ICYMI: July 19 — August 9

 With the July 31st non-waiver Trade Deadline in the rearview mirror, the stretch drive is officially underway with an exciting race brewing for the second Wild Card slot in the American League. The Seattle Mariners made a pair of trades on deadline day — a total of three in the week — to bolster their offence. The M’s picked up outfielders Austin Jackson and Chris Denorfia in a pair of deals after re-acquiring Kendrys Morales from the Minnesota Twins.

I opined that the Trade Deadline was successful for Seattle, citing the fact they were able to make upgrades without giving up anything of significant future value to the club. Prospect Insider’s Jason A. Churchill had similar thoughts about the trio of trades made by the club. Churchill points out that while there were no true impact hitters available, the Mariners did well to make the additions they did without subtracting from the major league club or the team’s pool of top prospects.

Yes, Nick Franklin has the potential to turn into a solid regular, but the opportunity to do so just wasn’t present in Seattle. Stephen Pryor and Abraham Almonte do have some marginal upside, but they are not irreplaceable on the M’s depth chart. It was also reported that the Oakland Athletics had Franklin as a potential target before he was dealt to the Tampa Bay Rays.

PI’s Mariners of the Month for July were Hisashi Iwakuma, Felix Hernandez, and Kyle Seager, while Jayson Werth and Clayton Kershaw took the honors of MLB Players of the Month.

Brendan Gawlowski expects Morales to show some improvement in the near future. Gawlowski cites research done by Mitchel Lichtman on hitting trends, which suggests extended cold streaks don’t necessarily indicate a loss of true talent. Morales, 31, did not play until after the amateur draft in June and he’s hit very poorly since originally signing with the Twins. His 47 wRC+ on the year is well below the 117 and 119 marks he posted in 2013 and 2012 respectively. The Cuban is projected to hit better down the road as he stacks up the plate appearances, but he can rest assured that he won’t receive a qualifying offer at season’s end as he was traded midseason.

[pullquote]The Mariners enshrined former manger Lou Piniella into their Hall of Fame on Saturday night. Piniella managed the club for ten seasons, including three division titles and a major league record 116-win campaign in 2011.[/pullquote]

Gawlowski is also of the opinion that Brandon Maurer should get another chance to be a starter in 2015. The 24-year old has been outstanding in a relief role for the M’s this season after a very poor stretch in the rotation to start the year. Gawlowski’s take on the situation is relatively simple: what do the Mariners have to lose by giving him another shot? Obviously a solid starter is much more valuable than a reliever, and Maurer has the stuff, but if he were to falter in Spring Training for example, the team could easily push him back to the bullpen. It may be counterintuitive to attempt to fix something that isn’t broken, but the gamble could pay huge dividends if it were to work out.

I took a look at what might be next for former top prospect Jesus Montero after he went on a hot streak with Triple-A Tacoma. The 24-year old hasn’t exactly been turning heads with his play this year otherwise, but there’s no reason for the M’s to cut their losses and move on, yet. Both Morales and Corey Hart will be free agents at season’s end and it’s possible Seattle may have an opening at the designated hitter position in 2015.

I also took a look at Taijuan Walker and the struggles he’s had during 2014. Walker won’t be getting the spot start on Sunday for the M’s — Erasmo Ramirez will be re-called for the game — so it’s tough to say when he’ll make another start with the big league club. The 21-year old is still having issues with the walk and hasn’t looked especially sharp at all this year aside from a complete-game shutout performance with Tacoma earlier in June. It’s been a tough year for Walker all around between the injuries, inconsistency, and trade rumors that have surrounded him, but he seems healthy and has been working on some mechanical things so there isn’t much reason for concern at the moment.

PI’s Chris Moran took a look at Stetson Allie, a former second-round pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates and top prospect. Allie was drafted as a pitcher but has made the conversion to first base after a failing to consistently throw strikes in the minors. Moran notes that while Allie still has a very strong throwing arm, his ability to make consistent throws is simply not there as he’s even gotten wild when throwing the ball around the diamond after recording an out. The biggest question moving forward for the youngster is how well his bat will play out as he does posses plenty of raw power.

In his latest fantasy update, Steve Simas has thoughts on a handful of prospects and fresh faces in the majors that were dealt at the deadline just over one week ago.

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