Mariners Protect Five Minor Leaguers

The Seattle Mariners added five minor league prospects to the 40-man major league roster on Tuesday evening – including a pair of Tacoma Rainiers.

The five added players include 2012 Rainiers Vinnie Catricala and Bobby LaFromboise, as well as lower-level minor leaguers Brandon Maurer, Anthony Fernandez, and Julio Morban.

To make room on the roster, the Mariners designated Chone Figgins and Scott Cousins for assignment.

Here’s a run-down on the five prospects:

Catricala was the Mariners Minor League Player of the year in 2011, batting .349 with 25 homers and 106 RBI across Class-A and Double-A. He spent all of the 2012 season with the Rainiers and struggled in his first Triple-A season, batting .229 with 10 homers. Still, the Mariners see enough potential in Catricala that they do not want to risk losing him. The 2013 season will be a crucial one for Catricala.

LaFromboise was the Tacoma Rainiers Pitcher of the Year in 2012, posting a 1.59 ERA in 27 relief appearances. LaFromboise is a major league ready left-handed relief specialist. Now that he is on the roster, he needs to somehow crack a Mariners bullpen that already has three quality left-handed relievers. This is an area of strength for the Mariners right now.

Maurer was the Mariners Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2012, spending the entire season at Double-A Jackson putting up a 9-2 record with a 3.20 ERA in 24 starts. Possessing a mid-90s fastball, the 22-year-old right-hander had 117 strikeouts in 137 innings. Maurer wasn’t really on the radar prior to 2012 due to injury problems – a full season of good health did wonders for him. Expect to see Maurer in the Rainiers starting rotation to open 2013.

Fernandez, 22, had a breakthrough season as a starting pitcher in 2012. He opened the year in hitter-friendly High Desert, pitched very well there, and then continued to have success after a mid-season promotion to Jackson. Combined he went 6-8 with a 3.51 ERA. The lefty struck out 134 batters in 164 innings. Whether he starts the season in Jackson or Tacoma will depend on the number of Triple-A free agent starters the Mariners sign, and spring training performance.

Morban, 20, is a toolsy Class-A outfielder who put up good numbers at Class-A High Desert in 2012 – when he was on the field. He appeared in just 76 games because of three trips to the disabled list. However, he walloped 17 homers in that half-season, batting .313 with a .911 OPS. Unless he goes bananas at Jackson in the first half of 2013, we probably won’t see him in Tacoma until 2014.

As for the two players removed from the roster, Cousins was just claimed on waivers a few weeks ago; he might clear and be with the Rainiers in 2013 – we’ll find out next week. Figgins you know about – or if not, he’s the subject of the stories linked below.

Links:

  • The newspapers focused on the end of the Chone Figgins Era – we have stories by Ryan Divish of The News Tribune and Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times.
  • Larry Stone writes that the Mariners should have cut ties with Figgins long ago.
  • Baker got some quotes from new Mariners infielder Robert Andino.
  • Jason Churchill has a brief write-up of Julio Morban.
  • The Mariners released their most recent Winter League Report yesterday.
  • Two former Rainiers were removed from 40-man rosters yesterday: Adam Moore from the Royals and Bryan LaHair from the Cubs. LaHair is a special case – it appears he is being sold to a team in Japan, where he will be payed handsomely.
  • Former Rainiers skipper Dave Brundage (2006) was named manager of the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs – that’s the Phillies Triple-A club.
  • The Chicago Cubs signed outfielder Johermyn Chavez as a minor league free agent; he spent the last two years with the Mariners Double-A Jackson affiliate. I previously speculated that the Mariners would try to keep him.

Have a great Thanksgiving!

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