Interesting Starts: High Desert

If you want an indication as to how poor a start the Mariners’ organization has gotten of to this year, you need look no further than this stat: despite a record of just 9-10, the Mavericks have the best winning percentage in the organization, and they’re tied with the Mariners in wins despite the M’s having a full week’s head start.

Yikes.

Anyways, on to the interesting starts for players, eh?

Daniel Carroll, OF
Stat Line: .324/.430/.507, 2 HR, 5 2B, 1 3B, 12 SB, 14 BB, 20 K’s
I might be cheating a little bit on this one, since I chose Carroll as my breakout guy for High Desert and I wanted to make this series about some of the more secondary guys… but I chose Carroll to break out in part because he is a secondary guy, and his start really has been a good one.

Carroll’s shown good overall numbers, using his eye to work the count and help spray line drives that have racked up extra-base hits for him.  Even when he can only get a single, Carroll’s still done a good job of getting himself in to scoring position, swiping 12 bags already on the season while only getting caught once.

I am concerned over how well Carroll can keep this up, however.  While his line drive percentage is at a nice 15% so far that fits with his career norms, his groundball rate is uncomfortably high at 54% and his BABIP is at an astronomical .426.  Those two things paired together lead me to think that he’s going to see a harsh regression to the mean at some point soon.

Some might also point to this being Carroll’s third significant tour in High Desert, thanks in large part to injuries slowing down his development.  That is certainly true and a very valid argument against him.  However, if he can keep this run going for a little while yet, he should be a prime candidate for an early promotion to Jackson, a la Nate Tenbrink in 2010.

Denny Almonte, OF
Stat Line: .342/.341./.684, 5 HR, 4 2B, 4 3B, 21 RBI, 24 K’s, 1 BB
Talk about your hot starts.  Almonte has been all but given up on as a serious prospect, but he’s forcing himself back in to the headlines with a 1.025 OPS through the Mavericks’ first 19 games.

Almonte has been on a power binge in the early goings of the season, racking up five homers and four doubles, but he’s let his athleticism and speed give him some help too, shown in part by his 4 triples.  He should probably be a little bit more selective in his base-stealing, however, given his 37.5% success rate (five times caught stealing in eight attempts).

That Almonte has a higher batting average than on-base percentage should come as little surprise.  This is, after all, the same man who walked just 25 times in 526 plate appearances in 2010 while striking out a whopping 192 times.  That is who he is, and will never change.  I’m not sure how long this run will last for him, but it’s going to be fun to watch while it lasts.

James Gillheeney, LHP
Stat Line: 4 GS, 21 IP, 1-1,  7 R, 18 H, 3 HR, 23 K’s, 7 BB
Gillheeney has always been on the periphery of the M’s prospect pitchers, but if he can put up a repeat performance of his 2010 season, he might be able to get a little bit closer to the big picture.  Gillheeney put up an impressive 145/57 K/BB ratio in 2010, splitting time between Clinton, High Desert, and AA West Tennessee, and he seems to be on the right track to repeating those sorts of numbers.

The home runs are a concern given the environment, especially given his mediocre ground ball rates during his career, but if he can find a way to contain those, Gillheeney stands a real chance of taking a meaningful step forward as a prospect this year.

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