Mariners Midseason Report





BEST PLAYER: The Next Big Name in Seattle isn't far away, either in distance or in time. Righthander Michael Pineda has made the jump from Double-A West Tenn to Triple-A Tacoma, just 30 miles down the road from Seattle.

"This is a guy with plus stuff who is a strike-throwing machine," farm director Pedro Grifol said. "He has it with all three of his pitches, and when you have that combination, you'll probably be successful."

Pineda, a 21-year-old signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2005, went 1-0, 2.25 in his first two starts for Tacoma, after going 8-1, 2.22 for West Tenn. The question now is when Pineda will make the final jump to Seattle. The Mariners don't need a starter right now, but that could change soon.

"These players let us know when they're ready for the next level," Grifol said. "If the need is there, there's the possibility that Pineda would be ready."

BIGGEST LEAP FORWARD: Outfielder Carlos Peguero put up interesting numbers in his second stint at high Class A High Desert last year: his 31 home runs were intriguing, but his 172 strikeouts (against 42 walks) were troubling. He has moved up to Double-A this season and maintained his power while improving his strikeout/walk numbers.

If Peguero has turned a corner on his pitch recognition and control of the strike zone he could take off because he has legitimate power. He was batting .289/.381/.498 with 15 homers at West Tenn, and while his strikeout numbers were still high (97) he had walked 37 times and seemed on his way to setting a new career high.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: The Mariners paid Steve Baron $980,000 coming out of the 2009 draft to pass up a Duke scholarship. They knew he was a defense-first catcher, but so far Baron hasn't been able to break the Mendoza line.

Baron continues to play strong defense, and he had thrown out 42 percent (33 of 79) of basestealers this season between two levels, but he continues to strike out at nearly twice the rate that he gets hits. Baron batted .179/.241/.292 last year at Rookie-level Pulaski, with 38 strikeouts, seven walks and 19 hits in 106 at-bats. He was batting .181/.222/.236 between low Class A Clinton and short-season Everett, with 61 strikeouts, 11 walks and 36 hits in 199 at-bats.

MARINADE

• Lefthander Luke French was 9-2, 2.39 for Tacoma, putting him second in the Pacific Coast League in both ERA and wins. He was not a contender for a pitching triple crown because he had just 51 strikeouts, though his 1.10 WHIP also put him among the league leaders.

• The Mariners signed veteran outfielder Eddy Martinez-Esteve after he was released by the Giants, and added him to High Desert's roster. Not surprisingly Martinez-Esteve, 27, performed well and hit safely in 13 of his first 14 games.