All nine affiliates are now in action and the 2013 MLB Draft signings are just about finished for the M’s. With every healthy player in the system in action, this is a good time to take a snapshot of the organization and highlight the standouts. So, from the bottom to the top of the organization, here are my selections as the Players of the Month from each stop in the Seattle Mariners Organization for the month of June along with their stats from the month/level.
Venezuelan Summer League
Gianfranco Wawoe – 2B: .409/.475/.670 (36-88), 24 G
Playing in his third season in the VSL, Wawoe has clearly taken a huge step forward this year. The 18-year-old infielder currently is hitting .372/.465/.621 and has 17 multi-hit games in 40 contests for the M’s. He is 3rd in the circuit in average, 1st in OBP and 2nd in slugging, obviously placing him 1st in OPS (1.086). He is also tied for 1st in BB with 23 and has struck out only eight times while also having the 4th most extra base hits in the league, meaning that he is in pretty good shape to be in the discussion for league MVP. Pulaski outfielder Jesus Ugueto won the MVP in that league for Seattle last year. Wawoe led all of Seattle’s minor leaguers in OPS for the month of June when he posted a 1.146 mark in 24 games.
The VSL, of course, is a very small league where it is tough to judge talent as there are only five teams who participate, but the progress shown by the switch-hitting Wawoe is encouraging. He may get a chance to end his year in Arizona, like Ugueto and Gaby Guerrero (the ’12 DSL MVP) a year ago.
Dominican Summer League
Pedro Reyes – LHP: 6 G, 1.02 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, 17 2/3 IP, 20 SO
The M’s picked up Reyes prior to this year after he was released by the Red Sox – who originally signed him back in January of 2010 – last July. He threw 2 1/3 innings in the Gulf Coast League for Boston in 2012 after pitching for two years in their Dominican program. He was named as the Minor League Latin Program Pitcher of the Year for Boston in 2011 when he walked only 13 hitters in 14 starts, striking out 55 in 68 2/3 innings of work in which he allowed only 56 hits and had a 2.88 ERA and 1.01 WHIP. Sox Prospects gave the scouting report on Reyes as follows:
Thin lefty with a 3/4 arm slot. Spent two years in the DSL, pitching very well in 2011. Solid control. Fastball presently sits 88-91 mph, with arm-side tail. Potential to add velocity as he fills out. Fluid, low energy delivery, but tends to over-throw. Learning to repeat mechanics. Also throws a below-average changeup, with solid-average potential. Shows flashes of arm-side fade.
This year with the M’s, the now 20-year-old Reyes has continued to show good control but has upped his strikeout rate to 10.2-per-nine. Why he was released by Boston isn’t clear to me, but his stateside experience is no doubt a huge advantage for the left-hander in the DSL.
Arizona Rookie League
Chantz Mack – OF: .400/.500/.600 (14-35), 9 G
Mack -- the M's 29th round selection in this year's draft as a senior out of the University of Miami -- has been on base in every game as a pro so far for the Peoria M's. A stocky left-handed hitter with good speed and strong plate skills, Mack hit .302/.444/.381 with more walks (41) than strikeouts (33) in his final season with the Hurricanes and he's out of the gate doing much of the same in the AZL. At 22-years-old you'd like to see him against more advanced competition, and that move may come soon for Mack.
If he can stick in center field, continue to draw walks and have success on the basepaths and possibly add some extra base power as a pro then he could become pretty interesting. For now, he is simply the best performer in June for the AZL M's.
Edwin Diaz – RHP: 3G, 16 IP, 9 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 20 SO
Most of the buzz around the Pulaski rotation before the year was focused on the baby faced Brazilian left-hander, 16-year-old Luiz Gohara, but Diaz – the M’s 3rd rounder a year ago – has shifted the focus a bit with a dynamite start to the 2013 season. The slender right-hander has been up to 94 with his fastball and has allowed only one earned run in his first three starts, which earned him the league’s Pitcher of the Week Award.
Diaz may have overcome a development bump in the road already with his work in the off-season and extended spring training with the M's. If that is the case, he won't spend the whole season in Pulaski as he'll need to be challenged with more advanced competition.
Thyago Vieira – RHP: 3 G, 17 1/3 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 10 BB, 8 SO
Another Brazilian in the M's system, Vieira didn't dominate in the same manner as most pitchers who have success at the lower levels do as he only struck out eight in his 17 1/3 innings, but the results aren't a complete mirage. Working with a fastball that tops out around 89, he has induced a lot of weak contact so far and has kept left-handers off balance.
This is Vieira's first experience stateside for Seattle after pitching modestly in the VSL for two seasons. He was on the Brazilian squad for the WBC and got into two games for them, which was a hige benefit. Right now he works almost exclusively away to hitters and needs more practice in all quadrants of the zone, but he'll get plenty of chances for the first place Frogs.
Dario Pizzano – OF: .317/.404/.537 (26-82), 21 G
Pizzano is an all bat prospect out of an Ivy League school that doesn’t have light tower power so he doesn’t garner a lot of attention, but the left-hander swinging outfielder is a very good hitter with an advanced approach, excellent pitch recognition and a consistent ability to barrel balls. He's walked as many times as he's struck out on the year (31) and now owns a career line of .328/.410/.486 with 61 walks and 68 strikeouts in 540 career plate appearances in the organization.
He has 30 extra base hits, tied for fourth in the system, but he has hit just five home runs. That lack of power from a corner outfielder puts a lot of pressure on him to carry a high average and on base percentage, something Pizzano has done very well so far. If that continues then he could continue to quietly climb toward the major leagues.
Dan Paolini – 1B: .300/.411/.600 (27-90), 26 G
Paolini is quietly having a very strong campaign in High Desert, following up on the strong year he had in Clinton a season ago. A bit of a man without a position, he's seen 26 starts in left field this season -- a completely new position for the 23-year-old -- and has yet to make an error, but reports are that he still doesn't look comfortable out there. His bat is his pushing tool, and it has been good, although maybe not as good as it seems.
The month of June was strong all around, but Paolini is certainly being helped out by the conditions in High Desert; he's hit .329/.434/.593 at home compared to just .238/.348/.400 on the road. Encouraging numbers from the splits, however, are that he is handling right-handed pitching very well with a .903 OPS against them (versus an .860 mark versus LHP). Paolini needs a defensive home, but he has power and patience -- a good combination to stay in the organization for a long time.
Taijuan Walker – RHP: 4 G, 25 IP, 18 H, 6 ER, 3 BB, 33 SO
This was an easy pick not only because of how good Walker – who is now dominating hitters in Triple-A – has been, but also because of how blasé the rest of the Generals players have been. For a team flush with talent most of the year, the results in Jackson for the team as a whole and the roster individually have been incredibly underwhelming. For his part, Walker's cutter and curve have improved dramatically since the start of the season and he now dominates left-handers and right-handers alike. He was clearly ready for the next challenge after putting up and 11:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio over his final four Double-A starts.
The challenge for Walker in Triple-A -- where he will assuredly end this 2013 season as his innings total climbs -- are cleaning up his delivery, making it identical with all pitches, and working to improve his changeup. If he does that between now and next February it is a real possibility that he could open 2014 in the M's rotation.
Brad Miller – SS: .387/.437/.627 (29-75), 19 G
Miller played so well in his brief Triple-A audition that he is now the Mariners' full-time starting shortstop at the big league level. He's hit everywhere he's been since signing as Seattle’s 2nd round pick in 2011, but it was his 22-game hitting streak to wrap up his Tacoma career that convinced Seattle that he was ready for the majors. Those June numbers noted above are remarkably similar to the numbers that Kyle Seager posted for Tacoma (.387/.444/.585) in his lone month in Triple-A back in 2011.
Miller's hustle, style (high socks, no batting gloves) and defensive questions have always been clouding his best traits as a player -- he has a very good bat and plate discipline and good speed. He'll use everything at his disposal at the big league level to quickly become one of the Mariners best players and a fan favorite, in my opinion.
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There you have it – our June Minor League Players of the Month for the Seattle Mariners. Stay with SeattleClubhouse throughout the coming months as we bring you more coverage of the minors, and be sure to check in for the Player of the Month post next month as we give the same attention for July’s standout performers.
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