Romero Takes Off For Mariners

SEATTLE—The Mariners thought they might have something good when they drafted Stefen Romero out of Oregon State in 2011, but they would have had difficulty believing he would be putting up numbers this good this soon.

Romero started the 2012 season at high Class A High Desert and tore up the California League by hitting .357/.391/.581 with 11 home runs and 51 RBIs in 60 games. The numbers were more than enough for a midseason promotion to Double-A Jackson.

Everybody knows that High Desert is a haven for hitting, and plenty of players have put up big numbers there and flattened out after being elevated. Romero wasn't one of those. He was every bit as dominant in Jackson, hitting .347/.392/.620 with 12 homers and 50 RBIs in 56 games in helping the Generals to the Southern League playoffs.

"It was a great lineup to hit in," Romero said of his time in Jackson.
But he had some inspiration, too. Seattle legend Edgar Martinez spent time with Romero during a minor league visit, and Romero, who grew up as a Martinez fan, was hooked.

"He told me he he'd come into camp every year expecting to hit .350," said Romero, who turned 24 on Oct. 17. "When he might finish 'only' hitting .350, he'd feel like he hadn't had as good a season as he should have had.

"That taught me about the importance of setting my goals high."

So while the righthanded-hitting second baseman finished with the third-highest average (.352) among full-season minor leaguers together with 23 homers 101 RBIs and was named Seattle's minor league player of the year, he looks not just at what he did in 2012, but what he didn't do. He would have liked to have made the jump to Triple-A. He didn't, so that goal has shifted to 2013.

"That was the ultimate goal," he said of pushing to Triple-A Tacoma. "But I'm happy with my year. I was in a couple of situations where I was batting with lots of RBI chances thanks to the guys batting around me being on base all the time."

Along the way, Romero developed a huge fanbase in the Seattle front office.

"Stefan had an outstanding offensive season combined between High Desert and Jackson," Seattle general manager Jack Zduriencik said. "He not only led the organization in many offensive categories, but was one of the top players in all of the minor leagues."


• Righthander Carter Capps, who started the season at Jackson and finished pitching in the seventh and eighth inning in Seattle, was named the organization's minor league pitcher of the year.

• Shortstop Brad Miller, who split the year between High Desert and Jackson and hit a combined .334/.410/.512, was the organization's heart and soul award winner for his exemplary play and leadership.