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Seattle Mariners 2009 Minor League Review
Overall farm ranking via Baseball America:
2009 (24) | 2008 (11) | 2007 (24) | 2006 (27) | 2005 (11) | 2004 (12)

Records of Major and Minor League Teams
MLB: [85 – 77] AL West
AAA: [74 – 70] Pacific Coast League
AA: [62 – 78] Southern League
A+: [83 – 57] California League
A: [69 – 68] Midwest League
A(ss): [39 – 37] Northwest
R: [28 – 36] Appalachian League
R: [33 – 22] Pioneer League

The Run Down
Seattle had a massive turn around from 2008 when they were 61 – 101. With Bill Bavasi ousted, the new General Manager, Jack Zduriencik did an amazing job restructuring and rebuilding on the fly to create a competitive team. Trading J.J. Putz, Jeremy Reed and Sean Green to the Mets for Endy Chavez and Luis Valbuena to Cleveland for Franklin Gutierrez helped shaped one of the most impressive defensive outfields all season – not to mention acquiring Jack Wilson (who they resigned for 2 yr/$10 million) and ridding himself of Yuniesky Betancourt. However, during Bavasi tenure (from 2004 to 2008), he traded away prospects, signed players and, in general, mismanaged the Mariners franchise. The epicenter of his ineptitude was trading Adam Jones, George Sherrill, Christ Tillman, Tony Butler and Kam Mickolio for Eric Bedard who just came off a career year.

Nevertheless, life happens and people move on. The Mariners seem to have a logjam of outfielders in their minors (Greg Halman, Tyson Gillies, Michael Saunders, and Carlos Peguero) that are either highly ranked prospects or produced well this year. However, beyond a few stud position players, they lack a truly dominant ace. Phillippe Aumont has been moved into the bullpen to be groomed as a closer and their one dominant-looking pitcher (Michael Pineda) was ravaged by injuries this year. With all these performing outfielders, look for Seattle to make some trades this year that will allow their prospects to be promoted up a level – I am looking at you, Mr. Peguero. A random nugget of trivia – Seattle’s High-A team hit 164 homers leading the California League (which happens to be the Pacific Coast League’s little brother and carries on the family tradition of being a hitters league). The next closest team, a Texas affiliate hit 144 homers.

Graduating Prospects (Called-up Players)
#13 – (C) Rob Johnson; #2 – (OF) Michael Saunders; (SP) Doug Fister; (SP) Luke French; (SP) Chris Jakubuaska; #14 – (RP) Shawn Kelley

Arizona Fall League Players – Peoria Javelinas
Pitchers – Phillippe Aumont; Josh Fields (2008 #1 Draft Pick); Nick Hill; Anthony Varvaro
Hitters – (SS) Juan Diaz; (1B) Joe Dunigan; Dustin Ackley (2009 #1 Draft Pick)

Players of Interest
Hitters
#1 – Greg Halman | CF | AA | 21 | .210/.278/.420 | 457 AB | 17 2B | 25 HR | .210 ISO | 9/7 SB/CS | 183:29 K: BB | .285 BABIP
After reducing his strikeout rates from 41.2% in 2007 to roughly 29% in 2008, Halman pushed his strikeout rate back up to 40% this year. Additionally, his BABIP wasn’t extremely low either, so there is no fluke factor pointing at his low average. Without strong plate discipline, pitchers can make Halman chase a pitch outside the zone. Considered the “Best Athlete” in the Mariners system and having been compared to Andre Dawson and Alfonso Soriano, some of his expectations should be reigned in. Look for him to repeat Double-A again next year and possibly a promotion to Triple-A if all goes well.

#20 – Tyson Gillies | CF | A+ | 21 | .341/.430/.486 | 498 AB | 17 2B | 14 3B | 9 HR | .145 ISO | 44/19 SB/CS | 81:61 K: BB | .395 BABIP
Gillies can scoot. He has been recorded to make it from home to first-base in 3.8 seconds (scores an 80 on a 20 – 80 scale; and he is the fastest player in Seattle’s minor league system). With this speed, his outfield defense is beyond stellar with a plus-arm to boot – actually the best arm for all of Seattle’s prospects. Most Mariner scouts believe he has a good “feel” for the strike zone, and this year he finally put it all together. Not exceptionally powerful, he was able to push a few over the fence. However, 61% of his contacted balls were on the ground. He still needs to improve his stealing percent. Expect to see Gillies in Double-A in 2010 and possibly in the majors if any major injuries occur because of his stellar defense.

Carlos Peguero | CF | A+ | 22 | .271/.335/.560 | 491 AB | 21 2B | 14 3B | 31 HR | .289 ISO | 3/4 SB/CS | 172:42 K: BB | .354 BABIP
Second in homers to only Jonathan Gaston from Houston in the California League this year. Peguero exploded onto the scene after only hitting 12 homers in 2008. With Gillies manning center field at the same level, and Greg Halman right above both of these players, I would imagine Halman or Peguero will get traded this winter. Peguero strikes out a lot and this was his second go at High-A (because of Halman). Nevertheless, 66 extra-base hits are still impressive. He should start 2010 at Double-A.

Pitchers
#3 – Phillippe Aumont | RP (LH) | A+/AA | 20 | 10.4 K/9 | 4.1 BB/9 | 33 1/3 IP | 3.88 ERA | 1.33 WHIP | 1.37 GO/AO | .263/.436 BABIP
Mentioned him in a StU in September. He’ll probably open 2010 at Double-A and it wouldn’t be a stretch to see him in the latter parts of the summer.

Nick Hill | SP (LH) | AA | 24 | 9.4 K/9 | 2.3 BB/9 | 95 2/3 IP | 3.10 ERA | 1.13 WHIP | 1.97 GO/AO | .318 BABIP
MLB wrote an article talking about how he was a pitcher at West Point – it also mentions his AFL stats, which aren’t looking very good. It’s very encouraging to see an almost two-to-one ground ball – fly ball ratio. He is a mid-level prospect at best and I wouldn’t envision hearing his name in many circles around baseball. However, Joel Pineiro isn’t sexy and he gets the job done. Hill could have success if he can keep the ball on the ground.

#10 – Michael Pineda | SP (RH) | A+ | 20 | 9.7 K/9 | 1.2 BB/9 | 44 1/3 IP | 2.84 ERA | .80 WHIP | 1.69 GO/AO | .252 BABIP
I will let Marc Hulet do all the work here because he did an awesome job describing Pineda. He looks like an unheralded stud in the making.

Honorable Mentions
Alex Liddi | 3B | A+ | 21 | .345/.411/.594 | 493 AB | 44 2B | 23 HR | .249 ISO | 122:53 K:BB | .422 BABIP
This Italian’s numbers are highly inflated with an astronomically high BABIP (it’s nearly .100 points higher than his previous high at Single-A. He has played Single-A from ages 17 to 19 and finally moved up to High-A this year (he just recently turned 21). Another positive trend is that he has reduced his strikeout rate from 30.8% in 2007 to 24.7% this year while improving his walk-rate from 8.3% in 2007 to 9.6% in 2009 (not a huge increase, but definitely worth noting).

Joe Dunigan | 1B/RF/DH | A+ | 23 | .294/.355/.570 | 456 AB | 28 2B | 30 HR | .249 ISO | 20/8 SB/SB | .350 BABIP
Third in homers to only Jonathan Gaston from Houston and teammate Peguero in the California League this year, Dunigan mashed his was to mid-level prospect status. Another positive asset is his ability to steal. With Mike Carp as the only first baseman ahead of Dunigan in the rankings, Dunigan may have a chance to prove his worth more in the long run as Carp has never been nearly as powerful. Speaking of which…

#17 – Mike Carp | 1B | AAA | 23 | .271/.372/.446 | 413 AB | 25 2B | 15 HR | .174 ISO | 99:58 K:BB | .324 BABIP
He has never hit more than 19 homers in a season (short season) and then 17 in a full season (High-A in the Florida State League). Upon promotion to the majors this September, Carp hit .315/.415/.463 in 53 AB. With Russell Branyan rejecting Seattle’s most recent contract, Carp may get placed into the limelight sooner rather than later. He was acquired in the Putz trade and has been compared to Mike Jacobs with better plate awareness and much better defense – though he is still an average defender at best. If he gets a chance out of spring training to start for the Mariners expect Conor Jackson-like numbers from 2007: 60/15/75/.275.

#5 – Juan Ramirez | SP (RH) | A | 20 | 7 K.9 | 3.4 BB/9 | 142 1/3 IP | 5.12 ERA (4.76 FIP) | 1.45 WHIP | 1.15 GO/AO | .317 BABIP
Has a 92 to 93 mph heater that has tip the scales to the tune of 97 mph before. He is still more a thrower than pitcher.

#21 – Gaby Hernandez | SP (RH) | AAA | 23 | 6 K/9 | 3 BB/9 | 146 1/3 IP | 5.23 ERA | 1.41 WHIP | .69 GO/AO | .311 BABIP
Gives up a ton of fly-balls and gopher balls (1.3 HR/9 at Triple-A) and hasn’t been impressive in quite some time (since 2006 and 2007 at High-A).

#6 – Adam Moore | C | AA/AAA | 25 | .287/.352/.425 | 435 AB | 25 2B | 12 HR | .148 ISO | 72:42 K:BB | .310/.325 BABIP
Could potentially challenge Rob Johnson for starting catcher next spring. Moore is the better hitter but his defense isn’t even near Johnson’s.

From Around The Web

  1. Bill says:
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    So there’s no one in the Mariners minor leagues that can break camp with the team?

  2. Stephen says:
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    @Bill: Michael Saunders, Mike Carp and Adam Moore may. I wouldn’t expect them to be worth any fantasy value (Saunders is a darkhorse). I am just not sold on them being valuable to the team success immediately.

  3. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Bill: Avoid Seattle Mariner hitters when possible.

  4. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Grey: Actually, that’s not fair. The Big FraGu is a favorite of mine, but it might be because of how awesome his nickname is.

  5. Stephen says:
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    @Grey: I would still say Ichiro and Branyan would have been acceptable (except where you’d have to draft Ichiro to get him). Branyan would have been an extreme bargain when he was comparable to Carlos Pena.

  6. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Stephen: True, I even owned Branyan last year. He’s a poor man’s Carlos Pena too.

  7. GopherDay says:
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    @Grey: I actually traded Branyan last year, I forgot who I got for him but I do remember it was a pretty good deal for me.

  8. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @GopherDay: If you were able to get anything usable, it was probably in your favor.

  9. GopherDay says:
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    @Grey: Yeah, I think it was sometime when his BA was close to .300

  10. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Steve: That totally is BSA. The funniest thing is he starts going and it seems like they want to cut away, but he just keeps going. And going. And going.

  11. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Steve: Yeah, that was the one I ended up watching when I got to Youtube. Me… One step ahead.

  12. Stephen says:
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    @Steve: That was AWESOME.

    @Grey: BSA? What?

  13. Steve says:
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    @Stephen: BSA is a New England-based Razzball commenter.

  14. Stephen says:
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    @Steve: aw. Good to know. Thanks.

  15. Jack says:
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    Can’t believe you guys didn’t go into Ackley as a player of interest. Jack

  16. Stephen says:
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    @Jack: I definitely thought about mentioning (1B) Ackley. However, he was just drafted, I don’t have the new Baseball America (as it is published in a month or so), and he hasn’t played a lick in the minors (except the AFL and my computer isn’t putting up the stats page on MLB.com). So here are a few articles about Ackley:

    The Baseball Cube stats and rankings.

    Ackley AFL Player Page (which I can’t see, I just copied a link).

    He may be their top prospect, but you probably wont see him in the majors until September, which is why I didn’t mention him more. Additionally, he’ll be one of the first StU (Scouting the Unknowns) this spring.

  17. Jack says:
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    Thanks Stephen will wait for the StU in the Spring; however, he is doing well in Arizona in 37 abs he is hitting .297 with 9 ribbies, 7 runs, 10 k’s but 7 walks and a .409 OBP. Keep up the great work! Jack

  18. Stephen says:
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    ***Check this out:

    The Mariners are contemplating putting Ackley at Second.

  19. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Stephen: Could be great for fantasy, not sure I understand it from the M’s perspective.

  20. Stephen says:
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    @Grey: Remember all those young outfielders? I am going to assume they haven’t given up on Halman yet and this could actually make his progress through the minors go a bit faster if his defense is average.

  21. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Stephen: It would be terrific for fantasy so I hope it happens. Still probably nothing but a September call-up for 2010 though, don’t you think?

  22. Stephen says:
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    @Grey: Yeah, that would make the most sense, especially since Bavasi isn’t there anymore. This is no reason to rush him.

  23. Geodenizen says:
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    Any comments on Carlos Triunfel? Wondering why he is not a POI.

  24. Stephen says:
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    @Geodenizen: He had a really really poor season. I thought about it until I saw his putrid slash line. Sorry.

  25. Stephen says:
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    The the Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay trade:

    Phillies get:
    from SEA:Aumont and Gillies
    from TOR: Roy Halladay and $6 Million

    Blue Jays get:
    from PHI:Kyle Drabek, Michael Taylor, and Travis D’Arnaud
    from SEA:nada

    Mariners get:
    from PHI: Cliff Lee
    and a PTBNL(?)

    Not sure how the Phillies look to be getting the better end of this trade. Seriously. The Mariners get one year of Cliff Lee at around $9 million. If the Mariners PTBNL, if there is even one, should be at least a mid tier prospect. I wont speculate Dominic Brown because the Phillies could have gotten Halladay from the Blue Jays for Drabek and Brown. Oh well. I will let the other writers (ahem* Grey* and all the other sites) ponder the deal. Just informing any notified follow-up readers of the trade and a references for two of the prospects within the deal.

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