Seattle Mariners Director of Player Development Chris Gwynn announced today the Mariners Minor League Awards for the 2015 season: INF/DH Jesus Montero (Tacoma/Seattle) and OF Tyler O’Neill (Bakersfield) were named Co-Players of the Year, RH Edwin Diaz (Bakersfield/Jackson) was named the Starting Pitcher of the Year, LH Paul Fry (Bakersfield/Jackson) was named Relief Pitcher of the Year and OF Jabari Blash (Jackson/Tacoma) received the Heart and Soul Award for his exemplary play and leadership.
Montero, O’Neill, Diaz, Fry and Blash will be honored in a pre-game ceremony at Safeco Field prior to the Mariners game vs. the Athletics on Saturday, October 3. The Mariners will also recognize SS Drew Jackson, who was named Northwest League Player of the Year and Rob Mummau, who was named Northwest League Manager of the Year.
Co-Players of the Year
Jesus Montero (1B/DH: 2013 – 4th season with Mariners organization acquired in trade in 2012)
Tyler O’Neill (OF: 2013 – 3rd round – Garibaldi Secondary, British Columbia)
Montero hit .355 (140×374) with 70 runs scored, 18 doubles, 6 triples, 18 home runs, 85 RBI, 29 walks and 3 stolen base in 98 games over three stints with Tacoma. Amongst PCL league leaders ranked 2nd in average (.355) and slugging percentage (.569), 3rd in on-base percentage (.398) and OPS (.966), 7th in RBI (85), 8th in hits (140) and 10th in total bases (224). He was recently named to the All-PCL Team and was also a member of the PCL All-Star Team, but did not participate after being promoted to Seattle.
O’Neill hit .260 (106×407) with 68 runs, 21 doubles, 2 triples, 32 home runs and 87 RBI in 106 games with Bakersfield. He was 1 of 7 minor league players to hit at least 30 home runs, including finishing T2nd along with Mariners farmhand Jabari Blash with 32 home runs. Prior to this season O’Neill had hit only 14 home runs combined in his first two professional seasons. He was also a member of Team Canada who won the gold medal in the Pan Am Games on July 19 with a 7-6 victory in 10 innings over Team USA.
Heart & Soul Award
Jabari Blash (SS: 2010 – 8th round – Charlotte Amalie High School, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands)
Blash hit .271 (110×406) with 79 runs scored, 24 doubles, 2 triples, 32 home runs, 81 RBI, 59 walks and 8 stolen bases in 116 games combined between Jackson and Tacoma. Blash along with Mariners farmhand Tyler O’Neill finished 2nd among all minor league players with 32 home runs this season, including being 1 of 7 players with at least 30 home runs in 2015. Blash hit 10 home runs in his final 16 games (w/AB) and 14 home runs in 29 games in August (w/AB). His 14 homers in August led all minor league players during the month and were also the most in any single month during the season.
Starting Pitcher of the Year
Edwin Diaz (RHP: 2012 – 3rd round – Caguas Military Academy, Puerto Rico)
Diaz, who was named Mariners Co-Starting Player of the Year in 2014, went 7-10 with a 3.82 ERA (60 ER, 141.1 IP) in 27 starts combined between Bakersfield and Jackson. He limited opponents to a .237 batting average (123×520), while walking 46 and striking out 145. Diaz led all Mariners farmhands with 145 strikeouts and finished T3rd with 7 wins. Amongst all minor league players he ranked 9th in strikeouts per 9.0 innings (9.23) and T13th in strikeouts (145).
Relief Pitcher of the Year
Paul Fry (RHP: 2013 – 17th round – St. Clair Community College)
Fry went 4-5 with 9 saves and a 2.03 ERA (18 ER, 80.0 IP) in 50 relief appearances combined with Bakersfield and Jackson. He limited opponents to a .230 average (68×296), while walking 24 and striking out 113. With Jackson he went 0-2 with 7 saves and a 1.80 ERA (5 ER, 25.0 IP) in 22 relief appearances, including allowing only 1 earned run over his final 17.1 innings (0.52 ERA). Amongst all minor league pitchers his strikeout rate (12.71 K/9.0 IP) was 3rd-lowest (min. 75.0 IP).
Northwest League Player of the Year
Drew Jackson (SS: 2015 – 5th round – Stanford University)
Jackson was named Player of the Year by the Northwest League after batting .358 (81×226) with 64 runs scored, 12 doubles, 1 triple, 2 home runs, 26 RBI, 30 walks and 47 stolen bases in 59 games with the AquaSox this season. He led the league in average, stolen bases, on base percentage and runs scored, while finishing 2nd in OPS and hits. Jackson was recently named the Northwest League Player of the Month for August, won two Player of the Week awards during the season and was rated by Baseball America as the #5 prospect in the Northwest League following the 2015 season.
After Felix Hernandez threw a perfect game on August 15, a bug began to sweep the nation. Celebrities, athletes, even cats—no one was granted immunity. Seattle Sounders forward Fredy Montero was among the casualties — he was caught Felixing.
Montero had seen a fan’s tweet suggesting that all Sounders’ goals should be celebrated by Felixing. He retweeted the idea and then followed through in true form—waving his arms triumphantly in the air, right index finger and leg raised—after scoring the first goal to lead his team to a 2-0 victory against Vancouver on Aug. 18.
Fredy Montero (@Goleador17) August 18, 2012
As another Latin-American-turned-Seattleite sports star, Montero became the obvious choice to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the Supreme Court at Safeco Field. It seemed fitting that another Montero would be behind the plate to catch his first pitch. Mariner catcher and designated hitter Jesus Montero did the honors.
There is no relation between Montero y Montero, although fate would have it that the two, who were born in the neighboring countries of Venezuela and Columbia, would end up playing in neighboring stadiums in Seattle, far from their Latin American hometowns.
Aside from sharing a last name, los Monteros both contribute tremendously to the offense of their respective Seattle teams. Jesus is one of the Mariners leading hitters batting .259 with 13 home runs and 49 RBI, while Fredy has shared or led the Sounders in goals in his past three seasons, and has the potential to do the same this season. Here is a “tale-of-the-tape) for Seattle’s Montero’s:
|Name/Number||Jesus Montero #63||Fredy Montero #17|
|Full Name||Jesús Alejandro Montero Lopez||Fredy Henkyer Montero Muñoz|
|League||Major League Baseball||Major League Soccer|
|Team||Seattle Mariners||Seattle Sounders|
|Major League Debut||Sept. 1, 2011 for New York Yankees||March 19, 2009 for Seattle Sounders|
|Birthday||November 28, 1989||July 26, 1987|
|Place of Birth||Guacara, Venezuela||Campo de la Cruz, Colombia|
– Krista Staudinger
Jesus Montero, Hisashi Iwakuma and the Mariner Moose spent some time today with patients at Tacoma’s Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital. Their visit was part of the on-going Mariners Get Well Tour, presented by Holland America Line. There were smiles all around as patients posed for photos, got autographs and received gift bags, courtesy of Holland America Lines.
The newest episode of Mariners All-Access debuts today on ROOT Sports NW at noon, and re-airs tonight at 6 p.m. following the Mariners-Padres Interleague finale. If you are not able to watch today, you can catch the show at 6 pm on June 29 or June 30.
This week’s episode is dedicated to the Tricks of the Trade feature.
- Switch hitters are rare and the Mariners have the rarest… one with power. Justin Smoak puts on a hitting clinic from both sides of the plate, from the most basic things like stance and swing, to contact points with the ball.
- Left-handed reliever Charlie Furbush earns a cameo, but his impact is big, just like his slider—he’ll teach you how he throws it. (Great at parties to strike out your friends).
- Catcher Jesus Montero recently switched things up, not his delivery or swing, but his equipment. Here is a hint, it is unknown how well Montero would fair out on the ice against Pavel Datsyuk, but he looks the part with his new mask.
- And finally, if the ball gets by an infielder, the guy is going to be standing on first, if it gets by the outfield chances are someone is touching home—that’s why they say, the infield will hurt you, the outfield will kill you. Outfielder Michael Saunders makes sure this won’t happen. He takes us out to the grass for a lesson on catching Major League fly balls.
Check back to the blog for more previews of Mariners All-Access.
There have been a lot of fan and media conversations about the Mariners catchers, specifically the use of rookie Jesus Montero. The general consensus is that he should be in the lineup as a catcher more games, and as designated hitter fewer games, because he will develop his defensive skills faster.
Mariners Manager Eric Wedge, an All-American catcher at Wichita State University who was a catcher in pro ball for nine years, thinks otherwise and is sticking to the plan to develop Jesus slowly.
Last week, Eric said, “He’s a young catcher. Every day he’s back there, he’s learning. He has so much responsibility back there, and there’s so much going on, it just takes time. He’s not ready to catch every day yet.
“He needs days off. He needs to get back behind home plate every now and again to catch, but we need to be careful with his workload. We have to make sure we stay ahead of everything for him mentally and physically. The fundamental side of everything is a day-to-day process. He’s got a lot on his plate.”
Wedge added that catching every day could have a negative impact on his development. “That was part of the equation when we brought him over here. What people need to understand is it would actually take him longer to be the total player he needs to be if he was back there every day right now. Because it would get in the way of his development.”
During his stint as manager of the Cleveland Indians (2003-2009) he was involved with the gradual development of Victor Martinez as a Major League catcher.
Eric said, “When I had Victor, I sent him down. I sent him to Triple-A for the first half of the season. He needed to do some things. He wasn’t ready. Then when he came back in the second half, you had to be careful with him. Then his first full year, you had to be careful with him. Eventually he developed into the All-Star caliber player he was.”
Through the series at Detroit, Montero, just 22 years old, has started a quarter of the Mariners first 20 games at catcher. Jeff Datz, third base coach, Eric and former Mariners catcher Dan Wilson have all spent time with Jesus, so he has plenty of support as the continues his development behind the plate.
Day 2 / Monday, February 13, 2012 / 43 Days ‘til Opening Night in Tokyo / 59 Days ‘til Opening Night in Seattle
Weather: Sunny skies with temperatures in the low to mid-60 during workouts this morning. Temperatures are continuing to warm up through the afternoon, but rain may be in the forecast for tomorrow.
Quote of the Day: Shortstop Munenori Kawasaki introducing himself to teammates, staff and media: “I am Munenori Kawasaki. Kawasaki…VROOM VROOM.” Kawasaki signed a Minor League contract with the Mariners in January and is excited to be in camp.
The Day: Pitchers and catchers were on field for the second day of camp. After day one and figuring out which field to be on and at what time, day two went smoothly with everyone getting where they needed to be on time.
Sixteen pitchers had bullpens today after 18 did yesterday, including RH Hisashi Iwakumi, RH Hector Noesi, RH Brandon League and RH Kevin Millwood. General Manager Jack Zduriencik and Manager Eric Wedge have been impressed early with the pitchers in camp.
Pitchers continued working on PFP (Pitchers Fielding Practice) drills, including fielding a bunt and covering first on a ball hit to the right side of the infield. Infielders Mike Carp, Kyle Seager and Nick Franklin stood in as first baseman for the pitchers on one of the fields. Catchers also worked on controlling the running game and throwing out runners at second base.
The catchers wrapped up the day split into two hitting groups. While working on hitting to all sides of the field, Jesus Sucre hit a screaming line drive up the middle and nearly took out coach Nasusel Cabrera gathering balls in shallow center field. Cabrera had to jump out of the way and used a ball bucket to deflect the ball. The rest of the coaching staff laughed and continued to give Cabrera a hard time until BP was over. Jesus Montero, Miguel Olivo and Adam Moore each hit multiple home runs into the parking lot.
Much like the college football polls, there are a lot of these, and it can get confusing, but we wanted to pass along a few more to get you excited for the upcoming baseball season.
- C Jesus Montero (#7)
- RHP Taijuan Walker (#14)
- LHP Danny Hultzen (#35)
- LHP James Paxton (#59)
Additionally, author Kevin Goldstein noted on his Twitter feed that infielder Nick Franklin would also likely be included in the top 125 players.
ESPN.com and Keith Law also unveiled their annual Top 100 prospects (hidden behind ESPN’s pay wall), with five Mariners listed among the top 100.
- C Jesus Montero (#9)
- RHP Taijuan Walker (#24)
- LHP Danny Hultzen (#30)
- LHP James Paxton (#51)
- INF Nick Franklin (#57)
Larry Stone of the Seattle Times has a nice write-up on the ESPN.com piece in his Hot Stone League Blog.