A mix of players from the Mariners' minor-league system as well as the world fills the Everett AquaSox roster this summer in the Class A Northwest League.
One of the more compelling players is the only representative from Russia in the U.S. minor leagues. RHP Oleg Korneev, 6 feet 7 and 224 pounds, has begun his trek through the system. He was signed a year ago in May off the Russian National Team.
Also on the AquaSox roster are outfielder Harvey Monte from The Netherlands, OF John Cole of Canada, LHP Ryan Rowland-Smith from Australia, C Rene Rivera of Puerto Rico, RHP David Tavarez from the Dominican Republic, outfielder Carlos Arroyo of Colombia and infielder Ismael Castro from Colombia, the youngest player on the team at 18.
Rowland-Smith spent the first half of this season with Class A Wisconsin. He was 1-2 with a 6.75 ERA for the TimberRattlers, with 19 walks and 38 strikeouts in 41-1/3 innings. He's still the third-youngest player on the roster (19).
Rivera was one of the Mariners' second-round selections in last year's draft. He hit .338 for Peoria a year ago, and opened Everett's season Wednesday by going 3 for 4.
LHP Bobby Livingston, the team's fourth-round pick last season, will anchor the staff. He led off the season Wednesday with a 9-1 victory over Yakima. He went 6-2/3 innings, allowing two hits and one run, walking one and striking out six.
There also are several low draft choices among the AquaSox who are attempting to prove their value: LHP Dennis Cervenka (44th round in 2000), C Alejandro Cadena (45th in 2000), C Benjamin Hudson (36th in 2001) and 1B Jonny Nelson (26th in 2001).
OF Jared Jones, 22, a Parade All-American at Walla Walla High, is trying to make the conversion from football. He was a backup quarterback at Florida State until kicked off the team and now says he wants to concentrate full time on baseball. The club drafted him in the 16th round in 2000.
The rest of the roster includes recent draft selections and free-agent signees. Among the most recent acquisitions are LHP Troy Cate, the team's sixth-round pick from Ricks JC (Idaho); LHP Jared Thomas, the 11th-round pick from Oakland University; RHP Thomas Fulmer, a 13th choice from The Citadel; and SS Corey Harrington, a 17th-round pick from New Mexico State.
Class AAA, Pacific Coast League
What's up: RHP Ken Cloude, who is tied for the Pacific Coast League lead in wins (9) and leads the league in ERA (2.18), has been named to the PCL All-Star Game. Joining Cloude will be teammate SS Aaron Holbert, who leads the team in hitting at .333. Rainiers Manager Dan Rohn will manage the PCL team in the July 10 game to be played in Oklahoma City vs. the top players from the International League. OF Scott Podsednik had six hits in a doubleheader Wednesday and has raised his average to .289. He is second in the league in stolen bases with 19. 3B Craig Kuzmic, an eighth-round pick in the 1998 draft, has finally reached the highest level in the minors. He was promoted to the Rainiers last week. Kuzmic hit .297 for Class A Lancaster two years ago and .282 for Class AA San Antonio last year. This season he was hitting just .206 with eight home runs for the Missions. RHP Brian Sweeney had the first shutout of his career Thursday, 5-0 over Colorado Springs. 2B Willie Bloomquist, who has been struggling all season, has been diagnosed with vertigo.
Leaders: Average: .333, Aaron Holbert; HR: 13, Nate Rolison; RBI: 38, Rolison; SB: 19, Scott Podsednik; Wins: 9, Ken Cloude; ERA: 1.72, Aquilino Lopez; Strikeouts: 57, Brian Sweeney; Saves: 5, Wascar Serrano.
San Antonio Missions
Class AA, Texas League
What's up: RHP J.J. Putz, who has had a particularly strange season, was named the Texas League Pitcher of the Week last week. He won his first two games this season after starting the season 0-7 while carrying an ERA just over 2.00. Last week in his two wins he had a 2.51 ERA, gave up four earned runs, struck out 13 and walked only two over 14-1/3 innings. The 6-foot-5 right-hander is now 2-7 with a 2.78 ERA while striking out 48 over 64-2/3 innings. Putz is on the Mariners' 40-man roster, primarily because of his second half (6-3, 2.72 ERA) a year ago. RHP Chris Mears, who was the organization's Pitcher of the Year in 1998, has had a similarly strange season. He leads the team in strikeouts with 62 and has a 4.54 ERA, yet has not won a game (0-6). OF Adrian Myers drove in the first run of the Texas League All-Star Game Tuesday with a single. The game ended in a 3-3, 10-inning tie. LHP Craig Anderson lost for the first time Thursday in his last nine starts, 4-0 to El Paso. He allowed just two runs and four hits in his 6-1/3 innings.
Leaders: Average: .273, Joe Pecci; HR: 3, Jim Horner; RBI: 24, Adrian Myers; SB: 16, Jamal Strong; Wins: 4, Allan Simpson, Rett Johnson; ERA: 2.66, Aaron Taylor ; Strikeouts: 62, Chris Mears; Saves: 8, Taylor.
San Bernardino Stampede
Class A, California League
What's up: San Bernardino is the only Mariners farm team to win its first-half title. The Stampede finished with a 37-33 record, three games ahead of High Desert in the Southern Division. RHP Clint Nageotte had a case of nerves Tuesday in the All-Star Game against players from the Carolina League. He had three wild pitches and allowed a run in the fifth inning. The game ended in a 2-2 tie in 10 innings. Nageotte is in second in the California League in strikeouts with 96. The Stampede essentially has four players among the league's top 10 hitters. SS Jose Lopez is fourth at .328, DH/1B John Lindsey is eighth at .315 while OF Jaime Bubela is 10th at .310. In addition, C John Castellano, who was promoted to San Antonio two weeks ago, left with a .335 average. Bubela, a seventh-round pick in 2000, hit .304 for Wisconsin last season. Lopez has been named to the world team for the Futures Games in Milwaukee. LHP Derrick Van Dusen is eighth in the league in ERA at 3.07. RHP Jared Hoerman is third in saves with 11.
Leaders: Average: .328, Jose Lopez; HR: 10, John Lindsey; RBI: 45, Lindsey; SB: 22, Lopez; Wins: 6, Derrick Van Dusen, Russ Morgan; ERA: 1.54; Kevin Olore; Strikeouts: 96, Clint Nageotte; Saves: 11, Jared Hoerman.
Wisconsin Timber Rattlers
Class A, Midwest League
What's up: Wisconsin finished 12-1/2 games out of first place in the Midwest League Western Division in the first half with a 30-39 record. There were several reasons for the subpar first half. The team hit just .250 and averaged just four runs per game, the T-rats committed 126 errors in their first 69 games, the infielders averaged 1.65 errors per game, the pitching staff averaged four walks per game. The staff had the second fewest strikeouts (465) and had the third most walks (275). SS Corey Freeman already has 22 errors, while three different second basemen have combined for 23 errors. OF Shin-Soo Choo has been named to the world team for the Futures Games, which is played two days before the All-Star Game in Milwaukee. Choo is sixth in the league in hitting at .316. He is also first in on-base percentage at .424 and fourth in steals at 21; OF Jason Van Meetren, a 13th round pick in 2001 from Stanford, has been added to the Wisconsin roster. 3B Greg Dobbs is still 10th in the Midwest League in hitting at .297. RHP Ramon Royce is eighth in ERA at 2.41.
Leaders: Average: .316, Greg Dobbs; HR: 10, Sean Peless; RBI: 41, Dobbs; SB: 21, Shin-Soo Choo; Wins: 6, Juan Done; ERA: 1.30, Mike Kesten; Strikeouts: 70, Done; Saves: 6, Kesten.