Adam Moore and Michael Saunders are not in the lineup today, but both have had the bulk of playing time behind the plate and in left field these past two months.
Moore is hitting just .183 with a .494 on-base-plus-slugging percentage. Saunders is doing better, but his .212 average and .662 OPS are not what this team needs from one of its starting outfielders.
Despite their success at Class AAA, both are having trouble duplicating that at the major league level. Mariners manager Daren Brown said today he isn’t surprised by that because there are big differences between the pitchers they saw in AAA and those they are facing here.
“I’d say, obviously stuff and command and guys understanding how to go about attacking a hitter,” Brown said in explaining the differences. “In AAA, when you go in and you face a staff and there’s 12 guys, there’s probably three or four of those guys where you’ll see guys with that type of stuff at this level. And I tend to watch our (AAA) hitters against those guys. Because that’s what they’re going to see on an everyday level up here. And can they compete against that guy?
“And that gives you more of an idea of whether they’re going to be able to figure things out. Guys here, you look at command and we talk about making adjustments. They throw one fastball in and you can’t handle it, they’re going to keep doing it until you make an adjustment and show that you can.
“And then, if you make the adjustment and start handling that, they’re going to make an adjustment and see if you can handle the breaking ball.”
Brown added: “With young kids, sometimes, it takes a while before you can make those adjustments.”
And that’s why, no matter how good a prospect’s numbers look at AAA, there are limits to how many of them teams can break in at one time if they hope to compete. It’s also a reason why teams hesitate to throw untested prospects into the heat of a pennant race, even if they’ve merited a late-season call-up.
Brown said Moore has done a good job defensively behind the plate.
But the hitter he’s seen up here is not the same one he was managing in AAA just a couple of months ago. Brown said Moore looks too anxious at times and expands the strike zone, which isn’t part of his game.
“When he’s going good, he really wears out right field and right center,” Brown said, adding that Moore is capable of 10-to-15, or even 15-to-20 homers once he gets his game going.
Brown said there are “a lot of similarities” between the struggles of Moore and those of Saunders.
“But again, you’re talking about guys getting their first 200 or 300 at bats here,” he said. “You’d always love for them to come in here at his .300 and then everybody would be excited. But again, I think there are some growing pains that come with it.”