Ranking the Top 10 Prospects in the Seattle Mariners' Farm System

Mike Rosenbaum@GoldenSombreroMLB Prospects Lead WriterDecember 6, 2012

Ranking the Top 10 Prospects in the Seattle Mariners' Farm System

0 of 11

    In my analysis of the Texas Rangers’ top-10 prospects yesterday afternoon, I noted how after Jurickson Profar and Mike Olt, there’s a noticeably wide gap between their big-league-ready talent, and the next wave of talent to presumably reach the major leagues.

    The Mariners’ system, on the other hand, is absolutely loaded with talent at Double-A and above, as many of their top prospects have the potential to contribute as early as the 2013 season.

    In addition to their depth on the mound in Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen, James Paxton and Brandon Maurer, they also have a host of highly promising bats at premium positions. Highlighted by 2012 first-round Mike Zunino, it seems as though Nick Franklin, Brad Miller and Stefen Romero are all capable of raking their way towards a call-up during the 2013 season.

    Depending on the quality of their offseason acquisitions, the Mariners are also poised to be one of the game’s more intriguing teams to trade with given their overall depth at a variety of positions.

    Here’s a look at the Seattle Mariners’ top 10 prospects.

10. RHP Victor Sanchez

1 of 11

    Position: RHP

    DOB: 1/30/1995 (Age: 17)

    Height/Weight: 6’, 255 lbs

    Bats/Throws: R.R

    Drafted/Signed: 2011 (Venezuela)

    ETA: 2016

    2012 Stats

    Scouting Notes: Commanded largest signing bonus ($2.5 million) in organization’s history for an international prospect; opened plenty of eyes in his pro debut for Short-Season Everett as a 17-year-old (3.18 ERA, .213 BAA in 15 starts); stock 6’, 255-pound frame calls for little projection and he’ll have to work hard to keep off additional weight as he matures.

    Physically strong right-hander who understands how to use his core and lower-half; has been lauded for his moxie and aggressiveness on the mound; showcases advanced command of his low-90s fastball that’s well beyond his years; changeup is best secondary offering with impressive late fade out of the strike zone; utilized both a slider and curveball this past season, though neither currently serve as a standout pitch; slider has the potential to be the better of the two breaking balls; advanced knowledge of how to attack hitters and pitch to weaknesses.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Low-A Clinton

9. RHP Carter Capps

2 of 11

    Position: RHP

    DOB: 8/7/1990 (Age: 22)

    Height/Weight: 6’5”, 220 lbs

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: Third round, 2011 (Mount Olive College)

    ETA: 2013

    2012 Stats

    Scouting Notes: Appeared in only 43 minor league games (1.23 ERA, 13.1 K/9, 2.1 BB/9) before he was promoted from Double-A to the Mariners’ bullpen in early August; 6’5” right-hander has all the makings of a future closer and could make Tom Wilhelmsen trade bait in the near future.

    Capps’ boasts a plus-plus fastball that averaged the second-highest velocity (99.02 mph) among all big-league relievers; routinely hits triple-digits despite jerky, unorthodox arm action; slider gives him a second plus offering that registers in the mid-to-upper-80s with a late, wipeout break; also has a changeup, though it’s rather unnecessary given fastball-slider combo; deceptive delivery allows him to hide the ball well as it absolutely jumps out of his hand on opposing hitters; command still needs refinement, especially against more advanced hitters in the majors.

    2013 Opening Day Level: MLB

8. 2B Stefen Romero

3 of 11

    Position: 2B/3B

    DOB: 10/17/1988 (Age: 24)

    Height/Weight: 6’3”, 225 lbs

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: 12th round, 2010 (Oregon State)

    ETA: 2013

    2012 Stats

    Scouting Notes: Was named the Mariners’ minor league player of the year this past season after batting .352/.391/.599 with 34 doubles, 23 home runs, 101 RBI and 12 stolen bases in 116 games between High-A High Desert and Double-A Jackson.

    Excellent right-handed hitter; was thoroughly impressed by how the ball jumps off his bat with loft in my lone look this season; features a smooth, rhythmic swing and the plate which lends to consistent timing; direct bat path creates tons of extension after contact; the ball gets small in a hurry when he squares it up; could stand to draw some more walks in coming seasons.

    Lacks typical second-baseman size at 6’3”, 225 pounds, but his bat could be a premium at the position; average defender with a good glove but lacks range; biggest defensive asset is above-average arm strength, which could help get his bat in the lineup via a move to a corner position; will have to prove himself in the field in 2013, though his bat will continually dictate his path to the major leagues.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Double-A Jackson

7. SS Brad Miller

4 of 11

    Position: SS

    DOB: 10/18/1989 (Age: 23)

    Height/Weight: 6’2”, 185 lbs

    Bats/Throws: L/R

    Drafted/Signed: Second round, 2011 (Clemson)

    ETA: 2014

    2012 Stats

    Scouting Notes: 2011 second-rounder has absolutely raked since entering the Mariners’ system; spent most of the season at High-A High Desert (.339/.412/.524, 49 XBH, 19 SB, 79/52 K/BB) before a mid-season promotion to Double-A Jackson where he didn’t skip a beat (.320/.406/.476, 13 XBH, 26/22 K/BB).

    6’2” left-handed hitter boasts a line-drive swing with excellent bat-to-ball skills; doesn’t try to do too much at the plate and knows how to let hands work; has plus raw power but doesn’t always tap into it; extra-base machine capable of hitting 50 doubles over a full season; biggest asset may be his plate discipline, as he tracks the ball deep and, in general, has an excellent feel for the strike zone; attacks the ball with consistency rather than feeling for contact; speed is slightly above-average and he should no problem swiping 20 bags until he loses a step.

    Miller made necessary improvements on defense and was able to remain at shortstop the entire season; has the instincts, actions and quick feet to stick at the position; possesses a strong arm but lacks a consistent release point (36 errors in 2012); will need to trim down the error totals in his ascent to the major leagues; if not, his bat-speed combo still offers upside at either second or third base.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Double-A Jackson

6. RHP Brandon Maurer

5 of 11

    Position: RHP

    DOB: 7/3/1990 (Age: 22)

    Height/Weight: 6’5”, 200 lbs

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: 23rd round, 2008 (Orange Lutheran HS, Calif.)

    ETA: 2013

    2012 Stats

    Scouting Notes: 6’5” right-hander’s success was overshadowed by the other high-ceiling arms in their system; almost as projectable and likely to reach the big leagues as Walker, Hultzen and Paxton; was exceptional over the full season (his first) at Double-A (3.20 ERA, .244 BAA, 117/48 K/BB in 138 innings); excellent rebound season after a poor showing (4.99 ERA, 1.1 HR/9) in 2011.

    Rigorous offseason training before 2012 season has led to improved athleticism and overall work ethic; fastball consistently registers in low-to-mid-90s with excellent late action to the arm side; slider is lone above-average-to-plus pitch that serves as his out pitch and generates plenty of whiffs; changeup has developed favorably and he threw it with confidence in 2012; curveball is an average offering and seems to be more of a show-me pitch at the moment.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Triple-A Tacoma

5. LHP James Paxton

6 of 11

    Position: LHP

    DOB: 11/6/1988 (Age: 24)

    Height/Weight: 6’4”, 220 lbs

    Bats/Throws: L/L

    Drafted/Signed: Fourth round, 2010

    ETA: 2013

    2012 Stats

    Scouting Notes: Enjoyed a solid statistical season at Double-A this past season (3.05 ERA, .231 BAA, 110/54 K/BB), though his overall command was inconsistent; has developed a reputation as a second-half pitcher; battled through a knee injury early in the season.

    6’4” left-hander has serious mound presence with long, flailing limbs; holds velocity deep into games; stabbing arm action on the backside impedes his overall command; too much movement with his upper body as he prepares to deliver pitch.

    Fastball is crisp in the low-to-mid-90s and could be a plus pitch with improved command; can reach back for 96-98 mph in shorter stints; curveball is an easy plus pitch with a tall shape and sharp break; also works in a changeup, though it’s noticeably less advanced than his fastball-curveball combo; struggles to command the offering due to his long, exaggerated delivery; over-the-top arm angle is deceptive and makes him difficult to barrel when he’s around the plate.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Triple-A Tacoma

4. 2B/SS Nick Franklin

7 of 11

    Position: 2B/SS

    DOB: 3/2/1991 (Age: 21)

    Height/Weight: 6’1”, 180 lbs

    Bats/Throws: S/R

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2009 (Lake Brantley HS, Fla.)

    ETA: 2013

    2012 Stats

    Scouting Notes: Re-asserted himself as a top middle infield prospect in 2012 after a injury plagued down year in 2012; thrived at Double-A (.322/.394/.502) but was noticeably challenged upon reaching Triple-A Tacoma (.243/.310/.416, 68/24 K/BB).

    Despite his 6’1”, 180-pound frame, Franklin is an above-average athlete who possesses an unexpected amount of physical strength; easy extra-base pop to all fields thanks to a compact swing and direct bat path; he’s a switch hitter, but offers very little from the right side (.508 OPS at Double-A, .625 OPS at Triple-A); absolutely mashes as a left-handed hitter (1.041 OPS at Double-A, .756 OPS at Triple-A); may steal 15-20 bases in a given season, but doesn’t showcase the legit 20-20 potential as he did at Low-A Clinton in 2010.

    He played primarily shortstop before seeing more time at second base upon reaching Triple-A; average range and arm strength are serviceable at shortstop, but more ideal for a career at second base; high-intensity player who demonstrates excellent instincts and a high baseball IQ in all realms of the game.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Triple-A Tacoma

3. LHP Danny Hultzen

8 of 11

    Position: LHP

    DOB: 11/28/1993 (Age: 23)

    Height/Weight: 6’3”, 200 lbs

    Bats/Throws: L/L

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2011 (Virginia)

    ETA: 2013

    2012 Stats

    Scouting Notes: First-rounder in 2011 had a solid overall professional debut in which he reached Triple-A and flirted with a Sept. call-up; was outstanding in 13 starts at Double-A (1.19 ERA, .144 BAA, 79/39 K/BB), but struggled mightily upon reaching Triple-A (5.92 ERA, .251 BAA, 57/43 K/BB); pretty safe bet to reach the major leagues next season but has a lot to prove between now and then.

    Despite his command issues and wavering approach, Hultzen’s stuff still suggests Nos. 2 or 3 starter upside; fastball registers in the low-90s with plenty of arm-side movement, and he’ll reach back for 94-95 at times; changeup plays well off his fastball, though he can catch too much plate with it at times; the same goes for his 80-84 mph slider.

    Left-hander is loaded with polish relative to his age and experience; should be able to regain the command that made him a top draft pick; features the classic, deceptive Virginia delivery to deliver the ball across his body.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Triple-A Tacoma

2. C Mike Zunino

9 of 11

    Position: C

    DOB: 3/25/1991 (Age: 21)

    Height/Weight: 6’2”, 220 lbs

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2012 (Florida)

    ETA: 2013

    2012 Stats

    Scouting Notes: Third-overall pick in 2012 won every individual collegiate accolade under the sun and guided the Gators to three College World Series titles; batted .360/.447/.689 with 13 home runs in professional debut and finished the season at Double-A Jackson; despite an incredibly long season, Zunino turned in a solid performance in the Arizona Fall League.

    Power is lone outstanding tool; drives the ball with significant backspin carry to all fields and doesn’t rely on exceptional pull power; swing can get a little long at times, but still finds a way to barrel and drive through the baseball; advanced approach at the plate is obvious and he may continue to exploit minor league pitching until challenged in the big leagues; given approach and hand-eye coordination, his hit tool may ultimately be better than expected.

    Aggressive backstop who’s surprisingly agile behind the plate despite thicker frame; worked with solid core of Mariners’ pitching prospects in pro debut; game-calling ability has vastly improved over the last year; still needs to refine his blocking skills and scale back amount of passed balls; average arm strength plays up due to his repeatable footwork and catch-and-throw skills; has drawn rave reviews from both pitchers and coaches for his ability to control the game; excellent baseball acumen and high baseball IQ should get him to the big leagues in a hurry.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Triple-A Tacoma

1. RHP Taijuan Walker

10 of 11

    Position: RHP

    DOB: 8/13/1992 (Age: 20)

    Height/Weight: 6’4”, 210 lbs

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2010 (Yucaipa HS, Calif.)

    ETA: 2014

    2012 Stats

    Scouting Notes: Pitched entire 2012 season as a 19-year-old at Double-A, so it’s not overly concerning that he posted a 4.69 ERA, 1.37 WHIP and 8.8 H/9 over 126.2 innings; still demonstrated ability to miss bats (8.4 K/9) with consistency without sacrificing his command (3.6 BB/9).

    Walker possesses an ideal frame at 6’4”, 210 pounds; excellent athleticism with little mileage on his arm gives him a high ceiling; easy, fluid mechanics that he repeats well; love his smooth yet explosive arm action.

    Fastball consistently registers at 93-96 mph and jumps on opposing hitters; can dial it up to 97-98 mph on occasion and sustains velo well into his starts; curveball has plus shape and a late, downward bite, though he’ll over-grip and spike it on occasion; changeup has come a long way over the last season and looks to be a viable third above-average offering; Mariners introduced a cutter into his arsenal this past season; should keep hitters off his other offerings once he develops a more natural feel.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Triple-A Tacoma