 innings).

Most Pleasant Surprise, Offensive: Carlos Peguero, OF

Like Halman, Peguero is only 21 years old. And while Carlos isn't progressing quite as quickly, he's yet another talented young hitter coming up through the system. Peguero led the team in hitting at .299 before an injury ended his season in mid-July. He hit 12 home runs and drove in 74 runs in 92 games, making him the Mavs' most consistent performer all year. To make the next step, Carlos needs to learn better plate discipline, as he drew only 10 walks while striking out 96 times.

Most Pleasant Surprise, Pitching: Aaron Cotter

There were very few pleasant surprises on the pitching front for the Mavs this year, but Cotter, a non-drafted free agent out of Arkansas-Monticello, would be the closest thing. Cotter spent 2007 with the Mavs and posted an ugly 6.42 ERA in 102.1 IP. This season, he returned to the desert and soon found himself in the closer's role. Cotter led the team with 50 relief appearances, and had a fine 3.47 ERA with eight saves. He walked only 15 batters in 62 1/3 innings and struck out 59. Despite a 39% GB rate, he gave up only six home runs.

Biggest Disappointment: Anthony Varvaro, P

Varvaro has always had a power arm, but his control left him this season --- a dangerous way to live in the live-ball Cal League. Varvaro led the Mavs in innings pitched at 122.2, but he allowed opposing batters to hit .313 against him, and he walked 82 men. His 1.92 WHIP was the main contributor to his 7.12 ERA. Varvaro also allowed 22 home runs. His strikeout numbers were still good (113 K this season) but the other peripherals are suggesting that Varvaro might not make it much further.

Unsung Hero: Chris Minaker, IF

Minaker was not a big power guy or big on-base guy (.727 OPS for the season), but he was a consistent presence for the Mavs who played wherever he was needed and showed up ready to play every day. Minaker finished second in the league with 41 doubles and led the Mavs with 136 hits. His 66 runs were second on the team, and he made just 11 errors in the field despite playing every infield position at one time or another. The Seattle native and Stanford alum struggled in AA in 2007, and was sent back to A ball to get sorted out. Minaker has likely earned himself another shot with West Tenn in 2009.

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