Seattle Mariners Top 20 2013 PRE-SEASON Prospects in Review

Nick Franklin and Brad Miller - Jamie Sabau

The Mariners prospect machine continues to churn. Here's a look at the PRE-SEASON prospect list. Remember, these are pre-season rankings and grades. This is NOT a new list but a review of the old one.

This list was originally posted January 5, 2013, and revised on January 15, 2013.

1) Mike Zunino, C, Grade A-: Hit .238/.303/.503 in 47 games in Triple-A, then .242/.315/.343 in 29 games in the majors until breaking a hamate bone. I still like him despite issues with contact.

2) Taijuan Walker, RHP, Grade A-: Excellent year, 2.45 ERA with 125/40 K/BB in 110 innings, 78 hits combined between Double-A and Triple-A. Battles Archie Bradley in the Arizona system for Best Pitching Prospect in Baseball honors.

3) Danny Hultzen, LHP, Grade B+:
Pitching time limited by shoulder trouble, but he's been excellent when healthy, posting 2.14 ERA with 39/7 K/BB in 34 innings between Triple-A Tacoma and rookie ball rehab game. Best news is that he restored the control that he lost last summer. But will his arm hold up?

4) James Paxton, LHP, Grade B+:
Stock has slipped with bandwagon-jumper-offers but he's actually pitched pretty well at Tacoma, 4.17 ERA with 108/39 K/BB in 112 innings, 117 hits, not bad at all by PCL standards. Has pitched strongly in seven of last eight starts. I think he's still a solid prospect.

5) Nick Franklin SS, Grade B+:
.277/.340/.492 with 10 homers after promotion to the majors. Can't argue with that. Settled in nicely at second base.

6) Brad Miller, SS, Grade B+:
.319/.399/.521 in Double-A/Triple-A, .253/.333/.414 so far in the majors. He's always had the range and arm for shortstop and just needed to cut back on routine errors. He's done that. Remains a personal favorite.

7) Brandon Maurer, RHP, Grade B:
5.21 ERA with 47/26 K/BB in 47 innings in Triple-A, 6.93 ERA in 10 major league starts with 32/17 K/BB in 49 innings, 69 hits. I assume they will show patience with him, but with Walker and (if healthy) Hultzen coming up, Maurer needs to pick it up next year.

8) Victor Sanchez, RHP, Grade B:
2.89 ERA with 48/11 K/BB in 75 innings for Low-A Clinton, 69 hits. I'd like more strikeouts but it is hard to argue his control. Mature body though he's just 18.

9) Stefen Romero, OF-2B, Grade B:
Hitting .285/.337/.439 for Tacoma, 22 walks, 63 strikeouts in 305 at-bats. Weird reverse platoon split: hitting well against right-handers (.820 OPS) but not lefties (.587 OPS). If that normalizes he could take us by surprise. An outfielder this year, which reduces his potential value unless they see him as a super-utility type.

10) Carter Capps, RHP, Grade B-
: I never quite know how to grade closers. 6.37 ERA with 42/12 K/BB in 35 major league innings, 47 hits. FIP not quite as bad at 5.08, xFIP more promising at 3.58.

11) Stephen Pryor, RHP, Grade C+:
Borderline B-. He's been hurt almost all year with a "torn latissimus dorsi muscle".

12) Luis Gohara, LHP, Grade C+:
What I wrote back in January: At this point the C+ guys are interchangeable depending on what you want to emphasize, so please no whining about "you should have ranked #12 at #16 and #20 at #13." Gohara is a 16-year-old Brazilian lefty signed for $800,000 this past summer. He's enormously projectable and generated loud buzz in instructional league. He could turn into anything from a number one starter to an injured A-ball washout, but keep his name in mind. You might hear a lot about it next summer.

He's just getting started down in rookie ball but so far has a 4.15 ERA with a 27/9 K/BB in 22 innings for Pulaski in the Appalachian League, with a 2.45 GO/AO. Intriguing combination of strikeouts and grounders so far.

13) Gabriel Guerrero, OF, Grade C+:
Vlad Guerrero's nephew tore up the Dominican Summer League, looked good in three weeks of rookie ball, and offers a similar package of tools to his uncle. That doesn't mean he will become his uncle, of course; bloodlines only take you so far (ask Preston Mattingly), but his upside clearly bears watching.

Jumping to Clinton in the Midwest League, GG has been very mediocre, hitting .264/.297/.336 with zero homers. 16 walks, 86 strikeouts in 345 at-bats. He's not Vlad. Still young enough to develop though at age 19.

14) Patrick Kivlehan, 3B, Grade C+:
Hitting .285/.351/.416 with nine homers, 13 steals, 31 walks, 77 strikeouts in 365 at-bats between Low-A and High-A. Has cut back on the strikeouts this year and has made some progress on defense.

15) Leon Landry, OF, Grade C+:
Hitting .219/.265/.325 with 20 steals, 20 walks, 59 strikeouts in 320 at-bats for Double-A Jackson. Quite disappointing.

16) Julio Morban, OF, Grade C+:
Cal League "breakouts" can't be fully trusted, especially at High Desert, but Morban looks like the best of the batch of power-hitting Latin American outfielders with bad plate discipline that the Mariners spent a lot of money on over the last few years.

Not bad at Jackson: .293/.357/.466 with six homers, 21 walks, 75 strikeouts in 232 at-bats. Contact still a problem, but the power wasn't all Cal League illusion.

17) Tyler Pike, LHP, Grade C+:
I'd like to see fewer walks, but overall he is having a very good year at Clinton: 2.14 ERA with an 85/50 K/BB in 101 innings, just 65 hits. Looks like a successful third round pick from last year's Florida high school ranks, just 19 years old.

18) Carson Smith, RHP, Grade C+:
10 saves out of the Jackson bullpen, 48/14 K/BB in 37 innings, 2.43 ERA. Throws hard (up to 97), good slider, gets ground balls (3.77 GO/AO). I'd expect to see him in the Show next year.

19) Anthony Fernandez, LHP, Grade C+:
4.60 ERA for Jackson, 53/28 K/BB in 78 innings, 75 hits. Looks like a generic lefty statistically, but young enough to get beyond that at age 22, throws strikes with four pitches.

20) John Hicks, C, Grade C+:
Example #85726 why High Desert can be misleading. Hitting just .228/.282/.338 in Double-A. Has thrown out 48% of runners at least.

OTHER GRADE C+: Logan Bawcom, RHP; Vince Catricala, 3B; Timothy Lopes, 2B; Jack Marder, C-2B

OTHERS: Taylor Ard, 1B; Jabari Blash, OF; Matt Brazis, RHP; Jin-Man Choi, 1B; Edwin Diaz, RHP; Josephy DeCarlo, 3B; Roenis Elias, LHP; Jabari Henry, OF; James Jones, OF; Bobby LaFramboise, LHP; Marcus Littlewood, C; Tyler Marlette, C; Jamodrick McGruder, 2B; Yoervis Medina, RHP, Guillermo Pimentel, OF; Steve Proscia, INF; Jordan Shipers, LHP; Chris Taylor, SS; Carlos Triunfel, INF.

OK, so Dustin Ackley hasn't worked out. But you still have an exciting young infield with Franklin and Miller up the middle and Kyle Seager manning third, all three farm system products. More is on the way as the system continues to produce young players.

Yoervis Medina has been a successful rookie find. Pryor should be good if he's healthy and I wouldn't give up on Capps and Maurer or Erasmo Ramirez (who isn't a rookie but is still just 23) just yet. If you want another sleeper arm to track, Cuban lefty Roenis Elias pitched well in High Desert last year and has continued his success in Double-A this year. He doesn't excite scouts with his stuff, but he gets people out.

This year's High Desert suspect is infielder Chris Taylor (.335/.426/.524, 20 steals) but he's maintained a strong BB/K ratio even after his promotion to Double-A and provides some depth behind Franklin and Miller. Catcher Tyler Marlette has been hitting very well at Clinton (.324/.378/.485) and is just 20 years old. A pitcher from South Africa named Dylan Unsworth is just 20 years old and posted an amazing 44/2 K/BB in 62 innings at Clinton before going on the DL.

The 2013 draft brings in the high-ceiling bats of D.J. Peterson, Austin Wilson, and Tyler O'Neill.

Being patient sucks, but there's a lot to look forward to here.

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