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Young Guns Serve as M’s Backbone for AL West Race

Posted By Chase Smith On Jun 17 2011 @ 7:49 pm In Seattle Mariners | No Comments

In the MLB, there are two different types of teams; there are the big-market teams like the Yankees, Phillies, and Cardinals that spend hefty amounts of money in the free agent market, acquiring names like C.C. Sabathia, Cliff Lee, Derek Jeter, and Albert Pujols. However, on the other side there are the smaller-market teams like the Royals, Pirates, and the Mariners that, while they do not engage in big time pitching/hitting deals focus more on developing their younger, and often times more promising prospective talent. This has been a perspective that has proved to be a successful strategy for the Mariners this season.

As of June 15, the M’s currently sit in second place in the AL West with a record of 35-34; this after finishing a six-game stretch featuring the Detroit Tigers with whom they finished 2-1, and AL West rival, the LA Angels of Anaheim with a 1-2 series record. This record leaves them only a half-game back of the Texas Rangers. For the last two weeks, many have said the reason for this flourishing number of wins has been because of the idea of calling up young talent from the minor leagues to fill the spots where small-market teams cannot sign big-name players to.

One of those names that has contributed to this rejuvenating Mariners season is second-year 1B Justin Smoak. Playing in his first full season in the MLB, the former South Carolina Gamecock has been performing to the expectations the Rangers were hoping for after he was drafted #11 overall in 2008. With his strong sense of discipline at the plate and sheer power on each swing, “Super-Smoak,” has proven to be a valuable asset for the middle of the M’s batting order. During the six-game stretch against the Tigers and Angels, Smoak batted .260 with 2 HR (12), 4 RBI (38). Smoak will need to be on his guard as he faces off against Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels this weekend.

Another important name in the Mariners offense is none other than the man from Hondo Valle, Dominican Republic, OF Carlos Peguero. In his 30-game rookie season, Peguero has batted .223 with a total of 5 HR and 15 RBI. In the first game of the recent series against the Tigers, Peguero stepped out on the offensive by going two for three with a solo HR to right field, and a deep triple to right-center, thereby having him moved to the cleanup spot in the M’s batting order. Carlos will continue to bat in the cleanup position tonight at Safeco (Click link below to watch the HR capability of Peguero) (Video courtesy of MLB.com)

Carlos Peguero blasts solo HR off Brad Penny [1] 

But one name to definitely keep an eye as the weeks progress, is Arizona Fall League MVP 1B Dustin Ackley. This hard-hitting 1B out of North Carolina has been a force to be reckoned with in the Tacoma Rainiers (AAA) batting order, batting .303 with 9 HR, 35 RBI, and an astounding .421 OBP (On-Base Percentage). According to MLB.com, Mariners skipper Eric Wedge felt, “It’s time to get him up here. He needed more experience at second base at Triple-A level, but he’s ready to be up here,” (Quote via MLB.com). Ackley is expected to start at second base in his major league debut tonight against Philadelphia.


Image courtesy of Associated Press (Posted by Geoff Baker - The Seattle Times)

The M’s hope to keep seeing this promising young talent reach new heights as they get set to open a three-game series against the Phillies tonight at Safeco Field at 7:10 PM PDT (Oswalt 4-4, 3.14 ERA vs. Pineda 6-4, 2.72 ERA).

Video and quotations courtesy of MLB.com (http://www.mlb.com [3]) and roster/team statistics courtesy of ESPN.com (http://www.espn.go.com/mlb [4])

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[1] Carlos Peguero blasts solo HR off Brad Penny: http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=15743089&topic_id=players&c_id=sea&tcid=vpp_copy_15743089&v=3

[2] Image: http://prosportsblogging.com/psb/uploads/2011/06/Dustin-Ackley.jpg

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[4] http://www.espn.go.com/mlb: http://www.espn.go.com/mlb

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