Wow, we have a lot of Mariners news today, but we’re going to start with some ex-Rainiers news. Outfielder Mike Wilson – a mainstay on the Tacoma Rainiers since the end of the 2009 season – signed a minor league contract with the New York Mets yesterday. It’s safe to assume that we will see him with the Mets new Triple-A affiliate Las Vegas this season.
Wilson made his Tacoma debut on July 27, 2009, finally reaching Triple-A after parts of three seasons in Jackson, Tennessee. In fact, Wilson is the Jackson career home run leader: he hit 50 dingers for them.
Mike struggled in his first Triple-A experience, although he had a big sac fly to drive in a crucial run in the final game of the 2009 season, when Tacoma beat Colorado Springs to advance to the playoffs (shortly after Wilson’s sac fly gave Tacoma a 4-2 lead, the Rainiers erupted for seven runs in the eighth inning and turned the game into a blowout).
The 2010 season was Wilson’s first big year in Tacoma. He was forced to go back to Double-A for a while, but he hit .273 with 17 homers for the Rainiers before starring in the Rainiers championship run. Wilson homered in all three games of the PCL Championship Series sweep of Memphis, and he was named MVP of the series. In the locker room after the Rainiers won it all, PCL president Branch Rickey told the team that Wilson won the award.
Wilson hit .331 with 16 home runs during the 2011 campaign, which included his first call-up to the majors. Wilson was not expected to get the call, he wasn’t being talked about for a promotion publicly at all. It was an emotional moment when the organizational soldier got the call to the big leagues – Wilson has been playing in the Mariners minor league system since 2002.
He got his first big league hit on May 10, 2011 – a 13th inning RBI single off Baltimore reliever Jeremy Accardo at Camden Yards. He ended up going 4-for-27 in eight games as a bench player, and was sent back to Tacoma.
Last year, Wilson hit .239 but with 12 homers and 34 walks in 230 at-bats. All told, Wilson hit 50 home runs for Tacoma (the exact same number he hit in Jackson), which ranks him tied for tenth place (with Bob Perry) on the all-time Tacoma home run list.
We wish Mike the best with his new team, and hopefully he’ll get another taste of the major leagues.
Lots of Mariners news yesterday, and you can read all about it in the links below. A quick recap:
- There are many reports from highly reliable news outlets (USA Today broke the story) that the Mariners and Felix Hernandez agreed to a 7-year contract that makes him the highest paid pitcher in baseball. The Mariners have yet to confirm this story.
- Also, there are many media reports that the Mariners have signed veteran left-handed pitcher Joe Saunders to fill out their starting rotation.
- Finally, the team announced the signing of catcher Kelly Shoppach. They made room for him on the roster by designating Shawn Kelley for assignment – a curious move, one that leads many to believe that they are going to trade Kelley to another club.
- The News Tribune has a news story on all of the Mariners stuff, including reported salary information on the Felix deal.
- John McGrath writes that the Felix deal serves as a message to baseball that the Mariners are willing to spend money.
- Larry Stone has a column on the Felix extension.
- Dave Cameron wrote that the Felix deal was a gamble the Mariners had to make.
- John Sickels looked back at Felix Hernandez’s minor league progression.
- Ryan Divish has a brief blog post on the Joe Saunders report.
- The TNT continued its position-by-position spring training advance look at the Mariners with first base and the enigmatic Justin Smoak.
- At his Seattle Times blog, Larry Stone compiled a grouping of several different Mariners top prospects lists.
- The Times was able to speak with Jesus Montero, who said he has no idea how his name came up in the Biogenesis investigation. A thorough read of this story reveals how little news there actually is – at this time there is no connection to PEDs, no evidence of anything at all – yet Montero’s name is being dragged through the mud. Then again, if a “smoking gun” were to emerge…
- Greg Johns posted a Mariners spring training primer looking at the various story lines heading into camp.
- From Baseball America’s minor league transactions we learn the fate of some ex-Rainiers. All are minor league contracts: Joel Pineiro signed with the Orioles, Miguel Olivo to the Reds, and Scott Atchison to the Mets.
- Also from the above link, we learn that the Mariners re-signed Felix‘s older brother Moises Hernandez. Moises spent the last two years with the Jackson Generals, pitching in middle relief. While you never know what might happen, it will be a struggle for him to crack the Tacoma bullpen which – as we outlined on Wednesday – is stacked.
- The Caribbean Series championship game was crazy last night: Mexico won the title in the 18th inning, on a home run by former Fresno Grizzlies outfielder Doug Clark.
- College baseball gets underway real soon. Here is Baseball America’s preview of the Pac-12 Conference - it includes notes on both Washington and Washington State.
- Big news on the PCL radio front: Albuquerque broadcaster Robert Portnoy switched jobs, and the Isotopes are hiring a new radio guy. Send in your demos!
- Broadcasting news: here’s a round-up of crazy things ESPN announcer Bill Walton said during college basketball games this week.
Spring training starts next week!