Results tagged ‘ Nolan Gallagher ’

Predicting the 2011 Roster (Part 1)

2011previewpt1.jpg
My third-annual educated guess at the next season’s LumberKings’ roster begins today with part one, looking at potential players from the 2010 West Division Champs that could be back for the pennant defense. 

A warning first…these are my own thoughts and predictions and are based on no official reports from the Seattle Mariners.  Sometimes I’m right, sometimes I’m wrong.  Last year, I correctly named nine players from the 2009 roster that returned in ’10, although not all in the exact roles or timeframes I expected.  Also, in the event I’ve named someone who has been released, signed elsewhere or retired, feel free to correct me in the comments section below.  It’s happened before.

With that out of the way, here we go.

After a season as successful as last year, it’s safe to assume that most of the impact players will not return.  If you enjoyed watching Nick Franklin, James Jones, Vinnie Catricala, Mickey Wiswall, Mario MartinezErasmo Ramirez, Tom Wilhelmsen and Yoervis Medina at Alliant Energy Field last season, you’ll be more likely to see them all out in Adelanto, CA or Jackson, TN this year.  In the case of Wilhelmsen and Medina, you might sooner see them at Safeco Field.  Both are on the 40-man roster.

That’s not to say that there won’t be some experienced players back from last year’s team.  The one that I expect to return with the highest prospect pedigree will be catcher Steven Baron (pictured above).  Seattle’s supplemental first-round pick (after Dustin Ackley and Franklin) in 2009, Baron was in over his head a bit with his Opening Day assignment to the LumberKings’ roster, but as expected, you could never tell by his raw defensive ability.

The Mariners lured Baron away from Duke University because of his surprising skills behind the plate, some of which we saw last season out of the 19-year-old.  Baron nailed 27 of 64 attempting basestealers, a 42% rate.  While his passed balls total was a little concerning (a team-high 11 in 45 games), it was his bat that truly needed work.  Baron hit just .182 as a LumberKing, with just four of his 28 hits going for extra bases.  He struck out over 30% of the time, looking overmatched against older Midwest League pitchers.  At the All-Star Break, Baron was shipped down to short-A Everett to gain offensive confidence and did just that under hitting coach Scott Steinmann, hitting .253 with 12 doubles, three homers and 22 RBI in 53 games.  After earning the Northwest League’s Post-Season All-Star award and a NWL Championship ring with the AquaSox, Baron returned to the LumberKings during the playoffs and looked like a far more confident player.  I believe we’ll see him back as Clinton’s starting catcher in 2011 as he continues to grow as both a hitter and a backstop.


Continuing around the diamond to first base, it’s not likely we’ll see Wiswall back after his strong performance down the stretch (.301, 4 HR, 18 RBI in 33 regular-season games, .273, 2 HR, 5 RBI in 11 playoff games).  Again, citing the logjam situation at that same position, it might be possible that Tim Morris returns to Clinton.  Seattle’s 11th-round pick in 2009 out of St. John’s University, Morris hit .250 with 14 doubles, three triples, five homers and 46 RBI in 83 games last season.  Depending on how he performs during the spring, the Mariners could elect to send him back to Clinton.

Shortstop Gabriel Noriega could headline the up-the-middle defense for the LumberKings in 2011 now that he won’t have to shift to second base for Franklin.  Noriega was a sure-handed and strong-armed defender at both middle infield spots, but lacked poise at the plate until a hot month of August.  Even with that surge (.281, 10 RBI in 96 at-bats), the 19-year-old Venezuelan hit .227, scored 47 runs and drove in 28 in 112 games.  If Mariners’ 2010 second-round pick Marcus Littlewood doesn’t take over the position (Baseball America expects him to), Noriega might be sent back.

Versatile infielders Hawkins Gebbers and Carlos Ramirez also look like possible returnees.  Gebbers hit .255 with a pair of homers and five RBI during a 19-game stint with the Kings, but spent most of the year with Everett.  He hit .240 with 16 doubles, three homers and 22 RBI in 49 games.  Ramirez is most famous for his two-out, two-strike, game-tying RBI single in the 12th inning of Game 2 of the MWLCS.  Aside from that, he barely played at all in a Clinton cup-of-coffee.  Ramirez was the VSL Mariners’ MVP in 2009 after hitting .336, but struggled offensively in the AZL last year (.234, 12 RBI in 40 games).  I think we’ll see Gebbers and Ramirez both at some point in the year.

As for the outfield, I’ll mention only two names here from last year’s talented crop.  Kalian Sams had arguably THE hottest start in the Midwest League last year with 12 home runs in his first 44 games, but fell off completely when pitchers stopped throwing him fastballs.  Many folks in the Mariners’ system have called Sams the top power prospect in the organization (a definite honor considering Franklin, Greg Halman, Rich Poythress and Joherymn Chavez), but his .180 average and 132 strikeouts in 266 at-bats in his third Midwest League stint are more than a concern.  We know he can hit the ball a long way, but unless Sams can consistently put the ball in play this Spring, we might see him back in Clinton again.

Ryan Royster, the 13th round pick in the ’08 draft, might also finally settle in with the Kings with Daniel Carroll, Matt Cerione, Jones and Catricala all gone.  Royster was a huge boost to the offense two seasons ago when he hit .333 with two homers and seven RBI in eight games, leading me to bank on him becoming a regular in 2010.  That didn’t happen, as he played in just 10 games (.238, HR, 3 RBI) and was primarily with Everett yet again.  The Mariners have plenty in the outfield pipeline coming up, so we’ll see if that affects Royster again this year.

On the mound, there’s no surefire experienced starter set to come back the way Anthony
Blandford10.jpg
Vasquez
did last year.  Sixth-round pick Tyler Blandford (pictured right) has a live fastball and plenty of promise, but the right-hander went 1-2 with a 3.67 ERA in seven erratic starts with Clinton last year before missing the bulk of the season with arm issues.  With all of the fantastic pitching that stepped forward throughout the system in 2010, Blandford now must improve his control (he walked 25 in 27 innings last year) and stay on the mound for a full year just to stay on the radar.  If healthy, I think he’ll get that opportunity in Clinton.

Another starter looking to get back on track from injury will be right-hander Nolan Gallagher.  A fourth-round selection in 2007, Gallagher missed all of 2009 after undergoing Tommy John surgery and was forced to shut it down in 2010 after experiencing soreness again.  His 0-4, 6.32 marks didn’t tell the full story…Gallagher logged five-plus innings in four of his five starts before going on the disabled list in late July and then got hit hard late in the year when he returned.  Maybe he’ll be back, rested and healthy as a veteran contributor in 2011. 

I liked what I saw out of right-hander Jonathan Arias in his two spot-starts (0-1, 2.25 in 8.0 IP) and gutsy relief performance in the MWLCS Game 2 marathon.  Does that prove he’s worthy of joining the rotation on a full-time basis this year?  The 2011 season will be only his third as a pitcher after he started his career behind the plate.  Either in the rotation or in the pen, I believe he’ll be a LumberKing again.

While the rotation is sure to look much different compared to last year, the bullpen should actually seem familiar.  Right-hander John Housey went 5-4 with a 4.35 ERA in 25 games, including three spot-starts with the Kings until a late-July demotion to Everett.  Aside from the occasional blow-up outing (he allowed four-plus earned runs in four appearances), Housey was a go-to reliever for a decent stretch of the season.  Right-hander Jorden Merry (0-0, 4.91, SV in 13 games) and left-hander Jason Markovitz (0-0, 4.50 in 9 games) both had similar stats in brief stints with Clinton, leaving plenty of room for growth if they’re back.


The star of the pen could very well be Mariners’ 2010 fifth-round pick, right-hander Stephen Pryor. His 97 mph fastball proved effective against Midwest League hitters as he struck out 29 in just 17 innings, but Pryor’s control became a problem come playoff time as he walked five batters in just 1.1 innings.  Baseball America 
has projected him as the 21st-best prospect in the entire system and a candidate for a big-league bullpen spot as soon as 2012, but it’s possible that he returns to hone his curveball.  Maybe that’s wishful thinking on my part, but I’d love to see Pryor saving games in Clinton.

If he’s not, the Kings might still have high-octane heat in right-hander Fray Martinez, who also has an overpowering fastball but struggled through control issues.  Martinez went 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA in 12 appearances, walked 11 batters, hit one and issued four wild pitches.  The Santiago, Dominican Republic native was left off the playoff roster, but I think he’ll be back in the bullpen this year.  Right-hander Matt Bischoff could join him for his first full season after coming to Clinton for the playoffs.  Bischoff was dominant in his outings against Cedar Rapids and Kane County, but suffered through two tough relief performances against Lake County in the Championship Series, including a game one blown save and loss.  The Purdue product will get a chance to redeem himself as a go-to arm this year.


In addition to the 2010 returnees, we could also see several players from the ’09 season come back.  All-Star shortstop Terry Serrano (pictured left) hit .307 as a versatile everyday infielder for the AquaSox last year and could give Clinton a lift the same way Luis Nunez did last year.  Infielder-turned-pitcher Ogui Diaz has apparently dropped his arm angle down and went 4-3 with a 5.12 ERA in his first full season on the mound with Everett last year.  Names like Dwight Britton (.216 in 42 games with Everett) and Jetsy Extrano (.230 in 49 games with Pulaski) might pop up from time to time also.

Part two of my predictions on the 2011 roster will be posted next Tuesday.  Then, I’ll be going over some of the players you might expect to see donning the black and green for the first time.

-DL

A Busy Start to August

100_1952.JPGThe final full month of the 2010 season begins today as your LumberKings continue the series in Wisconsin.  The Kings beat up Rattlers’ right-hander Eric Arnett for seven runs last night, cruising to the 10-0 win.  Matt Cerione homered for the fourth time and fell a triple shy of the cycle, while Blake Ochoa victimized his old team with a towering drive to left for his fourth home run as well.

Right-hander Erasmo Ramirez fired 6.2 scoreless innings to extend his scoreless streak to 14.2 and the bullpen kept the shutout in-tact.

I would love to have caught either Cerione or Ramirez prior to today’s 1:05 PM game, but a lot of other things have kept me busy.  For one, the LumberKings’ roster has been changing.  Ace lefty Jimmy Gillheeney and right-hander Ryan Moorer were both promoted to high-A High Desert yesterday, but the move had not been announced until today.

Furthermore, the Kings have received 26-year-old right-hander Tom Wilhelmsen, who is expected to start in the series finale in Wisconsin tomorrow night.  Wilhelmsen’s story is an intriguing one, and I will get to that in another post/interview.

The moves haven’t stopped there.  After tossing 5.2 scoreless innings in triple-A Tacoma’s 8-2 win over Reno last night, right-hander Yoervis Medina was sent down three levels and will join Clinton today.  I doubt he’ll be available to pitch, but you never know.

Plenty of things to read about in today’s Game Notes: 
8.1.10 kingsnotes.pdf

Right-hander Taylor Lewis (3-1, 6.37) makes a spot start in place of injured righty Nolan Gallagher today, first pitch scheduled for 1:05 PM.  Listen online at 1390kcln.com!

-DL

Crossing Enemy Lines: Brad Golder

IMG00142-20100721-1814.jpgAfter a 4-2 homestand, the LumberKings are back on the road to conclude the East Division portion of their 2010 schedule.  They begin a three-game series tonight against the Great Lakes Loons, low-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers and the best team record-wise in affiliated baseball.

Simply put, the Loons are good.  Following a 43-26 first half that qualified them for the East Wild Card, Juan Bustabad’s club is off to a league-best 19-5 start int he second half.  They’ve replaced the league’s best player Jerry Sands with increased production from Blake Smith, Brian Cavazos-Galvez, Rafael Ynoa, Christian Lara and others.  Oh, and they also lead the league in team ERA. 

To deconstruct the powerhouse that is the Loons, I’ve decided to renew the “Crossing Enemy Lines” feature and chat with their fourth-year voice, Brad Golder.  We’ll talk about their record-setting season, get a scouting report on tonight’s starter Allen Webster and even learn a little about the (very few) weaknesses of the Loons.

Listen Here: 
Brad Golder CEL Interview 7.21.10.mp3

Tonight’s Game Notes: 
7.21.10 kingsnotes.pdf

The LumberKings will try and give right-hander Nolan Gallagher (0-3, 3.52) some actual run support (he’s been given just one run over three starts so far) in his fourth start tonight against the red-hot Loons.  First pitch is at 6:05 PM central time, listen online at 1390kcln.com.

-DL

On the Bright Side (July 16 Edition)

Thumbnail image for brightside.jpgI didn’t want to have to do another one of these this year, but I guess it’s time.  The LumberKings fell 7-1 to the East Division’s last-place team, the West Michigan Whitecaps last night.

The game was closer than the six-run deficit leads on.  Heading into the seventh, the Kings trailed 2-1, but the bullpen surrendered five runs over the final three innings as the ‘Caps put the game away.

There wasn’t much to cheer about in the loss (Clinton’s fourth in the last six games), but at least we have the following to be happy about:

  • Right-hander Nolan Gallagher, despite the one run of offensive support he’s received in three starts, has been fairly impressive.  Over his last two outings (11.1 IP), he’s limited opponents to three runs on 12 hits for an ERA of 2.38.  Now, if only the former fourth-round pick out of Stanford could just get a few runs.
  • Following an 11-game homer drought, Nick Franklin has lifted off twice in the last three games.  His solo homer in the first inning off right-hander Victor Larez was all of Clinton’s offense last night (listen:
    Franklin Solo HR (#16) 7.15.10.mp3)…he’s now tied for second in the MWL in blasts alongside Wisconsin’s Khris Davis.  Oh, and don’t worry about that early exit after a hit-by-pitch last night, Franklin is back in the starting nine this evening.
  • James Jones saw his hitting streak snapped at six games last night, but still played a role in the outcome.  He recorded two outfield assists (and now leads the club with 10), including the start of a 9-3-2 play at the plate to get Jamie Johnson in the eighth (listen: 
    Jones-Morris-Ochoa play at plate 7.15.10.mp3).
  • Even with the downswing, the Kings are still just 1.5 games behind the first-place duo of Quad Cities and Kane County.  There’s plenty of second half to go.
  • As always, you still get LumberKings Game Notes
    7.16.10 kingsnotes.pdf

Right-hander Taylor Stanton (6-4, 3.63) makes his 15th start of the year in the series finale against the Whitecaps tonight, first pitch scheduled for 7:00 PM.  Listen online at 1390kcln.com.

-DL

7/10 Game Notes

100_1907.JPGThe pregame interview is on hiatus tonight after last night’s 1-0 loss to the Quad Cities River Bandits.  The LumberKings saw a chance to tie the game slip through their grasp in the ninth as Tim Morris singled and made it to third base with one out, but was left stranded as Bandits’ closer Aaron Terry struck out Kalian Sams and Matt Cerione to end the game.

It was another night of zeroes against right-hander Deryk Hooker, who now has worked 11.0 scoreless innings against the Kings this season.  Right-hander Nolan Gallagher pitched 5.2 outstanding innings, yielding only a run on six hits to lower his ERA to 3.72…however, he also lost as a result of that run, falling to 0-2.

I contemplated interviewing Gallagher tonight, but I’ve decided that I’d much rather talk to him following a win than a frustrating 1-0 loss.  So, keep waiting for that interview for now.  I also pondered writing another edition of “On the Bright Side”, but those make my blood boil rather than cheering me up (their intended purpose).  Instead, let’s just forget about yesterday and move on.

It’s on to Kane County this evening to start a three-game series with the Cougars, a team the LumberKings have owned this season.  Clinton is 10-4 against the low-A Oakland affiliate, including 3-1 here at Elfstrom Stadium.

Those facts and more in tonight’s Game Notes: 
7.10.10 kingsnotes.pdf

Right-hander Taylor Stanton (6-4, 3.52) makes his 14th start, 17th appearance tonight in the opener of this three-game series against the Cougars.  He’s 2-0 with a 1.74 ERA against them this season, numbers that bode well as the Kings attempt to get back to the first-place spot in the West.  First pitch is at 6:00 PM, listen online at 1390kcln.com.

-DL

Crossing Enemy Lines: John Rodgers

The LumberKings saw their three-game winning streak and their two-day run in first place come to an abrupt end as a result of five errors last night, losing 5-3 to the Cedar Rapids Kernels.  Luis Nunez (2-for-4, RBI) and Tim Morris (1-for-4) kept hitting streaks alive at nine games and 11 games, respectively.  Matt Cerione also lifted a solo home run (highlight: 
Cerione Solo HR 7.2.10.mp3) and is hitting .321 over his last eight games.

More useful factoids in tonight’s Game Notes: 
7.3.10 kingsnotes.pdf

On the interview, I’ve decided to point the mic at the legendary voice of the Cedar Rapids Kernels, John Rodgers.  He’s watched a club fronted by All-Star center-fielder Mike Trout capture the first half West Division title, the first by a Kernels’ club since 1992.

We’ll talk about Trout, one of several 2009 first-round picks of the Los Angeles Angels currently comprising the Cedar Rapids’ roster.  Mr. Rodgers also weighs in on the likes of Matt Long, Jean Segura and Casey Haerther of the offense, plus Fabio Martinez, Garrett Richards and Tyler Skaggs of the pitching staff.  Get ready for a long one, the interview clocks in at just over nine minutes.

Listen Here:  John Rodgers CEL Interview 7.3.10.mp3

Tonight, it’s the Midwest League debut (sort of…ok, so he made four starts with Wisconsin in 2007) of right-hander Nolan Gallagher.  Seattle’s fourth-round pick out of Stanford in 2007 is back from Tommy John surgery and faces the Kernels tonight, first pitch scheduled for 6:35 PM.  Listen to the game online at 1390kcln.com.

-DL

Hesketh Heads West, Gallagher Joins Kings

Left-hander Jon Hesketh earns promotion to High Desert, is replaced by right-hander Nolan Gallagher

                                                         

Clinton, IA – The Clinton LumberKings, in conjunction with the Seattle Mariners, have announced four player transactions affecting the Clinton 25-man roster today.  Left-hander Jon Hesketh has been promoted to high-A High Desert, effective today.  He is replaced on the roster by Seattle’s 2007 fourth-round pick, right-hander Nolan Gallagher.  Also, right-hander Ryan Moorer has been placed on the seven-day disabled list.  Right-hander Jorden Merry has been recalled from short-A Everett.

 

Hesketh, 24, went 3-5 with a 4.43 ERA over 14 starts with the LumberKings this season.  The Langley, British Columbia, Canada native struck out a team-high 82 batters over 67 innings for an 11.01 strikeouts-per-nine-innings ratio, second-best amongst all Midwest League starters.  He was in his second stint with Clinton after being drafted in the 20th round out of the University of New Mexico in 2009.

 

Gallagher, 24, comes to Clinton after a rehab stint in the Arizona League.  He went 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA over two starts, yielding six earned runs over 10.0 innings.  Seattle’s fourth-round pick in 2007 out of Stanford, Gallagher missed all of 2009 after undergoing Tommy John surgery on his right elbow on June 24.  He’s a career 3-5 with a 3.10 ERA over four professional seasons.

 

Moorer, 24, went 0-0 with a 3.00 ERA over two relief outings with the LumberKings, including a run over 2.0 innings in last night’s game against Kane County.  He exited in the midst of the sixth inning with an undisclosed injury.

 

Merry, 23, returns for his third stint with Clinton this year.  He’s 0-0 with a 6.75 ERA over four relief appearances and has one save in one opportunity.  Merry was 0-0 with a 5.40 ERA over two relief outings with the AquaSox.

 

With the moves, the active Clinton roster stands at 25 players with three on the disabled list.  Both Gallagher and Merry are expected to be in uniform for tonight’s game against Kane County.

 

-DL

 

 

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