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Originally published Saturday, August 30, 2014 at 7:35 PM

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Kivlehan, Peterson M’s top minor-leaguers this year

They started the season together at Class A High Desert. In a few years, they could be batting in the middle of the Mariners’ batting order.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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With the minor-league regular season ending Sunday, it’s time to take a look around the Mariners’ farm system to find the top performers.

Players of the year

Patrick Kivlehan and D.J. Peterson started the season together at Class A High Desert. They’ll end their season at Class AA Jackson on Sunday and will be playing together in the Arizona Fall League in October. In a few years, they could be batting in the middle of the Mariners’ batting order.

Both players were drafted as third basemen, but with Kyle Seager entrenched at that position, they both got reps at first base and Kivlehan also played some left field. But it’s their bats that have earned them this honor.

Peterson, 22, has blossomed into the Mariners’ top hitting prospect after being taken with the 12th overall pick of the 2013 draft. He showed why this season.

After a slow start, he dominated pitchers in the California League for High Desert, hitting .326 (89 for 273) with 23 doubles, 18 homers, 73 RBI and a .997 OPS in 65 games for the Mavericks. He was promoted to Class AA Jackson where he is hitting .248 (51 for 206) with eight doubles, 10 homers, 31 runs batted in and a .760 OPS in 55 games. He has dealt with minor wrist and leg injuries with the Generals.

Kivlehan, 24, was taken in the fourth round of the 2012 draft out of Rutgers. He was an interesting story, having played football for most of his career and then playing baseball as a senior, earning Big East player of the year honors.

After two solid seasons, Kivlehan had a monster season this year. He started at High Desert, where he finished up the 2013 season. He didn’t stay with the Mavericks for long, hitting .282 (40 for 142) with nine doubles, nine homers, 35 RBI and an .895 OPS in 34 games before being promoted to Jackson.

The higher level of competition didn’t slow down Kivlehan. In 60 games with Jackson, he is hitting .298 (109 for 366) with 22 doubles, seven triples, 11 home runs, 67 RBI and an .861 OPS.

Jordy Lara, first base: He has had a breakout season at age 23. Lara hit .353 with 26 doubles, 22 homers, 80 RBI and a 1.022 OPS in 102 games with High Desert before being promoted to Class AA Jackson.

Jabari Henry, OF: He is playing in the hitter-friendly Cal league and leads all Mariners farmhands with 30 homers. Henry is hitting .291 with a .982 OPS and has driven in 95 runs.

Ketel Marte, 2B/SS: He hit .302 (134 for 443) in 109 games for Jackson with 22 doubles, 11 homers, 67 RBI and 23 stolen bases.

Pitcher of the year

It wasn’t a banner year for Mariners minor-league pitchers. There was no dominant starting pitcher, and only a few relievers had solid-to-good seasons.

With that in mind, the honors go to veteran Logan Kensing. The 32-year-old right-hander was a versatile reliever for Class AAA Tacoma, posting a 6-2 record with a 3.42 earned-run average in 48 appearances with two saves. Kensing pitched 841/3 innings and struck out 77. He had a 1.34 WHIP in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League.

They’re good enough numbers to earn a major-league call-up, but the Mariners’ bullpen was so good and so durable this season that Kensing never got the opportunity.

But after pitching in the independent leagues in 2011, this is a season that will earn him a spring-training invitation next season.

Honorable mention

Carson Smith, reliever: Last year’s minor-league reliever of the year while pitching for Class AA Jackson, Smith has been solid for Class AAA Tacoma. He has 10 saves in 38 appearances with a 3.00 ERA. In 42 innings pitched, he’s struck out 43 batters with just 13 walks.

Andrew Kittredge, reliever: The Spokane native and former University of Washington pitcher had a solid season for Class A High Desert. Kittredge was 6-1 in 41 relief appearances with a 4.52 ERA. In 792/3 innings, Kittredge struck out 110 with just 25 walks.

Todd Coffey, reliever: A veteran reliever who is trying to pitch his way back into the big leagues after arm issues, Coffey has been dominant for Tacoma. He is 4-1 with a 1.73 ERA and 34 strikeouts in 361/3 innings. Opponents hit .207 against him.

Ryan Divish: 206-464-2373 or rdivish@seattletimes.com

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