Cy Young Winner Dominates Class-A Hitters

Shocking headline, eh?

Today Felix Hernandez had his final pre-season start. Instead of facing the division rival Texas Rangers in the regularly scheduled Cactus League game, the Mariners decided to “hide” their ace and have him pitch in a minor league intrasquad game.

So at 10:00 AM on a Sunday morning, Felix was pitching for the Tacoma Rainiers out on Field 3 in the Mariners minor league complex. And the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner was facing a group of Class-A and AA hitters.

It wasn’t exactly a fair fight.

However, it was fun to watch. Here’s a look at the scene.

A crowd of less than 100 gathered. It's basically like a baseball game played on a very well-groomed high school field.

Media, scouts, and non-participating minor league players gathered behind the plate.

The man of the hour.

As for the game itself:

  • Felix absolutely dominated. He didn’t allow a hit until the fifth inning, when 17-year-old Dominican bonus baby Phillips Castillo grounded a single through the left side. It was a big moment for Castillo.
  • Felix faced a few Double-A players – Nate Tenbrink, Joe Dunigan, and Johermyn Chavez were among his opponents – but he also faced a number of Class-A and short-season prospects.
  • They didn’t score off Felix – in fact, he gave up just two hits (Chavez had a broken-bat single).
  • In the third inning, Felix needed about 11 pitches to strike out the side. Pitching coach Carl Willis had him stay out and face another hitter. I was hoping for the rare four-strikeout inning, but the hitter put the ball in play.
  • In the sixth, Felix struck out Castillo but wanted to work on pitching with runners on base – so he told Castillo to take first. Castillo was then thrown out by Miguel Olivo trying to steal – and Felix told him to stay at second. Olivo nearly picked him off afterwards – we were hoping Castillo would be put out three times in one “inning,” but no such luck.
  • Blake Beavan opposed Felix and did not have a good game. He allowed three runs in the first, and three more in the second before settling down and delivering three straight scoreless frames.
  • In the first inning Sean Kazmar doubled off Beavan and scored on Miguel Olivo’s base hit to center. Mike Carp also singled off Beavan.
  • In the second inning, intriguing 2010 draft pick Jabari Blash hit an opposite-field homer off Beavan.
  • After Felix left the game, Josh Fields tossed a scoreless inning. Fields has been working out with the Double-A group.
  • Tacoma had a designated fielder: Jack Wilson played second base, but he did not bat. He was looking to get some ground balls, but Felix kept striking out Class-A hitters.

I’ve been trying to get a handle on the Rainiers roster, but there is still a group of about 35 Triple-A players that needs to be cut down to 24.

Early in the day the Mariners optioned Matt Tuiasosopo to Tacoma, while sending Triple-A players Mike Wilson, Royce Ring, Denny Bautista and Justin Miller to minor league camp.

If I had to guess, I would suggest a Tacoma starting rotation of Luke French, Blake Beavan, Chris Seddon, Charlie Haeger, and either Yusmeiro Petit or Jarret Grube. But I am purely speculating right now.

A couple of links:

  • At The News Tribune, Ryan Divish wrote a column about picking the World Series participants.
  • At The Times, Larry Stone has a story on the two players the Mariners are focusing on for the #2 pick in the June draft.
  • Michael Pineda made a statement on Saturday: he’s ready for the big leagues.
  • Tacoma Rainiers 3rd string Official Scorer Mike Jessee is here and he wanted to say hello to all Mike… Off-Mic readers.

I had dinner with Rainiers manager Daren Brown and pitching coach Dwight Bernard last night. They weren’t able to shed any light on the Rainiers opening day roster – they’re waiting for the Mariners front office to make their final decisions, just like everyone else.

On Monday I’ll be able to watch about half of the Triple-A game before heading off to the airport. If I can sneak in a blog update, I will.

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2 Responses to Cy Young Winner Dominates Class-A Hitters

  1. Michael says:

    35 players in camp for tacoma wow.. Are they guys who played in mariners orginization this last season? been in majors??? did any of them play last yr on diffrent team??

  2. Chaney says:

    Now that’s a game I would have loved to see. Pros bending the rules like a bunch of kids on a lumpy field.

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