==”I don’t mi-ind …” ==
Time travel to early summer 2013.
The best healthy right-handed hitters on the Mariner roster, I suppose, were mostly-used-up and soon-to-be-shipped-out Michael Morse and Jason Bay. Franklin Gutierrez was in his usual perpetual limbo.
Mike Zunino had been rushed to the majors, and wasn’t hitting a lick.
Once-promising Vinnie Catricala had been cut due to a free-fall so steep that it eventually caused him to leave baseball for the police academy. Stefen Romero wasn’t living up to his modest expectations. Jack Marder‘s free-fall was as steep as Vinnie’s, though he hasn’t yet traded bat for badge.
Way off on the horizon was the faint hope of then-red-hot Daniel Paolini, but he was in High Desert, was old for his level and didn’t even have a certain defensive role.
Paolini, though quite good, had floated to the top of the prospect list by default. The entire organization had very little promise in terms of right-handed hitters of any stripe.
Part of it was the draft strategy, when the Jack Zdurincik crew first came in, of loading up on lefty hitters, whom they thought would be a better fit for Safeco Field. But things had gotten quite a bit out of balance.
And then …
2013 Draft — D.J. Peterson
- 2013: .303/.365/.553
- 2014 first six games: .348/.400/.652
2013 Draft — Austin Wilson
- 2013 in August: .296/.367/.606
- 2014 first five games: .263/.364/.368
Emerging from “Perpetual Potential” — Jabari Blash
- 2013 in August: .319/.451/.648
- 2014 first five games: .263/.417/.474
2013 Draft — The “Tank” Tyler O’Neill
- 2013: .310/.405/.450
- 2014 first five games: .263/.333/.421
2013 Draft — Corey Simpson
- 2013: 3 HR in 14 games, .255 ISO
Emerging from “Perpetual Potential” — Gabriel Guerrero?
- 2014 first six games: .478/.500/.826
Emerging from “Perpetual Potential” — Patrick Kivlehan?
- 2014 first six games: .391/.440/.609
The August lift-offs of Blash and Wilson were two of the best things we’ve seen in a long time, especially since Peterson left the scene that same month with a broken jaw.
Blash had always shown flashes of promise, but in late 2013, he looked like he was putting it all together, and it was scary-good: 9 HR in 29 games for AA Jackson.
Wilson’s NFL body never squared with his “Stanford” swing (it’s a long story), and it was August as well when he started to look scary-good. His ISO on July 31 was .102. His ISO on August 30 was .176 after stinging the ball around the yard for 21 games.
But before the jaw incident, the Deej was just as hot. He had 13 homers in his shortened rookie season.
Now comes 2014, and (taking into account that it’s High Desert) two guys for whom I’ve been more “wait-and-see” than most are off to red-hot starts.
Guerrero has a hit in every game, four multi-hit games and a pair of early homers.
Kivlehan has nine hits in six games, and had a homer and a triple Tuesday night. He’s been playing mostly first base, considering Mr. D.J. has been over there manning third (not that there’s an MLB opening for either of them at the hot corner at the moment).
And, of course, Corey Hart made a big impact with his RH bat in Seattle as well. And Romero is showing promise.
So right now, the right side is the right place to be, for the first time in awhile.