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 Players – Peoria Javelinas
Players of Interest
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.
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.”
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.