Postseason Awards: Pulaski Mariners

Pulaski was one of few on-field successes in the Mariner organization this year. Find out who the key players were to the P-Mariners' run to the Appalachian League's East Division title.

With the 2008 season at an end, we've been spending some time handing out postseason accolades. We started at the top (Tacoma) and are move downward through the system. Today, the Mariners' rookie league team in Pulaski, Virginia.

In Pulaski's first season as a Mariner affiliate, the team advanced to the Appalachian League championship series, which they lost 2-0 to Elizabethton. But this was clearly the most successful of the M's farm clubs. The Mariners and Pulaski re-signed a player development contract after the season, meaning that the P-Mariners will be around until at least 2010.

Pulaski Mariners (40-27, 1st in Appalachian League East)

Offensive Co-MVP: Juan Fuentes, C

Fuentes had his batting average north of .400 for most of the season, before a late-season cool-down saw the average fall down to .337. Still, it was an impressive season for the 22-year-old Venezuelan. Fuentes led the team in doubles (18), RBI (40), and walks (28), and struck out only 30 times in nearly 240 plate appearances.

Offensive Co-MVP: Kris Sanchez, 1B

Sanchez only played in 45 games, but he was an absolute beast when he was in the lineup. Given a full season, he might have been the MVP of the entire league. He homered 11 times in 134 at-bats, drove in 36 runs, got on base at a .422 clip, and slugged a staggering .672. His 1.094 OPS would've easily led the league had he qualified with enough plate appearances. It's unclear whether Sanchez can maintain this success at the next level, though. He struggled at Everett in 2007 (.227/.320./.300) and will turn 25 during this offseason. He'll need to put up these kind of numbers early and often to have any chance of helping the M's in the higher levels of the system.

Starting Pitching MVP: Nick Czyz

It was tough to pick an MVP among the top three pitchers on the staff, but Czyz was probably the most consistent. Brooks Mohr had a lower ERA but too many walks. Fabian Williamson had a bunch of strikeouts but also struggled with walks and injuries. Czyz, a 6'2" lefty out of Kansas, led the staff in WHIP at 1.34 and got ground balls at an impressive 62% rate. He struck out 54 batters in 57 1/3 innings and walked just 19.

Relief Pitching MVP: Blake Nation

Nation picked up 11 saves in his 19 appearances with the P-Mariners. He gave up just one home run in 23 innings, aided by a 67% ground ball rate. He struck out 23 and walked just eight.

Most Pleasant Surprise: Mario Martinez, 3B

Martinez posted an OPS of just .663 in Arizona last summer, but had a breakout year in 2008 with a .319 average and .462 slugging percentage. His 116 total bases led the Mariners, as he hit 15 doubles, three triples, and five home runs. To top it off, he's only 18 years old. Martinez may be getting the Carlos Triunfel quick-promotion treatment going forward if he gets off to a fast start in A ball next year.

Biggest Disappointment: Kalian Sams, OF

Sams is a frustrating talent --- a guy with immense power but unable to make contact often enough to be considered a good hitter. Before getting injured in July, the 22-year-old from the Netherlands hit 10 home runs in 108 at-bats, but batted only .204 and struck out 47 times. He now has 21 homers and 192 strikeouts in 445 career at-bats. And the trip to rookie ball was a step backward for Sams, who split time between Wisconsin and Everett in 2007. And with a career on-base percentage hovering around .300, it appears as if he might be too much of an all-or-nothing guy to have a real future in the organization.


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