Results tagged ‘ Edlando Seco ’

Tonight’s Interview: Going Green with Brad Seward

The LumberKings led 1-0 on a Carlos Ramirez solo home run heading into the seventh inning last night, but the bullpen combination of Edlando Seco, Tyler Burgoon and Jessie Nava surrendered three late runs as the Great Lakes Loons came back for a 3-1 win last night.  Left-hander Tony Butler had his most impressive start to date, striking out a career-high-tying nine batters while limiting the Loons to four hits over 6.0 scoreless innings, but Seco tied the game on a bases-loaded walk in the seventh and Burgoon allowed the game-winning run on a walk and two singles in the eighth.

Read more in tonight’s Game Notes:  7.15.11 kingsnotes

Tonight is not only the rubber match as Eddie Menchaca’s Kings look for their sixth series win in seven tries this half, it’s also “Going Green Night” at the ballpark sponsored by the Clinton County Area Solid Waste Agency and WQAD-TV.  Thus, it’s time for my yearly chat with Brad Seward, the Director of Operations and Education for the CCASWA and the veteran Public Address voice for the LumberKings.

Brad and I talk about the annual “Going Green” event, the expanded efforts by the LumberKings to recycle at Alliant Energy Field, the Enviro-Kids program and baseball topics such as the memorable 2010 season and this year’s second-half turnaround.

Listen Here:  Brad Seward Interview 7.15.11

Starting Lineup:  7.15.11 lineup

Left-hander Nate Reed, a winner in his first start of the year his last time out on July 9 at Beloit (5.0 IP, 3 ER), makes his second start and 16th appearance for the LumberKings in the series finale tonight against the Loons.  He’ll have a tough challenge as he tries to outduel Los Angeles’ Dodgers’ first-round pick, right-hander Zach Lee (5-3, 3.32).  First pitch is at 7:00 PM, listen to the broadcast at 1390kcln.com.

-DL

Stanley Cup Finals Preview with Jon Hesketh

You are reading the title of this post correctly, you have not stumbled upon the wrong blog.  We are talking hockey tonight, partially because of a less-than-thrilling 10-1 LumberKings’ loss at the hands of the Beloit Snappers last night, but primarily because of the presence of Langley, British Columbia, Canada native Jon Hesketh on the roster.  The left-handed Hesketh, currently on the disabled list with a left thumb injury, is a die-hard Vancouver Canucks fan.  For those of you who don’t pay attention to the NHL, the Canucks are headed to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1994.

Hesketh gives me his thoughts on Vancouver’s return to hockey’s biggest stage, breaks down the offensive match-ups (the Sedin brothers vs. Boston’s David Krejci), who has the edge in goal (Roberto Luongo vs. Tim Thomas), he and fellow Canadian James Paxton’s own clubhouse rivalry with Boston-area native Mickey Wiswall and more.

I do follow NHL hockey, although not as intently as pro baseball, so keep that in mind when listening tonight.  Still, it’s an enjoyable departure from the norm.  Listen Here:  Hesketh Stanley Cup Preview 5.28.11

Tonight’s Game Notes:  5.28.11 kingsnotes

Baseball-wise, the Kings are back at it against the Snappers tonight at 6:00 PM.  Left-hander Edlando Seco makes his third start of the season, looking for better success than his previous two relief outings against Beloit this year (0-0, 11.57 ERA).  Listen to the game on 1390kcln.com.

-DL

Tonight’s Interview: Kalian Sams

The LumberKings fell by five runs for the first time since April 29 yesterday afternoon, dropping their fourth-straight game on this road trip by a final score of 8-3 in Peoria.  Kalian Sams got the Kings off to a good start with a solo home run on top of the left-field berm in the second inning and finished 2-for-4, adding a double and scoring a second time later in the game.  Shaver Hansen went 2-for-4 with two RBI in the leadoff spot to keep Clinton close at 4-3 entering the bottom of the seventh, but the Chiefs scored four unanswered runs over the next two innings to win convincingly.

Focusing on Sams, who in his first 10 games back showed more in the way of patience than the raw power we saw for most of 2010, homered off Chiefs’ left-hander Austin Kirk who had dared to pitch him inside.  The blast (listen here:  Sams Solo HR (#1) 5.22.11) was a bit of the old from “the Swinging Dutchman”, his 17th career home run as a LumberKing and his 21st in the Midwest League.  Still, the slimmed down slugger has showed more speed than pop so far (four steals in four tries and more than a few tough running grabs in right field), and that’s a main topic of tonight’s pregame interview.

Sams talks about his first home run back in the black and green, losing 20 pounds with a new trainer this offseason, utilizing his eye and his speed more this year, coming down from High Desert to join the Kings again and more.

Listen Here:  Sams Interview 5.23.11

More on Sams and company in tonight’s Game Notes:  5.23.11 kingsnotes

I’m laying off the lineups again in an attempt to see if it’ll  help us start a winning streak.  Either that or I’m lazy, you decide.  I can tell you that left-hander Edlando Seco (0-0, 5.30) makes his second start for Clinton tonight and that the Chiefs counter with right-hander Dallas Beeler (1-1, 0.86).  Looks like another challenge for these LumberKings’ bats as Beeler hasn’t allowed a run over his last 15.0 innings.

First pitch is at 6:30 PM, listen in on1390kcln.com.

-DL

Wednesday Notes (5/18)

Despite another ninth-inning comeback attempt and home runs by both Jabari Blash and Mickey Wiswall, the LumberKings could not extend a winning streak to two games last night, falling 8-6 to the Burlington Bees in the opener of this 10-game road trip.  Wiswall belted a two-run shot in the ninth off right-hander Drew Tyson that brought the Kings to within two, but Tyson then retired Stefen Romero leaving the potential tying run — Carlos Ramirez — in the on-deck circle.

Listen to the blasts:  Blash Solo HR (#2) 5.17.11   |   Wiswall 2-R HR (#2) 5.17.11

Clinton is now 3-13 in the month of May, dropping their season record to a MWL-worst 10-29.  Not many ways to sugar-coat it, but chew on this statistic…of the 13 May losses, the Kings have had the tying or winning runs either at the plate or in the on-deck circle in their final at-bat nine times and have scored eight runs total in the ninth inning.  They’ve lost by three runs five times, two runs five times and one run four times in that 13-game span. 

More encouraging factoids just like like that one in tonight’s Game Notes:  5.18.11 kingsnotes

The “no starting lineups” thing didn’t work two games in a row, so here you go…

LumberKings (10-29):  Shaver Hansen/2B, Kevin Rivers/LF, Tim Morris/DH, Stefen Romero/3B, Mickey Wiswall/1B, Jabari Blash/CF, Kalian Sams/RF, Steven Baron/C, Jake Schlander/SS, Edlando Seco/LHP

Burlington Bees (28-9):  Royce Consigli/RF, Nino Leyja/2B, Tony Thompson/3B, Josh Whitaker/DH, Yordy Cabrera/SS, Douglas Landaeta/LF, AJ Kirby-Jones/1B, Tyreace House/CF, John Nester/C, Tyler Vail/RHP

Notice anything different about those lineups?  Kevin Rivers is starting for the first time since April 25 vs. Peoria and lefty Edlando Seco makes his first start since game one of the Northwest League Playoffs when he suited up for Everett against Oakland’s low-A affiliate (and many of the Bees hitters) in Vancouver.  Seco hasn’t allowed a run over his last 8.0 innings as a reliever and steps up to fill the vacated rotation spot left by right-hander Brandon Maurer.

Should be an interesting one tonight.  Listen online at 1390kcln.com.  First pitch is at 6:30 PM.

-DL

Tonight’s Interview: Taijuan Walker

The LumberKings counted on 18-year-old right-hander Taijuan Walker, making just his third professional start, to take on the role as stopper Sunday afternoon against Wisconsin.  A stopper he was, twirling a no-hitter through the first five frames and finishing with a career-high 11 strikeouts over 6.1 innings of one-run, two-hit baseball.   Of course, nine runs of support didn’t hurt Walker either as the LumberKings destroyed the Rattlers, 11-1.

Listen to Walker’s 10th K here:   Walker 10th Strikeout 5.15.11

The Mariners’ first-round pick in 2010 (43rd overall) showed flashes of promise in his first two outings thanks to a mid-90′s fastball, but it wasn’t until Sunday that we saw the curveball really start to work for Walker.  Should that 12-6 hook continue to improve, Walker will have more than a few more days like Sunday during this 2011 season.  Still, as you can tell in my pregame interview with Walker today, he’s modest about the outing and his first full season of professional baseball.

Walker discusses the outing, getting the unexpected call to Clinton from extended Spring Training, turning into a starter in his final season at Yucaipa High School, cutting ties with basketball after a promising career on the hard-wood and more.

Listen Here:  Walker Interview 5.17.11

Tonight’s Game Notes:  5.17.11 kingsnotes

The notes attached do not reflect the roster move made today by the LumberKings, but right-hander Brandon Maurer has been promoted to high-A High Desert.  The Kings have received right-hander Keli’i Zablan from extended Spring Training.  Left-hander Edlando Seco is expected to start in place of Maurer tomorrow night against the Burlington Bees.

No starting lineups for you tonight, not because there aren’t any, but because I didn’t post any on Sunday and we won, 11-1.  How’s that for superstition?

Right-hander George Mieses and company take on the Bees at Community Field tonight, first pitch scheduled for 6:30 PM.  Listen online at 1390kcln.com.

-DL

Tonight’s Interview: Rich Dorman (Vol. 2)

Yes, the LumberKings went 0-3 on the homestand against the West’s first-place team, the Burlington Bees (including a 4-2 loss last night), but there’s no doubt the Clinton pitching staff is coming around.  As you’ll read in tonight’s Game Notes (posted below), the rotation is 3-4 with a 2.67 ERA over the last 11 games and the bullpen is 1-2 with a 1.64 ERA over the last four games. 

Right-hander Forrest Snow fell to 1-4 despite allowing four runs (one earned) over 6.0 innings last night.  Right-hander Brandon Maurer has an ERA of 0.69 over his last two starts.  Left-hander James Paxton made strides in his second start two games ago.  Right-hander Jandy Sena (no runs in two games, 4.0 IP) and left-hander Edlando Seco (no runs in two games, 6.0 IP) are helping the bullpen turn it around.  There’s signs of life amongst the Clinton arms.

Thus, it’s time to talk to pitching coach Rich Dorman again.  In the full-cut interview (a shorter version will air on the broadcast), Dorman talks about Snow, Maurer, George Mieses, Paxton, tonight’s starter Taijuan Walker, Sena, Seco and others.  Definitelya worthy listen as Dorman elaborates with great detail over nearly nine minutes.

Listen Here:  Dorman Interview 5.10.11

Tonight’s Game Notes:  5.10.11 kingsnotes

Starting Lineups:

LumberKings (9-23):  Shaver Hansen/2B, Julio Morban/CF, Stefen Romero/3B, Mickey Wiswall/1B, Matt Browning/DH, Jake Schlander/SS, Jabari Blash/RF, Steven Baron/C, Robbie Anston/LF, Taijuan Walker/RHP

Quad Cities River Bandits (14-17):  Greg Garcia/SS, Starlin Rodriguez/2B, Oscar Taveras/RF, Cody Stanley/C, Jonathan Rodriguez/1B, Packy Elkins/3B, Chris Edmondson/LF, Romulo Ruiz/DH, Frederick Parejo/CF, Seth Blair/RHP

How will Walker and the rest of the staff fare in this three-game road series against 14-17 Quad Cities?  Hopefully it’s the continuation of the trend we’ve seen for the last 11 days.  First pitch is at 7:00 PM, listen online at 1390kcln.com.

-DL

Friday Notes (5/6)

After an 8:00 alarm, a couple of blueberry muffins from the continental breakfast and an 8:45 bus ride to O’Brien Field I’m about set for day baseball here in Peoria.  The LumberKings and Chiefs close up a three-game series starting at 11:00 AM.

In case you missed it, Mariners’ 2010 first-round pick, right-hander Taijuan Walker made his first professional start in his LumberKings’ debut last night.  He looked rocky at the onset, giving up four runs on six hits over the first two innings, but found command of his fastball and curveball over his final two innings to finish with a respectable line.  Walker went 4.0 frames, allowed the four runs on seven hits, walked two and struck out five.  He also turned a fantastic 1-6-3 double play to get himself out of what could have been an even nastier first inning.

Left-hander Edlando Seco also pitched well, striking out five of the nine he faced over 3.0 scoreless innings (I took to calling the evening “Seco De Mayo” during the effort).  Right-hander Tyler Burgoon turned ina scoreless eighth.

Highlights:

You’ll notice no offensive highlights from last night.  The Kings did score once against left-hander Eric Jokisch as Stefen Romero doubled and scored on a single by Mickey Wiswall, but way too many offensive chances slipped through their grasp again as Clinton went 1-for-7 as a club with RISP.  The Chiefs aren’t exactly lighting it up offensively in this series either (with a combined 7 runs in 2 games), but they are now outscoring the LumberKings 38-7 over five meetings and are not surprisingly 5-0 as a result.

Today’s Game Notes:  5.6.11 kingsnotes

There’s not one element to single out right now about this 8-20 club, but if they’re going to avoid the sweep today, they’ll need a second-straight solid outing out of right-hander George Mieses and they’ll need to score him some runs.  Mieses went 5.0 innings and won up in Wisconsin his last time out, but even then received just two runs of support.  Should the Kings get to left-hander Austin Kirk early, I like their chances today.

Today’s Starting Lineups:

LumberKings (8-20):  Julio Morban/CF, Shaver Hansen/2B, Tim Morris/1B, Stefen Romero/LF, Mickey Wiswall/DH, Ramon Morla/3B, Jabari Blash/RF, Marcus Littlewood/SS, Steven Baron/C, George Mieses/RHP

Peoria Chiefs (14-13):  Matt Szczur/RF, Elliot Soto/2B, Rubi Silva/CF, Richard Jones/1B, Smaily Borges/DH, Sergio Burruel/C, Arismendy Alcantara/SS, D.J. Fitzgerald/LF, Anthony Giansanti/3B, Austin Kirk/LHP

First pitch is at 11:00 AM, listen online at 1390kcln.com.

-DL

It didn’t count, but it was still baseball

The LumberKings hit the field for batting practice and a simulated game this evening in front of a crowd of die-hard fans.  Seon Gi Kim and Edlando Seco got some work in against live hitters, two who already visited the Leinenkugel’s Lumber Lounge.  Both Kevin Rivers and Julio Morban hit home runs…home runs that don’t count for much other than pride.

Still, it was a fun first-time experience.  Probably not as fun as High Desert’s exhibition action against Victor Valley College last night.  Nine Mavs pitchers, including former LumberKings Jimmy Gillheeney (’10), Nick Czyz (’10), Jon Hesketh (’09-’10), Ogui Diaz (’09), Jose Jimenez (’09-’10), John Housey (’10) and Chris Kirkland (’09-’10) threw a no-hitter in a 12-0 win over the Rams.

I doubt we’ll see a nine-pitcher no-no tomorrow night in the 2011 Opener against Burlington, but we’ll get a good look at Forrest Snow and some other solid arms as well.  Here’s a look at the opening series rotation:

Thu:  RHP Forrest Snow vs. RHP Seth Frankoff

Fri:  LHP Anthony Fernandez vs. RHP Josh Bowman

Sat:  RHP George Mieses vs. RHP A.J. Griffin

Sun:  RHP Brandon Maurer vs. RHP Blake Hassebrock

Game notes will be up tomorrow along with an interview with likely interim manager Jesus Azuaje.  See you here at Alliant Energy Field tomorrow!

-DL

Predicting the 2011 Roster (Part 2)

Thumbnail image for 2011previewpart2.jpg

Left-handers Anthony Fernandez (left) and Edlando Seco (right) finished 2-3 in the Northwest League in ERA last season.

Part two of my third-annual educated guess at the upcoming LumberKings’ roster is today, with a look at players who I think will make their Clinton debuts at some point in 2011.  Again, my disclaimer…I have no advanced knowledge of the roster via the Seattle Mariners at this point in the year, thus this is just my opinion.  If anyone I’ve mentioned is no longer with the Mariners’ organization (trade, release, retirement, etc.), please feel free to update me in the “comments” section below.

It’s easy to get excited about the crop of talent coming up, given that four of the five teams below low-A advanced to the playoffs last year.  Everett, the team we’re likely to see the most players from, won the Northwest League title last season under the guidance of Jose Moreno and newly-named LumberKings’ pitching coach Rich Dorman.  Pulaski, the other top feeder team, advanced to the postseason under current manager Eddie Menchaca.  The players coming up from those two squads will already be well versed in what it takes to win, and they’ll be working with a staff that is more than familiar with their skillset.  That should be a solid recipe for success here in Clinton.  Now, let’s take a position-by-position look at some of the players who could be wearing black and green in 2011.

Catcher

As I said in part one of the preview, 2009 supplemental first-rounder Steven Baron, who split his first pro season between Clinton and Everett, should be the everyday catcher here.  He started 50 of the AquaSox’ 76 games behind the plate and was named the NWL’s top catcher. Cal State Fullerton product Billy Marcoe (.153, 0 HR, 3 RBI, .383 OPS) appeared in 11 games for Everett as Baron’s backup last year.  He could be filling that role again.  Pulaski’s catching corps included Venezuela native Larry Gonzalez (.267, 1 HR, 17 RBI, .700 OPS), Dominican native Hassiel Jimenez (.229, 0 HR, 8 RBI, .541 OPS) and Seattle’s 32nd round pick out of Vanderbilt, Andrew Giobbi (.291, 2 HR, 12 RBI, .764 OPS).  Seattle’s highest-drafted catcher in 2010 was sixth-round pick Christian Carmichael, who needs a season at short-A before he’s ready for the Midwest League.  Carmichael, drafted out of Mililani High School in Hawaii, hit .100 in just 11 games in the AZL.  It’s anyone’s guess at this point who the other catcher (or second and third catchers) will be, but I’d put my money on Gonzalez or Giobbi and bank on Carmichael in 2012.

First Base   

Evan Sharpley, the Mariners’ 50th-round and final selection of the 2009 June draft, was better known as the backup quarterback to Jimmy Clausen at Notre Dame when Seattle selected him.  After solid efforts in the AZL in ’09 (.333, 7 HR, 29 RBI) and Everett in ’10 (.231, 6 HR, 42 RBI, .706 OPS), Sharpley has proven he belongs in pro baseball.  Granted, .231 with a .318 OBP isn’t lighting up the Northwest League, but he still started 64 of Everett’s 76 games last year and can provide power from the left side of the plate.  Pulaski had a first-base platoon situation with Hofstra product and 35th round pick Ethan Paquette (.236, 3 HR, 19 RBI, .643 OPS) splitting time with Matt Browning (.330, 4 HR, 24 RBI, .947 OPS), the 43rd round pick out of James Madison.  Paquette is the only natural first-baseman of the group with Sharpley and Browning both moving over from third base, but I think this spot ultimately goes to Sharpley.  I projected in my previous post that Tim Morris should return, but we’ll see who emerges this Spring.

Second Base

LumberKings’ alums Hawkins Gebbers and Terry Serrano handled most of the second-base duties for Everett last year, and either one could be back on the Clinton infield.  Since this post is about new faces, I’ll focus elsewhere.  Menchaca’s Pulaski team featured an intriguing second-baseman named Jorge Agudelo, who ripped 16 doubles and legged out seven triples in just 59 games while hitting .287.  The Caracas, VZ native also exhibited a knack for baserunning, stealing an Appy League-high 24 bases in 31 attempts.  The Kings haven’t had a true speedster at the top of the lineup since Engel Beltre in ’08, so it’d be great to see Agudelo flying around the bases.  Unless Gabriel Noriega repeats the league and isn’t the starting shortstop (more on that later), I think Agudelo has the inside track on the second base spot.  Gebbers, Serrano and Carlos Ramirez are all solid utility choices, while 30th-round pick Derek Poppert (.242, 8 doubles, HR, 11 RBI) could be in the mix also.    

Third Base

When Menchaca was in for the Hot Stove Banquet in January, he raved about third-baseman Ramon Morla whenever he was asked about his players from Pulaski.  The 21-year-old San Pedro de Macoris product was a near Triple Crown winner in the Appy League, blasting a league-best 17 homers in 62 games while hitting .323 (2nd) and driving in 49 runs (2nd).  Only Elizabethton’s Oswaldo Arcia (who figures to be big in Beloit this year) led more offensive categories than Morla.  He won’t be Mario Martinez on defense, given that he committed a team-high 21 errors at the hot corner last year, but his offensive numbers are exciting enough to forgive that fact.  The Mariners’ used their 12th-round pick on Oregon State third-baseman Stefen Romero, but he was unable to play last season after fracturing his arm in late May.  Romero was hitting .326 with 13 homers and 41 RBI with the Beavers prior to the injury.  Director of Amateur Scouting Tom McNamara is high on Romero, but you can’t argue against Morla’s MVP-like season.  I say, let’s see them both.  Someone’s got to DH.

Shortstop 

No question, the shortstop position will be the biggest shoes to fill in the eyes of most LumberKings’ fans.  Nick Franklin enjoyed one of the best offensive seasons in club history last year and emerged as the #3 prospect in the entire Seattle system.  With respects to Pulaski’s Jake Schlander (the 31st-round pick out of Stanford, hit .259, one HR, 25 RBI, .671 OPS) and Everett’s Anthony Phillips (.204, 2 HR, 12 RBI, .627), 2010 second-round pick Marcus Littlewood should be a more-than-capable replacement to Franklin.  The 19-year-old Littlewood was drafted out of St. George High School in Utah and didn’t play for an affiliate last year, yet was ranked the #8 prospect in the system by Baseball America.  Like Franklin, Littlewood has Team USA experience, suiting up with the 16-and-under National Team at the 2008 Pan Am Youth Games (they won gold) and the 18-and-under squad last year.  BA projects him to hit for average and put up 10-15 home runs as Clinton’s everyday shortstop in 2011.  How can I disagree?

Outfield

Two of Everett’s top four hitters resided in the outfield, with left-handed hitting right-fielder Kevin Rivers leading the way.  Rivers, signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2009 out of the same school that produced Scott Savastano (Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire), shook off pedestrian numbers in the AZL and hit a team-best .332 (3rd in the NWL) with 11 blasts, 48 RBI, a league-best .466 on-base percentage and a 1.022 OPS for the AquaSox.  Centerfielder Robbie Anston also had a productive year for the AquaSox after a 26th-round selection out of Boston College, hitting .292 with 13 doubles, two homers, 24 RBI and 15 steals in 23 attempts.  Anston was one of Everett’s top playoff hitters, batting .333 with three doubles.

Menchaca’s Pulaski team was also anchored by powerful outfielders, most notably Venezuelans Jose Rivero (.295, 7 HR, 35 RBI, .817 OPS) and switch-hitting Mario Yepez (.231, 12 doubles, 6 HR, 27 RBI, .652 OPS).  Left-handed hitting James Wood, the 47th-round pick, hit .291 and had a .794 OPS in 28 games.  The one I’ve heard most about, however, is the eighth-round pick out of Miami Dade Community College, Jabari Blash.  Originally from St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, Blash looks like the heir apparent to James Jones in right field.  The 6’4″ Blash is just about the same size as JJ, plus he hit at a similar clip (.266, 5 HR, 20 RBI, .839 OPS) over his 32 games in the Appy League.  BA rated Blash the fastest player of the Mariners’ 2010 draft class, and we’ll see if he can cover JJ-like ground when he patrols right-field.  I expect him to be joined by Rivers in left and Anston in center, with Rivero, Yepez, Kalian Sams and Ryan Royster fighting for the fourth spot or stepping in to the DH role.  In regards to Menchaca’s lineup, I’d like to see Anston and Rivers in the 2-3 spots with Blash protecting Morla around the five spot. 

Starting Rotation 

One thing the Mariners have always supplied the LumberKings since the affiliation began in 2009 is brilliant starting pitching.  The 2009 club led the Midwest League in ERA at 3.35 and featured league ERA champion Kenn Kasparek, while the 2010 team ranked second in ERA at 3.66 and sported the league’s top right-hander (Erasmo Ramirez) and second-best left-hander (Jimmy Gillheeney).  Will the rotation live up to the standards of the last two years?

Looking just at the top three starters in Dorman’s Everett rotation, it looks like the 2011 starters should be outstanding.  The AquaSox posted a Northwest League-best 3.22 ERA thanks largely to a pair of southpaws, Edlando Seco and Anthony Fernandez.  The duo finished 2-3 in the league in ERA, with the Calabozo, VZ native Seco going 3-3 with a 2.48 ERA in 14 starts while Fernandez, from Santiago, DR went 8-3 with a 2.59 ERA over 15 starts.  Fernandez finished atop the league in fewest baserunners per 9.0 IP (10.26), tied for first in wins (8), second in WHIP (1.12) and third in fewest walks per 9.0 IP (1.94) while Seco held opponents to a league-low .169 average, finished third in WHIP (1.20) and third as well in strikeouts per 9.0 IP (9.52).  Simply put, the lefties put on a show for the eventual champs.

Yet, they weren’t the only stellar starters for Everett.  Right-hander Chris Sorce, Seattle’s 26th-round pick out of Troy in 2009, made the move from the bullpen to the rotation this season and was fantastic in 15 starts, going 8-2 with a 3.64 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP.  I had him projected to be in Clinton’s pen last year, but there’s no doubt in my mind he should be in the Kings’ rotation this season.

Pulaski has an ace of their own to offer up.  Right-hander Tim Boyce, the 44th-round pick out of the University of Rhode Island, won an Appalachian League-best nine games (9-3) and had the league’s 10th-best ERA of 2.98 over 13 games, eight starts.  In the mold of Ramirez, Boyce is a control artist — he walked seven while striking out 42 over 47.1 innings as a starter and had a paltry 1.03 WHIP, fourth-best in the Appy League.

Continuing with Pulaski…right-hander Jessie Nava (4-3, 4.36 ERA, 1.56 WHIP) was a reliable starter aside from his propensity to give up home runs (a league-high 8 in 13 starts).  Righty George Mieses went 4-4 with a 3.45 ERA and the league’s third-lowest walks per 9.0 IP average (1.19) over his 13 starts.  Right-hander Stephen Kohlscheen went 3-0 with a 2.51 ERA in seven games, five starts after his 45th-round selection.

All of those pitchers could quickly be overshadowed if Seattle’s supplemental first-round pick, 18-year-old right-hander Taijuan Walker, comes to town.  Walker was the 43rd player drafted last year despite having more experience as a high school basketball player than as a pitcher.  That’s because of a large frame (he’s 6’4″ according to most reports) and a live arm (his fastball has touched 95 mph, and he backs it up with a decent slider and change).  Walker went 1-1 with a 1.29 ERA and a stingy .087 opponent average over his four appearances in the AZL last year, a very encouraging start to a career that might take a few seasons to develop.  The Mariners are in no need to rush Walker here to Clinton, but I think he’ll factor into the rotation once the weather gets warmer (much like Kasey Kiker and Blake Beavan did in ’07 and ’08).

Even if Walker doesn’t arrive this year, the Kings could be in for some other surprises from the Dominican Summer League and the Venezuela Summer League much like Ramirez was in 2010.  Left-hander Henry Perez went 7-1 with a 0.86 ERA in 11 starts in the DSL, striking out 76 while walking only 10 (can someone say Erasmo-like?) and limiting opponents to a .187 average over 73.0 innings.  He’s not particularly young (he’ll turn 22 after the season), meaning he likely can handle the jump to the United States.  Left-hander Brandol Perez might be more likely to stay in the DSL despite going 7-0 with a 0.19 ERA (yes, you read that right) over 11 games, six starts last year…he’ll be 18 in August.  Right-hander Vicente Campos was the DSL Mariners’ top starter, going 8-2 with a 3.16 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and .231 opponent average in 12 starts.  Campos will turn 19 in July, leading me to believe we’ll probably see him in 2012.

If the Clinton rotation features any combination of Walker, Seco, Fernandez, Boyce, Sorce and Perez this year, we could witness the most dominant LumberKings’ staff in recent history.  Given all that we’ve seen as a Seattle affiliate, that’s saying a lot.

Bullpen

Things certainly look promising for the first six-to-seven innings, but will the Kings’ bullpen be able to finish things off?  A lot of Everett’s bullpen made their way to Clinton and were sent back down, but there’s a few arms out there we haven’t seen.  Right-hander Willy Kesler, the 18th-round pick out of the University of New Mexico, went 3-2 with a 1.47 ERA in 19 relief outings and held NWL opponents to a .213 average.  Kesler led the team in holds (5) and was tied with Jason Markovitz and Stephen Pryor for the saves lead (4-for-4).  Right-hander Austin Hudson, the 27th-round pick in ’09, went 4-2 with a 2.92 ERA over 20 games (including seven starts) but was just 3-for-6 in save attempts.  New York, NY native Eric Valdez was also impressive in seven relief outings for the AquaSox, going 0-0 with a 0.64 ERA and a .192 opponent average.  Right-hander Tyler Burgoon, the 10th-round pick out of Michigan, had decent numbers outside of a 4.40 ERA…his 0.98 WHIP ranked third on the team amongst pitchers with eight-plus outings.

Back over to Pulaski, right-hander Bryan Leigh (2-0, 1.71 ERA, 3-of-3 in saves, 1.05 WHIP, .203 opponent average) was their most reliable reliever.  Right-handers Lance Abbott (0-0, 2.25 ERA) and Preston Vancil (2-1, 2.84 ERA) also checked in under the 3.00 ERA mark, although they had just one hold and one save combined.  I’m pulling for right-hander Ben Versnik, the 38th-round pick out of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, to make the roster.  Versnik, born in West Allis, Wisconsin (my birthplace as well) went 0-0 with a 3.38 ERA in six outings. 

The AZL offers up a few names as well, including left-handers Kody Kurowski (1-3, 4.30, 5-for-7 in saves) and Scott Ronnenbergh (0-1, 2.13, 1-for-1 in saves) and right-handers Danny Cruz-Ayala (1-0, 4.05, 3-for-4 in saves) and Jandy Sena (4-2, 4.01, 1-for-2 in saves).

As you can see, there’s no clear-cut closer amongst the players I’ve named, but we might not know who fits into that role until well into the season.  It will be fun to see how it all pieces together, especially with a lot of returnees to the pen from last year’s playoff club.

Whew, that was a long one.  If you’re still reading by this point, congrats…you’ve stuck with me until the end of this preview and you’re truly a diehard LumberKings’ fan.  Feel free to share your own thoughts in the “comments” section below, I’d be interested in hearing what others think.  Of course, we won’t know for sure until just prior to April 7 when the team arrives from Peoria, AZ.  Check out this blog and LumberKings.com around that time to find out the official word on the Opening Night roster.

-DL

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