Saunders, and his power, are back from Venezuela

The most eventful year of Michael Saunders’ pro baseball life has ended on a positive note. The Mariners’ 23-year-old outfield prospect is back home in Victoria, B.C., after 22 games of winter ball in Venezuela where he revisited his power side.

Playing for Lara, Saunders hit .353 in 85 at-bats with three doubles, three triples and – tadaa!! – two home runs.

OK, there were the 21 strikeouts vs. 10 walks. But Saunders finished with 17 RBI, a .421 on-base percentage, .529 slugging percentage and a .950 on-base-plus-slugging percentage.

If nothing else, it was a good confidence-builder for both Saunders and the Mariners, who need to see some power if he’s to seriously contend for the left field position in 2010.

Called up to the big leagues after batting .310 with 13 homers and 32 RBI in 248 at-bats with Class AAA Tacoma, Saunders batted .221 with no homers and four RBI in 122 at-bats with the Mariners. They shut him down for much of September to allow hitting coach Alan Cockrell to work with him on generating more power.

Saunders and Cockrell continued their sessions last month in Arizona before Saunders joined the Lara team in Venezuela. He finished with a six-game hitting streak, batting .480 in that stretch.

“They worked on some stuff mechanically in the big leagues and he continued to work on it in Arizona,” Mariners minor league director Pedro Grifol said. “Then he went to Venezuela and said he felt really good.”

The Mariners badly need an infusion of power to their lineup next year, and left field is a prime area to add it. Saunders may not become that guy in 2010, but the Mariners certainly haven’t let his struggles at the big-league level this year discourage them.

“He will have power down the road,” Grifol said. “He has raw power. He needs to turn it into game power, which takes time and experience.”

Talk to us

More in Sports

Arlington junior quarterback Leyton Martin throws a short pass during the second quarter of the season opener against Kamiak on Friday, Sep. 1, 2023, at Arlington High School in Arlington, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
3 games to watch in Week 4 of the prep football season

An in-depth look at the best games the area has to offer, plus a full schedule of the local action in Week 4.

Lakewood High School.
Lakewood contests Week 3 game against B-E, wins WIAA appeal

The Cougars dispute an incorrectly spotted ball by officials on a penalty-riddled play in the 3rd quarter. The game will resume from that point in Week 10.

Monroe junior quarterback Blake Springer looks for an open receiver on Friday, Nov. 4, 2022 in Monroe, Washington. (Katie Webber / The Herald)
Week 4 prep football leaderboard

A look at the area’s top passers, rushers and receivers through three weeks of the season.

Prep roundup for Wednesday, Sept. 20

Prep roundup for Wednesday, Sept. 20: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: To report results… Continue reading

Vote for The Herald’s Prep Athlete of the Week for Sept. 11-17

The Athlete of the Week nominees for Sept. 11-17. Voting closes at… Continue reading

Stanwood's Michael Mascotti relays the next play to his teammates during football practice on Monday, Aug. 29, 2022 in Stanwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Game picks for Week 3 of the prep football season

Find out which teams the experts and readers pick to win in Week 4.

Marysville Pilchuck’s Kenai Sinaphet bruises the defense on a run against Marysville Getchell during the Berry Bowl on Friday, Sept. 15, 2023, at Quil Ceda Stadium in Marysville, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Associated Press high school football poll for Week 4

Marysville Pilcuck joins the top 10 in Class 3A; Lake Stevens remains No. 1 in 4A.

AquaSox pitcher Reid VanScoter delivers a pitch during a game against the Vancouver Canadians on Thursday, June 8, 2023, at Funko Field in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Community roundup: AquaSox’s VanScoter, Scott honored by NWL

Plus, GP grad Matt King is named to USA Swimming’s national team, Daniel Arias is waived by the Cardinals and more.

Minnesota Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson is shown during batting practice before a baseball game against the Boston Red Sox, Saturday, May 18, 2013, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
County Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2023 bio: Rick Anderson

The 1975 Mariner graduate spent 16 seasons as an MLB pitching coach with the Minnesota Twins and Detroit Tigers.

Most Read