From LumberKing to Mariner

Spring Training officially opens for the Seattle Mariners at Peoria Sports Complex this Friday, and a quick look at those invited to big league camp includes…

two former LumberKings.  By way of two different organizations.

Second-baseman Tug Hulett, a member of the Texas-affiliated LumberKings in 2005 and right-hander Roy Corcoran, a part of the 2002 Clinton squad affiliated with the Montreal Expos will both attempt to make Don Wakamatsu’s 25-man roster.

For today, we’ll focus on Hulett, a fan-favorite of just a few years ago (but still before my time).  Without consulting team historian Brad Seward, a bit on the Tug story:

Hulett arrived in Clinton after being drafted by the Rangers in the 14th round in 2004.  As the regular second-baseman for Carlos Subero’s club, Hulett hit .265 with 22 doubles, 70 runs scored, 45 RBI and 20 steals in 106 games.  Even though his father, Tim Hulett managed short-season Spokane in the very same system (and coincidentally was the man credited with rebuilding ’08 MWL All-Star Ian Gac’s swing), Tug was traded to the Mariners for Ben Broussard in December of 2007.

The trade of Tug came after his breakout season in the Rangers’ system.  After hitting just five home runs in his first three seasons, he went on a tear at triple-A Oklahoma in ’07, belting 11 homers while driving in 67 RBI and maintaining a solid .275 average.  However, the surprise stardom of Ian Kinsler (’04 LumberKing) and the emergence of Jose Vallejo (’06-’07 LumberKing) as the next big thing put Hulett on the trading block.

Broussard was a relative bust in Texas last year.  Meanwhile, Tug started to make a name for himself in triple-A Tacoma.  He boosted his homer total to 14 and made a huge leap in OPS from .765 to .898.  The power and advanced eye caught attention, and by July, Tug was suiting up for a Major League debut with the Mariners.

The 30-game sample size for Hulett yielded a .224 average, two extra-base hits and 17 strikeouts in 49 at-bats.  Not lighting the world on fire, but a starting point.  He enters camp in a likely competition with rookie Reegie Corona and veteran Ronny Cedeno for the utility infield role. 

Given what Kinsler did in Spring in 2006, going from 17th-round longshot to starting second-baseman and eventual AL All-Star, this could very well be Tug’s time to shine.  He’ll certainly have the Clinton faithful behind him.  The fans here don’t seem to forget past favorites too quickly.

While our photo archives in Clinton are still lacking (especially prior to my arrival in 2006), I was able to dig up a photo of Tug as a LumberKing in 2005.  This photo is thanks to MWLGuide.com:

 
88742882_269af8a578.jpeg

Further reading:  Tug Hulett’s Mariners Bio Page

I’ll have to reach back even further for some memories of Corcoran.  I might need to consult Mr. Seward on that one.  Until then, enjoy the beginning of baseball season!

-DL

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