When it comes to depth in the minor leagues, the Seattle Mariners don't seem to have it at Triple-A Tacoma. Through the games of Tuesday night (May 8), the Tacoma Rainiers have the worst pitching staff in the Pacific Coast League. While it's still early in the season, I feel that the numbers that the Rainiers have put up are atrocious.
I think that the promotion of Stephen Pryor from Double-A and the demotion of Erasmo Ramirez from the Mariners could help the staff quite a bit, but it is otherwise very thin. As a team, the Rainiers have posted an 11-21 record and an ERA of 6.17 through the first 32 games. The team has also walked 136 batters, 17 more than any other team in the PCL. Those numbers really worry me, especially if the Mariners have to deal with any injuries within the starting rotation this year.
I don't like to talk bad about the prospects that Seattle is trying to groom, but those awful numbers also include a 1.23 ERA over 14 2/3 innings from Shawn Kelly and 4 innings of shut-out ball by Charlie Furbush. Both pitchers were rehabbing for Tacoma, helping lower the overall numbers that are just plain ugly.
In 7 starts for Tacoma, Jeff Marquez is 2-3 with a 6.06 ERA, Forrest Snow is 0-3 with a 7.58 ERA in 6 starts, Anthony Vasquez is 3-2 with a 5.88 ERA in 6 starts, and Mauricio Robles is 0-3 with a 9.86 ERA in 5 starts. Then there is Jarrett Grube, who had 3 starts and an ERA of 12.00 before he lost his spot in the rotation. Of pitchers that have more than 10 innings for the team, Josh Kinney leads the way with a 3.45 ERA as a reliever.
I think that a lot of the prospects at Triple-A Tacoma are at serious risk of losing their jobs within the organization. When all the phenoms down at Double-A Jackson start getting promotions, much like elite reliever Pryor just did, the team is going to have to clear roster space to make it work. Players like Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen and James Paxton are going to get those promotions soon enough, especially if the front office has plans to get them to Seattle by the 2013 season.
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*Ryan is a lifelong Seattle Mariners fan who never misses an opportunity to attend a game at Safeco Field. He has been attending games since 1985, and has fond memories of The Kingdome, Edgar Martinez, and the historic 1995 team. Sodo Mojo!