The 2012 minor league season is now in our rear view mirror and we need to take a wee bit of time to give some shoutouts to the players who performed at a level above their peers. This is the first installment and will be followed up shortly with "Starting Pitcher of the Year" and "Relief Pitcher of the Year" for each affiliate. I might even do a song of the year....
Let's do dis!
Offensive Players of the Year:
Tacoma - Luis Jimenez
Big Luis Jimenez had the type of year that we really wish would have happened to someone with a few less miles, and maybe pounds on him. Still though, it would be foolish to not acknowledge what Jimenez was able to accomplish in 2012. Prior to the season even starting Jimenez polished off his season in the Caribbean Series All-Star. Then in July he was named as a PCL mid-season All-Star.
For the season, Jimenez put up a slashline of .310/.394/.514/.907. That is beyond respectable. He also smacked 20 homeruns, and 32 doubles. Here's the scary part of his stats: Luis Jimenez, all 6'3" and 255 lbs of his hit 2 triples in 2012. Can you imagine being the 3rd sacker who has to try to make a play on Jimenez as he slides into 3rd? I bet the sun gets blocked out...
For his effort, Luis Jimenez was rightfully promoted to the Seattle Mariners once the Tacoma Rainiers season ended.
Jackson - Joseph Dunigan
I know what is going through some of your minds right now. Really? Dunigan?
Yes, Dunigan. Here's why. Although it would have been easy to name Stefen Romero
as the offensive player of the year, I have to take into consideration that Romero only played half of the season with Jackson whereas big Joe Dunigan was there from beginning to end. He stats may fall short of what Romero was able to do, but considering that he was there for the full year more than evens things out.
Joe Dunigan had a very good year for the Generals and represented them well at the All-Star game by winning the coveted Homerun Derby. Dunigan was also named the Southern League Player of the Week on two occasions. Dunigan's slashline looks like this: .254/.320/.502/.822. Dunigan hit 25 homeruns, leading the Generals in that catagory (2nd in the Southern League behind Hunter Morris
with 28), and added 25 doubles and 3 triples. He also lead his team with 72 RBI, 6th in the league. As big as he is, Dunigan stole 15 bases while being caught 5 times. Joe Dunigan also lead the league in strikeouts with 175, but that is besides the point.
High Desert - Steven Proscia
With a team full of hitters it may seem rather strange to go with Steven Proscia as the choise of Offensive Player of the Year, but it does make sense when you look at his complete 2012 package of performance.
In 2012, although having spent 21 games filling in at 1st base at Jackson while Rich Poythress
was nicked up, Proscia still managed to get into 106 games with the Mavericks. In those 106 games Proscia put up a slashline that is Liddiesque: .333/.368/.567/.935. Proscia lead the Mavericks in homeruns with 24, was third on the team with 145 hits, third with 88 runs scored, and second with 94 RBI.
On defense Proscia played the majority of the time at 3rd base (40 games), but also put in time at 1st (23 games), 2nd (15 games), and DH (28 games).
Clinton - Daniel Paolini
I can hear the resounding "WHO???" all the way here in Colorado. For those of you who don't dabble deeply (if at all) in the minor leagues, Daniel Paolini was drafted by the Mariners in the 10th round of the 2011 draft. I was tracking Paolini last year since he intrigued me from the get-go. Here's what baseballamerica.com had to say about Paolini prior to the 2011 draft:
"A pitching prospect for most of his high school career, Dan Paolini sustained a shoulder injury and had labrum surgery before his senior year, but Siena still pursued him as a hitter. As a sophomore, Paolini ranked second nationally with 26 home runs, and the new bats this season only slightly slowed his production, as he walloped another 17. Scouts were more concerned with his numbers in the Cape Cod League, where he hit .200 with four doubles and one home run in 110 at-bats last summer. Power is his only plus tool, and he has a long, uppercut swing, making some scouts wonder whether his bat speed will play against premium velocity. Though he's a good athlete, Paolini bulked up this year and looked stiff. He is a below-average defender with an average arm and likely will move to left field. Paolini should get popped between rounds eight and 15."
So, coming into the draft Paolini was known to have a bit of pop in his bat, so how did he do in 2012? Thanks for asking! This past season Paolini smacked the ball around to the tune of .299/.376/.493/.869. He hit 18 homeruns to lead the KibbleKings, and lead the team as well in RBI. He accomplished all of this while hitting in a predominant pitchers league. Paolini started out slow (as do most hitters in the chilly Midwest League), but came on like his life depended on it as the season progressed.
Everett - Mike Zunino
I don't know if you all have heard about this, but last June the Mariners drafted this kid out of the University of Florida who happens to be a catcher with the 3rd overall pick in the draft. His name is Mike Zunino. After signing, Zunino went on a pogram of devestation against any and all opposing pitchers. Did you all hear about that?
If you aren't excited about what Zunino has done so far in the Mariner system then you need to check your pulse to see if you have one. Zunino has done more than expected and has so far made a lot of us forget that other catcher that the ZM's drafted a few years ago named.... Um.... Er....
Pulaski - Jabari Henry
Pulaski is the Mariners affiliate in the Appalachain League, which is a rookie league. As such, it wouldn't be all that odd if you haven't heard of Jabari Henry. Oh, I'm sure that the first name might kindle a memory or two, but if you are coming up with nothing that is quite all right.
Jabari Henry was drafted by the Mariners in the 18th round of the 2012 draft out of Florida International. Here's what baseballamerica.com had to say prior to the draft:
"Teams looking for toolsy college bats could do worse than Henry, a 6-foot-1, 200-pound right fielder who hit 22 home runs the last two seasons for Florida International. He has length in his swing and some holes that he just hasn't closed, so he also has 110 strikeouts in 369 at-bats in that span. He's a solid athlete with average speed and an above-average arm."
Ok, so how did that translate to the professional level? Again, thanks for asking! With Pulaski Henry put together a slashline of .271/.357/.488/.845 with 8 homeruns, 3 triples, and 15 doubles in 242 plate appearances. With the Pulaskers, Henry tied for the team lead in homeruns, lead the team in triples, and tied for the lead in doubles. Henry lead the Pulaskers in RBI, and had a very respectable batting eye of .587 (27 BB / 46 K).
The only knock that I have on Henry was that he was just a touch old for the league at 21.
Peoria - Timmy Lopes
Folks, if you haven't jumped on the Timmy Lopes bandwagon yet then you had better do so now. You don't want to look like a Johnny Comelately next year!
Timmy Lopes was drafted by the Mariners in the 6th round of the 2012 draft out of Edison High School (Huntington Beach, CA). Lopes was highly touted as a prospect and was proceeded by his older brother into professional baseball. Again, here is what baseballamerica.com had to say:
"For years, Lopes was overshadowed by his high-profile older brother Christian, who wound up signing for an $800,000 bonus as the Blue Jays' seventh-round pick last year. The younger Lopes had a breakout performance at the Southern California Invitational in Compton in February, and scouts now think he is a better player than his brother. Lopes has some thickness in his lower half that worries some scouts, but he showed solid-average speed this spring that plays up because of his advanced baseball instincts. He has solid range and good actions at shortstop, though his average arm fits better at second base, where he has a chance to be a solid-average defender. His best asset is his natural feel for the barrel. He makes consistent, hard contact and has a mature, all-fields approach. Lopes projects as an average or slightly better hitter with fringe-average power at best. The UC Irvine recruit could be drafted between the second and fourth round."
Lopes is no power-hitter, so he isn't a "big bat", but what he brings to the game is very special. Lopes' shows a very mature approach at the plate and rarely swings at pitches outside of the strikezone. In the 53 games that Lopes played in Arizona he wracked up a nice little body of work. His slashline of .316/.381/.479/.860 shows that he can hit and hit with gap power. In just 244 plate appearances Lopes hit 12 triples and 11 doubles. He struckout 29 times and walked 24 for a batting eye of .828 (BB/K). Lopes was promoted up to A+ High Desert to give him some playoff experience and to help out the Mavericks.
I'm expecting great things from this kid as he and his game matriculates up through the Mariner's system.
As a conclusion let me just say that the state of the Mariner's farm system is incredible right now. Looking back at what the system looked like four years ago is like looking at a barren alien landscape.