Ranking Seattle Mariners' Top 10 Prospects After the 2013 Minor League Season

Todd PheiferAnalyst IIISeptember 17, 2013

Ranking Seattle Mariners' Top 10 Prospects After the 2013 Minor League Season

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    The 2013 season is winding down for the Seattle Mariners. In theory the team will continue to work hard for every win, but the reality is that there is little to play for at this point of the season in terms of team outcomes. That doesn’t mean that the individual effort will stop. Right now, players are fighting for future jobs.

    For Seattle fans there is always next year, though that is not necessarily a sentiment that inspires great confidence these days. Certainly there have been signs of growth from this team, but it is difficult to make a strong argument that this franchise is on the brink of contention.

    Still, there are some intriguing prospects that may eventually be stars in this league. Here are the top prospects after the 2013 season and when they may eventually make it to Safeco Field.

    * Top prospects courtesy of MLB.com. No. 3 prospect Nick Franklin, No.7 prospect Carter Capps and No. 9 prospect Brad Miller are not on this list due to extensive time on the Major League roster in 2013. No.8 prospect Vinnie Catricala is not on the list as he was traded to the Oakland A’s in June. All stats provided by MiLB.com.

Unranked Prospect, D.J. Peterson, Single-A Clinton

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    Season stats: .303, 13 HR, 47 RBI

    Analysis: After languishing at the bottom of many offensive categories for several seasons, the Mariners drafted for offense in 2013. The M's are hoping that the bat of D.J. Peterson can add some pop to the lineup in future seasons. Peterson is off to a solid start, but assume it may take a couple of years in the minors before he is ready to swing for the fences at Safeco Field.

    MLB ETA: 2016

No. 16 Prospect, SP Tyler Pike, Single-A Clinton

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    Season stats: 7-4, 2.37 ERA

    Analysis: Baseball is going to watch players like Taijuan Walker very closely, but down on the farm the Mariners have some other prospects that could have a bright future. Tyler Pike is only 19 years old, but he has already displayed the poise of a future starter. Pike struck out 90 batters in 110.1 innings and held opponents to a .194 batting average. Fans may start to hear his name discussed a little more often in 2014. 

    MLB ETA: 2015

No. 11 Prospect, SP Brandon Maurer, Triple-A Tacoma

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    Season stats:  3-4, 5.21 ERA (minors), 4-8, 6.95 ERA (majors - through September 17)

    Analysis:  Admittedly, Brandon Maurer is more experienced than the standard minor-league "prospect." However, he is far from solidified into the Seattle rotation, so he remains a player with potential to be an impact player in the future. Maurer surprised many by making the team out of spring training, but had trouble sustaining success in Seattle and has bounced back and forth all season.

    Whether he can stick with the team may again depend on a strong spring in 2014. With players like Taijuan Walker and James Paxton in camp, Maurer may find himself stuck behind a reasonably long line of starting pitchers vying for limited spots.

    MLB ETA: 2015

No. 10 Prospect, OF Stefen Romero, Triple-a Tacoma

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    Season stats:  .277, 11 HR, 74 RBI

    Analysis:  If Stefen Romero wants to make the big club, 2014 may be his best opportunity. Despite a solid core of young players, most of the current "keepers" are arguably in the infield. There may be an open audition for one or more outfield slots. Unless Seattle brings in more affordable veterans, the door may be open for someone like Romero to make his mark.

    Romero provides a balance of offensive production. Now he just has to show that he can do it at a major league level.

    MLB ETA:  2014

No.6 Prospect, RP Stephen Pryor, 60-Day DL

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    Season stats: 7.1 IP, 0.00 ERA

    Analysis: Stephen Pryor is another guy that has major league experience, as he first came up to Seattle in 2012. In 2013, he made the club out of spring training and was basically unhittable for the first two weeks. Then, Pryor got hurt and has not been heard from since. With the injury and general lack of experience, Pryor remains on the "prospect" list until he can show that he is healthy and able to contribute.

    Look for him to make his "re"-debut in 2014.

    MLB ETA: 2014 

Unranked Prospect, OF Abraham Almonte, Major League Roster

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    Season stats:  .300, 15 HR, 50 RBI (minors), .288, 2 HR, 7 RBI (majors - through September 17)

    Analysis: Much like Stefen Romero, Abraham Almonte has an opportunity to grab a future outfield spot for the 2014 Mariners. Unlike Romero, Almonte is getting a head-start with an extended tryout in 2013. So far, the 24-year-old prospect has done reasonably well as his batting average has climbed and Almonte has displayed more comfort against big league pitching. 

    MLB ETA: 2014

No.5 Prospect, SP James Paxton, Major League Roster

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    Season stats: 8-11, 4.45 ERA (minors), 2-0, 0.75 ERA (majors - through September 14)

    Analysis:  Welcome to the big leagues, James Paxton. If this is a sign of things to come, the Mariners might be able to pencil Paxton into the 2014 starting rotation right now. After a solid but statistically unspectacular season in Tacoma, Paxton is getting a look at the big league level.

    Paxton has only started two games, but so far he looks like he belongs. Obviously excitement has to be tempered with some perspective. However, if he continues this poise next spring, he may lock down a spot in the rotation without much debate.

    MLB ETA: 2014

No.4 Prospect, C Mike Zunino, Major League Roster

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    Season stats: .227, 11 HR, 43 RBI (minors), .213, 3 HR, 11 RBI (majors - through September 17)

    Analysis: Much like Brandon Maurer and Stephen Pryor, Mike Zunino has spent time in Seattle but must still prove that he belongs with the big club. Remember that Jesus Montero was the catcher of the future not so long ago. Zunino has certainly shown some of the poise and leadership needed to be a major league catcher. However, he hasn't exactly hit the cover off the ball and missing time to injury has slowed his overall progress.

    Assume that the job will be Zunino's to lose in the spring, but that doesn't mean Seattle won't at least look at some other options.

    MLB ETA: 2014

No.2 Prospect, SP Danny Hultzen, Major League Roster

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    Season stats: 5-1, 2.02 ERA

    Analysis: On paper the numbers look really good for Danny Hultzen, but when you dig a little deeper you find four appearances in early April, one in late June and one in early September. In other words, 2013 was essentially a lost season. What is Hultzen's future? That is a great question. He remains an intriguing prospect with great upside, and he will play in the 2013 Arizona Fall League in order to get back on track.

    After that, who knows?

    MLB ETA: ???

     

No.1 Prospect, SP Taijuan Walker, Major League Roster

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    Season stats: 9-10, 2.93 (minors), 1-0, 3.0 ERA (majors)

    Analysis: The top prospect in the Seattle organization made it to the big club in 2013, albeit briefly. In baseball vernacular, Walker's time in Seattle may be referred to as having a "cup of coffee." Before being shut down for the season, Walker put in two solid starts that gave a brief glimpse of the future. The Mariners are not going to rush their prized arm, but assume that he will get a long look for a rotation spot in spring training.

    For the Mariners, the future may be now and it may be time for the 2014 Taijuan Walker era to begin.

    MLB ETA: 2014

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