It’s a pretty good time to be a Mariners fan right about now. The team sits at .500 after a 6-5 homestand in which it split four-game series with hot Astros and Angels squads and then took two out of three from the AL Central leading Tigers without the use of their best hitter, Robinson Cano, who has sat out the past four games with a hand injury.
Seattle (28-28) is fourth in the AL West, 6.5 games back of the division-leading Athletics, but is getting healthy finally (RHP Taijuan Walker is expected back in the rotation within 10 days) which should shore up the rotation. And speaking of the rotation, after the brilliant outing the team witnessed from Roenis Elias Sunday, it really seems to be rounding into form with the way Chris Young and Elias are pitching, and of course with the dominant Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma at the top.
The team is finally having some success and they hold the No. 6 overall pick in the MLB draft on June 5. That should only make them better and a stronger contender in the future.
With the draft coming up, I wanted to take stock of the state of the Seattle system currently, who the top 10 prospects are as we enter another draft and, soon, another international free agent signing period. One caveat I would like to mention before I put this list up is the exclusion of certain players. If you look at some current Seattle prospect lists that were published prior to the start of the 2014 season, you will see starting pitchers Taijuan Walker and James Paxton on the list. They won’t be on this one. Both have earned enough service time (even if they haven’t pitched a ton due to injuries) that I am leaving them off. We all know how good they both are.
So no Walker and no Paxton, that bumps a few kids up. Without further ado, here you are, the current Seattle Mariners top 10 prospects:
1. Gabriel Guerrero, OF, 20 — Guerrero gets the nod as the system’s best prospect as we sit June 2, 2014 because of his toolsy skill set and his age. Guerrero is a true five tool player, with a big bat and the speed and arm to be a terrific corner outfielder. He’s with Single A High Desert right now, where he is hitting .324/.373/.484/.857 and also has 10 steals. He’s playing every day, his bb to k rate is OK at 17/53. His power is coming around after posting just a handful of homers in Clinton last year. It is something that will continue to grow with him.
2. D.J. Peterson, 3B/1B, 22 — Since being drafted 12th overall by the Mariners last year, Peterson has mostly dominated the levels he has been placed at. First it was rookie level Everett last year, then Clinton to close the season. However, he suffered a set back when he took a fastball straight to the jaw forcing him to miss the final week of the minor-league season and the entire Arizona Fall League season. He’s fully recovered now with High Desert, where he is hitting .305/.355/.537/.891 as a right-handed power bat in hitter-friendly league. He’s got 10 homers and 43 RBI and a bb to k rate of 14/48. The reason he is No. 2 and not No. 1 is his age compared to Guerrero and his defense being below average at third. He’ll probably be a 1B/DH in the majors.
3. Edwin Diaz, RHP, 20 — The Mariners took Diaz in the second round of the 2012 draft out of the Puerto Rican Academy, expecting to take their time molding a high school pitcher with a lively arm. He’s proving to move a little quicker than they probably expected. After simply dominating the rookie Appalachian league last year at 19, he has had some ups and downs with mid-A Clinton, but is succeeding overall in a prospect-rich Midwest League. In 11 starts, Diaz is 2-2 with a 3.22 ERA. His WHIP and opponent average of 1.47 and .255 are a lot higher than they have been in the past, though, so they bear watching moving forward. His last few starts have been a lot better, so the improvement is showing. In those 11 starts, he’s pitched 50.1 innings, allowed 49 hits, 25 walks and struck out 48. The bottom line here is Diaz is a lean pitcher with a lively arm that touches the upper 90’s with his fastball and a solid slider. His changeup is still progressing as is his command, as we can all see. But you’re looking at a Julio Teheran type, potentially a Pedro Martinez (ideally).
4. Victor Sanchez, RHP, 19 — Sanchez (6-foot, 255 pounds) has a powerful build that drew comparisons to Bartolo Colon when he was signed out of Venezuela for seven figures in 2012. Despite his size, Sanchez has progressed quickly because of outstanding command of his fastball, curve, changeup arsenal. Fastball sits low 90’s, secondary pitches merely average offerings, but he commands the strike zone down in the zone. Now with AA Jackson of the Southern League, Sanchez has missed time with an injury this year, but seems to be getting better after a rough start.
5. Tyler Pike, LHP, 20 — Pike is in a terrible pitcher’s environment, playing with High A High Desert in the California League currently. Despite that, Pike is coming off a start in which he combined with two relievers for a no-hitter against Rancho Cucaumongo. His numbers haven’t been impressive in High Desert, as they were in Clinton last year, but that is to be expected. Pike is a pitcher with advanced command of three pitches and good deception in his delivery.
6. Austin Wilson, OF, 22 — Wilson, drafted in the second round out of Stanford in 2013, has the prototype build at 6-foot-4 and 250 pounds. Last year he got off to a slow start with Everett before coming on strong as the season ended. Now with mid-A Clinton, he’s the best hitter on the team, hitting .298/.373/.483/.856 with six homers, 13 doubles and one triple in 50 games in the tough Midwest League. Also has shown good patience and contact rate at plate with 15/38 walk to k rate.
7. Luis Gohara, LHP, 17 — Gohara was signed out of Brazil in 2012 and has been progressed slowly because of his age. Right now he’s still in extended spring training in Arizona, likely waiting to join rookie level short-season club Everett in mid-June. But Gohara is a polished pitcher for being 17, sitting 93-94 with his fastball, has a good feel for his change and curve and also throws a decent slider. Apparently, he’s put on some bad weight and needs to work on his conditioning, but I’m sure Everett manager Dave Valle will keep a close eye on his workout regimen. I have him lower than most lists just because he hasn’t pitched a whole lot yet. Need to see him start moving.
8. Tyler Marlette, C, 21 — This is a solid catching prospect with a powerful bat and average major-league catching tools. He creates tremendous bat speed and can drive the ball to all fields. He is a below-average runner. In 32 games with High Desert so far, he is hitting .298/.358/.488/.846 with six homers, six doubles and 15 RBI. He’s walked 13 times and struck out 24 times.
9. Ketel Marte, SS, 20 — A smooth fielding, speedy middle infielder who can hit at the top of the order with a .300+ average. Think of a Jean Segura or Dee Gordon type. Currently with AA Jackson hitting .302 with a .341 obp and 16 steals in 50 games.
10. Chris Taylor, SS, 23 — Taylor is with AAA Tacoma and tearing it up to the tune of .372/.414/.593/1.007 through 35 games and 145 at bats. He recently injured his finger sliding into a base and is on the disabled list. Taylor is ranked lower by me because of his age and the fact that he projects as a defensive-minded SS with little power. He’s killing AAA, sure, we’ll see how that carries over. He’s by no means old at 23, that’s a fine age for where he’s at level wise, I just think the M’s system has higher upside players. I for one, am interested to see what kind of player Taylor will be at the next level. He seems to be third in a log jam at short for the Mariners, behind Brad Miller and Nick Franklin. We’ll see what happens.
Just missed: OF Julio Morban, OF Jabari Blash, OF Tyler O’Neill, RHP Jordan Pries, LHP Danny Hultzen