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Hot Stone League

Larry Stone gives his take on a wide array of baseball issues and weighs in about the Mariners, too.

June 14, 2012 at 10:55 AM

Hultzen named All-Star starter, minor-league transactions, draft update (New: Mariners’ minor-league report)

Here is today’s Mariner minor-league report.

UPDATE 4:11 P.M.: The Mariners just announced the signing of third-round pick Edwin Diaz and third-round supplemental pick Tyler Pike. According to Baseball America, Pike signed for $850,000 — well above his slot figure of $370,800).

According to a press release from the Jackson Generals, Danny Hultzen has been named starter for the North Division in the Southern League All-Star Game next Tuesday at Smokies Park in Kodak, TN.

No surprise there — it would have been a shocker if Hultzen wasn’t named the starter, with his 8-3 record, 1.19 ERA and 27.2-inning scoreless streak. Let’s just say it: Hultzen is too good for this league, and has absolutely no reason for staying in Double-A. Once the All-Star Game is past, I’d expect him to get a call up to Tacoma, and if he continues to dominate minor-league competition, a promotion to the Mariners probably wouldn’t be far behind.

I’ve heard speculation Hultzen could skip Triple-A completely and go straight to the majors. That would surprise me, just because this is his first professional season, and I think the Mariners want to take it one step at a time up the ladder. With top prospects, Super Two arbitration status always has to be considered as well, and it’s almost to the point of the season where that ceases to be a factor. Remember, Dustin Ackley was called up on June 17 last year. But teams might be holding their top prospects in the minors a little later this year because of changes in the Super Two rules in the last CBA. Here’s a good explanation of the rules. It pertains to Bryce Harper, but it could apply to Hultzen as well.

Here’s a study of when the Super Two date will fall after this season.

This is the second straight year Jackson has provided the Southern League North Division All-Star starter. Last year, it aws Jarrett Grube. Jackson will have three other starters among its eight Southern League All-Stars: Denny Almonte will lead off and player center, Nick Franklin bats third and plays shortstop, and Jesus Sucre is the catcher, hitting fifth.

Meanwhile, there were several transactions at the minor-league level today in the Mariners’ farm system. LHP Bobby LaFromboise and RHP Steven Hensley were promoted to Tacoma from Jackson, while RHP Forrest Snow was transferred from Tacoma to Jackson. RHP Andrew Kittredge was transferred from Class A Clinton to Jackson. RHP Jandy Sanda was returned to Jackson from Tacoma, and placed on the 7-day DL.

LaFromboise has allowed just one earned run in his last 24 1/3 innings. He hasn’t allowed a hit to the last 23 batters he’s faced. Hensely was 2-2 with a 3.24 ERA in 20 relief appearances. Kittredge was 1-0 with a 1.23 ERA in 7.1 innings at Clinton.

Snow, out of Lakeside School in Seattle and the UW, was 1-4 with an 8.42 ERA with Tacoma.

On the draft front, I wanted to make clear that if a team fails to sign a player in the top 10 rounds, it can’t apply the budgeted amount for that player to use for signing other players. It simply loses that amount from its overall budget. I indicated otherwise yesterday, for which I apologize.

According to Baseball America’s updated bonus figures, the Mariners are now $943,100 over their allotted bonus pool of $8,223,400 to sign their picks in the top 10 rounds. That’s based on going over slot to sign fifth-rounder Chris Taylor (signed for $500,000, slot was $264,500) and sixth-rounder Timmy Lopes (signed for $550,000, slot was $198,100). That’s in addition to the over-slot signings reported yesterday.

Interestingly, there’s still no official word from the Mariners on signing third-round supplemental pick Tyler Pike, despite reports elsewhere they had done so. The Mariners still have to sign Mike Zunino (first round), Edwin Diaz (third), Pike, and Nick Halamandaris (eighth).

According to Baseball America’s figures, the Mariners have spent $2,970,200 so far. That leaves them with $5,253,200 left to spend for their top 10 picks. Those remaining unsigned picks are budgeted by MLB to cost $6,196,300. The difference is the $943,100 overage figure cited earlier. Zunino alone is slotted for $5.2 million.

This means that either the Mariners will sign the remaining players for an aggregate of nearly $1 million under the pool figure, or risk paying the penalties, which are as follows: Teams that overspend by up to five percent are subject to a tax of 75 percent of the pool overage; overspending by 5 to 10 percent makes them subject to a tax of 75 percent of the pool overage, and loss of a first-round pick in the next draft; overspending by 10 to 15 percent results in a tax of 100 percent of the overage, and loss of first-round and second-round picks in the next draft; overspending by 15 percent or more results in a tax of 100 percent of the overage, and loss of a first-round pick in the next two drafts.

I can’t see the Mariners risk losing any future draft picks, and I certainly don’t see them letting Zunino, in particular, slip away, so I’d look for some hard bargaining and creative deal-making to take place

UPDATE: Here’s another report of an over-slot signing of Pike, which would give them even less room to manuever. But, I repeat: There’s no way they don’t sign Zunino. Keep in mind that Carlos Correa, the No. 1 overall pick by Houston, signed for $4.8 million — a whopping $2.4 million below slot. No. 2 Byron Buxton (Twins) signed for $6 million — $200,000 below slot. No one is expected to sign for more than either of those two, according to a blog post by Baseball America’s Jim Callis, so there’s some wriggle room. The Mariners almost certainly have a general idea of what it will take to sign Zunino, and are acting accordingly. Nothing will happen with Zunino until Florida is done in the College World Series.

ONE MORE UPDATE, 4:15 P.M.: Adding in Pike’s reported signing figure, the Mariners are now $1,422,300 over their pool budget.



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