One of the most interesting teenage prospects in the Seattle organization is starting to heat up at Single-A Clinton of the Midwest League.
Outfielder Gabriel Guerrero extended his hitting streak to 11 consecutive games with four singles Saturday night, continuing a month-long stretch that has seen his batting average steadily improve for the LumberKings in Iowa.
The 19-year-old turned heads in spring training because of his resemblance to his uncle, nine-time All-Star and 2004 American League MVP Vladimir Guerrero.
The resemblance is uncanny.
“He looks just like him,” Mariners director of player development Chris Gwynn said. “Same body, high pockets.”
The Mariners signed the younger Guerrero in January 2011 when he was 17.
After an outstanding season in the Dominican Summer League in 2012, the Mariners brought him over and watched him hit .333 with four homers in the final 18 games of the Arizona Rookie League season.
Guerrero was then sent to Clinton for his first full professional season.
Playing in cold weather on a traveling team for the first time, Guerrero got off to a slow start. His average was under .200 in early May and on June 7 it stood at .215.
When the weather warmed up, so did Guerrero’s bat. Since June 8, Guerrero has hit .402 (35-for-86), boosting his season average to .273.
“He’s starting to hit doubles, his average is climbing,” Gwynn said. “He’s a great kid, has great makeup and he wants to learn.”
Guerrero is still looking for his first home run of the season, but that doesn’t concern Gwynn. Scouts project Guerrero will hit for power down the road.
“I think the power will come,” Gwynn said. “It will probably be the last thing to come.”
The Seattle front office will be elated if Gabriel develops power like his uncle, who hit 449 homers in his major league career.
SPEAKING OF POWER
The organization’s minor league home run leader is outfielder Jabari Blash of Single-A High Desert of the California League.
Through Friday, Blash has hit 15 homers — one more than Tacoma’s Carlos Peguero.
High Desert plays in one of the most hitter-friendly ballparks in minor league baseball (Stater Bros. Stadium in Adelanto, Calif.), and true to form, the 23-year-old Blash has hit 10 of his 15 home runs at home.
Teammate Daniel Paolini is also taking advantage of the friendly confines of Stater Bros. Stadium Stadium. Paolini ranks third in the organization with 13 homers, with nine of them coming at home.
Peguero is the opposite at pitcher-friendly Cheney Stadium. He has hit nine of 14 home runs on the road.Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Tacoma Rainiers.