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Originally published September 12, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified September 12, 2007 at 11:48 AM

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Losing season a success, AquaSox manager says

There was no league championship, no division banner, not even a . 500 record. Still, rookie manager Mike Tosar considered the season a...

Special to The Seattle Times

There was no league championship, no division banner, not even a .500 record. Still, rookie manager Mike Tosar considered the season a success for the Everett AquaSox.

"I'm very pleased overall," Tosar said from South Florida where he has resumed scouting duties both there and in Puerto Rico. "We had some players who really made strides this season."

Everett finished the Northwest League season 35-41, 22 games behind division and league champion Salem-Keizer, the only one of eight teams in the NWL to finish above. 500.

Tosar believes there were a lot of Seattle Mariner prospects who played in Everett this season who will make it all the way to the major leagues.

"I'd say there are four guys who have a good chance of making it to the big leagues and another three guys who, with the proper development, are going to have a chance," Tosar said. "You always want to win, but you have to balance that with developing players. We had a young club and we made some young mistakes."

Tosar was especially impressed with the play of NWL All-Star outfielder Gregory Halman.

Halman, 20, is a second-year player from the Netherlands who hit. 307 with 16 home runs, 37 RBI and 16 stolen bases in 62 games in his second season for the AquaSox.

"He had a good year at the plate and really showed everyone what he could do in the field," Tosar said. "He can run, steal bases, hit, hit with power. He has all the tools; he just needs to clean some things up in his game."

The major thing Halman needs to do is cut down on his 85 strikeouts.

Halman wasn't the only AquaSox player who struggled to make contact.

The team set a Northwest League season record by striking out 791 times, breaking the record of 738 the AquaSox set in 1996.

Tosar was also especially impressed with the pitching of left-handed starter Edward Paredes.

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Although he went only 7-6, Paredes led the NWL with 85-2/3 innings pitched. A native of the Dominican Republic, Paredes, 20, was an NWL All-Star with a 3.99 ERA and 61 strikeouts.

"There were times when his stuff was just electric," Tosar said. "He pitched very well, as did Juan Ramirez, who really improved in the second half of the season."

Ramirerz, 19, came to Everett from Nicaragua and finished 3-7, but he had a 90-mph fastball that produced a team-high 73 strikeouts and a 4.30 ERA.

Due to the youth of the team, Tosar estimated that 90 percent would remain in the Seattle organization for next season and that many might be back in Everett for a second season in the NWL.

Tosar also expects to be back as the manager next season.

"I really enjoy what I'm doing," Tosar said. "My main job is scouting, and I really enjoy everything I'm doing with the Mariners. I don't have any aspirations to manage at another level. I like being with the young kids and I think that's where I'm most effective."

Tosar also enjoyed spending the summer with son Mikey, 13, who got to shag flies nearly every day when the team took batting practice.

"This is the second year he's got to do it, but this year he was older and got to do more things," Tosar said of his son. "There's no question that being a ballplayer is what he wants to do. He knows the life, sees the players and wants to be one of them."

Tosar rates Everett high on the list of minor-league baseball operations.

"It's a very good place to be," Tosar said. "The weather is just outstanding, and the front office does a great job. The attendance was really good and the fact that they redid the playing surface was a real plus."

With popular former Seattle Mariner outfielder Jay Buhner and former state Sen. Dino Rossi buying into the team as part owners, the AquaSox drew more than 100,000 fans for the 10th straight season.

Everett began play in the Northwest League in 1984 as an affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. They became affiliated with the Seattle Mariners in 1995. They last won the NWL title in 1984 and have a 24-season record of 916-918.

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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