A couple of weeks ago rumors surfaced that former Greenbrier and UGA slugger, Rich Poythress, had been released by the Seattle Mariners. The news caught many, including me, off guard.
Poythress, who led Greenbrier to the 2006 state title, was the first player selected in the second round of the 2009 draft by the Mariners. In 2010 he turned heads throughout baseball with an incredible season with A+ High Desert. That season, Poythress hit .315 with 31 homers, 130 RBI, 33 Doubles, and a .960 OPS. The RBI total was the highest mark in all of pro baseball at any level.
In 2011 his numbers were down a bit, but still solid. He cut down on his strikeouts to a respectable 82 K’s in 511 at bats. Playing at Class AA Jackson, he hit .267 with 11 HR, 64 RBI, and 28 doubles. The following season, he battled though an injury to hit .307 with 9 HR, 52 RBI, and 22 doubles in just 91 games (377 at bats).
He also posted an impressive .415 on-base percentage in 2012. Last season, Poythress spent virtually the entire season with Class AAA Tacoma, hitting .253 with 15 HR, 61 RBI, and 25 doubles.
By all accounts everyone in the minor league system thought a lot of Poythress, and that included Chris Gwynn, Seattle’s director of Player Development. His numbers may not have been off the charts, but many felt he had played well enough to be moving through the system a little quicker.
Instead he was released? Well, at first I was stunned by the news, but after hearing all the details, it not only made sense; it seems like a great move for Poythress.
Basically, he was concerned by being stalled in the minor leagues, and with Seattle’s management at the big league level (not the same group that drafted Poythress in 2009) seemingly 100 percent behind Justin Smoak at first base. Add to that, the signing of Logan Morrison who can play outfield and first base, and the fact that the team moved Jesus Montero from catcher to first base, and it seemed like Poythress was in no man’s land.
So he contacted Gwynn, the brother of hall-of-famer Tony Gwynn, and one of Poythress’ biggest supporters, and asked what could be done. Gwynn said the Mariners could not simply release Poythress because they had money invested in him. However, he was able to work out a
“restricted release”stating Poythress would be released, and have the chance to get a fresh start with a new ball club. However, the timing was terrible. Teams were just starting their seasons and most minor league rosters were already in place. It was a huge gamble. His agent felt like he may even have to play independent ball for a few months and hope to latch on with another team. Well, it was a gamble Poythress was willing to take.
It appears the move has paid off. There will be no independent ball for Poythress. Several teams immediately showed interest in the 6-4, 245-pound first baseman, however, the Marlins were the first to make a move.
They agreed to sign Poythress, and will have to compensate Seattle, either with money or a future draft pick. Poythress must pass a physical in order for the deal to become official.
Once he does, he will begin the season with the Marlin’s Class AA affiliate in Jacksonville, Fla. So, Poythress gets out of a log jam at first base in Seattle and he is now with an organization that loves to speed their young players through the minor leagues.
That means, if Poythress plays well, we could see him in a Miami Marlins uniform in the very near future.