We’re still the No-Name Blog, but here are a couple of names to know:
Danny Hultzen and Nick Franklin had big-time performances in the Arizona Fall League’s all-star game, which they call the Rising Stars Game.
Hultzen, the Mariners #1 draft pick this year, was the starting pitcher and he tossed two scoreless innings. Hultzen has had a string of impressive outings down there, and he’s getting glowing scouting reports. I may have to re-asses my previous position on him – he could start next year higher than Double-A.
Franklin started at shortstop and went 4-for-5 in the game, including a two-run opposite field homer and a pair of doubles. The home run came off 2011 #1 overall pick Gerrit Cole. Franklin drove in four runs.
Franklin is a switch-hitter with a ton of power for a shortstop. He finished the 2011 season at Double-A Jackson, but he had only 83 at-bats there. I suspect he will open next season back at Jackson – we’re set in AAA with Carlos Triunfel at shortstop – and we may see Franklin in a Rainiers uniform at some point mid-2012.
- Geoff Baker has an informative report on the Rising Stars Game, and he and I share some opinions on where these guys will open 2012.
- ESPN baseball analyst Keith Law is very bullish on Danny Hultzen, as he writes in this report (ESPN Insider access required).
- Baseball America has a round-up of the Rising Stars Game.
- Mariners beat writer Kirby Arnold of the Everett Herald is retiring. Kirby is one of the nicest people you will meet in the Safeco Field press box, and he did a great job on the beat. His farewell column is full of good Mariners anecdotes, and in his final blog post he talks about how he got into sportswriting.
- Rick Randall at Scout.com has an interview with Rainiers pitcher Forrest Snow, who continues to dominate in the Arizona Fall League.
- Last week our guy Alex Liddi got released from the Venezuelan Winter League, due to lack of performance. It’s easy to forget that this is *the* major league in Venezuela, and if you don’t hit, you’re sent packing. Big picture, this isn’t a big deal for Liddi. He had a long, successful season, and now he can chill in Italy for a bit before gearing up for 2012.
- The St. Louis Cardinals are hiring a manager to replace retiring Tony LaRussa, and they interviewed Memphis manager Chris Maloney. I can assure you that all 16 PCL radio guys have an opinion about this.
Radiohead announced their initial tour dates. If they don’t reach the Pacific NW before the PCL season starts on April 5, I’m gonna flip. Wait a minute, I have an idea - why not just book them at the ballpark, AJ?