Rainiers Relievers – A Pointless Project

Today we finish off our trip around the diamond with a look at the potential 2012 Tacoma Rainiers relief pitchers.

As per our custom, we’ll start with a look at the Mariners bullpen:

SEATTLE

  1. Brandon League
  2. George Sherrill
  3. Shawn Camp
  4. Tom Wilhelmsen
  5. Chance Ruffin
  6. Hong-Chih Kuo
  7. Shawn Kelley
  8. Steve Delabar

That’s eight names for seven spots. I think the top three are locks for the Mariners bullpen – the other five are all players who would pitch in Tacoma if they do not make the Mariners.

The above list is incomplete, too. What about Charlie Furbush and Hector Noesi, who could start for either Seattle or Tacoma – or pitch out of the bullpen for either?

Two other names that could crack the above list: left-handers Cesar Jimenez and Lucas Luetge. Jimenez is out of options and must clear waivers if he doesn’t make the Mariners roster, and Luetge was a Rule 5 Draft selection and will be returned to the Milwaukee Brewers if he does not make the Mariners roster.

Then there are the relievers who are in camp on minor league contracts, but have MLB experience. Aaron Heilman, Sean Henn, Josh Kinney, and Oliver Perez all fit this description, and a strong showing in the Cactus League could earn them a major league role.

TACOMA

The Rainiers will carry at least seven relief pitchers – and possibly eight, if the Triple-A rosters expand to 25 players as is rumored.

  1. Scott Patterson
  2. Stephen Pryor
  3. Reliever Who Doesn’t Make The Mariners
  4. Reliever Who Doesn’t Make The Mariners
  5. Reliever Who Doesn’t Make The Mariners
  6. Reliever Who Doesn’t Make The Mariners
  7. Reliever Who Doesn’t Make The Mariners

Patterson is 32 years old, and in major league camp right now. I’d love to see him make the Mariners roster, but he seems destined for Tacoma – where we’ll be elated to have him for a third season.

Pryor is an under-the-radar prospect: he throws very hard (upper-90s) and is just 22 years old. Pryor dominated in a 17-game stint at Double-A Jackson last year, posting a 1.17 ERA. He could start the year back at Jackson, but with his power arm we’ll see him sooner rather than later.

Also in the mix: starting pitching candidates who have worked in relief before: Mauricio Robles, Matt Fox, Steve Garrison, and Forrest Snow.

Let’s not forget other relief pitchers in the organization who could open the season in Triple-A: Philippe Valiquette, Brian Moran, Bobby LaFromboise, and Moises Hernandez.

Well, this was a ridiculous exercise that came to no conclusion. Your guess is as good as mine as to which pitchers end up in the Tacoma bullpen.

The big news in Mariners camp yesterday was the retirement of infielder Carlos Guillen. Guillen was having injury problems, and he decided to hang ‘em up rather than fight through.

Guillen had a very good major league career. Rainiers fans saw the beginning of that career back in 1998, when he joined the team in early August along with fellow prospect Freddy Garcia as a part of the controversial Randy Johnson trade.

Guillen was not long for the minor leagues – he played in only 52 games for Tacoma. He had 24 games at the end of the 1998 season, 24 games to open the 2000 season after he was injured and missed most of 1999, and a four-game rehabilitation stint in 2003 (during which he homered twice).

We wish him a happy retirement – although we question how “retired” Guillen will be. He recently opened up a state-of-the-art baseball academy in his native Venezuela.

I want to close out with some fast-approaching Rainiers dates to know:

  • March 10 it the Rainiers Job Fair, where we hire gameday workers such as ushers, parking attendants, cleaning crew, concessions… the details are right here.
  • March 17 is the free Pre-Season Party at Cheney Stadium.
  • March 17 is also the day that individual-game ticket sales begin, including Opening Day on April 5 and the July 3 Fireworks Extravaganza.

Links:

  • Carlos Guillen’s biggest play as a member of the Mariners was his game-winning bunt single against the White Sox in the 2000 AL Division Series, sending the M’s to the ALCS. Big props to Matt Pitman for digging up Dave Niehaus’s call of the play.
  • Geoff Baker writes that Guillen’s retirement leaves the door wide open for Kyle Seager. This also helps clear the Rainiers third base logjam.
  • The Washington Post has a feature story on possible Rainiers starting pitcher Danny Hultzen.
  • Steve Kelley writes that the Big Three is now the Four Phenoms – he’s added Erasmo Ramirez to the mix.
  • Coors Light is not only the official beer of the writer of this blog – it’s now the official beer of the Seattle Mariners.
  • Don Mincher passed away at the age of 73. A former Seattle Pilot, Mincher was that franchise’s only all-star. He later served as a minor league general manager in Huntsville, and then as the Southern League president. Larry Stone has a piece on Mincher.
  • From this week’s edition of Baseball America’s minor league transactions, we learn that 2009 Pacific Coast League MVP Randy Ruiz has returned from Japan and signed with Reno. He could be a problem for Rainiers pitchers – but he’s 34 years old and struggled in Japan last year.
  • Tacoma Rainiers president Aaron Artman is going to chair the Heart Walk, which will be based out of Cheney Stadium this Fall.

Come back Friday, we’ll take a look at who’s hot and who’s not in spring training.

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9 Responses to Rainiers Relievers – A Pointless Project

  1. michael says:

    Moiese Hernandes will not be making Triple A roster as he did poorly in Double A last yr..

  2. Mike Curto says:

    That might not matter; he’s Felix’s brother. See Griffey, Craig and Buhner, Shawn. (I must say that I distinctly recall Shawn Buhner single-handedly winning a game for us in my first year 1999).

  3. rainierfan says:

    I heard that Stephen Pryor did not report to spring training on time because of personal reasons. Do you know if he has reported yet and why he did not make it on time?

  4. michael says:

    To Rainerfan
    He should be in camp as he rode with shawn Kelly to camp as both of them car pool from Chattanooga, TN to Peoria, AZ

  5. Allen says:

    What about Andrew Carraway?

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