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Seattle Mariners Top 20 Prospects for 2010

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Top 20 Seattle Mariners Prospects for 2010

All grades are EXTREMELY PRELIMINARY and subject to change. Don't get too worried about exact rankings at this point, especially once you get beyond the Top 10. Grade C+/C guys are pretty interchangeable depending on what you want to emphasize. Complete reports on these and over 1,000 other players will be in the 2010 Baseball Prospect Book, now available for pre-order, shipping on February 2nd!

1) Dustin Ackley, OF-2B, Grade A-: Love the bat, has the type of skills needed in a future batting champion. Can he really play second base though?

2) Michael Saunders, OF, Grade B: I don't like him as much as some people do. I see him more as a solid .270/.330/.450 type than a future star, but he should have a long career.

3) Gabriel Noriega, SS, Grade B-: I have issues with his strike zone judgment, but am intrigued enough with his youth, glove, and overall tools to cut him some slack at this point. Could go up to B+ next year, or down to C if he can't hit at Clinton.

4) Alex Liddi, 3B, Grade B-: High Desert inflates his numbers, but I think he made some real progress. He looks like a better player to me at this point than Triunfel. Double-A will tell us a lot.

5) Carlos Triunfel, SS-3B, Grade B-: Injury mulligan. . .but at some point the numbers have to start living up to the hype. Doesn't turn 20 until February, but he looks more like a third baseman to me than a shortstop.

6) Nick Franklin, SS, Grade B-: Very intriguing middle infielder from the '09 draft, could make a great DP combo with Noriega.

7) Michael Pineda, RHP, Grade B-: Pitched great at High Desert. Main concern is health. I know scouts aren't wild about him, but I prefer him to the tools goofs on the rest of the list. However, I have enough concerns about his elbow to keep him at a B-. If he's healthy I think he's going to surprise people.

8) Mario Martinez, 3B, Grade C+: Tools guy couldn't hit Midwest League pitching due to poor strike zone judgment. Young enough to overcome this, but don't let him anywhere near Greg Halman. Glove at third is a big asset.

9) Dan Cortes, RHP, Grade C+: Control went backwards big-time last year, cutting into his grade. Beavis and Butt-head public urination antics don't go over well either. Ceiling remains high if he gets his head on straight.

10) James Jones, OF, Grade C+: This one may surprise people, but this is a tools guy I would bet on. Former Long Island University pitcher has tremendous athleticism, terrific makeup, and hit well in his pro debut. Need higher-level data, but absolutely a player to watch.

11) Adam Moore, C, Grade C+: Not going to be a star, but can hit .250 with a bit of power and good ability to shut down the running game. Will have a long career.

12) Ezequiel Carrera, OF, Grade C+: Speed demon, hits for average, draws walks, good glove, no power, future reserve outfielder but a useful one.

13) Dennis Raben, OF, Grade C+: Missed the entire year with injury. Low batting average slugger with walks when healthy.

14) Mauricio Robles, LHP, Grade C+: Live-armed lefty acquired in Washburn trade did well in limited action at High Desert. Undersized but interesting.

15) Kanaoke Texeira, RHP, Grade C+: I like him more than most people. Gets grounders with fastball/slider combination, doesn't have ceiling of some of the guys below him but a better bet to reach his floor as a middle reliever.

16) Johermyn Chavez, OF, Grade C: Borderline C+ due to power potential, has a higher ceiling than some of the guys ahead of him, but I have massive concerns about his ability to handle breaking stuff at higher levels. Could hit .300 with 30 homers at High Desert and go backwards with his genuine skills.

17) Julio Morban, OF, Grade C: Enormous potential, but currently has no command of the strike zone.

18) Greg Halman, OF, Grade C: Possibly the best set of overall tools in the minors. However, his ability to use these tools is, um. . .extremely limited to put it kindly. Makes Pedro Cerrano look like Ted Williams.

19) Mike Carp, 1B, Grade C: The Garrett Jones of the year 2013.

20) Maikel Cleto, RHP, Grade C: Great arm, but poor numbers in a limited sample size caused by visa issues. Let's see what he can do in a full season.

OTHERS (Grade C): Steve Baron, C; Tyler Blandford, RHP; Andrew Carraway, RHP; Jhmardy DeJesus,1B; Joshua Fields, RHP; Steve Hensley, RHP; Nick Hill, LHP; Kenn Kasparek, RHP; Brian Moran, LHP; Ricky Orta, RHP; Edward Paredes, LHP; Carlos Peguero, OF; Guillermo Pimentel, OF; Rich Poythress, 1B; Kyle Seager, 2B-3B; Matt Tuiasosopo, 3B; Anthony Varvaro, RHP.

This is a tough organization to get a handle on. They have a lot of guys with huge upsides, but big questions about their actual skill levels. Thus, a list put together by a traditional scout is going to look different than someone going by sabermetric performance. I take a hybrid approach with a sabermetric lean, and thus this list might not satisfy anyone except me. Such is the risk of the business.

I love Ackley, but want to see how he adapts to second base. Saunders is nearly ready and I think he'll be a solid player though not a star. After them, things get muddled quickly, with a bunch of tools guys with erratic performance records and/or small sample sizes at lower levels. High Desert introduces all kinds of distortions. Even after you adjust for the park, league, and age factors, you still wonder if you've adjusted enough. My rankings of Liddi, Triunfel, and Pineda all bear the scars of this process combined with personal observation.

There are some intuition calls here, namely with Pineda, the high and possibly reckless ranking of James Jones, as well as the relatively low ranking of Chavez. Long time readers know that I tend to be conservative, but sometimes I'll play a hunch. And as the book writing process grinds onward towards conclusion and my brain turns to mush, hunches start knocking around the fevered neurons more often.