D.J. Peterson and Gabby Guerrero were selected to participate from the Mariners’ system and will oppose each other Sunday afternoon in Minneapolis. They join Taijuan Walker and James Paxton as notable Mariners to participate recently in the event.
As the Mariners value homegrown offensive prospects highly, Peterson and Guerrero will be closely monitored in the Futures Game and beyond. Both are ranked in the top four of Seattle’s farm system among positional players by MLB.com.
Peterson and Guerrero will have relatively similar skill sets with a couple of key distinctions on display at the Futures Game.
All stats via FanGraphs.com unless otherwise noted.
D.J. Peterson, 3B
Peterson is nearly universally ranked as the No. 2 prospect in the Mariners organization, including by FanGraphs and Baseball America. He is ranked No. 70 nationally on MLB.com. Once Walker loses his rookie status, Peterson will take over the top prospect spot in Seattle.
Looking at Peterson’s numbers since being selected 12th overall in 2013 by the Mariners, it’s not hard to see why. Peterson has hit at every level he’s been at, further building the excitement around him as Seattle’s great offensive hope for the future.
Peterson started off the 2014 season at High-A, posting a .326/.381/.615 line with 18 home runs in 65 games before being promoted. High Desert is a hitter’s dream and will inflate offensive numbers, but Peterson still stood above his peers while also posting an .897 OPS on the road.
One thing the Mariners would like to see Peterson improve is his plate discipline, as he only walked in 7.7 percent of his plate appearances in High-A. Still, Peterson’s walk rate (as well as the rest of his numbers) improved every month and is also up from the one he posted in 2013 at Single-A (6.5 percent).
As many hitters who go through High Desert do, Peterson chalked up poor April numbers to trying to hit a home run on every pitch, as relayed by Adam Lewis of MLB.com.
“I think at the beginning of the year, everyone told me in High Desert you're going to hit 30 home runs there," Peterson said. "The ball carries. I thought about that a little bit too much and tried to do too much."
Peterson moved up to Double-A on June 24 and has hit .286/.327/.449 with three home runs in 13 games since. One encouraging sign is that Peterson has knocked over six points off his strikeout rate, currently at 15.4 percent, although it is still a small sample size.
Scout.com's Rick Randall says Peterson has made the adjustment to Double-A and will soon see his numbers skyrocket.
If Peterson continues to hit well and improve every month, he should be in Triple-A before the end of the year and get a look in the majors at some point in 2015.
One thing delaying Peterson’s arrival to the majors will be a likely position change. FanGraphs’ scouting report on Peterson says his defense is “fringe-average” while MLB.com grades him at a 40 out of 80, or below average.
Plus, Kyle Seager will be manning third base in Seattle for the foreseeable future. Peterson projects better as a first baseman or corner outfielder, and his transition could begin shortly in Double-A.
Regardless of position, the Mariners are going to get Peterson’s right-handed power bat in the lineup sooner rather than later. Baseball America rates Peterson as the best hitter for both power and average in the Mariners’ system.
The Futures Game will hopefully provide a chance to see Peterson’s bat speed, which MLB.com describes as "exceptional" in the video above, and an advanced plate approach that he developed over three years of college baseball.
Gabby Guerrero, Outfield
There is less agreement about where Guerrero should rank in Seattle’s farm system. MLB.com has him 10th among Mariners prospects, while FanGraphs and Baseball America rank him behind Austin Wilson as the organization's top outfielder and out of the top 10 overall.
Like Peterson, Guerrero’s most appealing trait is his power from the right side. Guerrero has hit .300/.342/.438 with nine home runs in High Desert so far in 2014.
Those aren't mind-blowing numbers, but Guerrero is just 20 years old and has hit well for his age at previous minor league levels. Guerrero is nearly two years younger than Peterson, 22, who is accelerating through the minors at a quick pace himself.
On FanGraphs’ scouting report, Jason Churchill says Guerrero is reminiscent of a famous relative:
At the plate, the nephew of Vladimir Guerrero looks similar to his uncle. He often expands the zone, leading to low walk rates and high strikeout rates. His swing can get long but his above-average bat speed helps him compensate. Guerrero hit just four home runs this past season but has above-average raw power.
That’s a comparison the Mariners won’t mind at all. Guerrero could be special and will be, at the least, an intriguing prospect to watch moving forward.
Some of those skills are on display near the end of the video above, as Guerrero chases a bad pitch below the strike zone but manages to line it to right field.
Guerrero brings one more element into the fold. Baseball America ranks him as the best athlete and best outfield arm in the Mariners organization, while MLB.com grades his arm at an outstanding 70 out of 80.
That means Guerrero could potentially be a great defender in right field, where he has appeared most in 2014.
The Mariners are pretty lost at the corner outfield spot at the moment, but Guerrero is clearly multiple years away from thinking about the majors.
Seattle is a buyer at this year’s trading deadline, and all of its prospects will be looked at by other teams. It would take something pretty crazy for the Mariners to part with Peterson, but don’t be surprised if Guerrero is one of the names brought up as a potential trade chip.
Hopefully, we will get to see Guerrero show off his raw power and make some defensive plays at the Futures Game.
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