Hottest hitter you’ve likely never heard of

Contributing writerMay 12, 2013 

The hottest hitter in the Mariners’ farm system is a player who very few fans have heard of — but that doesn’t mean he’s not a prospect.

Outfielder Jabari Henry is tearing up the Midwest League for Seattle’s Class A Clinton affiliate. He’s batting .366 with four home runs and 18 RBI in his first 25 games. He has drawn 18 walks while striking out just 10 times, and has a .476 on-base percentage.

Henry, 22, the Mariners’ 16th round draft pick out of Florida International last June, bats right-handed and plays center fielder.

As a college draftee, he is a little bit old for the Midwest League. Look for the Mariners to bump him up to Advanced-A High Desert if he continues to hit well with Clinton. He’s missed the past three games because of a minor injury.

Other notes from the Mariners farm:

Catcher prospect Tyler Marlette, Henry’s teammate, went 4-for-4 on Monday, and is hitting .344 through 18 games. The Mariners’ fifth-round draft pick in 2011 is considered a good hitting prospect who has a chance to develop behind the plate. Marlette was drafted out of Hagerty High School in Oviedo, Fla.

One Clinton player who drew some attention during spring training is struggling in his first season in the Midwest League. Clinton outfielder Gabriel Guerrero — nephew of former major league All-Star Vladimir Guerrero — was hitting .192 through his first 104 at-bats, before going 5-for-7 in a doubleheader on Friday night to raise his average to .225. Guerrero has walked six times with 27 strikeouts, and he is still looking for his first home run of the season.

The Mariners are excited about the progress Double-A Jackson pitcher Chance Ruffin has made in his conversion from reliever to starter. Ruffin is 1-1 with a 2.80 ERA after six starts, allowing 29 hits and nine walks in 35 innings. More important, he has shown the ability to carry a 90-94 mphr fastball through six-plus innings.

Jackson has a pair of relievers — Forrest Snow and Jonathan Arias — who are pushing toward a promotion to Tacoma.

Snow — a University of Washington graduate — started the 2012 season with Tacoma but struggled with his control before getting sent to Jackson. That problem appears to be in the past, because Snow has a 22 to 5 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 18 innings out of the Generals’ bullpen, while posting a 3.44 ERA.

Arias is a hard-throwing right-hander who is on a roll. After opening the season with three rough outings, Arias has hit a groove. He has given up just three runs during his past 13 innings (covering six games), while striking out 19. A converted infielder, Arias caught the eye of the organization last year and earned an invitation to major league spring training.

Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Tacoma Rainiers.

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