Seattle Mariners

Minor league notebook: New Rainiers pitchers impress

Outfielder Ramon Flores appeared in 12 games for the New York Yankees this season before getting traded to Seattle as part of the package for Dustin Ackley.
Outfielder Ramon Flores appeared in 12 games for the New York Yankees this season before getting traded to Seattle as part of the package for Dustin Ackley. The Associated Press

The Seattle Mariners boosted the organizational depth at the upper levels of the minor league system with some moves at the trade deadline, and the Tacoma Rainiers have benefited.

Tacoma added two interesting pitching prospects in right-handers Adrian Sampson and Jose Ramirez. This is in addition to outfielder Ramon Flores, a trade deadline acquisition who has been torrid at the plate until a season-ending ankle injury Friday.

Sampson, 23, was acquired from Pittsburgh for J.A. Happ. He’s made three starts for Tacoma, going 1-2 with a 4.95 ERA.

A product of Skyline High School in Sammamish, Sampson projects as a possible back-of-the rotation starter for Seattle.

“He’s got a lot of sink action on his fastball,” Tacoma pitching coach Jaime Navarro said. “He’s consistent keeping his pitches down, and he’s a strike thrower. He has a plan all of the time, and he has good makeup.”

Navarro also likes new reliever Ramirez, who was acquired along with Flores from the Yankees in exchange for Dustin Ackley.

“This kid has a hell of an arm — 98, 99, up to 100 (mph),” Navarro said. “He needs to work a little more on his slider, but he has a really good change-up to lefties.”

Ramirez has been homer-prone in his first four games for Tacoma, giving up three of them in 5 1/3 innings. Two of the three homers have come on sliders.

TAYLOR ON A TEAR

When the Mariners optioned infielder Chris Taylor to Tacoma on July 30, it was primarily because he was batting .170 in 32 major league games.

Taylor needed everyday at-bats to get back in a groove — and that is exactly what has happened in Triple-A.

Since coming down from Seattle, Taylor has batted .423 (22 for 52). His on-base skills have been particularly impressive: he has drawn 14 walks, posting a .552 on-base percentage since the demotion.

“Things are coming around,” Taylor said. “It’s been an everyday battle and grind in the cage, early batting practice, just trying to get back comfortable.”

LOPES LEARNS CAL LEAGUE

Single-A infielder Tim Lopes knows the California League. This is his second season in the circuit, playing for different teams.

The Mariners sixth-round draft pick in 2012 out of Edison High School (Huntington Beach, California) played for High Desert last year and had a tough season, batting .238 in a great hitter’s environment.

The Mariners moved their affiliate to Bakersfield this year and assigned the 21-year-old Lopes to repeat the level.

Lopes has improved his numbers across the board, hitting .283 with two homers, 25 doubles and 30 stolen bases.

He carried an 11-game hitting streak into Saturday’s game, collecting eight multiple-hit games during the streak.

Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Tacoma Rainiers.

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