Results tagged ‘ Kevin Rivers ’

Today’s Interview: James Paxton (Vol. 3)

I recorded this interview with LumberKings’ left-hander James Paxton two days ago, covering his stellar one-inning performance in this year’s Midwest League All-Star Game and his reaction to being named to the XM Satellite Radio 2011 All-Star Futures Game.  I saved it for today as Sundays are usually tight on time to get interviews.

Enjoy my third interview installment with K-Pax:  Paxton ASG, Futures Game Interview 6.24.11

As for last night’s game, the LumberKings dropped the middle game of the series with Burlington by a 5-1 score.  Kevin Rivers singled home Julio Morban to cut the deficit to 2-1 in the sixth inning, but the Bees scored three times against the pen combo of Jonathan Arias and Keli’i Zablan to put the game out of reach.  Right-hander George Mieses looked sharp, limiting the Bees to two runs — both unearned — on four hits over 5.1 innings, but he received no help from the offense while on the mound for the third-straight start (no runs for El Toro over his last 17.2 innings) and fell for the Midwest League-high tying ninth time.

More on Mieses and the rest of the Kings in today’s Game Notes:  6.26.11 kingsnotes

Here’s a different look at the Starting Lineups:  6.26.11 lineup

Ground ball artist, left-hander Anthony Fernandez looks to build upon his tremendous first-half finale (7.0 IP, 4 hits, no runs in 1-0 win at Kane County) in his first second-half start today.  First pitch is at 2:00 PM, listen to the broadcast on 1390kcln.com.

-DL

Tonight’s Interview: Kevin Rivers

The LumberKings entered the sixth inning of last night’s game against Dayton having not scored in 20-straight innings against Dragons’ pitching.  Tim Morris and Kalian Sams reached on singles and Kevin Rivers approached the plate to face Dragons’ righty Daniel Corcino with Clinton still trailing, 3-0.  He delievered the game-changing hit, poking a two-run double down the left-field line to cut the deficit to 3-2 (listen: Rivers 2-R double 6.9.11).  The Kings would tie the score in the seventh as Matt Browning doubled and scored on a throwing error by pitcher Daniel Wolford, and Morris drove in the game-winning runs with a triple to right-center.  Later in the same inning, Rivers executed a safety squeeze bunt to get Morris home.  The five-run seventh turned the game completely around, giving the LumberKings a 7-4 win over the Dragons for their third-straight series victory.

Rivers finished 2-for-3 with a season-high-tying three RBI in the win and has a hit in six-straight games.  Tonight, I chat with Rivers, a man who went from 2009 non-drafted free agent out of Franklin Pierce University to the 2010 Offensive Player of the Year for Northwest League Champion Everett.  Rivers discuses the game last night, his uncommon path to the Mariners’ system, his successful 2010 season in Everett, his time with Clinton so far and more.

Listen Here:  Rivers Interview 6.10.11

Tonight’s Game Notes:  6.10.11 kingsnotes

Starting Lineups:

Bowling Green Hot Rods (33-28):  Cody Rogers/RF, Hector Guevara/2B, Phil Wunderlich/1B, Julio Cedeno/3B, Derek Dietrich/SS, Todd Glaesmann/DH, Nick Schwaner/LF, Alejandro Torres/C, Kevin Kiermaier/CF, George Jensen/RP

LumberKings (21-40):  Jorge Agudelo/2B, Mickey Wiswall/DH, Tim Morris/1B, Kalian Sams/RF, Kevin Rivers/LF, Jabari Blash/CF, Matt Browning/3B, Anthony Phillips/SS, Carlton Tanabe/C, James Paxton/LHP

The path to a fourth-straight series win starts tonight against the Hot Rods, first pitch scheduled for 7:00 PM.  All-Star lefty James Paxton looks to continue his trend of dominance…”K-Pax” is 2-1 with a 1.67 ERA and 48 strikeouts over his last six starts, 32.1 innings.  Join me for the broadcast on 1390kcln.com.

-DL

Tuesday Notes (5/24)

The 10-game road trip shifts to Cedar Rapids for the always-fun commuter series against the Kernels.  It’s good to have a change of scenery as the LumberKings were just swept in Peoria and are 1-6 at O’Brien Field this season.

That record includes another loss last night, 9-4 at the hands of the Chiefs.  The Kings showed plenty of mid-game moxy in recovering from a 3-0 deficit to take a 4-3 lead.  Kalian Sams belted a two-run homer completely over the batter’s eye (listen:  Sams 2-R HR (#2) 5.23.11), easily the deepest home run I’ve seen hit this season and ever at O’Brien Field.  My own unofficial estimate, given a 400-foot wall and batter’s eye of roughly a 30-foot height means Sams’ blast traveled at least 450 feet.  Kevin Rivers lifted a solo shot of his own to right-center to give the Kings a temporary 4-3 lead.

But that bullpen again, the one that has seen so many struggles on this trip, gave up six unanswered runs and the Chiefs won by a margin that didn’t really speak to the closeness of the game.  At this point, though, losses are losses.

This trip is still salvageable.  The LumberKings take on a Kernels’ club that is just 2-12 over their last 14 games, had an eight-game losing streak that included a no-hitter at the hands of Kane County and is hitting just .195 as a club over the last 10 games.  Clinton will roll out left-hander James Paxton (0-1, 2.42), right-handers Forrest Snow (1-6, 4.62) and Taijuan Walker (1-2, 5.19) on the series, all three due for some wins. 

It does look like rain will play a role in the series.  The Perfect Game Field tarp crew is assembling as we speak, and the forecast looks awful for tomorrow should this one get rained out tonight.  Keep your fingers crossed.

Tonight’s Game Notes:  5.24.11 kingsnotes

Your LumberKings Roster Move of the day:  left-hander Jon Hesketh was officially placed on the DL yesterday after getting hit in the left hand by a Kyung-Min Na liner the previous game.  He’s now replaced by right-hander Jessie Nava, up from the Everett roster.  Shortstop Jake Schlander has switched spots with infielder Anthony Phillips, meaning Phillips is again a LumberKing while Schlander is back with High Desert.

First pitch is at 6:35 PM (maybe), listen online at 1390kcln.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

Blash Arrives from AZ, Rivers Heads to DL

Mariners’ 8th round pick, outfielder Jabari Blash joins LumberKings

Clinton, IA– The Clinton LumberKings, in conjunction with the Seattle Mariners have announced the following transaction for the Clinton 25-man roster: outfielder Kevin Rivers has been placed on the seven-day disabled list and is replaced on the roster by outfielder Jabari Blash, called up from extended Spring Training today.

Rivers, 22, hit .276 with two doubles, a home run and seven RBI in 17 games for the LumberKings this season.  He exited last night’s 14-3 loss toPeoria after an eighth-inning at-bat in which he was struck in the hand by a ball that ricocheted off his bat.  Rivers later drew a walk and stayed in the game, but was replaced defensively for the ninth inning.

Blash, 21, hit .266 with six doubles, five homers and 20 RBI in 32 games for rookie-level Pulaski last season. Seattle drafted him in the eighth round out of Miami Dade Community College in 2010.

The moves give Clintona total of 25 active players with two on the disabled list.  Blash has not yet chosen a uniform number, but will be available for tonight’s 6:30 PM game againstPeoria.

-DL

Sunday Notes (4/10)

Kevin Rivers belted a thrilling two-out, two-run homer on the first pitch he saw in the seventh inning to put the Kings ahead 4-3, but Burlington rallied for three runs with the help of two errors in the eighth to win, 6-4 last night.  Right-hander Matt Bischoff (L, 0-1) took the loss, allowing three runs — one earned — on six hits over 2.0 innings in relief.  The series concludes today with Clinton looking for the split on a rare 80-degree April Sunday.

Listen to the Rivers bomb:   Rivers 2-R HR (#1) 4.9.11.mp3

Right-hander Brandon Maurer (4-8, 3.23 career) makes his first start of 2011  today against the Bees, first pitch scheduled for 2:00 PM.  Right-hander Blake Hassebrock (0-1, 5.96 career) starts for Burlington.

Today’s Game Notes:   4.10.11 kingsnotes

Today’s Lineups:

Burlington (2-1):  Tyreace House/CF, Nino Leyja/3B, Douglas Landaeta/LF, Tony Thompson/1B, Yordy Cabrera/DH, Wade Kirkland/SS, Royce Consigli/RF, Ryan Pineda/2B, Daniel Petitti/C, Blake Hassebrock/RHP

LumberKings (1-2):  Matt Cerione/CF, Julio Morban/RF, Ramon Morla/3B, Mickey Wiswall/DH, Stefen Romero/2B, Tim Morris/1B, Steven Baron/C, Kevin Rivers/LF, Anthony Phillips/SS, Brandon Maurer/RHP

Listen in for the pregame show beginning at 1:45 PM on 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

All-Stars, Cleto and More

A few things of note regarding former and future LumberKings and this blog:

  • The Seattle Mariners’ Organizational All-Stars list came out last week, and it’s finally up on LumberKings.com.  Nick Franklin (’10) was a natural choice as the All-Star shortstop after hitting .281 with a Midwest League-best 23 homers last year.  Kyle Seager (’09) makes the list at second base, while left-handers Anthony Vasquez (’09-’10) and Brian Moran (’09-’10) also show up as the top left-handed starter and top reliever, respectively.  Potential future King Kevin Rivers is amongst the three outfielders after posting a .332 average in Everett last year.

 

 

  • Last Friday’s post on the 2010 Baseball Winter Meetings was my 500th on The LumberBlog.  That’s a lot of posts.  It appears that you’re still reading, as I finished #41 out of the Top 50 ProBlogs in November.  Thank you again!

-DL

Franklin Up for a MiLBY

A week after Clinton right-hander Erasmo Ramirez was nominated for a MiLBY for top Class A pitcher, LumberKings’ shortstop Nick Franklin now finds himself nominated for the Top Hitter award for all of Class A.

Franklin is up against fellow Midwest League post-season All-Star Mike Trout of the Cedar Rapids Kernels, Trout’s Kernel teammate Jean Segura, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers slugger Khris Davis and both Jared Clark (Asheville) and J.D. Martinez (Lexington) of the South Atlantic League.

Nick is leading the early vote at 52%.  Vote early and often for Franklin at this link: http://web.minorleaguebaseball.com/news/awards/y2010/hitter.jsp

While you’re checking off Franklin, make sure to show some love for fellow Mariners’ prospects Kevin Rivers (Everett) in the short-season vote and pick either Johermyn Chavez or Rich Poythress (both from High Desert) in the high-A vote.

For the record, Ramirez finished fourth amongst the six nominees for top pitcher with 10% of the vote.  Matt Magill of the Great Lakes Loons won with 57% of the vote despite going just 7-4 with a 3.28 ERA.  I guess the 135 strikeouts was a bigger deal than Ramirez’s 10-4 record and 2.97 ERA.  I disagree.

Following the MLB Division Series, I’ll do an update on former LumberKings in the playoffs.  Turns out I missed one.  Stay tuned for that posting later this week.

-DL

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