The Mariners might be developing a right-handed power hitter at Single-A High Desert — but we’ll probably have to wait until next year to know for sure.
Mavericks first baseman Jordy Lara hit a home run for his fifth consecutive game Friday night at Rancho Cucamonga. He had homered in eight of his past 10 games entering Saturday, raising his season total to 22.
The 23-year-old first baseman was batting .354 through Friday, with 80 runs batted in over 101 games in his first full season in the California League. He had a .410 on-base percentage and a .611 slugging percentage.
Gaudy numbers, indeed. But High Desert plays in the best hitter’s park in the high-scoring California League, where big offensive production is the norm.
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The list of Mariners minor leaguers who have put up huge numbers in the Cal League is long. Not all of them have survived the Double-A test.
Stephen Proscia hit .333 with 24 homers for High Desert in 2012, and he was released from Double-A Jackson earlier this year. Dennis Raben went .330-18-75 in a half-season there in 2011, and he’s still in the California League — but now with the Dodgers’ affiliate. Rich Poythress hit 31 homers and drove in 130 runs in 2010; he reached Tacoma, but his power didn’t translate to higher levels, and he’s been with two Double-A teams this season.
Lara has one thing on his side that creates optimism: He has crushed baseballs on the road as well as at home. He’s hitting .351 with 14 homers at home and .356 with eight homers on the road. He has a 1.034 OPS at home and 1.009 on the road.
The Mariners signed Lara in 2008 as a 17-year-old out of Bani in the Dominican Republic. He’s likely to play for Jackson next year — and then we’ll find out whether his offensive surge is for real.
A 20-20 Man In The PCL
Albuquerque outfielder Joc Pederson became the first Pacific Coast League player in five years to hit 20 homers and steal 20 bases in the same season when he blasted his 20th homer of the season Wednesday night against Fresno.
That wasn’t even the highlight of his week. The next day, Pederson hit a game-winning grand slam with two outs in the eighth inning against all-star closer Heath Hembree of Fresno, turning a 7-4 deficit into an 8-7 lead. (Hembree was traded by the San Francisco Giants to the Boston Red Sox on Saturday in the Jake Peavy deal.)
The 22-year-old Pederson has 21 home runs and 25 stolen bases. The last 20-20 player in the PCL was Terry Evans of the Salt Lake Bees, who hit 26 homers and stole 28 bases in 2009.