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Originally published May 31, 2005 at 12:00 AM | Page modified May 31, 2005 at 12:03 AM

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M's in the minors: A weekly look around the Seattle organization

Top 10 prospects

Minor-league players, ranked by expected major-league contribution:
# Pos Player Age Tm Update
1. RHP Felix Hernandez 19 Tac Is 6-3 (2.72 ERA) after up-and-down week
2. OF Shin-Soo Choo 22 Tac An on-base machine with seven BB, six H
3. SS Matt Tuiasosopo 19 Wis AVG (.293) in unfamiliar, sub-.300 territory
4. OF Wladimir Balentien 20 Inl Back to bashing (.573 SLG), plus nine RBI
5. LHP Bobby Livingston 22 San Dominant: eight-inning, three-hit effort
6. OF Chris Snelling 23 Tac Second in the PCL with his .388 average
7. SS Adam Jones 19 Inl On a 17-for-35 (.486) tear; AVG at .306
8. LHP Cesar Jimenez 20 San Hasn't allowed earned run since May 13
9. 2B Asdrubal Cabrera 19 Wis Fourth in MWL in AVG (.333); just one E
10. 3B Jesus Guzman 20 San Consistently cranks out the hits (.279 AVG)
Stats through Sunday. Out: Jose Lopez (injured). In: Jesus Guzman.

Around the organization

Tacoma

Last week: The Rainiers went 4-3 to land at 24-25, tied for second place 3 ½ games back in the Pacific Northern Division of the Pacific Coast League (AAA).

Moving: LHP George Sherrill is on the disabled list with a strained muscle in his side. 2B Jose Lopez, who earlier broke the hamate bone in his left hand, is back on the DL with another hand injury. RHPs Jeff Harris and Oliver Arias and IF Eric Blakeley joined Tacoma.

Digits: 7. Shutouts by the pitching staff, tops in the PCL.

Misc.: RHP Jorge Campillo gave up two runs in seven innings after return from Seattle.

Three to watch:

Player, statistics and comments
RHP Cha Seung Baek (25) 4-1, 3.31 ERA

Big ERA drop with seven shutout IP

OF Jamal Strong (26) .291, 13 SB

14 for 39 (.359) in nine-game hit streak

SS Mike Morse (23) .253, 12 doubles

Average sinks for third week in a row

San Antonio

Last week: The Missions had a down week at 2-5, but remained in second place at 26-24, six games back in the Texas League (AA) West Division.

Moving: OF Jon Nelson was put on the disabled list with a broken hand, and OF Casey Craig joined the Missions from Peoria. LHP Tim Rall rejoined the team.

Digits: 12. Stolen bases by OF T.J. Bohn, good for fourth place in the Texas League.

Misc.: LHP Bobby Livingston is eighth in the league with a 3.08 earned-run average. He is tied for fourth place with five wins, and is fifth in innings pitched with 61-1/3.

Three to watch:

Player, statistics and comments
SS Yuniesky Betancourt (23) .262, 10 SB

First fire (8 for 15), then ice (0 for 12)

LHP Thomas Oldham (23) 2-4, 3.79 ERA

Six earned runs in past 10 innings

OF Casey Craig (20) .333 AVG

Likely slated for Missions backup duty

Inland Empire

Last week: The 66ers went 4-2 to climb from fifth place to fourth at 22-27, five games back in the California League (High A) South Division.

Moving: 2B Michael Garciaparra and 3B Erick Monzon returned from the disabled list and played Friday. Garciaparra went 2 for 9 in his first two games back.

Digits: 2.91. RHP Jason Mackintosh's ERA, good for fifth place in the league. He has the sixth-most strikeouts with 53.

Misc.: OF Carlos Arroyo had an 11-game hit streak end Friday. He went 19 for 45 for a .422 average during that time.

Three to watch:

Player, statistics and comments
LHP Ryan Feierabend (19) 1-3, 5.91 ERA

Had six strikeouts in 5-2/3-inning outing

1B Bryan Lahair (22) .291, 37 RBI

Hit .336, going 36 for 107, in May

3B Erick Monzon (23) .315, .350 OBP

A 6-for-9 return from hamstring injury

Wisconsin

Last week: The Timber Rattlers went 6-1 to take over first place at 29-21, one-half game ahead in the Midwest League (Low A) Western Division.

Moving: RHP Ivan Blanco joined the team Tuesday and threw two shutout innings shortly after his arrival. RHP Roman Martinez went on the disabled list with a fractured wrist.

Digits: 7. Career-high strikeout total for RHP Mark Lowe during six shutout innings Wednesday.

Misc.: The Timber Rattlers' offense has been in high gear, ranking second in the league in batting average (.270) and runs scored (268).

Three to watch:

Player, statistics and comments
IF Yung Chi Chen (21) .266, 30 RBI

Heated back up with a 6-for-12 string

IF Oswaldo Navarro (22) .289, 11 doubles

Three of 10 hits went for two bases

RHP Jason Snyder (22) 5-4, 3.60 ERA

Has allowed just three HR in 60 IP

Q&A: On the farm

Q: What ever happened to Evel Bastida-Martinez?

A: Bastida-Martinez was released by the Mariners last summer, then was picked up by Baltimore. He played 38 games in the minors for the Orioles, who cut the infielder this spring.

While playing for Inland Empire in 2003, Bastida-Martinez was suspended after he hit an opposing pitcher with his bat in an ugly on-field incident. He was given a second chance before his release in 2004.

Bastida-Martinez has a career minor-league batting average of .250, mostly in Class A. He was a seventh-round draft pick of Seattle in 2002 and is now 26 years old.

Q: What is the status of Justin Leone?

A: The Tacoma third baseman was placed on the disabled list nearly a month ago when he bruised a bone in his right hand.

Leone will return to the lineup whenever he is comfortable swinging the bat, possibly early this week.

Leone has hit .270 with three homers and five doubles in 17 games for the Rainiers this season. He has played 31 games in the majors during his career, with a .216 batting average and six home runs.

The Rainiers have quite a bit of talent — all players who could be considered among Seattle's top 10 prospects — on the disabled list: LHP Travis Blackley, RHP Clint Nageotte and 2B Jose Lopez.

To submit a question about the Mariners' minor-league teams:

call 206-464-8326; send postal mail to Joshua Beach, Times Sports,

P.O. Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111; or e-mail jbeach@seattletimes.com.

Player spotlight

Thomas Oldham, P, San Antonio

Born: May 18, 1982, in Fremont, Neb.

Vitals: 6 feet 2, 215 pounds. Throws: L.

Acquired: Drafted by Seattle in the eighth round of the 2003 draft.

Highlights: Named Wisconsin's co-MVP by the organization in 2004. ... First-team all-Missouri Valley Conference pick in 2002 for Creighton.

Plus: With a career mark of 3.84 strikeouts per walk, command is Oldham's forte. Not blessed with plus power, he relies on his changeup. "I don't like to complicate things," he said.

Minus: This year, Oldham has not equaled the dominance of his first two seasons (4.7 strikeouts per nine innings compared with 10.2).

Future: Oldham is working to rein himself in on the field: "I'm a pretty high energy guy. I need to keep my emotions in check." His approach to pitching and his off-speed stuff will help him climb the organizational ladder.

2004 statistics
W-L 10-9
ERA 3.01
G 26
GS 25
CG 1
SHO 0
IP 158-2/3
H 155
R 69
ER 53
HR 20
BB 36
SO 188

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