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Mariners name Vinnie Catricala Minor League Player of the Year; Taijuan Walker named Pitcher of the Year

Daniel Carroll and Willy Kesler earn Ellis Award

Seattle Mariners Executive Vice President & General Manager of Baseball Operations Jack Zduriencik announced today the Mariners Minor League Players of the Year and Player Development Staff of the Year awards.

Infielder/Outfielder Vinnie Catricala (High Desert/Jackson) was named Player of the Year, while right-hander Taijuan Walker (Clinton) was named the Pitcher of the Year. Arizona League Mariners Athletic Trainer Randy Roetter was named the Player Development Staff Member of the Year.

Catricala, 23, hit .349 (182x521) with 97 runs scored, 77 extra-base (2B - 48, 3B - 4, HR - 25) and 106 RBI in 133 games combined between A High Desert and AA Jackson. Among full season minor leaguers he ranked 2nd in extra-base hits, 3rd in hits, T3rd in doubles, T4th in batting average and T9th in RBI. He recorded 59 multi-hit games (34- High Desert, 25-Jackson), including 12 three-hit games and 3 season-high four-hit games. Catricala was named to the California League All-Star team before being promoted to Jackson on June 30. He hit safely in 52 of 62 games, while reaching base safely in 57 games with the Generals, batting .347 (83x239).

"Vinnie had an outstanding offensive season combined between High Desert and Jackson," Zduriencik said. "He not only led the organization in many offensive categories, but was one of the top players in all of the minor leagues.

Walker, 19, who was recently named the top Midwest League prospect in 2011 by Baseball America, went 6-5 with a 2.89 ERA (31 ER, 96.2 IP) in 18 starts with A Clinton last season. He limited opponents to a .202 (69x341) average, including a .187 (34x182) vs. right-handed batters. Walker was 0-2 with a 9.95 ERA over his first two starts of the season, but went 6-3 with a 2.39 ERA (24 ER, 90.1 IP) over his last 16 starts. He recorded 7 quality starts, including tossing his first-career complete game victory on July 13 vs. Great Lakes (9.0,2,2,2,1,7,HR). Walker struck out a season-high 11 batters three times and finished with 113 strikeouts in 96.2 innings. He was amongst MWL leaders in lowest opponent average (3rd at .202), highest K/9.0 IP ratio for starters (4th at 10.52), fewest baserunners/9.0 IP for starters (5th at 10.33), strikeouts (6th with 113) and WHIP (8th at 1.12) following his final start on Aug. 10 vs. Cedar Rapids.

"Taijuan had a great year in Clinton", Zduriencik said. "He had great command of the ball and was one of the most dominating pitchers in the Midwest League."

Roetter was named the Mariners Player Development Staff of the Year as the Arizona League Mariners Athletic Trainer during the 2011 season. He recently completed his 25th season as a trainer with the Mariners organization and 10th with Peoria. Roetter also assists with all the Mariners off-season programs, including Mini-Camp, Spring Training, extended Spring Training, Instructional League and the Arizona Fall League.  

PLAYER OF THE YEAR:  Vinnie Catricala (High Desert/Jackson)
PITCHER OF THE YEAR:  Taijuan Walker (Clinton)
PLAYER DEVELOPMENT STAFF OF THE YEAR: Randy Roetter (AZL Mariners Athletic Trainer)

Level   Team   Player   Pitcher

AAA   Tacoma   Alex Liddi (3B)   Blake Beavan (RHP)

AA   Jackson   Vinnie Catricala (3B)   Andrew Carraway (RHP)

A   High Desert   Danny Carroll (OF)   Chris Sorce (RHP)

A   Clinton    Stefen Romero (INF/OF)   Taijuan Walker (RHP)

Short-A  Everett    Jabari Blash (OF)   Jose Campos (RHP)

Rookie    Pulaski     Jamal Austin (OF)     Angel Raga (RHP)

Rookie   AZL Mariners      Phillips Castillo (OF)    Yunior DeJesus (RHP)

Dominican   DSL Mariners     Janelfry Zorrilla (OF)    Domingo Brazoban (RHP)

Venezuelan  VSL Mariners      Felipe Burin (3B)      Isliexel Gonzalez (RHP)

Mariners annouce 2011 Ellis Awards
OF Daniel Carroll, RHP Willy Kesler and the High Desert all honored.

Outfielder Daniel Carroll and right-handed pitcher Willy Kesler were honored as the individual award co-winners of the 2011 John Ellis Award and the High Desert Mavericks, the Mariners single-A affiliate in the California League, were honored for having the top overall team commitment.

"The Mariners organization is committed to giving back to the community and prides itself on involvement by players and staff at all levels," Zduriencik said. "We try to emphasize the value of being good citizens and role models. In addition, our affiliates understand the importance of reaching out to their communities, which is one of the reasons we enjoy our relationships with each club. We actively encourage all of our players to participate in these efforts."

The Mavericks, honored for their overall team commitment, were active throughout the Adelanto, CA, area in several community endeavors. The Mavericks, who are dedicated to supporting the community that supports them, compiled over 415 community service hours and surpassed their 2010 total. The team and staff participated in numerous community events including youth baseball camps, speaking appearances and autograph sessions. Prior to Sunday home games in April, May and June the Mavericks held little league clinics for 150-200 kids ages 6-15 and Wednesday's were designated as "Meet the Mavericks Day". Mavericks players, coaches and front office personal also traveled to local elementary schools to deliver their "Four Bases" presentation, stressing the importance education and positive thinking.

Teammates Daniel Carroll, 22, and Willy Kesler, 24, were each honored for their individual efforts, after accumulating more than 20 hours in the Adelanto community.  Kesler led the team with 24 hours of community service participating in coaching clinics, school assemblies and autograph sessions.  He also volunteered as a coach in a softball game that pitted sixth grade students vs. their teachers. Carroll also made a positive influence in the community at multiple appearances including participating in the Mavericks Kids Club and also speaking to many high school baseball teams on that attended High Desert games.

The Mariners instituted the Ellis Award in 1998 to recognize community involvement by players in their minor league system.  The Mariners minor leaguers were very active in the community in 2011, bringing the total hours contributed by the Mariners minor leaguers to over 11,500 hours in the last 14 years.

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