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Curletta, Festa honored as top Minors players

September 25, 2018

SEATTLE -- Joey Curletta isn't ranked among Seattle's Top 30 prospects per MLB Pipeline, but the big first baseman opened eyes this season for Double-A Arkansas and on Tuesday he was named the Mariners' Ken Griffey Jr. Minor League Hitter of the Year.Curletta, 24, was acquired from the Phillies for

SEATTLE -- Joey Curletta isn't ranked among Seattle's Top 30 prospects per MLB Pipeline, but the big first baseman opened eyes this season for Double-A Arkansas and on Tuesday he was named the Mariners' Ken Griffey Jr. Minor League Hitter of the Year.
Curletta, 24, was acquired from the Phillies for switch-pitcher Pat Venditte prior to the 2017 season and hit .282 with 23 home runs and 94 RBIs in 129 games for Arkansas while being named Texas League Player of the Year.
Right-handed reliever Matt Festa (the club's No. 8-ranked prospect), who currently is with the Mariners as a September callup after spending most of the season with Arkansas, received the Jamie Moyer Minor League Pitcher of the Year honor.
The 25-year-old from East Stroudsburg University went 5-2 with a 2.76 ERA and 20 saves for Arkansas and has a 1.17 ERA in six appearances for Seattle this year.
First baseman Evan White, the Mariners' 2017 first-round Draft choice and No. 2-ranked prospect, was given the Alvin Davis "Mr. Mariner" Award after completing his season at Class A Advanced Modesto, while Arkansas outfielder Braden Bishop (No. 5 prospect) received the Dan Wilson Community Service Award.

Two Mariners Minor Leaguers earned invitations to next spring's Major League camp by winning the Edgar Martinez PTPA Award and "60 ft. 6 in. Club" award, which are competitions to reward the franchise's "control the zone" philosophy. Catcher/first baseman Dean Nevarez of the Arizona Rookie League Mariners earned the PTPA hitting award, while right-hander Jack Anderson from Modesto won the pitching contest.
Nevarez, 21, was a 19th-round Draft pick out of San Diego State this year. He posted a .237/.352/.336 line for the AZL Rookie squad, with 20 walks and 34 strikeouts in 41 games. Anderson, 24, put up a 2.68 ERA with 57 strikeouts and 14 walks in 53 2/3 innings over 44 relief appearances.
Jose Umbria, the hitting coach at Class A Clinton, took home the Dave Henderson Minor League Staff Member of the Year Award.
All seven winners will be honored in a pregame ceremony Friday at Safeco Field prior to that night's game against the Rangers.
Worth noting
• The Mariners have set their starting pitchers for the start of the season-ending series with Texas as Marco Gonzales will open on Thursday and Wade LeBlanc gets his final outing on Friday.
Manager Scott Servais is leaning toward giving James Paxton one more start on Saturday, assuming he feels OK coming out of Monday's four-inning outing in his return from a bout with pneumonia. If Paxton is cleared to go, Mike Leake likely finishes things out Sunday. If either Paxton or Leake is shut down, Erasmo Ramirez is the other option.
Hisashi Iwakuma will throw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to Wednesday's series finale with the A's. Iwakuma has decided to return to Japan to continue his career after dealing with shoulder issues the past two seasons.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.