Prospects & Projects: Seattle Mariners

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Prospects & Projects: Seattle Mariners
(Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)

Welcome to the second installment in the "Prospects & Projects" series. The first installment examined the A's system. If you didn't read it, just read the intro (it's like half a page) so you know what I'm talking about with "prospects" and "projects." You can get to that article by clicking here.

I hope you find this informative and interesting. If you want further information on anyone in the Mariners system, just hit me up in the comments.

Enjoy!

 

Starting Pitching Prospects

Michael Pineda is a 6’5” right-hander who throws strikes and has left A-ball hitters shaking their heads the past two years. Currently on the DL, the righty will be able to go to Double-A once he’s healthy, and he’s only 20.

Pineda throws strikes with a low-90s fastball with a lot of run and sink and works in a plus changeup. He gets a lot of deception from an unorthodox arm action. The arm action concerns scouts, who say it’s tough to throw strikes with it, but Pineda has excellent command anyway.

Pineda’s slider isn’t very good, and he might want to try adding a curve, which would more naturally match his height and arm slot. If he can’t develop a breaking ball, he’ll be a No. 3 or No. 4 starter or setup reliever. If he can come up with a curve or improve the slider, however, Pineda could be an ace in the Roy Halladay mold (perhaps with less durability).

Doug Fister doesn’t show up on many prospect lists, but his exceptional control projects well enough for him to be a prospect. A lanky 6’8” right-hander, Fister has walked just four batters in 63.7 innings this year: just .57 BB/9. He gets a decent amounts of K’s as well—7.35 K/9, leading to a whopping 13:1 K/BB ratio.

The 25-year-old Triple-A hurler has a FIP of 3.37 and is ready to contribute in the majors now. He has a fourth starter’s upside, and has basically met it right now.

Despite being 6’8”, a height at which most pitchers struggle mechanically, Fister has a smooth, easily repeatable delivery. He works off a two-seam fastball with good movement. Fister’s velocity isn’t exceptional, but he’s not a soft-tosser, sitting at 88 mph and touching 93. Fister also throws a solid changeup.

His curveball is his third pitch, and it’s below-average, although his height makes the pitch more intimidating.

The lack of a good breaking ball confines Fister to the back of the rotation, but he throws so many strikes that he can succeed in the majors right now.

Brett Lorin has dominated the Midwest League in his first full pro season. Another gigantic righty (6’7”, 245), Lorin, like Pineda and Fister, isn’t a reckless power pitcher, but has plenty of velocity, throwing 89-93 mph. His hard curveball ranks as one of the best in the system, and is a big reason why Lorin has struck out over a batter an inning this year.

Lorin has good control, and while he’s a bit of a flyballer, that should work fine in spacious Safeco Field. His changeup isn’t very good yet, but he’s working on it and it should become average in the end.

At 22, Lorin is a bit old for Low-A, but with two plus pitches, good command, and a big, imposing mound presence, he should at least be a quality reliever. He has No. 3/No. 4 starter upside.

 

Relief Pitching Prospects

Phillippe Aumont shouldn’t be a reliever. The 6’7", 220-pounder (notice a size trend here?) has the stuff and durability to start, yet the Mariners moved the French-Canadian to the bullpen to begin his second pro season.

I disagree with the decision, but it’s been made, and Aumont, who projected as a major league starter, certainly projects as a major league reliever.

Aumont throws two fastballs, a mid-90s four-seamer he throws to get strikeouts up in the zone, and a low-90s sinker that he uses to get grounders down in the zone. The latter is Aumont’s best pitch, and it draws comparison’s to Brandon Webb’s sinker.

Aumont throws a sweepy curveball in the low 80s that should be an average pitch once he gets used to throwing it. He also has an average splitter. His changeup is well below average, although he won’t really use it in the bullpen.

The 20-year-old Aumont is already in Double-A and could get a big league look as early as next April out of the ‘pen. He’ll be a very good reliever who can also start effectively, similar to (and possibly better than) Justin Masterson of the Red Sox.

Josh Fields, the Mariners’ first-rounder last year, is a two-pitch reliever who could usurp David Aardsma’s closer job in September. Fields is actually a smaller version of Aardsma: he throws a mid-90s heater and killer curveball, but command issues keep him from being elite.

Fields, unlike Aardsma, is not in his prime, and could potentially improve his control. An Aardsma-like career is the worst scenario; Fields could be the next Tom Gordon with his small build and deadly fastball-curve combo.

 

Catching Prospects

Jeff Clement’s star seems to have fallen quite a bit, but I still believe in him. He’s hitting .282/.357/.496 in Triple-A, and that’s good enough for me. A lefty-hitting catcher, Clement has the potential to be a .280/.360/.520 hitter in the majors.

While his defense behind the plate is below-average, it’s playable, and his bat makes up for it. Clement and Adam Moore could be a fearsome catching platoon next year.

Adam Moore is one of the most underrated prospects in the game. The 25-year-old is hitting .311/.355/.447 in Triple-A, including a whopping .375/.429/.531 against left-handers. The big Texan has more power than his .136 ISO shows, and could be a Mike Napoli type as an everyday catcher.

Moore’s defensive reputation is slightly better than Clement’s. The two wouldn’t be great defensively in a platoon, but could combine to produce some ridiculous numbers in Seattle.

Travis Scott is yet another slugging catcher, but he’s further off, as he’s just in High-A. At 24, he’s old for the level, but he can really slug. Scott is pasting the ball at a .323/.416/.651 clip. Like Clement, Scott hits lefty, but has had little trouble with left-handers this season (.333/.403/.611).

One might argue that the hitter-friendly High Desert environment is making Scott appear better than he is. However, Scott has actually hit better on the road (.368/.445/.737) than at home (.275/.387/.560).

Scott has the potential to be average defensively. The Mariners will eventually be able to use Scott or Clement as trade bait.

 

Infield Prospects

Carlos Triunfel remains one of the top 20 prospects in the game. He was on my top 10 list entering the season, but injury issues have set him back a bit. Still, Triunfel is younger than me and already is a good Double-A hitter. He might have to move off of shortstop, but he’d be excellent defensively at second or third.

Triunfel has a high-average bat with developing power. Carlos Guillen’s career may be his downside.

Callix Crabbe probably seems like an odd choice. He’s 26 and hitting .188 in Triple-A. Still, the switch-hitting utilityman typically hits in the high .200s, and this could just be a case of frustration at not getting much of a big league shot despite several years of Triple-A success.

Crabbe is a tiny switch-hitter who offers more pop than you’d think. He has excellent on-base skills and rarely strikes out. He’s competent at seven positions but fits best at second. Think of him as somewhere between Augie Ojeda and Alberto Callaspo.

Alex Liddi, one of a very small contingent of Italian minor leaguers (to my knowledge, there’s only one other one, but there could be more from the last year or two), was thought of as a C-grade prospect entering the year, but the 20-year-old third baseman has rocketed up prospect lists thanks to a .346/.399/.650 line at High Desert.

Unlike Scott, Liddi has gotten benefits from his home park, but his road numbers (.301/.338/.507) are still very good, especially when you consider that he’s young for the level. Liddi’s slight (6’4” 176) frame has plenty of room for him to fill out, meaning he’ll probably hit for even more power as he physically matures.

Defensively, the third baseman is a work in progress. He’s got a great arm, but struggles with reactions and range. A hard worker, Liddi should eventually become average defensively.

We’ll have to wait for Liddi to hit Double-A to see where he truly is as a hitter. If everything goes right, he projects as Troy Glaus-type player, perhaps with fewer walks and strikeouts.

Joe Dunigan is yet another player breaking out in High Desert’s bandbox. He has extreme home-road splits (.380/.433/.785 at home, .274/.370/.496 on the road), but is hitting a sparkling .328/.401/.643 overall.

The first baseman has every offensive skill you could want. He hits for good average and power, exhibits good control of the strike zone, and even tosses in a good deal of speed (13 steals this year, 28 last year). Defensively, Dunigan projects to be at least average at first base.

At 23, Dunigan needs to move quickly. While he’s got extreme home/road splits, his road line is still pretty good, and he projects to be a pretty good pinch-hitter/defensive replacement at first, in the Ross Gload/Daryle Ward mold.

Juan Diaz is also experiencing a High Desert breakout; however, he’s hitting better on the road (.336/.381/.520) than at home (.309/.356/.409).

Diaz is the youngest of the three High Desert prospect infielders (he’ll play the whole year at 20), and while he has the worst raw numbers, he has the best road line and plays the most difficult position (shortstop) among the three.

Diaz is known as an excellent defender at short, and if this road line is for real, he’ll be the Mariners’ long-term answer at short.

Brad Nelson is hitting just .237/.294/.333 in Triple-A, but he hit .286/.380/.480 last year, and he could be having the same sort of issues as Crabbe. Nelson’s line also suffers because he hasn’t gotten regular playing time this year, and it’s very difficult to hit when you’re not in a daily rhythm.

Nelson is competent defensively at the four corners and offers some on-base skills and good power from the left side of the plate. In a full season of playing time last year, he had a K/BB ratio of 77/73, very good for a slugger. Despite his hefty (6’2” 280) frame, Nelson has surprisingly good speed and stole 13 bases last season.

A solid all-around player, Nelson would do a good job as a super-sub who usually plays against righties, giving the 1B, 3B, DH, LF, or RF a day off any time the team faces a righty. That would keep Nelson and the regular starters all fresh, and maximize the talent on the roster.

Matt Tuiasosopo is starting to run out of time to prove himself, but he’s still just 23 and is already a proven above-average AAA hitter.

Tuiasosopo has some of every tool, but he doesn’t have that one standout skill that would lead me to project him as a future starter. He can hit for some average (maybe .270 in the bigs), some power (maybe a .170 ISO in the bigs), and walk a bit (maybe an .065 Isolated Discipline in the bigs), but that leaves him with a projected .270/.335/.440 line, which is okay but nothing special.

Tuiasosopo can handle short, but fits best at third. A .270/.335/.440 3B is playable, but if that’s his peak, he projects as more of a 2B/SS/3B utility type. If Jose Lopez’s struggles continue, Tuiasosopo may also settle in as Seattle’s 2B starter.

He won’t kill you if you give him 140 starts, but he won’t really push you toward contention either. Think Jose Bautista.

 

Outfield Prospects

Greg Halman was ranked the No. 1 Mariners prospect by Baseball America entering the season, but he’s disappointed greatly, hitting just .196 with a .260 OBP in Double-A. The news isn’t all bad: Halman has a healthy .230 ISO and 14 homers. He also is aided by the fact that he is a plus defensive CF with a good arm.

At 21, Halman is young for his level, and if he improves his pitch recognition, he’ll be a very good major leaguer. He hit .277/.332/.481 in Double-A last year, and if he can get back to that level, he’ll still be on track to be a starting center fielder.

Halman has more bust potential than most top prospects, but he could be a very good offensive and defensive center fielder in the majors. He profiles similarly to former Mariners CF Mike Cameron.

Michael Saunders was ranked No. 2 behind Halman coming into the year, and he has not disappointed. The 22-year-old is hitting.284/.361/.484 in Triple-A.

While Halman has star potential, Saunders doesn’t: he profiles as more of a solid player than an All-Star. He can handle center field defensively, but fits best in right. For a player comparison, think of him as a left-handed Xavier Nady.

Ezequiel Carrera is great insurance in case Halman doesn’t pan out. He just turned 22 and is hitting a whopping .354/.473/.433 in Double-A. Carrera is the rare speed player who is able to work a lot of walks and be constantly on base, making him an ideal leadoff man. He also rarely strikes out (37/30 BB/K ratio).

Carrera has good speed (16 steals) and an average center field glove. He projects to be a .300/.390/.380 center fielder with 25+ steals and average defense.

Tyson Gillies is a great story, as he’s had a successful pro career despite severe hearing impairment. He’s another High Desert player who’s hit better away from the home bandbox, with a .347/.463/.479 road line.

Like Carrera, Gillies is a speed player who works a lot of walks (39/46 BB/K). He is a Gold Glove-caliber CF, and scouts compare his range and arm to Torii Hunter’s.

Like Carrera, Gillies has basically every tool but power, although his big frame suggests he might be a 10 HR/season player. He profiles as a .290/.390/.410 player with great defense and speed. All told, the 20-year-old Gillies could turn into the next Carl Crawford.

Julio Morban is another leadoff CF type, but he’s much further away. Still in Rookie ball, Morban is only 17. Given his lack of experience (he’s 3-9  with a double and 3 K’s in four games), Morban’s spot on this list is purely on projection.

Scouting reports say that among players his age, Morban’s pitch recognition and bat control rival Ichiro’s. He projects to be a high-average gap hitter who, like Gillies, can hit just enough homers to avoid the “zero power” tag.

Defensively, he’s okay in center for now, but scouts think he may have to shift to left if he bulks up. So either he’s a CF with no power and a lanky body, or a LF with good power and a thick body.

Morban’s ticket to the majors will be his average and OBP. If he projects to hit .290 or better with a .360 OBP or better, he’ll be a starter. If he projects to hit .270-.290 with a .340-.360 OBP, he’ll be a fourth outfielder. Time will tell what happens.

 

Starting Pitching Projects

Justin Souza is a 23-year-old Double-A swingman.

Not interested?

Well, he’s got a 3.31 ERA and sparkling 51/16 K/BB ratio in 65.3 innings.

Souza won’t be a star, but he’s pitched well in both starting and relief roles. A short righty, Souza can get his heater up to 94, and it has solid late tail. He throws a high-70s slider with a lot of break to back up the fastball.

Souza has excellent command, and his two-pitch mix could allow him to succeed as a swingman in the majors. He may have to move back to relief (his original role) full-time to get a big league look. Souza’s changeup isn’t very good because he didn’t throw it much in the bullpen.

Souza could have a nice major league career, but plenty of 23-year-olds put up nice Double-A lines and wind up topping out in Triple-A. Time will tell if he’ll be a major league swingman, major league reliever, or just a Triple-A guy.

Juan Ramirez is thought to be one of the Mariners’ top prospects, but I’m not really sold. Yes, he pitches in a hitter’s haven in High Desert, and yes, his road ERA (3.34) is over two runs lower than his home ERA (5.48).

However, that road performance comes with a terrible 14/15 K/BB ratio, and his rather low strikeout rate (58 in 80 innings) does little to inspire confidence.

When someone has Ramirez’s good stuff (92-94 mph fastball, hard mid-80s slider), and they can’t get High-A hitters to swing and miss, there’s a fundamental disconnect going on. I understand Ramirez is only 20, and his stuff is certainly big-league caliber, but the lack of strikeouts is a big red flag.

Ramirez’s changeup needs a ton of work if he’s going to start in the majors. He, not Phillippe Aumont, should be the one moving to the ‘pen: a move would get his fastball into the 97 range, keep him from needing the changeup, and likely increase the strikeouts.

All those negatives said, Ramirez still has No. 2 starter upside (if everything goes right), but keep the caveats in mind. He’s overrated for now.

Aaron Pribanic, the Mariners’ third-round pick last season, has lived up to expectations by posting a stellar 2.49 ERA in Low-A this season. Pribanic has yet to allow a homer in 70 pro innings. The 22-year-old righty throws a heavy 90-94 mph fastball, and complements it with a hard splitter that is also difficult to lift.

Pribanic’s curve and slider are still below-average, and he needs to improve them to avoid being moved to the bullpen. He’s ready for High-A, and at 22, he needs to move fairly quickly. Like Ramirez, Pribanic’s K rate is unexceptional (44 in 65 IP), which doesn’t bode well as he moves up.

If Pribanic’s curve or slider improves, he could be a mid-rotation starter. If they don’t, he may be able to cut it in middle relief.

Kenn Kasparek is yet another gigantic right-hander (6’8” 200) who, as scouts often say, “knows how to pitch.” Kasparek, the Mariners 12th rounder last year, throws a ton of strikes with a high-80’s heater, two average-plus breaking balls, and a changeup.

Like Fister, Kasparek doesn’t let his lanky 6’8” frame impede his mechanics, as he repeats his simple delivery well. This gives him superior command of the strike zone, as evidenced by his low walk rate (16 BB in 70.3 IP). Kasparek has also racked up 73 strikeouts thanks to his two good breaking pitches, a high-70s slider and low-70s curveball.

Kasparek is probably about as good as he’s going to get. He’s already 23 and he’s just at Low-A, but with good command of four pitches, he has a shot at being a fourth starter someday. It’s just difficult to say that 23-year-old Low-A pitchers actually project to have significant big league careers, which is why he’s here and not on the prospects list.

Steve Hensley, another 2008 draftee (fourth round), blew through the Midwest League with 19.7 shutout innings, got roughed up a bit at Double-A, and is now doing a pretty good job in High Desert, especially given the offensive environment.

The 22-year-old righty works off an 88-93 mph fastball that he spots well to both sides of the plate. Hensley throws two different curves: a big, slow 69-72 mph pitch, and a harder, upper-70’s power breaker. His changeup is below-average but improving.

Hensley isn’t on the prospect list because he doesn’t do anything well enough to profile as anything more than an extra arm right now. His fastball doesn’t have a lot of movement, and he doesn’t profile to get more than the average number of strikeouts or groundouts in the majors. He needs to improve his changeup to avoid moving to relief.

He lacks feel for the slow curve, and while it moves a ton, he needs to command it better to improve it from show-pitch status.

Hensley also walked 10 batters in 15 innings in Double-A, a troubling sign for a command-oriented pitcher.

Hensley could be a fifth starter or a fastball-curve reliever in the end, but he’ll need to keep throwing strikes on his way up.

Nick Czyz is a very low draft pick (35th round) from 2008 who has stood out in short-season ball. After excelling for Rookie-level Pulaski last season (19 BB, 54 K, 4 HR in 57.3 IP), he’s gotten off to a good start with short-season-A Everett (1.59 ERA in two starts).

Czyz is a fastball-slider guy whose heater goes 86-93 mph. The lefty’s low-80s slider has good late break and is his only plus pitch. Being a Big 12 product (Kansas), he’s somewhat polished and throws a decent changeup.

While command was a problem for Czyz in college, he’s cleaned up his delivery as a pro. He needs to work on getting stronger so he can consistently go longer than five innings in a game.

The 22-year-old is low for his level, but Czyz’s (try pronouncing THAT!) solid three-pitch mix, groundball tendencies, and ability to throw strikes give him a chance to make it someday. He could also slide to the bullpen, where his slider could make him an effective situational guy. Don’t bet on him, but don’t forget his rather unpronounceable name.

Nathan Adcock got pasted for eight runs in two-thirds of an inning in yesterday’s 33-18 shootout in High Desert, but the big righty remains interesting. He throws what Baseball America calls “the best breaking ball in the system,” a hard, mid-70s curve.

The 6’5” righty pitches at 88-94 with his fastball and projects to touch 96-97 as he fills out. For a High-A pitcher, his changeup’s not bad.

Adcock is only 21, and he’s pitching well in the Cal League. However, he comes with the same big problem as Ramirez: he’s only struck out 58 batters in 83.3 innings. When you can’t miss bats in High-A, you don’t project to in the majors.

Adcock’s fastball-curve combo may lead him to the bullpen, where he could become a plus reliever. If he can’t strike more hitters out, it’s unlikely he’ll have much of a career, but he has the stuff and command to succeed.

Gaby Hernandez has a 5.64 ERA in Triple-A, but his FIP is 4.39, and he only just turned 23. Hernandez is a three-pitch righty who is a workhorse on the mound. He throws an 87-94 mph fastball that hitters have a tough time squaring up, and he pairs it with an average changeup.

Hernandez’s out pitch is a big, slow curveball that often registers in the mid-60s, but he can tighten it and get it into the mid-70s on occasion, so he can really vary the speed.

Hernandez has had trouble with homers, but his flyball tendencies should play well in Safeco. At 23, his beginning to approach his prospect expiration date, and two organizations have already traded him away. Hernandez nibbles too much, an approach that will get crushed in the majors.

Hernandez has the raw ability to be a mid-to-back-of-the-rotation starter, but he needs to be more consistent to get there.

Maikel Cleto (wow, that’s a heck of a way to spell “Michael”) was acquired in the Putz trade in the offseason from the Mets. The 20-year-old adds and subtracts from his fastball, so it can go anywhere from 90-100 mph.

Unlike many young power pitchers, Cleto throws a ton of strikes. The upside of that is that he rarely walks batters; the downside is that he gets nowhere near as many strikeouts as wild power guys. As Cleto matures, he should better learn how to set up hitters and strike them out.

Cleto won’t find success until and unless he finds another pitch. Neither his slider nor his changeup impress at all: he’ll need one to dramatically improve if he wants to be a big league reliever, and both if he wants to be a big league starter.

Cleto is young, durable, and has a golden arm and great command. However, he must improve his offspeed stuff and learn how to get hitters to chase pitches. Cleto’s upside is enormous, but he’s far from it.

 

Relief Pitching Projects

Nick Hill has an interesting backstory, as he attended Army and received permission to put off his active duty after being taken in the seventh round of the 2007 draft.

As you might expect from a military academy graduate, Hill is an extreme competitor on the mound and goes right after hitters. His fastball only goes 84-90 mph, but he backs it up with a big hammer curveball and a good changeup.

Hill has a long stride to the plate, so he gets better angle on his pitches than most short hurlers (he’s listed at 6’0” 190lbs). With two plus offspeed pitches, Hill might make sense as a starter, but he’s been a reliever his whole career, except for a short stretch last season.

Currently enjoying great success in Double-A (7 BB, 36 K, 2 HR in 30 IP), the 24-year-old Hill could make an effective reliever or starter in the majors. That said, “competitive, pitchability guys” often get renamed “hittable soft-tossers” in the majors. Time will tell which one Hill is.

Cheyne Hann is another interesting guy, and it’s not just because there’s no more messed up way to spell “Shane” (I really hope Hann gets to the majors and faces Chone Figgins in the ultimate Battle of Guys With Normal-Sounding Names Spelled Wrong).

The big righty went undrafted out of CSSB as a fifth-year senior, but has turned himself into someone to watch with an otherworldly showing in Low-A.

Yet another behemoth (6’6” 235lbs) of a pitcher, Hann’s got incredible peripherals this season, with 45 K and just 6 BB and 2 HR in 40.7 IP.

Hann works down in the zone with a mid-80s fastball that touches 90. He complements it with a slider and change which are nothing special. The slider, in particular, needs improvement.

A 24-year-old in Low-A, Hann must be perfect on his way up to stay alive on his way to the majors. He does a great job throwing strikes down in the zone, getting ahead of hitters, and putting them away, but it’s unclear how long his modest stuff will work.

Eventually the hitters will stop getting themselves out and Hann will need to get them out. The jury’s still out on whether he can.

 

Catching Projects

Colt Morton is built like Matt Wieters (6’5” 245lbs), has possibly even more power, and is almost as good behind the plate.

The problem?

Morton’s 27, in Double-A, and he can’t recognize or hit a breaking ball.

This leads to absurd statlines like .207/.258/.552. With three big-time tools (power, arm, defense) and two nonexistent ones (contact and speed), Morton is a decidedly odd player.

Personally, I’d give him a backup catcher job in the majors, but he’s such an anomaly in terms of size, position, and skillset that I wouldn’t blame any GM if he didn’t share my liking for the guy.

At 27, Morton is what he is. Unless I become a GM really fast, or an existing GM badly, badly needs a backup catcher (with Moore, Clement, Scott, Kenji Johjima, Jamie Burke, and Guillermo Quiroz, that GM is definitely not Jack Zduriencik), he’s not going to get another shot at the majors (he’s struggled mightily in a few big-league ABs).

 

Infield Projects

Scott Savastano is an OBP-oriented first base prospect in Low-A. He’s not much of a slugger (.103 ISO), but he makes up for it with walks, speed, and defense.

Savastano makes good contact and is hitting .306 with just 35 strikeouts in 63 games. He has walked more times (37) than he has struck out, giving Savastano an excellent .409 OBP.

Savastano has stolen eight bases in nine attempts and also has four triples. He possesses well-above-average speed for a first baseman. He also is a very good gloveman at first who can handle third or the outfield corners in a pinch.

You have to be a truly special OBP guy to merit a 1B spot with a .103 ISO, and Savastano isn’t quite at that level. It might be a good idea to move him to third or right field, where the offensive demands are less daunting.

Another old-for-his-levels player, Savastano just turned 23 and needs to move quickly. Players of this skillset generally have lots of trouble in the high minors, but Savastano’s early success makes him a player to watch.

Terry Serrano has a very bizarre.251/.408/.316 line. With 92 more points of OBP than slugging, he is a decidedly odd player. A 22-year-old switch-hitting shortstop, Serrano’s speed, discipline, and glove will be his ticket to the majors.

He’s lacking in both contact (.251 average with 56 K in 60 G) and power (six extra-base hits) skills, but Serrano has walked 44 times and stolen 15 bases in 19 attempts. He has a good defensive reputation at short and should be able to play there in the majors.

Serrano has such an odd skillset that, like Morton, it’s hard to know what to do with him. He walks a ton, but strikes out even more. Players with little power tend to lose some walks as they go up as pitchers challenge them.

Serrano could be an OBP-oriented infield reserve in the Augie Ojeda mold, but he’ll need to cut down on the K’s to get there.

Jharmidy DeJesus is a big 19-year-old third baseman with another wacky name. He tore up the Arizona League last year, but is still a long way off in Rookie ball.

An imposing physical presence, DeJesus has great pull power for someone his age. He won’t evoke Adrian Beltre defensively, but he should be average at third. Like many players from the Dominican, DeJesus doesn’t know how to recognize or lay off a breaking ball, and struggles to take outside pitches the other way.

DeJesus will need to make several adjustments to his approach and add a lot of polish to his game to succeed in the majors, but his offensive ceiling is similar to Beltre’s (minus Beltre’s one ridiculous year).

Jetsy Extrano has one of the best names in the minor leagues (Wow, the Mariners have a lot of good players with funky names), and also has excellent plate discipline for a 20-year-old Venezuelan shortstop.

Like Serrano, Extrano is a switch-hitter who takes a lot of walks, but unlike Serrano, Extrano has some pop in his bat. He doesn’t have basestealing speed, but has good reactions that should allow him to stay at short.

It’s tough to say that a 20-year-old with six games of US experience has big league potential, but Extrano is a (rather hilarious) name to remember.

 

Outfield Projects

Mike Wilson is a massive five-tool outfielder who swatted 27 Double-A homers last season. He turns 26 today and has spent most of the year on the minor league DL.

Wilson hit .276/.388/.549 last year. He’s got plus-plus power to all fields and good plate discipline. He’ll strike out some, but his strikeout total is reasonable for a slugger. Wilson has good speed and baserunning instincts, good range in an outfield corner, and a strong arm.

All told, Wilson’s overall package resembles Matt Holliday’s, although Safeco is quite different from Coors Field. If given some playing time, Wilson could resemble the Oakland version of Holliday. At 26, injured, and in Double-A, time isn’t on Wilson’s side.

Carlos Peguero is considered arguably the best prospect among the High Desert hitters, but I’m not in agreement with that. Pegero’s .270/.333/.536 line pales in comparison to those of Scott, Liddi, Dunigan, and Diaz, and Peguero has just a .295 OBP on the road.

Peguero is a well-below-average left fielder who might have to DH in the majors. With little (though increasing) plate discipline, and a propensity for strikeouts, Peguero has to hit for power to make it to the majors. At 6’5”, 215lbs, he’s right up there with Wilson in terms of raw power, and he’s hit 15 HR this year.

Peguero could be an impact platoon DH in the non-2009 Russell Branyan mold, but he’s got a lot of obstacles to overcome to get there.

Denny Almonte (no, not that 14-year-old Little League pitcher from a few years back, that’s Danny Almonte) is a spectacular right fielder who can also handle center nicely, similar to Ichiro. Almonte also has plus raw power (13 HR in Low-A), but contact and discipline issues hurt him.

The 20-year-old switch-hitter has struck out 92 times in 68 games, and walked only 19. He’s got good speed but struggles with baserunning. He has to improve his .318 OBP if he’s going to make the majors.

A very raw, exciting player, Almonte is worse from the left side than the right, which isn’t good because switch-hitters get most of their at-bats lefty. He could combine ex-Mariner Raul Ibanez’s offense with Ichiro’s defense if he tightens up his discipline, but Almonte has a long way to go.

Dennis Raben, like Triunfel, was considered one of the Mariners’ best prospects coming into the year, but has been knocked out with a leg injury. Raben had microfracture knee surgery, which is one of those procedures that sometimes works perfectly, but sometimes ruins careers.

Before his injury, Raben hit .275/.411/.560 at short-season Everett in his pro debut. A big lefty, he’s got plus lefty power and a good approach at the plate. He’s a classic “polished college bat” who could potentially hit .270/.370/.500 in the majors.

Why is Raben a project and not a prospect? Two reasons.

First, he’s below-average defensively. He can really only play left or first, which means he has to completely meet his upside to be worth a starting role in the majors.

Second, microfracture knee surgeries can end careers, and it’s tough to project a big-league role for Raben until we see what he looks like post-surgery.

He’s going to be almost 23 by the time he gets back on the field, and he won’t have any experience in full-season ball, so Raben may need to jump to High-A or even Double-A to remain an average age for his level.

 

 

Well, that wraps it up. As always, if you have any questions or comments about these players or anyone in the system that I left out, post a comment and I'll respond to you. I hope you enjoyed the article and feel well-informed about the Mariners system.

Also, if you'd like me to do a "Prospects & Projects" entry for another specific team, please let me know in the comments.

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