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Seattle Mariners 2011 Minor League Review

Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America:

2011 (18) | 2010 (12) | 2009 (24) | 2008 (12) | 2007 (24) | 2006 (27)

2011 Affiliate Records

MLB: [67-95] AL West

AAA: [70-74] Pacific Coast League – Tacoma

AA: [68-72] Southern League – Jackson

A+: [59-81] California League – High Desert

A: [63-76] Midwest League – Clinton

A(ss): [37-39] Northwest League – Everett

R:  [32-36] Appalachian League – Pulaski

The Run Down

The spacious Safeco Field is a wonderful ballpark in which to begin a pitching career.  The Seattle farm system is deep with pitching, and it’s not difficult to envision a handful of prospects making an impact on the mound this year.  Beyond the names I’ve noted, keep an eye on relief arms like Stephen Pryor and Erasmo Ramirez – both could occupy roles in the M’s pen.  Also, Mauricio Robles will be back from elbow surgery and could be ready for Major League duty before long.  Offensively, the Seattle farm system took a tragic hit with the murder of Greg Halman.  But with youthful infield prospects like Nick Franklin and Francisco Martinez, in addition to some big league-ready talent (Liddi, Catricala, Chiang), Mariners fans have reason for hope in the coming years.

Arizona Fall League PlayersPeoria Javelinas

Steven Hensley (RHP); Danny Hultzen (LHP); Brian Moran (LHP); Forrest Snow (RHP); Adam Moore (C); Nick Franklin (SS); Chih-Hsien Chiang (OF)

Graduated Prospects

Dustin Ackley (2B); Mike Carp (1B); Kyle Seager (2B/3B); Trayvon Robinson (OF); Carlos Peguero (OF); Michael Pineda (RHP); Blake Beaven (RHP); Charlie Furbush (LHP); Tom Wilhelmsen (RHP)

Players of Interest

Hitters

Alex Liddi | 3B:

Liddi has Mark Reynolds upside. By that I mean:  .225 AVG, 30 + homers, and a shizzload of strikeouts.  At just 23 years old, there’s still time for him to improve on his plate discipline and cut down on the K’s.  Scouts like his glove at third, too.  With his power potential, if he’s getting regular AB’s Liddi will be worth consideration in most formats.

Vinnie Catricala | 3B/1B/OF:

In 600 PA between High A and Double-A, Catricala posted 2011 slash line of .349/.421/.601.  With 17 stolen bases, he also showed a little speed.  His 77 XBH, including 25 homers, are good indicators that Catricala is at least ready for AAA, if not for MLB.  Provided he can fit in somewhere defensively, I expect him up by September, at the latest.

Pitchers

Danny Hultzen | LHP – SP:

Hultzen won’t require much time in the minors.  Seattle’s first selection (second overall) from the June Draft pitched professionally for the first time in the Arizona Fall League, where he posted a 1.40 ERA over six starts.  The consensus on Hultzen:  he’ll be an effective Major League starter very soon.  Ultimately, though, he lacks the dominant offerings of an ace, and probably projects more like a number two starter.  Regardless of all that, Hultzen seems like a can’t-miss guy.  He’ll absolutely be worth owning as soon as he’s called up, and he might even make the rotation out of spring training.

James Paxton | LHP – SP:

As a lefty, frontline starter, Paxton projects similarly to Hultzen.  After collecting 131 K’s and a 2.37 ERA in 95 IP between Low A and AA in 2011, it seems he won’t need much more time in the farm system.  Given the whole Safeco Field thing, Paxton will be a smart addition to any fantasy roster as soon as he’s up.

Chance Ruffin | RHP – RP:

Acquired in the Doug Fister swap, Ruffin should break camp with the big club and immediately fit into a late-innings relief role.  The 48th selection in the 2010 Draft pitched in only 44 games before Seattle obtained him and promoted him directly to their big league bullpen.  In those 44 minor league games (48.2 IP) Ruffin posted a 2.03 ERA, 60 K’s and 19 saves.  The righty features a mid-90s fastball and counters with a slider and the occasional curve.

Dan Cortés | RHP – RP:

Stephen describes Cortés accurately in his M’s piece a year ago,…appears to be a high-risk, high-reward late innings reliever. Throws a 96 to 98 MPH fastball, a ‘hammer 12-to-6 curve’ and a sharp slider with work in progress changeup… Beyond control and command issues, Cortes has a lot of upside.”

Honorable Mention

Hitters

Nick Franklin | SS:

Arguably Seattle’s best hitting prospect, Franklin will be 21 in March and will likely return to AA to begin 2012.  The M’s are surely eager to replace Brendan Ryan’s bat at shortstop, but Franklin is still probably a year away from taking over.  Barring a setback, he should be in line for a late-season call up and ready for regular action in 2013.

Chih-Hsien Chiang | OF:

Seattle acquired Chiang as a part of the Erik Bedard trade with Boston.  Although his post-trade line in the Southern League wasn’t so impressive (.208/.255/.262), his Eastern League numbers while in the Red Sox organization were tremendous, and his overall 2011 reads:  .302/.361/.537 with 66 XBH (18 HR) in 499 trips to the plate.  Chiang likely starts 2012 in Tacoma, but he’ll be in the discussion for playing time in centerfield if The Big FraGu isn’t healthy.

  1. Charlie Says says:
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    Cortes is no longer in the system.

  2. Charlie Says says:
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    Stephen Pryor might make a worthy replacement for Cortes on this list as it would be no surprise to see him in Seattle at some point. And if League gets traded, then the closer role is up for grabs.

  3. Scott Evans

    Scott Evans says:
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    @Charlie: Cortes is a free agent. I apologize for that oversight – thanks for bringing it to my attention. Pryor would be my replacement on this list, likewise. I also like Erasmo Ramirez to make the pen at some point & I’m thinking Robles will settle into a relief role when he returns. If League does indeed get traded, there are plenty of arms that could compete for saves, here.

  4. lothda says:
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    Really sad about Greg Halman.

    2012 is going to be interesting whether Seattle signs Fielder or not, but 2013 should be awesome.

  5. Regurgitating Gordon Wood(got tired of ltf) says:
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    Forget Dan Cortes, even as a free agent. Typical high velo straight FB type a couple of teams will sign and dump.

    I have seen Hultzen a few times in person and he is legit. He looks like an MLB pitcher in his delivery, composure, and approach to hitters. He and Nick Franklin were very impressive in the AFL future stars game. They looked like a couple of MLB players captaining an MiLB team.

    Don’t forget about Carlos Triunfel. He is going to get a September call-up, and he is only 21. It’s easy to see how a guy like Profar has outpaced him so far as a prospect, but he’s worth an investment in a deep leagues since he is well under the radar and almost guaranteed to be a sept call-up.

    I love Jose Vicente Campos. Outstanding year in the Northwest League, probably my favorite pitching prospect to watch this past year.

    Seattle has some guys that if you squint and look reeeallly hard, you can see them making something of themselves in MLB. Daniel Carroll is a young toolsy outfielder that could develop into a nice leadoff/top of the order hitter. Seattle hasn’t had a good track record of late with their OF prospects. Probably closer to someone like Reggie Willits but worth watching. Anthony Fernandez looks like a solid lefty starter, one of those prospects that should move along the system with other more highly touted prospects keeping him under the radar. Nate Tenbrink looks good at times, horrible at others. Probably a utility player at best over the next three years. Johermyn Chavez continues to disappoint, but so does the rest of the Seattle outfield. They could really use a shot in the arm from Michael Saunders/Carlos Peguero/etc. to keep Carp back in the infield and DH where he belongs.

    Scraping the bottom of the barrel, Gabriel Noriega and Mario Martinez are fringe guys who will stick around for their defense. Anything they bring to fantasy will be a surprise.

    I’d like to believe that the Mariners are building for the future, but I’d be more willing to believe they are selling the team.

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