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Arizona Fall League a valuable experience for several young Mariners

By Shannon Drayer

It is time for a break for several young Mariners who played for the Peoria Javelinas in the Arizona Fall League the past month and a half. The fall season came to an end with the Javelinas beating the Salt River Rafters 4-3 in the championship game.

The Mariners’ first pick in this year’s draft, Mike Zunino, finished strong, going 3 for 5 and driving in two runs. In 19 games in the AFL, Zunino hit .288/.337/.463/.800. Add this to his numbers from Everett and Jackson this year and Zunino has hit .366/.428/.610/.1.038 in his first experience as a professional player.

His numbers behind the plate in Arizona were a little concerning as he allowed a number of passed balls and stolen bases. In talking to a couple of people in the organization this does not appear to be a huge concern as they like what he did before fall league. They also pointed out that it can be a challenge in Arizona, where as a catcher you are most often catching pitchers you are unfamiliar with as players from multiple teams make up the fall league squads. There is little question Zunino’s first pro season was a success and it will be very interesting to see what he does in spring training and if he will be allowed the chance to compete for a position out of camp.

Nick Franklin also excelled, hitting .388/.422/.519/.942 in 20 games. The Mariners were looking to get him more experience as well as some success and a confidence boost at the plate after struggling a bit in his first months at Triple-A. This sets him up nicely for spring training.

After a slow start, Vinnie Catricala turned it on late and finished with a .279/.329/.412/.741 line. It will be interesting to see what happens with him in the next 24 hours as roster decisions loom with the 40-man protected list due at 11:59 Eastern Tuesday.

Stefen Romero made the most of his limited opportunities as a member of the “taxi squad”, hitting .333/.375/.511/.886. Romero’s versatility could make him a candidate for a final spot on the roster this spring.

The Mariners pitchers, James Paxton included, pitched limited innings and did not put up great numbers although it is tough to do so in such small samples. Paxton got work in after missing time with a knee injury earlier this year. Lefty Bobby LaFromboise did not allow a run in his last six outings and Logan Bawcom was able to give the Mariners a little more of a look after coming over from the Dodgers at the deadline.

News and notes

The “King of Perfection” DVD is now available in Mariners team stores. The DVD includes the entire perfect game thrown by Felix Hernandez as well as postgame interviews and bonus features. The DVD gives viewers the option of listening to the radio play-by-play called by Rick Rizzs and Ken Wilson or the TV broadcast with Mike Blowers and Dave Sims. The video sells for $10.

As I said above, tomorrow is the deadline to submit the final 40-man rosters before the Rule 5 Draft. The Mariners have some decisions to make here and I will have more on that later.

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