Big News Day In Triple-A

September 1 is always a busy day in Triple-A, and this year is no different. We’ve got a lot going on, so let’s get to it.

Four Rainiers players got the good news after Monday night’s game in Salt Lake City: Stefen Romero, Sean O’Malley, Jose Ramirez, and Tony Zych are all on their way to Houston to join the Seattle Mariners.

Romero spent most of last year in the majors, but this year was with Tacoma all season. He had to be wondering if his name would be called, even though he put up solid numbers (.292, 17 home runs, 79 RBI, .827 OPS).

O’Malley has played terrific baseball for the Rainiers when healthy, but recent injuries – most notably a sprained wrist that cost him a month right when it looked like he was going to be called up – have slowed him down. He’s back and ready to go, and he’ll bring his high-energy brand of ball to the M’s.

Ramirez was acquired from the Yankees at the trade deadline, and the hard-throwing reliever has struggled with the longball during his time with the Rainiers. But he’s out of minor league options after this season, and the Mariners need to see what they have, so they’re going to take a look at him in Seattle.

Zych is the only player of the group getting his first major league call-up. He’s been on an amazing run of late, delivering a scoreless outing in 21 of his last 22 appearances. He reaches the upper 90s with his fastball and has improved his slider this year.

That’s it for now, but there will likely be a few more call-ups after the PCL season ends on Monday.

The Mariners have traded Rainiers outfielder Justin Ruggiano to the Los Angeles Dodgers for cash considerations. Ruggiano was productive for Tacoma, but he hasn’t been playing much recently due to a nagging groin injury.

Both of the Dodgers clubs (LA and Oklahoma City) appear playoff-bound. I’m not sure which team Ruggiano is going to join, but the major league Dodgers just had two outfielders (Kike’ Hernandez and as always Yasiel Puig) go down with injuries.

The Rainiers are adding three players from elsewhere in the system to bolster the roster down the stretch.

Right-handed pitcher Andrew Kittredge rejoins the club for (at least) the fourth time this season. He was 2-1 with a 3.03 ERA in 32.2 innings for Double-A Jackson.

Reliever Matt Anderson also comes up from AA. He’s gone 3-5 with ten saves and a 3.90 ERA in 44 games for Jackson, with 63 strikeouts in 67 innings pitched. His first appearance for Tacoma will be his Triple-A debut.

Outfielder Julio Morban returns to Tacoma. Morban hasn’t played much this year due to a variety of issues – in fact, he hasn’t appeared in a game since July 31 at Jackson due to a strained oblique.

The Rainiers lost last night in Salt Lake City, but it was a game with some pretty big positives.

Mike Montgomery pitched well in his return to Tacoma, and Jabari Blash hit (yawn) yet another homer.

The big story, however, was the 4-for-4, two-homer performance by catcher Mike Zunino.

Zunino homered in the first inning off a fastball from Salt Lake starter Drew Rucinski, who has MLB time this year with the Angels. His second homer came in the eighth, when he pulled a change-up from lefty reliever Edgar Ibarra to left field.

Manager Pat Listach has more to say about Zunino and what he’s going to do with him in the Rainiers game story (first link down below).

Yesterday the league announced the postseason All-PCL Team, which is voted on by league managers and broadcasters.

Tacoma’s Jesus Montero was selected as the first baseman. He’s the first Tacoma player to make this very-tough-to-crack team since catcher Rob Johnson was selected in 2008.

Here’s the 2015 All-PCL Team:

  • C – Austin Barnes, Oklahoma City
  • 1B – Jesus Montero, Tacoma
  • 2B – Joey Wendle, Nashville
  • 3B – Matt Duffy, Fresno
  • SS – Cristhian Adames, Albuquerque
  • OF – Domingo Santana, Colorado Springs/Fresno
  • OF – Alex Dickerson, El Paso
  • OF – Peter O’Brien, Reno
  • DH – Jamie Romak, Reno
  • RHP – Carlos Pimentel, Iowa
  • LHP – Adam Conley, New Orleans
  • RP – Jon Edwards, El Paso/Round Rock

Congrats to all!

The remainder of the big league awards will be announced this week.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Despite Zunino’s two homers and another three-run shot by Jabari Blash, Tacoma lost to Salt Lake 6-5. Gary Brown‘s two-run double in the seventh inning was the key hit for the Bees.

Blash-O-Meter: Jabari Blash has hit ten homers in his last 16 games, and 14 in his last 23 games. He is hitting .285-20-43 in 44 games since coming back from Double-A.

Today: Tacoma (65-72) at Salt Lake (55-82), 6:05 (Pacific).

Opponent Affiliation: Los Angeles Angels Of Anaheim.

Season Series: Salt Lake leads, 9-4.

Starting Pitchers: LHP Tyler Olson (2-4, 5.19) at LHP Nate Smith (1-3, 8.00)

Hot Rainiers: Patrick Kivlehan went 0-for-4 last night, ending his 11-game hitting streak… Jabari Blash has a five-game hitting streak, which includes four homers.

Look Out For: Third baseman Kyle Kubitza has reached base via hit or walk in 36 straight games – the second longest streak of its kind in the PCL this season. He also leads the league with 41 doubles.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 5:50 (Pacific) on South Sound Sports 850 AM. The broadcast also streams online via the TuneIn app – just click here.

PCL Scoreboard: Follow all Pacific Coast League games in real-time with links to Gameday screens right here.

Links:

  • The Rainiers game story is all about Mike Zunino.
  • Zunino spoke with MiLB.com about his big night.
  • Here’s a news story on Justin Ruggiano being traded to the Dodgers.
  • The Mariners lost in Houston and fell ten games under .500.
  • Seattle traded Austin Jackson to the Cubs. You can read about that and a whole lot more in Bob Dutton’s Mariners Notebook (he nailed all four Mariners call-ups today).
  • In the PCL, the opening game of the showdown in the Pac-South lived up to its billing. Las Vegas took a 5-3 lead in the seventh inning on a three-run homer by Dilson Herrera, but El Paso got a bases loaded triple in the ninth from Hector Gomez to win the game, 6-5. The Chihuahuas are only a half-game out of first place. Call-ups are hurting Las Vegas but not (yet) El Paso.
  • The winner of that division race will play Fresno in the first round. Fresno returned home from a 1-7 road trip to trounce Albuquerque, 10-5, as Tyler White homered twice.
  • Round Rock clinched the American-South title by backing into it. The Express lost at Nashville, 5-1, but second-place Memphis lost at home to New Orleans and thus eliminated itself from contention. The Express are preparing for the PCL playoffs.
  • The American-North is still up for grabs. First place Oklahoma City lost the opening game of a five-game series to Iowa, 9-3, as 19-year-old phenom Julio Urias was wild in his Triple-A debut. Iowa is only three games out of first and the teams play a doubleheader today.
  • Omaha is also in that race, but the Storm Chasers missed an opportunity to gain a game when they lost to Colorado Springs last night, 5-3. Omaha is 4.5 games behind OKC.
  • Sacramento’s Clayton Blackburn did everything in a 1-0 win over visiting Reno.

Yikes, that was a long blog post for the final week of the season.

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