By Ryan Divish The News Tribune
SEATTLE — For seven of the Seattle Mariners top minor leagues prospects, the baseball season won’t be over in September.
On Tuesday, the Arizona Fall League announced its rosters for the six teams competing in the prestigious prospect showcase that runs from October to mid November.
The Mariners’ seven players will suit up for the Peoria Javelinas, which will be managed by Jim Pankovitz, who manages the Mariners Class AA team in Jackson, Tenn.
Of those selected, there was one somewhat surprise addition and one glaring omission.
Missing from the list was slugging third baseman DJ Peterson, who the Mariners picked with the 12th pick of the 2013 draft.
“We did have DJ Peterson scheduled to go, but because of his injuries he won’t be able to attend,” Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik said.
Peterson was struck in the face by a pitch on Thursday night while playing for Class A Clinton. He suffered a broken jaw, which required two surgeries. The second of those surgeries took place on Tuesday in Seattle.
“He had to have a few pieces put back in place,” Zduriencik said.
Peterson will have his jaw wired shut for an extended period of time.
“He’s going to be out about six weeks,” Zduriencik said. “It’s an unfortunate incident, but he will come back.”
The somewhat surprising name among the Mariners invitees was left-hander Danny Hultzen. After missing nearly the entire Class AAA season with shoulder injuries, Hultzen is trying to salvage his year by pitching in the fall league.
Hultzen, the No. 2 overall pick of the 2011 draft, strained a rotator cuff in April. After rehabbing and then returning to the mound on June 27, Hultzen re-aggravated the rotator cuff strain prior to his following start.
He’s been in the process of rehabbing the injury and revamping his mechanics and throwing routine in an effort to prevent the shoulder irritation. By all reports, it’s working. With minor league pitching coordinator Rick Waits watching, Hultzen threw a simulated game on Tuesday in Tacoma with good results.
“Rick was really happy and pleased with what he saw,” Zduriencik said. “I know Danny felt really good. It’s a positive today that he pitched as well as he did and felt as good he did.”
Zduriencik hopes Hultzen will pitch in a game with the Rainiers before the season ends on Sept. 1. It would likely be just a few innings.
As for the fall league, it was a logical step.
“He’ll continue the program,” Zduriencik said. “He’ll go for that six weeks and he’ll get his starts and he’ll get his innings back. You want him to make up some of the innings he missed during the course of year. The fact that he’s going to the fall league and pitch is a step in the right direction to get him where he’s ready for spring training.”
Joining Hultzen will be fellow pitchers Brandon Maurer, Carson Smith and Dominic Leone.
Maurer, who started the season in the Mariners starting rotation, is currently pitching out of the bullpen. But he’ll transition back to starting in the fall league.
“I want him to continue to start and build his innings,” Mariners’ manager Eric Wedge said. “We see him as a starter so he’s getting back to that.”
Leone and Smith are both top relievers. Leone, who started the season in Class A High Desert and moved to Class AA Jackson, has a fastball in the upper 90s and has hit 100 mph on numerous times this season. In 542/3 innings this season, he’s struck out 53 batters.
“Not a lot of people know about him, but he’s a guy that we’ve been watching all year long, and he’s got everyone’s attention,” Zduriencik said.
Smith is a hard throwing side-arm pitcher with a nasty slider. He’s made 42 appearances and has a 1.88 ERA with 19 saves with Jackson.
Also heading to Arizona will be outfielder Stefen Romero and infielders Chris Taylor and Patrick Kivlehan.
Romero, who is converting from second base to outfield, has battled injuries for the Rainiers this season, but is hitting .285 with eight homers and 65 RBI in 87 games.
Taylor is considered to be one of the best fielding shortstops in the organization. He started the year at High Desert and moved to Jackson. He’s hitting .294 with a .388 on-base percentage in 61 games for the Generals.
Kivlehan just had a 25-game hitting streaks snapped with High Desert. He started the season with Class A Clinton and moved up a level midway through the year. He’s hitting .336 with 13 homers and 57 RBI for High Desert in 61 games.