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2003 Wrapups: Seattle Mariners

With the 2003 season coming to a close, we will be providing a brief wrapup of the season for all 30 minor league teams. In each report, we will take a look at how the team's Top 10 Prospects performed, identify some emerging prospects and organizational leaders, and report on the performance of their top draft pick.
Complete index of Team Wrapups               2003 League Wrapups

By Kevin Goldstein
December 9, 2003

Season Results

Level Team League W L PCT
AAA Tacoma Pacific Coast 66 78 .458
AA San Antonio* Texas 88 51 .633
A+ Inland Empire* California 78 62 .557
A Wisconsin Midwest 69 66 .511
SS Everett Northwest 32 44 .421
R AZL Mariners Arizona 30 25 .545
TOTAL 363 326 .527
   * won league championship


Performance of Top 10 Prospects

Here's how our top 10 prospects entering this season performed in 2003.

1. Rafael Soriano, rhp      Age: 23
Soriano began the year in the Triple-A Tacoma rotation, where he was nearly unhittable (.192 opponent's average). Spent the majority of the second half pitching out of the Seattle bullpen, where he was, well, nearly unhittable. 1.14 ERA after the all-star break, with 53 strikeouts in 39.1 innings. Could be the next great closer.
Team W-L SV ERA G IP H R ER BB SO
Tacoma (Triple-A) 4-3 0 3.19 11 62.0 43 24 22 12 63
Seattle (MLB) 3-0 1 1.53 40 53.0 30 9 9 12 68

2. Chris Snelling, of      Age: 22
Snelling began his season in May after recovering from major knee surgery, and showed no ill effects, receiving a promotion to Tacoma by late July. Unfortunately, the injury bug struck again on August 13 when he re-injured the knee running out a ground ball. Has played just 282 games over the last four seasons.
TEAMG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG
San Antonio (Double-A) 47 186 24 62 12 2 3 25 8 30 1 .333 .371 .468
Tacoma (Triple-A) 18 67 11 18 2 0 3 10 5 12 1 .269 .333 .433

3. Jose Lopez, ss      Age: 20
One of the youngest players in the Texas League, Lopez hit .304 in April/May, but just .228 thereafter while struggling with his aggressive approach at the plate. Spent time playing third base, second base and shortstop, and has the tools to play any of those positions at the major league level.
TEAMG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG
San Antonio (Double-A) 132 538 82 139 35 2 13 69 27 56 18 .258 .303 .403

4. Shin-Soo Choo, of      Age: 21
Shoo put together a solid campaign at Inland Empire that was interrupted by ankle problems in August. If there's any negative, it's in that these are solid numbers across the board, with no one skill (average, power, speed, plate discipline) jumping out. Hit .324 with nine runs in nine games during Inland Empire's post-season run.
TEAMG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG
Inland Empire (High Class A) 110 412 62 118 18 3 9 55 44 84 18 .286 .365 .459

5. Clint Nageotte, rhp      Age: 23
2002's minor league strikeout leader continued to miss bats with aplomb in the Texas League. Had a 1.94 ERA in July/August, but struggled down the stretch with a sore elbow and was shut down after the season, preventing him from trying out for the U.S. Olympic Trials team.
Team W-L SV ERA G IP H R ER BB SO
San Antonio (Double-A) 11-7 0 3.10 27 154.0 127 60 53 67 157

6. Aaron Taylor, rhp      Age: 26
Taylor, who quit baseball during the spring of 2001 after compiling an ERA over six in his first five seasons, continued his remarkable turnaround, pitching well at Tacoma and spending July in the Seattle bullpen before going down with shoulder surgery. He is expected to be return in May.
Team W-L SV ERA G IP H R ER BB SO
Tacoma (Triple-A) 1-3 16 2.45 33 40.1 30 11 11 13 34
Seattle (MLB) 0-0 0 8.53 10 12.2 17 12 12 6 9

7. Travis Blackley, lhp      Age: 21
Blackley suffered a loss in his 2003 debut, but finished the season as the Texas League Pitcher of the Year, with his only loss after June 20 taking place in the Futures Game when he surrendered a home run to Cincinnati's Stephen Smitherman. Has very strange splits for a southpaw, as he limited righthanded batters to a .181 batting average, yet lefties hit .301 against him.
Team W-L SV ERA G IP H R ER BB SO
San Antonio (Double-A) 17-3 0 2.61 27 162.1 125 55 47 62 144

8. Rett Johnson, rhp      Age: 24
Johnson returned to San Antonio and had a 1.98 ERA in his last two appearances before being promoted to Triple-A. Was absolutely dominant in his first five starts for Tacoma (0.53 ERA, seven hits allowed in 33.2 IP), and was on the verge of his major league debut before being shut down with shoulder tendinitis.
Team W-L SV ERA G IP H R ER BB SO
San Antonio (Double-A) 6-2 0 3.04 14 83.0 74 31 28 21 63
Tacoma (Triple-A) 5-2 0 2.15 11 71.0 63 26 17 18 49

9. Greg Dobbs, 3b/of      Age: 25
Dobbs ruptured his Achilles tendon in the second game of the year and missed the remainder of the season. The former Big 12 batting champ has a career pro average of .307, and he'll look to get his career started again in 2004.
TEAMG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG
San Antonio (Double-A) 2 6 0 2 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 .333 .333 .667

10. Jamal Strong, of      Age: 25
Strong injured his shoulder in March and was initially told that the torn labrum would cost him the entire season. The Mariners attributed his swift return (he was back on the field by mid-June) to Strong's incredible work ethic, and he quickly returned to his style of play, which is getting on-base and creating havoc on the basepaths. Spent the final month of the season as a pinch-runner for the big league squad, and will compete for a reserve spot in spring training.
TEAMG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG
AZL Mariners (High Class A) 2 7 5 5 0 1 0 4 3 1 3 .714 .692 1.000
Tacoma (Triple-A) 56 210 38 64 6 1 2 19 25 38 26 .305 .390 .371
Seattle (MLB) 12 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000


Top Draft Pick:

Adam Jones, ss/rhp    Morse HS, San Diego   Bonus: $925K
After not signing their first round pick in 2002 (John Mayberry, Jr.), the Mariners where eager to sign supplemental first-round pick Jones despite his strong commitment to San Diego State. Some saw Jones, who has touched 96 mph from the mound, as a better pitching prospect, but he hit well in his debut, and will be used solely as a positional player.
TEAMG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG
AZL Mariners (Rookie) 28 109 18 31 5 1 0 8 5 19 5 .284 .368 .346
Everett (Short Season) 3 13 2 6 1 0 0 4 1 3 0 .462 .467 .538


Emerging Prospects:

Felix Hernandez, lhp: 17-year-old Venezuelan cruised through the Northwest league in his pro debut, striking out 73 in 55 innings by utilizing an upper-90s fastball and a plus curve.
Justin Leone, 3b: Leone seemed more like an organizational player four years after being drafted in the 13th round in 1999, but he got a break due to Greg Dobbs' injury and earned Texas League MVP honors, batting .288-21-92.
Bobby Madritsch, rhp: Baseball America's 2002 Independent League Player of the Year, Madritsch went 13-7 for San Antonio while striking out nearly a batter per inning.


Statistical Leaders

Batting Average Greg Jacobs .345
Home Runs A.J. Zapp 26
Runs Batted In Justin Leone
A.J. Zapp
92
Stolen Bases Mike Curry 58
Earned Run Average T.A. Fulmer 2.58
Wins Travis Blackley 17
Strikeouts Troy Cate
Ryan Ketchner
159
Saves Jared Hoerman 36

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