Seattle Mariners' Top Prospect at Every Position
The Seattle Mariners have one of the youngest teams in baseball. In a few short years, they might also be one of the best.
With several young talents already in the majors, the M's will be a World Series contender before long if they can keep their prospects together.
If the young guns pan out, a decade of losing will be well worth the end results.
Here's a list of the Mariners' top prospect at every position.
Pitcher: Danny Hultzen
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Not only is lefty hurler Danny Hultzen the Mariners' top pitching prospect, he's the top player in the minor leagues and is the most major league ready.
He made it all the way to Triple-A ball in his first full season, striking out 10.5 batters per nine innings in 12 games played. Hultzen was even more impressive at the Double-A level, ending his stint in Jackson with a 1.19 ERA and a WHIP of 0.929.
He'll be the first hard-throwing lefty in Seattle's rotation since Randy Johnson and should be able to make his first career start during 2013.
Catcher: Mike Zunino
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The third overall pick of the 2012 draft, Mike Zunino won't have to wait long to hear his name called out over the Safeco Field PA system.
Check out his stat line through 44 games split between Single-A and Double-A: .360/.447/.689, 13 home runs, 43 RBI and 35 runs.
With John Jaso gone to Oakland, Jesus Montero is the only catcher on the roster, which opens the door fairly wide for Zunino as soon as this season. Of course there's still time to sign or trade for Montero's backup, but the Jaso trade has to say something about the confidence level in this kid throughout the organization.
First Base: Rich Poythress
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Seattle's farm system is thin at first base, but Rich Poythress can flat out hit the ball.
In 2010 he slugged 31 homers for Single-A High Desert while driving in 130 runs...in 123 games! He can also play a little defense. His minor league career fielding percentage is .992.
Since 2010, Poythress has been somewhat of a mystery. He's bounced around the different levels of the minors, and since his breakout 31-home run season, Poythress has amassed just 18 bombs in 213 games.
However, he maintained a .307 batting average in 2012 and decreased his strikeout total from 100 in 2010 to 36 last season in 316 at-bats.
Poythress isn't ready for the majors yet, but a stint in Triple-A will give everybody a better outlook on the young first baseman.
Second Base: Nick Franklin
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He's officially listed as a shortstop, but Nick Franklin appears to be moving toward becoming a second baseman. Last year at Triple-A Tacoma, Franklin played more games at second than short, and had a much higher fielding percentage in such games (.979 to .943).
He looks like a solid overall player, though, and has a good chance to get some playing time in Seattle this year. In 322 career games in the minors, Franklin is hitting .283 and is 56-of-74 in stolen base attempts.
A middle infield of Franklin and Dustin Ackley is nearly a lock in the not-too-distant future.
Third Base: Vincent Catricala
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Third base is the deepest position in the Mariners farm system other than pitcher, and Vinnie Catricala is the best of the bunch.
He's had huge offensive success at every level other than Triple-A, where his batting average plummeted from .349 in '11 to .229 last year. The decline is a huge red flag, but with another season of grooming Catricala should be able to turn things around.
Although he probably won't play third in the majors, (.924 fielding percentage) he has the offensive skill set to be successful. Catricala has hit 10 or more home runs in each of the last three seasons, with a high of 25 in 2011.
Look for Catricala in a Mariners uniform at some point in 2013.
Shortstop: Brad Miller
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Seattle's second-round pick of the 2011 draft, Brad Miller hasn't stopped hitting since he first suited up two years ago.
He consistently gets on base and scores runs. In 151 games between Single-A and Double-A, Miller has scored 119 runs and has a slash line of .341/.414/.513 while swiping 24 bags and being thrown out just seven times.
Unlike many minor league shortstops, Miller doesn't appear to be in need of a position switch. He's played every game but one at short (once a designated hitter) and has committed only 40 errors in 683 chances.
Seattle's infield is already crowded and is soon to be more so with the assumed arrival of Nick Franklin; so it'll be interesting to see how Miller fits into the mix. One thing is certain though: there will be a place made for him.
Outfield: Leon Landry
Leon Landry is going to have a tough time finding a spot in Seattle's deep outfield this season, but he's too good to keep out for long.
Landry is fast and sprays the ball around. Through three minor league seasons he's hitting .305 with 68 stolen bases. He doesn't have a lot of power (21 home runs) but he's excellent at hitting in the gaps (75 doubles, 33 triples).
Landry hasn't gotten promoted past Single-A, but he should be prior to the start of '13. My eyes will be on him as he advances through Seattle's system, hopefully one day to the top.