Seattle’s farm produced two interesting players for the 2016 fantasy baseball season. I like Ketel Marte as a late-round flyer at a shallow middle infield position. He can hit and steal, and should be a good source of runs if he bats in front of Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz as he’s currently projected. Then there’s Carson Smith, who I imagine a lot of fantasy owners will be drafting as the closer in waiting if he hasn’t already taken the reins by opening day. The first thing I noticed when putting together this preview is the plethora of outfield prospects in the Mariners’ system, as well as the lack of impact talent from the 2015 draft (they didn’t pick in the first round). It’s a bit dicey gambling on hitters that may call Seattle their home one day, so this has never been my go-to system for fantasy prospects. Of course the flip side of that is that their pitching prospects have a little more room to breathe.
Tier 1: Specs On The Beach
Potential stars. Consensus T100 prospects with premium fantasy ceilings.
Alex Jackson, OF | Age: 19 | ETA: 2018 | 2015 Level: A(ss)/A
2015 Stats: 318 PA, .207/.318/.365, 8 HR, 3 SB, 8% BB, 30% K
It was a tough year for 2014’s 6th overall pick. An assignment to Class A proved to be premature and Jackson spent the rest of the year with short-season Everett. A hand injury also cost him time. He’s still a fringe Top 50 prospect in my mind, mainly due to the 60s scouts slap on his future hit and power tools. At this points the results just aren’t there. He’s still just 19, so it’s a little early to give up on him, but his value is trending the wrong direction after the draft hype.
Tier 2: Floorboreds
Lacking the “star” upside. They might have some warts, but their ETAs are on the horizon.
D.J. Peterson, 1B/3B | Age: 23 | ETA: 2016 | 2015 Level: AA/AAA
2015 Stats: 407 PA, .223/.287/.344, 7 HR, 5 SB, 8% BB, 23% K
Peterson is a difficult prospect for me to wrap my head around. For a while it looked like he was going to be a solid option for the M’s at a corner – hitting .261 with 13 homers for Double-A Jackson in 2014. But it was almost like something clicked off in the fall league that year. He hit .169 in 16 games and hasn’t hit over .230 since. There’s probably not enough pop here to warrant the investment, but I can still see 20 homers if I cover one eye. It looks like he’s going to have to fight for playing time in Seattle though.
Tyler O’Neill, OF | Age: 20 | ETA: 2017 | 2015 Level: A+
2015 Stats: 449 PA, .260/.316/.558, 32 HR, 16 SB, 6% BB, 31% K
Okay. The stats are pretty, and fantasy players are going to see the 32 dingers and 16 steals and they are going to need new pants. If I may throw a cold wet blanket on it for a minute, the Cal League is a notorious hitter’s league and Bakersfield is one of the most hitterish parks. And then there’s the whole 30% strikeout rate thing. O’Neill isn’t garbage. There’s something here and Double-A will give us a better idea of what that is. Just don’t pay a premium for his Cal League stat line.
Boog Powell, OF | Age: 22 | ETA: 2016 | 2015 Level: AA/AAA
2015 Stats: 522 PA, .295/.385/.392, 3 HR, 18 SB, 12% BB, 15% K
Powell has very little power, but he can get on base, run a little bit, and he has the defensive chops to play all three outfield positions. That’s a fourth outfielder/utility profile, but it’s one that I’m ignoring less and less in really deep formats. The walk and strikeout rates against upper level pitching raise the floor enough that he’s interesting, even if he’s not going to win me any categories.
Austin Wilson, OF | Age: 23 | ETA: 2017 | 2015 Level: A+
2015 Stats: 442 PA, .239/.342/.374, 10 HR, 8 SB, 7% BB, 26% K
Wilson’s 2015 season was disappointing given that he was taking on the Cal League as a 23-year-old and supposedly has big raw power. He’s a massive 6’4″/250 lbs. and would make a nice corner outfielder if he can figure out the approach. There are elbow issues on his resume that ding his value as well. I’m not buying at the moment, but a decent showing against better arms in Double-A could change that.
Ian Miller, OF | Age: 23 | ETA: 2017 | 2015 Level: A+/AA
2015 Stats: 555 PA, .267/.319/.330, 0 HR, 50 SB, 7% BB, 16% K
Miller’s profile is pretty much evident in the stat line – zippo power and plus speed. He’s most likely a spare part in the outfield, although he’s also a plus defender. In deep fantasy leagues it’s cheap steals but that’s about it.
Edwin Diaz, RHP | Age: 21 | ETA: 2017 | 2015 Level: A+/AA
2015 Stats: 141.1 IP, 3.82 ERA, 2.9 BB/9, 9.2 K/9
Diaz has a plus fastball and an above average slider, but even though he maintained a decent walk and strikeout rate in Double-A, he got hit around and his ERA climbed to 4.57. There’s still some upside here for a mid-rotation starter and enough strikeouts to matter in leagues with deep MiLB rosters. He survived 40 innings to start the year in Bakersfield, which is a feat in and of itself.
Tier 3: Long Shot Lolitas
Sexy ceilings, but these youngsters also come with risks and distant ETAs.
Drew Jackson, SS | Age: 22 | ETA: 2018 | 2015 Level: A(ss)
2015 Stats: 266 PA, .358/.432/.447, 2 HR, 47 SB, 11% BB, 13% K
Jackson is a college bat and could move more quickly than the other guys in this tier. He showed good plate discipline in his first taste of pro ball, and obviously he was successful stealing bases as well. Those steals play well at a middle infield slot, and his arm should help him stick at short. He’s someone to put on the radar as he faces tougher arms next season.
Brayan Hernandez, OF | Age: 18 | ETA: 2019 | 2015 Level: Rk
2015 Stats: 196 PA, .224/.295/.328, 2 HR, 9 SB, 9% BB, 22% K
Hernandez, like Andrade below, is too far away to know what he can really offer in fantasy. He’s all projection at this point, but scouts like his tools and potential. Two things I like about him for fantasy are his ability to switch-hit and some projected pop down the road. If you’re the patient type or play in a league with uber-deep farms, I’d check him out.
Luiz Gohara, LHP | Age: 19 | ETA: 2018 | 2015 Level: A(ss)/A
2015 Stats: 63.1 IP, 5.54 ERA, 5.4 BB/9, 9.5 K/9
Gohara is a big lefty with lots of potential. He already has the fastball, and it’s a matter of developing the rest of his arsenal as he matures and climbs the minor league ladder. There’s #3 starter upside, and if he hasn’t been on the radar in dynasty leagues by now, it’s very likely he’s going to pop up with another strong showing in 2016. Control was an issue in 2015, but that shouldn’t be a huge surprise considering he’s still just a teenager.
Braden Bishop, OF | Age: 22 | ETA: 2018 | 2015 Level: A(ss)
2015 Stats: 248 PA, .320/.367/.393, 2 HR, 13 SB, 2% BB, 13% K
Bishop is another college bat from the 2015 draft and he could move relatively quickly like Jackson above. It’s a typical speedy center field profile. If he maxes out it’s going to be a healthy amount of steals and runs from the top of the lineup. That’s only if the bat plays though, and although 2015 was a small sample size at a low level…so far so good.
Greifer Andrade, INF | Age: 18 | ETA: 2019 | 2015 Level: Rk
2015 Stats: 258 PA, .307/.369/.409, 3 HR, 6 SB, 6% BB, 15% K
With players like Andrade, you’re investing in a guy who is so far away that he’s not even done growing yet. Right now it looks like he can handle the bat and has a plan at the plate. Down the road you hope that he grows into some pop and can stay up the middle. In the vast majority of leagues you don’t have to sweat him yet.
Gareth Morgan, OF | Age: 19 | ETA: 2018 | 2015 Level: Rk
2015 Stats: 241 PA, .225/.270/.383, 5 HR, 5 SB, 5% BB, 37% K
What I don’t like about this system is we either have players who possess tools but can’t hit, or guys who can hit but don’t have any big tools. Morgan falls into the first category. He has plus raw power, but that strikeout rate is just putrid even at this level. I don’t think he’s a good investment unless you’re starved for offense on a deep league farm.
Luis Liberato, OF | Age: 19 | ETA: 2018 | 2015 Level: A(ss)/A
2015 Stats: 257 PA, .231/.308/.403, 5 HR, 11 SB, 10% BB, 23% K
Liberato has just enough pop and speed to draw some interest, but he put up an underwhelming triple-slash in short-season ball. He’s doesn’t have any special tools to really be a lottery ticket, and at this point he’s too far away to matter in most leagues.
Nick Neidert, RHP | Age: 19 | ETA: 2019 | 2015 Level: Rk
2015 Stats: 35.1 IP, 1.53 ERA, 2.3 BB/9, 5.9 K/9
Neidert is a smallish righty that the Mariners took with their first pick in the 2015 draft. He doesn’t have explosive stuff, but he has good control of a fastball/changeup combo. It’s a long ETA and not really enough upside to buy now.