Friday the Mariners named Rich Poythress, 23, a first baseman at High Desert, their minor league player of the year and Michael Pineda, who split the season between West Tennessee and Tacoma as pitcher of the year.
Poythress hit .315 and led all minor leaguers in runs batted in with 130 in 123 games. He hit for power with 33 doubles and 31 homers. The University of Georgia graduate was drafted in the second round in 2009.
It is unlikely he will man first base next season as, at least for the moment, that position has a log jam surrounding it. Casey Kotchman, excellent glove, weak bat, whom the Mariners got in the off season, Mike Carp a promising rookie, and Justin Smoak, whom the Mariners got in the Cliff Lee trade, are the logs. There will be some pressure to see that Smoak gets every chance to win that job, otherwise that trade looks bad.
Pineda is only 21 and had more success at West Tennessee where he was 8-1 with a 2.22 e.r.a. before his promotion to Tacoma where he was 3-3 4.76. He averaged 9.95 strikeouts per nine innings. He is probably ticketed for another year down on the farm. That is probably the case for Poythress as well.
Every organization has players who look promising, give fans excitement about the future, seeing better things to come, another piece of the puzzle to a championship team.
Baseball fans are eternally optimistic. It must have something to do with spring training. It is in the spring where hope is eternal. For now Poythress and Pineda are nothing more than prospects, a hope for baseball fans.
But hope needs to be tempered because, as we all know, many players have looked like future hall of famers in the minors, only to fizzle in the big show.
Pineda may be the next Felix Hernandez and Poythress may be the next Alvin Davis, or John Olerud, then again . . . oh, heck, lets just keep the sweet dreams alive. This year that is all Mariner fans have.