Minor League Notes: Tacoma, West Tenn
Posted by Jason A. Churchill on January 1, 2007
Final rosters will, of course, not be released for a couple of months as many decisions have yet to be made and will be based on what players show the organization in spring training, starting next month in Peoria.
But the field staffs have been announced, as has the roving instructors for the upcoming season, including a change at the position of hitting instructor, where Alonzo Powell takes over for Glenn Adams.
Remember, all of this is preliminary and subject to mass change, but it’s been an interesting month and a half for me as I scour the rosters putting together the top 50 prospects.
Some of these rosters are going to be a lot of fun to watch, and it’s becoming a regular thing in this organization. One of these days, the Mariners will figure out how to draft hitters and develop players properly, because there hasn’t been nearly enough of it over the past three years.
Onto the stuff.
Manager: Daren Brown
Hitting Coach: Terry Pollreisz
Pitching Coach: Dwight Bernard
Trainier: Tom Newberg
The Rainiers roster has been pretty interesting since the start of the 2004 season and that will not change in 2007. The starting rotation is likely to include five of the following: Travis Blackley, Ryan Feierabend, Jesse Foppert, Robert Rohrbaugh, Yorman Bazardo, Travis Chick, Justin Lehr, Jake Woods, Cha Seung Baek.
Chick, Dorman, Bazardo and Foppert are probably best suited for the bullpen, as their futures probably lie in relief, but where they began their 2007 seasons will depend on who else breaks camp with Tacoma and who makes the 25-man, and above all, the health of Mr. Foppert.
The rest of the pen may consist of Eric O’Flaherty, if he doesn’t make the big club, Ryan Rowland-Smith, Cesar Jimenez and probably Craig James and/or Stephen Kahn.
Offensively, Oswaldo Navarro and Michael Garciaparra should be the starters up the middle, with Yung Chi Chen a candidate for the second or third base job. If Chen is left in AA to start the year as the DJaxx second baseman, Hunter Brown is the likely starter at the hot corner.
Bryan Lahair is the easy choice at first base and the OF and DH spots are likely to be filled by Adam Jones, Wladimir Balentien, Mike Wilson and Jon Nelson.
The catchers are sure to be a repeat of ’06 with Rob Johnson and Jeff Clement, mirror clones of one another, splitting time.
Brown will make his Triple-A debut after several seasons in A ball and one year in AA, and while the rumor is he’s not all that media savvy – or friendly – he has done a solid job with his rosters and that’s what matters most.
Pollreisz has a great rapport with young hitters and there’s nothing more entertaining than to see Polls sprint out from the dugout to argue balls and strikes. He only does it when the home plate umpire is being unreasonable and his roast last summer was classic.
Here, I’ll quote Pollreisz after Chris Snelling was called out on strikes on a three terrible strike calls, all on the outer half.
“THE STRIKE ZONE! … IS TOO… FUCKING… WIDE!” – as he holds his palms three feet apart to show lil blue how large his zone was.
Bernard is quickly becoming one of the more respected pitching coaches in the PCL and returns for his second year in Tacoma.
Side Note: Tom Newberg is in his first year as trainier for the Rainiers after spending several seasons as Rock Griffin’s first assistant in Seattle. Rob Nodine, who spent the last four years in Tacoma, jumps to the majors to replace Newberg.
West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx
Manager: Eddie Rodriguez
Hitting Coach: Tommy Cruz
Pitching Coach: Brad Holman
Trainier: Jeremy Clipperton
A few of the pitchers mentioned above in AAA may sprinkle across the DJaxx roster, such as James or Kahn, and possibly even Rohrbaugh. The rest will likely be made up of starters such as Andrew Baldwin, Andy Barb, Cibney Bello, Justin Thomas, Aaron Jensen and Julio Santiago.
Last June’s first round pick Brandon Morrow could prove worthy for AA as well, depending on his health and his spring showing. Either way, Morrow probably moves quite quickly into the upper minors, and could see time in Triple-A Tacoma in 2007. Frankly, I’d be surprised if he didn’t.
The West Tenn bullpen could be filled out by Chad Fillinger, Jose de la Cruz, Lance Beus, Jon Lockwood, Mumba Rivera and Aaron Trolia. Joe Woerman is also a candidate heading into spring work.
Yung Chi Chen, Matt Tuiasosopo, Thomas Hubbard, Brent Johnson, Sebastian Boucher, Casey Craig, Brian Schweiger, Chris Colton and possibly even Luis Valbuena and Jeffrey Dominguez will make up most of the position players on the roster.
It would be pressing Valbuena and Dominguez, but the organization leans toward aggression, so things could go swift for those two. It’s tough to say where Jesus Guzman fits in, if at all.
Next Up: Roster speculation for High Desert and Wisconsin, and the field staffs of the rest of the organization through Peoria and the Dominican and Venezuelan Leagues.
Wednesday night WILL officially begin the release of the prospect rankings. Numbers 41-50 will be released, unranked.