Mariners' Pryor Pitches His Way To The Top

Best Player: In his first year out of Oregon State, second baseman Stefen Romero had a creditable 2011 season, hitting .280/.342/.462 at low Class A Clinton with 16 homers.

That was merely a prelude to the 2012 season. Romero hit .357/.391/.581 at hitter-friendly high Class A High Desert with 11 home runs, and the jump to Double-A Jackson scarcely slowed him down. He added another 10 homers and 44 RBIs while hitting .347/.392/.620 for the Generals.

The 23-year-old, a 12th-round pick in 2010, has likely played his way into a big league spring training invite. He needs to work on his defense, but he's not far away.

Best Pitcher: In a season when a healthy number of Mariners minor league pitchers showed eye-opening stuff, the topper was the fifth-round pick from 2010, righthanded reliever Stephen Pryor.

Things started to kick in for the 100 mph flamethrower at the end of the 2011 season, when he posted a 1.19 ERA in 17 appearances for Jackson. He bettered that with a 1.13 ERA in 11 games for the Generals this season before a promotion to Triple-A Tacoma.

He was supposed to finish the year at Tacoma, but after 16 games in which he gave up zero runs, he was promoted to the big leagues for the most of the final three months of the season—after taking five weeks on the disabled list to heal a groin strain. The 2010 fifth-round pick out of Tennessee Tech posted a 3-0, 3.12 mark after 20 appearances out of the Mariners' bullpen with 24 strikeouts and nine walks in 17 innings.

Keep An Eye On: Outfielder Leon Landry, picked up from the Dodgers for Brandon League, has been a hitter and more during his time with High Desert and is poised to jump to Double-A to start next season.

Landry, a 22-year-old who has mostly played center and left field, was hitting a more-than-respectable .328 when Seattle added him on July 30. After that, however he hit .385 with eight doubles, three triples and five homers among his 40 hits. With a .414 on-base percentage, an OPS of 1.077 and seven steals in nine tries, he's quickly made a name for himself in the Seattle organizational hierarchy.


• The Mariners signed 16-year-old Leurys Vargas, a first baseman/third baseman out of the Dominican Republic for $400,000 on Aug. 31. Vargas, who throws with his right hand but is a lefty swinger, is the son of Yorkis Vargas Perez, who pitched for seven teams as a reliever from 1991-2002. Vargas is projected as a power bat.

• Romero's overall .352 average between his two stops was the third-best average among all full-season minor leaguers. Landry also finished in the top 10 with a .341 combined average, placing him eighth.