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Moore surges at plate to close AFL season

SEATTLE -- One thing the Mariners wanted to see in the Arizona Fall League was a healthy Adam Moore. And after a slow start back from knee surgery, the club's backup catcher wound up passing that test with flying colors.

Moore, who blew out his knee in the first week of the regular season last April in Texas, went 2-for-3 in the Peoria Javelinas' final AFL game on Thursday to close with an eight-game hitting streak during which he batted .393 with six runs, two doubles and four RBIs.

After hitting just .115 through the first seven games of the Fall League, Moore raised his final average to .259 with nine runs, three doubles and eight RBIs in 15 games.

The Javelinas wound up tying Phoenix, 2-2, in their season finale, which was halted after seven innings due to the shortage of available pitchers around the league.

Chih-Hsien Chiang, the Mariners' outfield prospect acquired in the Erik Bedard trade, went 0-for-3 in Thursday's game to conclude his AFL season with a .263 average, one home run and six RBIs in 20 games.

Shortstop Nick Franklin didn't play in the final game for Peoria but went 3-for-3 on Wednesday to finish with a .258 average, two home runs and 14 RBIs in 24 games.

Mariners pitching was also a bright spot in the AFL season, with three Seattle prospects finishing in the top four in the league in ERA. Former University of Washington reliever Forrest Snow capped off a strong showing with a league-best 1.10 ERA and 0.80 WHIP, allowing just two earned runs and 10 hits in 16 1/3 innings with three walks and 16 strikeouts.

Fellow reliever Brian Moran, a lefty out of North Carolina, tossed a scoreless inning in Thursday's finale, lowering his ERA to 1.32, third best in the league. And Danny Hultzen, the No. 2 overall pick in last June's Draft, was fourth in the league in ERA -- and first among starters -- at 1.40 with just three runs and 16 hits in 19 1/3 innings over six games.

Meanwhile, the Venezuelan and Dominican Winter Leagues continue play, though some of the Mariners prospects are being shut down there as well to give players time to rest before Spring Training in February.

Erasmo Ramirez, a promising 21-year-old right-hander from Nicaragua, reached his work-load limit for Lara in Venezuela and is done after going 2-1 with a 1.48 ERA, with one walk and 20 strikeouts in six starts.

Outfielder Michael Saunders has also been sent home from Lara, where he wound up playing 16 games and hitting just .148. Saunders last played for Lara on Nov. 6 and finished with one home run, four RBIs, 11 walks and 15 strikeouts in 54 at-bats for a .292 on-base percentage and .259 slugging percentage.

Third baseman Alex Liddi lasted just three games in the Dominican Winter League before being released by Leones del Escogido. Liddi, who'd been released a week earlier in Venezuela after a rough go in Lara, went 0-for-7 with two walks and committed five errors for Leones. He'll return home to Italy to rest up.

On the positive side, Luis Jimenez -- a 6-foot-3, 275-pound first baseman who split time between Double-A Jackson and Triple-A Tacoma last year -- is on a hitting tear for his hometown Lara club. The 29-year-old slugged his seventh home run of the Venezuelan season on Tuesday and is on a seven-game hitting streak during which he's 11-for-24 with two home runs and seven RBIs.

For the season, Jimenez has 17 RBIs and a .312/.409/.560 line in 30 games.

Outfielder Carlos Peguero finally cooled off a bit in the Dominican Winter League, where he ranks among the league leaders in nearly every offensive category. Peguero went 1-for-11 over the past three games, putting his totals at seven home runs, 15 RBIs and a .316/.382/.671 line in 79 at-bats.

Seattle Mariners, Danny Hultzen, Alex Liddi, Adam Moore, Carlos Peguero, Michael Saunders