Wednesday, June 3, 2009

M's May Have Given Up Too Early on Bibens-Dirkx

Victoria's struggling pitching staff looks like it has been given a giant boost by the recent decision by the Seattle Mariners to release 24 year-old righty Austin Bibens-Dirkx. The 16th round selection in the 2006 amateur draft was released in March by the M's and subsequently signed by the Seals on May 25th. Based on his impressive start against Orange County on Tuesday night (5 1/3 IP, 3 ER, 1 BB, 9 K's), the Seals may have themselves a third reliable starter alongside Isaac Hess and Eduardo Baeza.

Austin spent most of his 2006 season in "A" ball as a reliever with the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. A rash of injuries with their "AAA" affiliate later that year caused the Mariners to use him in one game with the Tacoma Rainiers. Clearly, the Mariners thought highly of the (then) 21-year-old to use him at such an advanced level. His next year (2007) was spent with the High Desert Mavericks in advanced "A" ball, but his season was plagued by control problems. Bibens-Dirkx still managed to rack up eight saves and a 4.42 ERA in 31 appearances.

Seattle attempted to turn him into a starter by sending him down to the Arizona rookie league level. He then returned to High Desert as a reliever where he managed to cut down on his walks and increase his strikeouts but the opposition hammered him to a tune of a 7.95 ERA. At 23 years of age, he was released. His career numbers in the minors are fairly decent, so I'm not so sure the Mariners made the right decision. Bibens-Dirkx averaged 6.5 strikeouts and 3.3 walks per nine innings in his three seasons and he is still young enough to improve.

If he's not already nicknamed "Austin Powers", he likely will be soon. One can only hope that we'll regularly hear the sound of Mike Myers' "Yeah, baby!" emanating from the loudspeakers at RAP this summer after a Bibens-Dirkx strikeout.