Mariner Squalls 05/20/14 + Minors Rewind: Jordan Rules?

3481344198_4960e42717_b== News, notes & navigation ==

News: Jordan Pries suddenly is the best pitcher at AAA.  What’s up with that? (Commenter Tacoma Rain asks)

Compass Reading: Well, he is and he isn’t

Tacoma broadcaster Mike Curto is a minor league expert, and I recall him admitting on his blog at the start of the year that he’d never heard of Pries and had to look him up.

Of course, the 5.13 ERA at High Desert doesn’t command attention, even though it’s High Desert.

For it to suddenly convert into a 1.85 ERA two levels higher is not what you see every day.

So here’s the thing on Pries:

  • We loved what he did in 2011 in Everett, but are always wary of major-college pitchers showing well in the low minors.  We put him firmly on the radar screen, though.
  • In 2012, he didn’t show up until June due to injury.  Once back, he was excellent in Clinton.  But again, kind of old and experienced for that level of competition.
  • In 2013, he had a not-so-great year at High Desert, which happens to lots of guys, but it caused me to drop him probably more than I should have (he went from “26 in the Mix” [41 to 66] to “Watch List” [67-100] FWIW).

And here’s more on Pries:

  • His 2013 wasn’t as bad as it looked.  His road stats are solid, although not overpowering.  He got hammered by home runs in dry, hot, windy Adelanto — lots of guys do — and was much stronger on the road.  But he had more walks and fewer strikeouts in away games, too.
  • His 2014 isn’t quite as good as it looks, either, although anytime a guy can jump levels and not skip a beat is impressive.  We give him a “three numbers” rating of 96-103-99 (or about average for a potential MLB prospect).
  • He’s very good at preventing damage (as he has been everywhere but Adelanto), but his walk rate is pretty high and his strikeout rate is not overwhelming.

So it seems that rather than a massive “plateau leap” Pries is just doing what he’s been doing, but just doing it very well so far.

===

News: Stephen Pryor still struggling.  What’s up with that?  (Commenter Jon W asks)

Compass Reading: Too soon to tell, I think

Pryor, of course, was supposed to be part of an influx of scary new arms to the Mariner bullpen, along with Carter Capps (since traded for Logan Morrison), Carson Smith (also dealing with an injury and just back from the DL) and Dominic Leone (OK, we got one right!).  [I guess maybe we were right about Capps too: he’s only given up 1 ER in 10.0 IP for Miami so far.]

Pryor’s injury was pretty serious, involving a tear of his lateral muscle, and then complications during his rehab.  And he’s only 14 games into his recovery.

He’s been hit-or-miss, with some excellent outings and some awful (0.2 IP, 3 ER, 4 BB) ones.  But even if you exclude the bad outings, he’s still not where he needs to be.

Pryor has always run a fairly high walk rate, but got away with it with monster-high strikeout rates and a strong record of preventing damage.  So far in 2014, he only has the high walk rate.

So we haven’t seen the version of Pryor that we were so high on, and we’ll have to put him in the wait-and-see category.  Way too soon to write him off, though.

Smith, meanwhile, was on a nice run when he hit the DL, so he might be able to get himself back in line soon.

===

News: Nick Franklin appears set to re-join MLB club

Compass Reading: Despite Montero’s power surge, can’t disagree

The “Corey Hart” roster spot is, in fact, the ideal roster spot for Jesus Montero.  And Montero has been cranking out right-handed power in Tacoma (.510 SLG, .231 ISO).  Franklin’s weak spot has always been his lack of right-handed pop (despite oodles of it left-handed).

But Franklin is the guy with the “use-by” date.  Montero, at this point, is a reclamation project.

When you send a guy down and he gets 41 hits, 7 homers and 23 walks in his first 30 games, you gotta call him up when there’s an opening.  Even if he’s not an ideal fit for the vacancy.

I’ve said the Mariners need to convert Franklin into something of value, but that won’t happen if his last taste of the majors was a downer.

As others have said, including SABRMatt at SeattleSportsInsider yesterday, the perception is out there that Mariner farm hands are dysfunctional and not as valuable as the M’s think.  With Franklin, the only way to dispel that is to have him play, and produce.

He needs to do that now, and Montero doesn’t.  Montero has no meaningful trade value under any near-term circumstances.

Plus, Franklin (albeit in only 17 plate appearances) has cut his strikeout rate as a RH hitter way down (as in: only 1), and also has a pair of doubles in those 17 trips.

===

Daily Prospect-palooza

  • Speaking of Montero and right-handed power … there it was Monday night.  Home run No. 8 on the year, plus a single and a walk.
  • Abraham Almonte had three hits and no strikeouts, but it may be too late to recapture center field from the red-hot James Jones.
  • Journeyman Matt Palmer went 5.0 IP with no runs and 5 K.
  • Daniel Paolini, one of our favorite “sleepers,” had two doubles and a walk.  Now that both are at AA, he and Dario Pizzano can start a DP-DP “guys-with-tons-of-walks-who-might-not-quite-have-the-bat-for-full-time-corner-position-duty-but-we-like-them-anyway” platoon.
  • Our very favorite “super-sleeper” Aaron Barbosa had two hits, a walk and his 11th steal of the year.  After a bit of a dry spell on the basepaths, he’s now swiped five in a row.
  • Chantz Mack led the way for Low-A Clinton with a home run and two walks.

 

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