At some point early in the offseason, the Seattle Mariners will announce their Minor League Player Of The Year.
There are several candidates. D.J. Peterson mashed in the California League before slowing down in Double-A. Chris Taylor starred in Triple-A and played his way into the starting shortstop position in Seattle. Ketel Marte was the top shortstop in the Southern League and has held his own during a Triple-A call-up. Jordy Lara had a breakthrough season.
But it’s going to be hard for the Mariners to keep the award out of Patrick Kivlehan’s hands.
Kivlehan opened the season at Advanced-A High Desert before being promoted to Double-A Jackson on May 10th. Despite changing from hitter-friendly to pitcher-friendly leagues, Kivlehan has posted strong offensive numbers.
With Jackson alone, Kivlehan has hit .298 with a .375 on-base percentage. A former Rutgers football player, Kivlehan has shown some power with 40 extra-base hits in 101 Double-A games: He has 22 doubles, seven triples, and 11 homers. His slugging percentage is .486.
Combined between the two levels, Kivlehan has hit .293 with 20 home runs and 102 runs batted in, while appearing in an organization-leading 135 games through Friday.
Kivlehan has done this while shifting positions. Naturally a third baseman, he has also seen time at first base and at all three outfield positions.
Kivlehan was the Mariners’ fourth-round pick in 2012. He played just one season of baseball at Rutgers while focusing on football.
FALL LEAGUE SURPRISE
The list of Seattle Mariners prospects assigned to the Arizona Fall League is pretty much as expected.
Peterson? Check. Kivlehan? He’s there. Tacoma catching prospect John Hicks is on the list. Two intriguing Double-A starters, Matt Anderson and Steve Landazuri, will be going.
But that sixth name. Who, exactly, is Matt Brazis?
The Mariners assigned the 24-year-old reliever to pitch for the Surprise Saguaros after a tremendous season covering two different levels in the farm system.
Brazis began the season at Advanced-A High Desert, where he went 3-0 with a 2.97 ERA in 23 games. He pitched 39 innings in the California League, racking up 50 strikeouts while issuing only eight walks.
The Mariners bumped him up to Double-A Jackson in early July, and he has actually improved his numbers: Brazis has a 1.69 ERA in 32 innings for the Generals, allowing just 20 hits while maintaining a 33-8 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Brazis was the Mariners’ 28th-round draft pick in 2012 out of Boston College, where he pitched strictly as a reliever for four years.
Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Tacoma Rainiers.