Michael Saunders, OF
Bats: LeftThrows: RightHeight: 6-4Weight: 212Age: 24
2010 salary: $401,000
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2010 stats: .211 with 10 home runs and 33 RBI.
Asked for more power than he‘d shown in a late 2009 call-up, Saunders hit 10 home runs in 289 at-bats and, in just 89 appearances in the outfield, led the team with eight outfield assists. Showed flashes - an eight-game July hitting streak, a two-home run game at Yankee Stadium - of the player Seattle hopes he can become. “I like him,” Tampa Bay scout Roger Jongewaard said. “I’m not sure he’s ready, but I think eventually he’ll be a good player. I’d take him.”
Those flashes never led to consistency, and after batting .279 in July, Saunders hit .128 in August. “He’s got lots of tools, the ability to hit for average, for power, and he can run, throw - he’s just a big strong kid,” Tacoma manager Daren Brown said. “At some point, he’s got to do it at the big-league level - and we haven’t seen that. For two or three days, he’s got it and you think ‘here he comes’ - then it just goes away.”
Summing up Saunders’s 2010
Saunders gave away too many at-bats to hit for average, but 289 rookie at-bats may have been just a painful learning experience. A lot of guys who come up too soon just don’t perform and it affects their confidence.,” Jongewaard said. “Playing well when you first get started means a lot. He needs more confidence.”
Looking to 2011
With 148 games on his resume, Saunders will open the season with his third big-league manager and his third big-league hitting coach. Still, this is the spring and the year Saunders has to show marked improvement at the plate if he’s to be considered more than a fourth outfielder. If the Mariners cut him today, a dozen big-league teams would pursue him - that’s the kind of raw ability scouts see in Saunders. What they haven’t seen yet is that talent produce results.