Special to the Herald
The Clinton Herald
---- — Clinton opens Midwest League season today
CLINTON — On the eve of opening night of Midwest League baseball in Burlington, the Seattle Mariners announced the 25-man roster for the Clinton LumberKings on Wednesday.
The roster consists of five returnees from last year’s team and a slew of 2012 draft picks, led by third-round pick Tyler Pike and fourth-rounder Patrick Kivlehan. Clinton has four players listed in Baseball America’s top-30 prospects in the Seattle organization.
Guillermo Pimentel headlines the list of returning LumberKings who again will play for manager Eddie Menchaca.
Pimentel came into his own in the second half of 2012 when he hit .272 with six home runs and 29 RBIs after the All-Star break. The outfielder carried his success into the playoffs, where he hit .294 with a pair of homers and five RBIs.
Left-handed pitcher Jeremy Dobbs also returns after finding success in the latter stages of 2012. Dobbs was 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA in August and September and threw three scoreless innings in the playoffs. Another pitcher, Stephen Landazuri, is back in Clinton after pitching in nine games last year, seven of which he started. Landazuri, 21, was 3-2 with a 3.06 ERA for Clinton in 2012.
Two position players who saw limited action with the LumberKings last year return: catcher Carlton Tanabe and middle infielder Ketel Marte. Tanabe was 4-for-13 in five games, and Marte was 4-for-14 in four games.
Pike, ranked as the No. 14 prospect in the Mariners organization by Baseball America, headlines the pitching staff. The 19-year-old was a third-round supplemental selection (126th overall) in the 2012 June draft. The left-hander began his pro career with the Arizona League Mariners and was 2-1 with a 1.78 ERA and 57 strikeouts in 50 2/3 innings.
Outfielder Gaby Guerrero and Kivlehan are Clinton’s highest ranked position players by Baseball America. Guerrero is 15th in the top 30. Guerrero, the nephew of former major leaguer Vladimir Guerrero, was named the Dominican Summer League MVP after he hit .355 and led the league in homers (11) and RBIs (54) in 50 games. He finished ’12 with the AZL Mariners by hitting .333 in 18 games with four homers and 18 RBIs.
Kivlehan, a multi-sport athlete at Rutgers University, is ranked 18th in the organization. The third baseman began his pro career in Everett and hit .301 with 30 extra-base hits and 52 RBIs in 72 games and was named the Northwest League MVP.
Other high draft picks are Tim Lopes (sixth round), Taylor Ard (seventh), and Grady Wood (10th round). Clinton also has 2012 draftees Blake Hauser (13th round), Brock Hebert (14th), Dario Pizzano (15th), Dominic Leone (16th), Jabari Henry (18th), Scott DeCecco (18th) and Matthew Vedo (24th).
Wood, a right-hander, was 4-0 with a 2.17 ERA in 37 1/3 innings with Everett. Hauser, a right-hander, was 3-1 with a 3.75 ERA in 15 games for Everett. Leone tied for the Everett lead in saves (five) and had a 1.36 ERA in 19 games. The left-handed DeCecco kicked off his pro career with Everett in ’12. Vedo had a 3.92 ERA in 16 appearances with Everett.
The pitching staff also includes Matt Anderson, who did not allow a run in 8 2/3 innings in the Arizona League; Oliver Garcia, who was 2-0 with a 3.80 ERA in 19 games for Everett; Dave Holman, who ranked third in the Appalachian League with eight saves; and Dylan Unsworth, who was 7-2 with a 3.90 ERA for Everett.
The roster lists seven players as infielders, including Kivlehan and Marte.
Lopes, who doesn’t turn 19 until June 24, hit .316 in 53 games in the Arizona League last year. Baseball America tabbed him as the Mariners’ 25th-best prospect. Last year with Everett, Ard hit .284 with 12 home runs and 58 RBIs in 75 games. He was named Everett’s MVP by the Mariners. Hebert, the Southland Conference hitter and player of the year, began his first pro season with Pulaski and was promoted to Everett.
Infielders Keith Werman and Jordy Lara will both be counted on to play a variety of positions. Werman split 2012 between the Arizona League Mariners, Pulaski and Everett. Lara spent 2012 with Pulaski and collected 58 hits in 63 games with eight homers and 41 RBIs.
Joining Pimentel and Guerrero in the outfield are Pizzano and Henry.
Pizzano, the Ivy League player of the year for Columbia in ’12, won the Appalachian League batting title (.356) and led the league in on-base percentage (.442). Henry spent the majority of 2012 with Pulaski, where he hit .271 with eight homers and 42 RBIs in 58 games.
The other catcher on the 25-man roster is Tyler Marlette. A fifth-round draft pick in 2011, Marlette spent most of last season with Pulaski and hit .286 with 23 RBIs.