Today, I thought I’d offer some insights from Pedro Grifol, the Mariners’ director of minor-league operations, on a few players of interest. These came from a conversation I had with Pedro earlier in the week for this story on Mariner rebuilding. I’m going to try to sprinkle these minor-league posts with quotes from executives, coaches and managers in the future — not every day, but when I can.
RHP Erasmo Ramirez: “Erasmo Ramirez is pretty interesting. The reason I say that, the other day I saw him at 92 to 95 (mph). He doesn’t just control the baseball, he commands it. He’s a very,very durable kid. He’s not only a guy who can be a consistent winner at the big-league level, but an innings guzzler. A nine-inning guy. He has the potential to be a 7, 8, 9 inning guy, and those are hard to find. When you have a kid like this, who’s young, durable and powerful, and commands the baseball like this, he’s pretty interesting. I know he’s in Double-A, and needs to face Triple-A hitters. Hopefully, at some point, he might this year.” (Note: Ramirez is 4-2 with a 3.76 ERA in nine starts for AA Jackson, with 39 strikeouts and two walks).
IF Kyle Seager: “He’s a professional hitter, a very, very smart player. He handles left-handed pitching extremely well. I saw him face a tough lefty, and a couple of left-handed relievers. He’s definitely a kid who can handle both righties and lefties. He’s instinctual, makes the routine plays — he does everything right.” (Note: Seager, primarily a second baseman, has seen some time at short and may get a look at third. “We want to get him ready to play multiple positions,” Grifol said. “That’s an organizational policy. Let’s say Dustin Ackley gets to the big leagues and becomes our second baseman for the next 15 years. Seager will have to find a place to play. It’s better to do it now than in the big leagues.”
INF/OF Nate Tenbrink: “Nate Tenbrink is really good baseball player. I’m not sure what his role will be when all is said and done; he’s a really good third baseman, left fielder. He can really run. His stats are down, but when I look at him play, I have a gut feeling he’s going to turn into a very good player.” (Note: Tenbring is hitting .224 at Jackson. Last year, Tenbrink hit .377 for High Desert but had his season sidetracked shortly after his promotion to Double-A, when he was hit in the head by a pitch and suffered a concussion).
LHP James Paxton: “His walks are a little high, but he’s throwing 90 to 95, and sitting at 92, 93 with comfort. His breaking ball is a strikeout pitch, and his change is becoming a pitch he can go to as he develops. He gets a lot of swings and misses. His pitch count is always high, because he gets so many swings and misses. It’s hard to pick his ball up, and he has the stuff to go along with it. He’s a pretty interesting kid.” Note: In prospect speak, “interesting kid” is high praise. Paxton has a 2.22 ERA in five starts for Class A Clinton with 38 strikouts and 17 walks in 28 1/3 innings.
1B/OF Mike Carp. “I’ve always liked Carp. I love his swing and approach. I just like everything about him as a hitter. He has very, very quick hands. At times, he can get wild in the strike zone. At other times, he’ll run deep counts and wait for a pitch he can do damage with. When he’s hot, it doesn’t matter who he’s facing. He was hitting .150 near the end of April, and he’s done it all (a hot streak that has raised his average to .310) in a month. Last year, he hit for power, this year he’s hit for average and power. Now that’s he’s putting both together, there’s no telling.” Note: Carp leads Tacoma with 12 homers and 39 RBIs.
SS Carlos Triunfel: “I really like what he’s doing. He came in at 194 pounds; ,last year, when he got to Arizona, he was 218, 219. I give him credit: He came in at 194, and the other day he weighed in at 194. It makes a difference. He goes side to side extremely well. He’s always had a great throwing arm. His plate discipline is getting better. It’s not exactly where it needs to be. He looks great.” (Note: I asked Grifol is he still sees Triunfel, whom he recently viewed in person, as a shortstop: “I tell you what, I do right now, with what I saw this last week. He’s comfortable. He’s learned how to slow the game down. He’s no longer attacking the ball like used to, playing out of control.He’s letting the game take its pace, turning the double play like he’s turning it in batting practice. It’s a sign of maturity and a kid, at 21, starting to grow into his game and becoming the player he’s going to be. He’s 21, a puppy, and he missed a year (with a broken leg). That’s one thing everyone forgets: When you miss a year at 19, it sets you back quite a bit. It’s a big deal.”
OF Guillermo Pimentel: “He’s down here (in Arizona) and player great (in extended spring training). He’s hitting about .290, seven doubles, four triples, four homers, in only 50-some at-bats. He’s itching to go out and play short season. I can’t wait to see him go out and play short season. It’s an electric bat. He’s a free swinger right now, which is something he’ll have to continue to work on. They tell me he’s really getting better. He makes contact, but he’s going to have to shrink he strike zone — know your zone and where your strength is. If he can do that…it’s an electric bat. There are other parts of his game he needs to improve; his baserunning needs work, his outfield throwing arm — all things that are a little below average. But his bat is electric.” Note: Pimentel, one of the key recent international signees by Bob Engle out of the Dominican Republic, is just 18. He is likely to go to one of the two Mariners’ short-season teams, Everett or Pulaski, which start play in June. “Either would be a good place,” Grifol said. “He needs to go under the lights and start to shine in minor-league parts.”