Seattle Mariners

Relief appears to be on the way from minor leagues for beleaguered Seattle Mariners bullpen

The Seattle Mariners’ bullpen has been an area of weakness all season, but there are some reliever prospects worth noting down on the farm.

Triple-A Tacoma’s Tony Zych and Double-A Jackson’s Paul Fry are two who have made strides during the 2015 season. Both could eventually become factors in the majors leagues.

Zych, 25, is a right-hander whose fastball can reach 99 mph. Acquired from the Chicago Cubs at the end of spring training, Zych has pitched in 40 games this season — 15 for Jackson and 25 for Tacoma. Combined, he has posted a 2.98 ERA, with 55 strikeouts and nine walks in 48 1/3 innings.

“It’s been incredible to watch him develop,” said Mariners director of player development Chris Gwynn during a visit to Cheney Stadium this week. “He’s improved his slider, and he’s gotten a lot better about varying his speeds.”

The Mariners selected Fry out of St. Claire Community College (Port Huron, Michigan) in the 17th round of the 2013 draft, and out of nowhere he has put together a huge season.

Split between Advanced-A Bakersfield and Jackson, the 23-year-old left-hander has posted a 2.15 ERA over 75 1/3 innings, with 104 strikeouts and only 19 walks.

“He was in Clinton this time last year, and he decided to dedicate himself to baseball and moved to Arizona,” Gwynn said. “He caught a break — he got invited to our minicamp because we had a couple of guys get hurt, and he parlayed that into a really outstanding season.”

Gwynn likes the way Fry goes about his business on the mound.

“He’s striking out guys, he’s deceptive, he’s courageous going right after hitters — he’s one of our better stories,” Gwynn said.

OTHER MATT DUFFY IN LINE FOR MVP

San Francisco Giants third baseman Matt Duffy is a sleeper candidate to win the National League Rookie of the Year award, but there is another Matt Duffy two hundred miles away in Fresno, California, who seems likely to take home some hardware.

The Fresno Grizzlies’ Matt Duffy — also a third baseman — is a leading candidate to win the Pacific Coast League Most Valuable Player Award, which will be announced later this week.

Fresno’s Duffy entered Saturday’s games batting .301 with 17 home runs and a league-leading 100 RBIs. He has been a season-long presence in the middle of the batting order for the league’s top team. Fresno was the first team in the league to clinch a playoff spot, and the Grizzlies have a league-best record of 79-54.

SHOWDOWN IN VEGAS

The top two teams in the PCL’s Pacific-South division open a four-game series on Monday in Las Vegas.

Heading into Saturday, El Paso was 2 1/2 games behind Las Vegas in the standings. The division winner will play Fresno in the first round of the PCL playoffs.

After the head-to-head showdown series, El Paso has five games remaining at Reno while Las Vegas hosts Tacoma in a four-game series to close the season.

Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Tacoma Rainiers.

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