M's Langerhans ticketed for Triple-A

It's my pleasure to introduce Pro Ball NW, who's filling the Mariners slot in the SweetSpot Network. Today Jon writes about Ryan Langerhans clearing waivers and heading down I-5 to Tacoma:

    Langerhans will fight for time in the outfield with prospects Michael Saunders, Ezequiel Carrera and Greg Halman. When I first heard the news I thought that Greg Halman might be demoted. His promotion was a curious one in the first place, and he has been overmatched thus far, striking out three times in the opener and four times in four at bats a couple evenings ago. But demoting him now wouldn’t exactly inspire confidence, and I’m sure hitting coach Alonso Powell would like more time to try and get him right. For what it’s worth, the early numbers would indicate that he is trying to reign in his free swinging tendencies, walking four times in the first four games and striking out looking several times. Unfortunately, strike zone judgment is only half the battle. Trying to learn pitch recognition is a whole new adventure, and a much more difficult one at that.

Since signing out of the Netherlands in 2004, Halman has played five seasons. He was excellent in 2008 -- half a season in Class A, half in Double-A -- considering he was only 20. Overall, though? Halman's got a .308 on-base percentage and he's struck out 555 times in 428 professional games. He bombed last year in Double-A, leading Baseball America to conclude, "The ultimate boom or bust prospect, he'll return to Double-A to begin 2010."

Oddly, he didn't. This seems like a pure scouting decision. Maybe the M's wanted him in Tacoma so they could keep a closer eye on him (Seattle's Double-A affiliate is in Tennessee; West Tennessee, yes ... but still Tennessee). Maybe they saw something in March that made them think he was just an adjustment away. Maybe they found something in his personality that made them think he needed a real good challenge.

Well, Triple-A pitchers are a real good challenge for a 22-year-old hitter who doesn't know the strike zone from a bulldozer. With Langerhans in the fold, I suspect Halman will soon be heading back to (West) Tennessee. Maybe he'll learn something from Dustin Ackley.