This week, Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com compiled the top 100 prospects in the league. The Mariners’ farm system ranked near the top of both the American and National League, with three prospects in the top 25 and five players in all.
Here’s a brief look at each of Seattle’s top five prospects:
2013 Top 100 Prospects rating: 5
2012 Top 100 Prospects rating: 4
The most lucrative name of the Mariners’ Big Four (Walker, Danny Hultzen, James Paxton, and Brandon Maurer), Taijuan spent his third MiLB season with the Double-A Jackson Generals. Over 25 starts and 126.2 IP, he finished with a 4.69 ERA, allowing 50 walks, 12 home runs, and striking out 118 of 550 batters.
CBS Sports highlighted the 20-year-old last August: “In the end, he knows the Mariners are looking out for his long-term success — something they believe will come. One scout told CBSSports.com, “I never like to anoint guys, but he’s special.”
Walker’s special because of his physique, the fact he throws an easy high-90s fastball and the curve and change up are developing. But more than that, the team loves his work ethic and his maturity.”
2013 Top 100 Prospects rating: 18
2012 Top 100 Prospects rating: 8
Although Walker’s potential is considered tops in the Mariners’ organization, the southpaw Hultzen has been drawing attention as well. He advanced to the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers’ staff in 2012, posting a 5.92 ERA in 12 starts and 48.2 IP. While generating a walk rate of 17.9%, he allowed just two home runs to 240 batters.
Mayo had this to say about Hultzen: “The biggest surprise was a loss of control (he finished 2012 with a 5.4 BB/9 rate), something that was a plus for Hultzen coming out of the University of Virginia. Most see that as a blip on the radar and still feel his stuff and pitchability should have him ready for the big leagues very soon.”
2013 Top 100 Prospects rating: 23
2012 Top 100 Prospects rating: 44
With the loss of John Jaso and Miguel Olivo this offseason, fans have turned an eager eye to the development of Mike Zunino, a hot-hitting backstop who jumped from short-season single A to Double-A in his first minor league season. At 21 years old, Zunino projected numbers like those of Jesus Montero (albeit at a bit slower pace), batting .333/.386/.558 in 15 games with Jackson, picking up 7 XBH, 8 RBI, and an OPS of .974.
On his mid-season call-up to the Jackson Generals, Prospect Insider’s Jason Churchill wrote the following: “Zunino, the top college bat in a class lacking depth in that area, generally receives average or better grades across the board, including receiving, blocking and throwing, and offers above-average-to-plus power with the bat.
He understands the game of baseball and knows how to catch. He has leadership skills, big-league makeup and as one scout put it early on draft day, “he has that vinegar, that extra gear of effort and feel that makes you want him on your team.”
2013 Top 100 Prospects rating: 47
2012 Top 100 Prospects rating: 29
Shortstop Nick Franklin is on the rise to the majors, completing his fourth minor-league year with half a season in Triple-A. In 2012, he hit .243/.310/.416 in 64 games and 296 PA for the Rainiers, collecting 7 home runs, 29 RBI, and 24 walks along the way. Although his starts were split evenly between second base and shortstop, Franklin has notched almost three times as many games at short in his minor league career.
Mayo’s analysis, per MLB.com: “A switch-hitter who has been much better from the left side thus far in his career, Franklin has a good idea at the plate with a good approach. The ball can jump off his bat thanks to his bat speed and he has more power than one would expect. His solid speed plays up because he has very good instincts on the basepaths.”
2013 Top 100 Prospects rating: 61
2012 Top 100 Prospects rating: 74
The Mariners’ last prospect on the list is LHP James Paxton, another member of the Big Four and the oldest of this group at 24 years old. He has two seasons of Double-A ball under his belt: from 2011 to 2012, his ERA jumped from 1.85 in 39.0 IP to 3.05 over his first full season of 106.1 IP. In 21 starts, he struck out 110 batters of 453 and allowed just 5 home runs to 54 walks.
An early report from Project Prospect projects Paxton as one of the Mariners’ regulars in the near future: “Paxton is raw for his age but he is also a rare talent. If he is able to harness his raw stuff, he could wind up being a No. 1-2 caliber starter and be a important part of a great future Mariners rotation. He could force his way up in 2012, but 2013 is a reasonable time to expect him to solidify himself as a big leaguer.”
Who do you want to see called up to Seattle in 2013?
It’s no secret that the Seattle Mariners are in big need of some strong offense. General Manager Jack Zduriencik is very active at the 2012 winter MLB meetings in Nashville, Tennessee.
Rumor has it that there are three prospects for pitchers for the Seattle team: Danny Hultzen, James Paxton, and Taijuan Walker who may be up for trade when the Mariners go batter-hunting. While the Mariners do have some funds freed up to pick up a free agent this year, they may still need to pull some trade strings to get someone who will work hard for their team. It boils down to a big decision for the Mariners’ team management: Trade away young, unproven prospects for players that have shown their stuff or spend more money on their payroll for the roster.
With attendance falling, and confidence in the team low, the pressure is on for Zduriencik to build a team that can compete. A lot more than bringing in the walls at SafeCo Field is necessary in order to develop a winning team. The question is, will the team be able to gain the members it needs in order to compete against big-budget teams like the New York Yankees?
If the Oakland Athletics could pull out of a slump to become the AL West Champions this past year under the logic put forth by the Billy Beane Moneyball tactics that changed the face of baseball, perhaps the Mariners need to start thinking in an out-of-the box way as well.Who will get on base, and more importantly, once on base, who will be able to get home for the all-important score?
Some of the players the Mariners are rumored to be interested in include:
- Josh Hamilton
- Justin Upton
- Mike Napoli
- Nick Swisher
- Cody Ross
- Ryan Ludwick
- Mark Reynolds
- Garrett Jones
A lot of this will be contingent upon how much the M’s are able to put forward financially and who they are willing to trade for the various players on their wish list. What do you think the beloved Seattle team should be looking at in order to get to a pennant win in the 2013 season?
Tags: 2013 Season, Baseball General, Danny Hultzen, featured, Jack Zduriencik, Major League Baseball, Oakland Athletics, Popular, Safeco Field, Seattle, seattle mariners, Trade Theorys, winter meetings
The future of the starting rotation in Seattle looks pretty bright between the dominance of King Felix and the future of the big three, but there are still many conversations to be had on the subject.
First of all, Felix Hernandez should not be traded. The Mariners have a 26 year old Cy Young winner in their grasp, why would they trade him? With the possible exceptions of Mike Trout, Clayton Kershaw, and Giancarlo Stanton, there is not a better player to build a team around than King Felix, in my opinion. If Seattle is trying to build a winning team, there isn’t a better guy to start with than Hernandez.
Jason Vargas is an interesting case because he is a pitcher who has really benefited from playing in Safeco Field. Take a look at these splits from last year.
Vargas at Home
Vargas on the Road
As you can see, Vargas is not a great pitcher when he isn’t in the friendly confines of Safeco Field. With the fences moving in this year, Vargas’ value has diminished even more than before. The deep dimensions of left field and left center have had a direct correlation to Vargas’ success.
Outside of Seattle, he is probably a decent bottom of the rotation starter, but he has become a number two starter with the Mariners because of the stadium. Once the fences are brought in, we may see an instantaneous dip in the lefty’s numbers in the upcoming year, and for this reason, I am hesitant to pencil in Vargas as a starter of the future. He certainly won’t be a top of the rotation guy like he is right now.
Hisashi Iwakuma is another interesting pitcher in Seattle right now. He was brought here last offseason on a one year contract. After spring training, he was put in the bullpen before being promoted to the rotation mid-season where he shined. However, he too had more success in Safeco Field than in other ballparks, although the correlation was not as dramatic as in Vargas’ case. Now that he has a more substantial two-year contract, it appears that the 31 year old will be here for a bit longer. He could be a good middle of the rotation man down the road if he continues to post solid numbers as long as he remains affordable.
Last season, we had two young arms at the bottom of the rotation who struggled in Blake Beavan and Hector Noesi. These two guys had an xFIP of 5.01 and 5.08 respectively. They also posted a .288 and .266 BABIP respectively, so essentially, these guys posted horrible stats even when luck was on their side. What is going to happen when they aren’t getting lucky? Unless extreme strides are made in the coming seasons, I don’t see either of these pitchers being anything more than place holders in the bottom of the rotation until guys from the farm system are developed.
One of the young arms that is commonly overlooked is Erasmo Ramirez. The 22 year old rookie got limited time last year, but he put up better numbers than anyone realizes. As a starter, his 7.85 K/9 was better than any Mariner starter besides Felix. His 1.53 BB/9 was better than any starter besides Beavan, and Ramirez’ FIP and xFIP were both second among Seattle starters behind just King Felix. Let me reiterate that these numbers excluded Ramirez’ relief appearances, so they were only his stats as a starter. I think that Ramirez has earned a spot in the starting rotation next season, and I would much rather see him as the fourth starter over Beavan or Noesi.
There may be a few other starting pitching options currently at the major league level as well. Charlie Furbush has started games during his minor and major league careers and is capable of switching back to the rotation after spending 2012 in the bullpen. Historically, he hasn’t had much success starting games, but don’t rule him out as a possibility in the starting rotation next year.
Although improbable, Tom Wilhelmsen is another name that you may see penciled into the rotation. Many people forget that he was a starter in the minor leagues before moving to the Seattle bullpen. His power style of pitching fits better in the bullpen, but thanks to the diabolical curveball that he developed and the changeup that he refined into a reliable pitch last year, his stuff is beginning to look quite suitable for the rotation. There are a lot of good young arms in the bullpen such as Pryor, Capps, and Luetge, so the organization may feel comfortable enough with the pen to try to reestablish Wilhelmsen as a starting pitcher. I wouldn’t bet on this move, but it’s certainly within the realm of possibility.
The big 3, Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen, and James Paxton, are all exciting prospects in the Mariner organization and are currently the number 4, 8, and 74 prospects in all of baseball respectively according to MLB.com. I won’t call Danny Hultzen a “sure thing,” but it seems that Hultzen has already been penciled into the starting rotation of the future. The question becomes just how good the second overall pick will be. He has a very high floor as a prospect, so he should be at least a four or five starter down the road. Hopefully, he will become a top of the rotation arm, and he appears to have the stuff to fit there.
Taijuan Walker is a very different prospect from Hultzen. He is a high risk high reward player. His potential is incredible, but he not nearly as certain to realize his potential as his counterpart. I might compare Walker to Blue Jay starter, Ricky Romero. Like Romero, there is no doubt that Walker has the raw stuff to be a dominant major league pitcher, but it becomes a matter of putting all the pieces together and being successful.
There is a pretty good chance that one of these three guys will be traded at some point for a good bat. If the Mariners are successful in trading for Billy Butler this offseason, it seems almost certainly that one of these prospects will be moved.
Apart from the big 3, there are a few other good pitching prospects in Seattle’s organization. Among these are Brandon Maurer, Jordan Shipers, Tyler Pike, Andrew Carraway, Mauricio Robles, and 17 year old Victor Sanchez.
Considering Seattle has one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball and one of the deepest minor league pitching staffs in baseball, it appears that the Mariners will have a very strong starting rotation in the future.
Ryan Anderson, Ryan Christianson, Chris Snelling, Antonio Perez, Clint Nageotte, Jose Lopez, Travis Blackley, Jeremy Reed, Jeff Clement, Phillippe Aumont, Greg Halman, and Adam Moore. I’m guessing that you have heard some of those names, and I’m guessing you have never heard quite a few of those names. Is this just a random list of players? NO. It’s a list of past Seattle Mariner prospects that made Baseball America’s top 100 Prospect list.
That’s right, these names were once thought to be the future stars of the Mariner organization, yet as we know, none of them really worked out. Sure, Lopez had a few good years before dropping off the face of the earth, and a few other guys have bounced around from team to team and from AAA to the majors for years, but none of them have actually had good major league careers.
As fans, we often look at promising young players and simply expect them to fulfill their potential. I know that I am quite guilty of this. In some of my past articles, I have discussed prospects as if they were sure things, while in reality they are a long ways from being major league caliber players.
In this article, I am going to look at the prospects that we have in our system that have made the 2012 Baseball America top 100 prospects list, and then give a list of past prospects of the same position that have been at similar ranks on past Baseball America lists. This will hopefully put in perspective just how unreliable prospects truly are.
I admit, this is not a perfect analysis of how likely our current prospects are to make the majors, but it will still give a broad comparison to past players that you can use.
The Mariners to make the 2012 list were Jesus Montero (6th), Taijuan Walker (20th), Danny Hultzen (21st), James Paxton (52nd), and Nick Franklin (77th).
Jesus Montero (6th)
We know that Jesus has already made the majors, but that doesn’t mean that he will have long-term success there. Here is a list of catchers who cracked the top 20 from 2010 to 2000.
- Buster Posey (2010, 2009)
- Carlos Santana (2010)
- Matt Wieters (2009, 2008)
- Jarrod Saltalamacchia (2006)
- Joe Mauer (2005, 2004, 2003, 2002)
- Victor Martinez (2003)
As you can see from this list, not many catchers have been ranked in the top 20, but the ones that have made it that high have experienced success. That’s pretty encouraging for the future of Jesus.
Taijuan Walker (20th)
I will include all right-handed prospects that ranked from 15th to 30th.
- Jeremy Hellickson (2010)
- Casey Kelly (2010)
- Kyle Drabek (2010)
- Jacob Turner (2010)
- Rick Porcello (2009, 2008)
- Chris Tillman (2009) Note: The Mariners sent Tillman along with Adam Jones to the Orioles in the Erik Bedard Trade.
- Jerrod Parker (2009)
- Wade Davis (2008)
- Nick Adenhart (2008) Note: Adenhart was tragically killed in a car crash after just four major league appearances.
- Adam Miller (2008, 2007, 2005)
- Yovani Gallardo (2007)
- Mike Pelfrey (2007)
- Matt Garza (2007)
- Bobby Jenks (2006)
- Chad Billingsley (2005)
- Jeff Niemann (2005)
- Jose Capellan (2005)
- Edwin Jackson (2005)
- Dustin McGowan (2004)
- Gavin Floyd (2004)
- Chin-Hui Tsao (2004, 2001)
- Angel Guzman (2004)
- Ervin Santana (2004)
Felix Hernandez (2004)
- Jeremy Bonderman (2003)
- Adam Wainwright (2003)
- John VanBenschoten (2003)
- Rafael Soriano (2003, 2002)
- Rich Harden (2003)
- Dennis Tankersley (2002)
- Nick Neugebauer (2002)
- Jerome Williams (2002, 2001)
- Jon Rauch (2002)
- Jake Peavy (2002)
- Boof Bonser (2002)
- Juan Cruz (2001)
- Bobby Bradley (2001)
- Donny Bridges (2001)
- Matt Belisle (2001)
- Kurt Ainsworth (2001)
- Josh Becket (2000)
- A.J. Burnett (2000)
- Brad Penny (2000)
- Tony Armas (2000)
- Ramon Ortiz (2000)
- Francisco Cordero (2000)
This is a very large and diverse list of pitchers. Some of these guys, such as Gallardo, King Felix, and Wainwright are some of the best pitchers in baseball. On the other hand, some of these guys never did anything in a major league uniform. Most of them, however, have had decent major league stints which is encouraging.
Danny Hultzen (21st)
Here are all of the lefty pitchers from 2010 to 2000 that ranged from 15th to 30th on the Baseball America list.
- Martin Perez (2010)
- Aroldis Chapman (2010)
- Tyler Matzek (2010)
Brian Matusz (2009)
- Jake McGee (2008)
- Gio Gonzalez (2008)
- Clayton Kershaw (2007)
- Franklin Morales (2007)
- Jon Lester (2006)
- Jeff Francis (2005)
- Mike Hinckley (2005)
- Cole Hamels (2004)
- Sean Burnett (2003)
- Cliff Lee (2003)
- Carlos Hernandez (2002)
- Ty Howington (2002)
- Chris George (2001)
- Matt Riley (2000)
- Wilfredo Rodriguez (2000) Note: Wilfredo may be the coolest name ever.
Wow, that is a very strange list. Nearly all of these guys fall into one of two categories: 1) stud 2) total bust. Honestly though, can anyone say that they have heard a baseball player with a cooler name than Wilfredo? If you have, please put it in the comment section below.
James Paxton (52nd)
All lefty pitchers that have placed between 45th and 60th on the Baseball America lists will be included in this list.
- Casey Crosby (2010)
Ross Detwiler (2008)
- Donald Veal (2007)
- Chuck Lofgren (2007)
- John Danks (2007, 2006, 2005)
- Troy Patton (2007)
- Jonathan Sanchez (2007)
- Adam Loewen (2006)
- Jeremy Sowers (2006)
- Scott Elbert (2006)
- Justin Jones (2004)
- Mike Hinckley (2004)
- Andy Sisco (2003)
- Mike Gosling (2003)
- Mario Ramos (2002)
- Jimmy Gobble (2002)
- Mark Phillips (2002)
- Joe Torres (2001)
- Wilfredo Rodriguez (2001)
- Mike Bynum (2001)
- Ed Yarnall (2001)
- C.C. Sabathia (2001)
Well that list of players is downright disturbing, if not devastating. If you can honestly say that you have heard of over half of the names on this list, then I am impressed. Besides Sabathia who has had a great career, John Danks and Jonathan Sanchez who have had their ups and downs, and Wilfredo Rodriguez who has the best name in baseball history, there aren’t many bright spots on that list. This is not to say that James Paxton won’t be a good pitcher, but history certainly doesn’t seem to be in his favor.
Nick Franklin (77th)
I will include both shortstops and second baseman in this list, since it is unclear where Franklin will end up. All prospects that were place from 70th to 85th on past prospect rankings will be included in this list.
- Jiovanni Mier (2010)
- Adrian Cardenas (2009, 2008)
- Reid Brignac (2009)
- Jed Lowrie (2008)
Note: Carlos Triunfel was ranked 89th on the 2009 list and 62nd on the 2008 list.
- Alberto Callaspo (2007, 2004)
Note: Current Pirates second baseman, Neil Walker was placed at 74th on the 2007 rankings, but he was listed as a third baseman. He was also listed as 81st in 2005, but his position was catcher that year.
Dustin Pedroia (2006)
- Cliff Pennington (2006)
- Joaquin Arias (2005)
- Brandon Wood (2005)
- Jose Lopez (2004)
- Chase Utley (2003)
- Jake Gautreau (2002)
- Orlando Hudson (2002)
- Luis Montanez (2001)
- Marcus Giles (2000)
- Adam Everett (2000)
Note: Carlos Guillen was ranked 73rd on the 2000 list, but was posted as a 3rd baseman. However, Guillen played every infield position throughout his career.
This list has a couple studs scattered across a sea of busts. A lot of these middle infielders that didn’t work out never really made the majors, but since Franklin is already knocking on the door, that’s seems to bode well for him avoiding the same fate.
Mike Zunino was not a Mariner when the 2012 top prospect list was released by Baseball America, but MLB.com released an updated top prospect list in which Zunino ranked 44th. Therefore, I will list past catching prospects that ranked from 35th to 50th on Baseball America lists.
- Derek Norris (2010)
Jason Castro (2010)
- Jesus Montero (2009)
- J.P. Arencibia (2009)
- Jeff Clement (2008)
- Geovany Soto (2008)
- Jarrod Saltalamacchia (2007)
- Russell Martin (2006)
- Neil Walker (2006)
- Brian McCann (2005)
- Dioner Navarro (2004)
- Guillermo Quiroz (2004) Note: Quiroz was in the Mariner organization, but not on the 40-man roster, until being traded for cash in September.
- Jeff Mathis (2003)
- Josh Phelps (2002)
- J.R. House (2002)
- Joe Buck (2002)
- Ben Patrick (2000)
- Matt LeCroy (2000)
- Jayson Werth (2000) Note: This IS the same Jayson Werth that is now a star outfielder for the Nationals.
- Steve Lomasney (2000)
The recent prospect to made this list have experienced quite a bit of success while the members of older lists struggled more. Hopefully this trend will benefit Zunino.
My purpose for this article was not to discourage your hope in our future, but to simply give some perspective of just how unpredictable these young prospects can be. As fans, we need to make sure we aren’t counting our eggs before they hatch and basing our future on kids that may or may not work out.
Today marks the first day of September, and with the ninth month of the year comes a bevy of call-ups as the rosters are expanded from 25 players to 40. Manager Eric Wedge probably won’t use all 40 roster spots, but here is a look at some guys that should be seen in Seattle this fall, and some sleepers that may make appearances as well.
First of all, there are the obvious guys that have split time between Seattle and Tacoma this year. Erasmo Ramirez and Carlos Peguero, both members of this group, have been recalled already. Names inside of this category that are currently in Tacoma include Shawn Kelly, Hector Noesi, Alex Liddi, Mike Carp, and Casper Wells.
I would expect Ramirez and Noesi to both get scattered starts considering the struggles of Kevin Millwood. Ramirez has actually pitched well this year, and would have likely spent the entire year in Seattle if it weren’t for an injury. He currently holds a 3.82 ERA and 1.109 WHIP in 30.2 innings of combined relief and starting work in the MLB.
A few players that won’t get free passes for September, but will likely get some time with the big club are D.J. Mitchell, Carlos Triunfel, and maybe Danny Hultzen. At 25 years old, Mitchell was one of the players acquired in the Ichiro trade. After the swap, Mitchell was assigned to Tacoma where he has posted a 2.96 ERA. However, Mitchell’s 3.51 BB/9 has been problematic.
Triunfel has not necessarily earned a September callup, but he may get the opportunity out of necessity. As much as I like Brendan Ryan, his lack of offense is frustrating. While Triunfel’s AAA OBP of .305 is hardly better than Brendan Ryan’s OBP, I think that Triunfel needs to be given a chance in the infield. Honestly, I would like to see Triunfel get an opportunity for the sole reason of ruling him out of our future. At one point, Triunfel was planted squarely in the future of the Mariners, but he has faded out of the organization’s plans. I would like to see him get a few games just so that we can say that we gave him an opportunity before entirely writing him out of Seattle’s plans. It’s a somewhat convoluted strategy, but I think that Seattle needs reassurance that Brendan Ryan is the absolute best player at shortstop right now.
Danny Hultzen has also had a very frustrating stint in AAA. After dominating AA Jackson, the lefty has gone 1-5 with a
6.09 ERA in Tacoma. His BB/9 skyrocketed from 3.82 in AA to 7.71 in AAA. Although his control has been a problem, it would be good to get Hultzen some experience in Seattle, and I would be surprised if he wasn’t promoted for September.
The previously mentioned eight players have a pretty good chance of seeing time at Safeco Field in the upcoming month, but there are a few other guys that could unexpectedly be called up to Seattle. The first sleeper is Andrew Carraway. Like Hultzen, Carraway excelled in AA but had more problems in AAA. He did, however, maintain an excellent HR/9 and BB/9. With the big three looming on the horizon, Carraway may not get on opportunity to establish himself in the rotation in the next two years. If he is going to get a chance with the Mariners, now might be the time.
The biggest sleeper of them all could be Luis Antonio Jimenez. The 30 year-old Jimenez is running out of time to make a major league roster, but he has put up stellar numbers in AAA this season. His 20 homeruns, 81 RBIs, .398 OPS, .520 SLG, and .918 OPS all rank in the top 12 for PCL players this season.
Neither of these sleeper players are on the 40-man roster right now, so someone would need to be removed in order to make room for them.
There are always top prospects like Nick Franklin, Taijuan Walker, James Paxton, and Mike Zunino that may get a chance to be called up, but none of these players are on the 40-man roster either. They could be added, but the organization may not want to remove other players from the roster quite yet.
September will be a good opportunity to see some new faces on the Mariners and will also provide valuable experience for some guys that will be needed in Seattle next season or the season after. I wouldn’t expect many of the extremely hyped prospects to make appearances this month, but it will still be exciting to see some young players at work in the major leagues.
The all star break is always a good time to stop and evaluate a season. It’s easy to just see at the 36-51 record and call it a bad season, but let’s look at the specific goods and bads from the season thus far. Unfortunately, there aren’t as many goods, so I will start with them.
Felix (most of the time)
Other than June, when he posted a 4.45 ERA, Felix has been phenomenal. Our only all star has an ERA of 2.67. Sure, his fastball hasn’t lit up radar guns like he used to, but Felix is still a great pitcher with electric stuff. I wouldn’t worry about our king.
Wells and Saunders
Going into the season, most people didn’t want to give Michael Saunders a chance, but a Franklin Gutierrez injury opened up a spot for Saunders, and he has done well. His 20.9 line drive rate has far exceeded previous seasons, and his .320 BABIP has been stellar as well. Saunders has also tacked on eight homeruns and thirteen stolen bases.
Wells started off slow, but since heating up in July, he has hit .340 with three homeruns in 20 games. He has also been one of the few guys who have hit better at home than on the road. Both Saunders and Wells have performed beyond expectations, and will hopefully continue to do so in the second half of the year.
Justin Smoak’s month of May
Smoak’s year has been very discouraging, but the month of May was bright. In that month, he hit .255 with six homeruns and eighteen rbis. A year at this pace would amount to 36 long balls and 108 runs batted in. May was the only month that I felt we were seeing what Smoak is actually capable of. I know the other two months of the season for Smoak was abysmal, but at least we have seen a glimpse of Smoak’s capability.
Jaso came over from Tampa in return for a AAA reliever in Josh Lueke, but he has turned out to be much better than a seventh reliever. He has provided a solid bat off the bench and also a good option behind the dish. He is hitting .267 in 135 at bats, has drove in 21 runs, and has nearly as many walks as strikeouts. Considering what the M’s gave up for Jaso, he has been a quite pleasant surprise.
The struggles of Brandon League forced Tom Wilhelmson into the closer role where he has excelled. In 39 appearences, the former bartender has earned a 2.44 ERA, seven saves, and seven holds. His curveball has also provided some comical reactions from batters.
Furbush and Leutge
Furbush didn’t start on the major league roster, but when the lefty got his chance, he turned into a reliable option in the bullpen. In 36.2 innings of work, the southpaw has posted a 2.21 ERA, .148 opponent average and, more impressively, a .818 WHIP. Unlike most Mariner pitchers who excel at home and struggle on the road, batters are hitting just .114 off of Furbush in visiting ballparks.
Luetge’s role in the bullpen this year has been very specific, and he has become an excellent lefty specialist. Left-handed batters are hitting just .140 off of Luetge this season. 52 lefty batters have stepped into the box against Luetge, and only six batters have gotten hits off of him, none of which were extra-base hits, while sixteen have struck out.
The Big 3
The trio of young prospects have had a great first half of the year, and Hultzen and Walker were both invited to the MLB Futures game where they each made appearances. In AA, the three have posted a 16-10 record and ERAs of 1.19, 4.50, and 3.46. They each have also struck out an average of more than one batter per inning. Hultzen has been the only arm to be promoted to AAA Tacoma, but the other two aren’t far behind.
Time to take a look at the countless bads of this season.
It didn’t matter if Ichiro was batting third or first, he hardly hit at all. His .288 OBP was miserable and he didn’t show any of the power that Wedge had hoped to see in the middle of the order. There is nothing more to say than that Ichiro’s 2012 campaign has been a major disappointment.
As discussed earlier, Justin Smoak had a phenomenal month of May in which he showed the ability that Jack Z thought he was getting in the Cliff Lee deal. However, the other two months of the year have been discouraging. In March, April, and May, Smoak has batted a mere .171 with 5 long balls and 14 rbis. That’s production deserving of a demotion to AAA. If the Smoakamotive doesn’t figure out his swing in the second half of the season, he will quickly find himself out of a spot in the future of the organization.
Beavan and Noesi
2012 is the first full season for each of these two young pitchers. They each earned spots in the starting rotation out of spring training, but they have each had horrible first halves and have been sent back to AAA. Beavan’s ERA was 5.92 until he was demoted to Tacoma. He also had an average of 1.73 homeruns per game which is a shocking number considering how many games he pitched in Safeco Field.
Noesi’s record this year is 2-11. He has lost eleven games in seventeen starts. While this can be blamed on Seattle’s inadequate offense, Noesi has still had a miserable season. His ERA is fifth to worst in baseball, his FIP is worst, xFIP third to worst, and HR/9 the worst as well. Just consider that; a pitcher who has the luxury of throwing in Safeco Field has given up homeruns more consistently than any other pitcher in baseball. THAT’S EMBARRASSING. That’s Hector Noesi.
Ackley set high expectations for himself hitting .273 in his rookie season, but his sophomore campaign has been drastically worse. His average has dropped 40 points, his OBP 37 points, and his slugging percentage has dropped 92 points. Even Ackley’s line drive rate has also fallen a bit. Unlike Smoak, Ackley has plenty of time to become a good hitter, but this year has certainly been a major setback in the course of his career.
The injury bug has been everywhere in the Mariner’s locker room. It started in the spring training with Franklin Gutierez and continued in the opening series when Mike Carp went down. Even the young players like Stephen Pryor and Erasmo Ramirez have been struck by injuries. Kevin Millwood was pulled from a game in which he was throwing a no-hitter due to a muscle strain.
Mike Carp (when healthy)
Carp has only been able to play in 32 games because of injuries, but when he has played, he has been horrible. His average is just .157, he has struck out in over a quarter of his at bats, and his LD% is 15.5%. The only good thing about Carp’s season at the plate has been his 14.3% walk rate which has escalated his OBP to just two points below Ichiro’s.
In 2011, League was an all-star closer. In 2012, he has been a save blowing machine. He has blown six saves and has five losses in 39 appearances. Not only has League lost several games for the Mariners, but he has erased a once great trade value.
Here are just a few of the highs and lows of the first half of the season. I may have forced a few of the goods and ignored many of the bads, but sometimes you have to do that as a Mariner fan. Let’s hope we have more good things to talk about when the season ends.
Tags: Blake Beavan, Brandon League, Casper Wells, Charlie Furbush, Danny Hultzen, dustin ackley, featured, Felix Hernandez, Franklin Gutierez, Hector Noesi, Ichiro, james paxton, John Jaso, justin smoak, kevin millwood, Lucas Luetge, Mariners General, Michael Saunders, Mike Carp, Popular, taijuan walker, Tom Wilhelmson
Josh Kinney used to be good.
I say this with the fairly confident assertion that you know little of Kinney’s past, that, like me, you were familiar with his name only because you took the Sporcle Mariners Spring Training quiz approximately 80 times this spring so people would assume you knew the roster very well. (It worked, by the way, but only until the season started and I didn’t have to remember Jesus Sucre or Guillermo Quiroz or Carlos Guillen.)
Until last night, however, when I briefly entertained the idea of Kinney making his Mariner MLB debut, did I realize that I know next to nothing about him—which brings me back to my initial statement.
Josh Kinney was good approximately six years ago. He wormed his way into the majors with a stint in the Frontier League, circa 2001. From 2001 to 2006, Kinney climbed from one minor league team to the next, eventually receiving a promotion to the Cardinals’ major league team after finding success with the AAA Memphis Redbirds.
2006 marked not only his breakout year, but his best year to date in MLB. He was used in relief 21 times, posting a SIERA of 3.34 and a FIP of 4.03. In 21.0 IP, he collected 17 hits, 9 runs, and 22 strikeouts. Most notably, he pitched in both the NLDS, NLCS, and Games 2 and 4 of the World Series, his first and last postseason appearances to date.
From 2007 – 2008, Josh Kinney faced a bit of a regression in the majors; mostly due to his recovery from Tommy John surgery. With that in mind, let me correct myself once more: major league Josh Kinney used to be good. Minor league Josh Kinney still manages to impress as a reliever, consistently posting an ERA under 2.80 in his last 3 years traipsing the farm systems of St. Louis, Chicago, and Seattle.
This season, Kinney made 27 appearances for the Rainiers. As part of a pitching staff that includes Mariners notables like Andrew Carraway and Danny Hultzen, Josh found ways to earn notice with a 2.27 FIP and 3.45 K/BB. Next to Oliver Perez, another recent addition to the Mariners’ bullpen, Kinney has struck out the highest number of batters among Tacoma relievers, with 38 Ks in 36.2 IP.
The fluctuation of success found in major league and minor league clubs is not the most comforting sign when promoting a player, especially with the incoming waves of new starters and relievers waiting to take their shot at Safeco Field. Still, as a short-term fix, Kinney should be able to settle in well for a handful of appearances—and if he sticks, who knows? Maybe he’ll be closing out another World Series run in the near future.
It’s unfortunate that Thursday night’s game is not on TV. No, not the Mariners game. That one’s on TV (perhaps unfortunately, as the M’s square off against the Red Sox and Franklin Morales—a strikeout machine so far this season). I’m talking about the Rainiers! You might notice that the Rainiers and Mariners have exactly the same number of wins, and that in both cases that is a bad thing. What you might not have noticed, and what I didn’t notice until Harrison retweeted this little nugget, is the very-possible pitching matchup for that game in Tacoma:
Jamie Moyer versus Danny Hultzen.
The 49-year-old that pitched 2,093 innings in a Mariners uniform will face our 22-year-old, first-round pick in the 2011 draft, a guy we hope pitches at least half that many innings of Moyeresque quality for Seattle. Let’s have some more fun with the numbers…
During his Mariner career, Moyer faced 8,802 batters over parts of 11 seasons. During his brief collegiate and professional career, Hultzen has faced 1,587 batters over parts of 4 seasons, and probably hasn’t faced 8,000 batters in his life.
Over that time, Moyer maintained an ERA of 3.97. Hultzen, a 1.99 ERA.
During Moyer’s best strikeout season, he sat down 158 batters in 234 innings. Hultzen struck out 165 batters in just 118 innings last year for the Cavaliers. Side note: Moyer set the single-season strikeout record at St. Joseph’s University with 90 strikeouts in 1984. Double side note: The St. Joseph’s baseball mascot is not the Soft-Tosser, if you were curious.
During his Mariners career, Moyer threw 25 wild pitches. Hultzen has already thrown 21 wild pitches between college and the minors.
As a hitter, Moyer has slashed .128/.199/.140 for his career. Hultzen slashed .313/.402/.431 at Virginia. Moyer never once hit a home run. Hultzen hit four. Too bad Hultzen doesn’t get to hit anymore.
Moyer finished 4th, 5th, and 6th in the AL Cy Young voting in 2001, 2003, and 1999, respectively. Hultzen won the John Olerud Two-Way Award, and was a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award in 2011—an award once won by the likes of Tim Lincecum, and an award for which the M’s 2012 first-round pick is now also a finalist.
This minor league matchup pits the M’s 3rd best pitcher by fWAR ever up against a kid who has exactly 0.0 WAR. I wish I could be there. Someone go for me.
There comes a time in every season when you start thinking towards the future. For some teams, that time comes after the season ends, and for some, the time comes in mid-June. I prettymuch threw in the towel for this season after we got swept by the Padres.
That doesn’t mean that you should completely ignore the Mariners for the rest of the season, but it does mean that it is time to start paying more attention to prospects in the farm system and potential moves at the trade deadline.
Just yesterday, top prospects Danny Hultzen and Nick Franklin were promoted to AAA Tacoma. The best part about the call-up is that Seattle natives can take a quick drive down I-5 to watch these two guys play. As exciting as it is to see these guys in AAA, the real question is, when will we see them in the MLB?
I can see Hultzen pitching for the Mariners by the end of the season depending on two things. First of all, he needs to stay healthy and succeed, but more importantly it will depend on his inning count for the year. Last season at Virginia, Hultzen threw 118 innings. Hultzen is currently at 75.1, so he is nearing his career high. His availability for the Mariners will be dictated by how many innings they decide to cut him off at.
Assuming that Danny Hultzen’s progress is not slowed, I would not be surprised to see him in a Mariner uniform during September callups, especially since he is already on the 40 man roster. Hultzen’s chance of getting a few starts could also be helped if the rotation continues to struggle or if Vargas is dealt at the deadline.
On the other hand, Nick Franklin is much less likely to be in the big leagues this year. First of all, he is not as far along in his progression as Hultzen is. In addition, he is not a current member of the 40 man roster meaning that the Mariners would have to remove someone from the 40 man in order to bring the 21 year old shortstop to the majors. While this is not undoable, it is less likely.
The matter of demand is also a main difference between Franklin and Hultzen. The current starting rotation could use some help considering that Vargas may be traded, Beavan is now in AAA, and Noesi and Ramirez have been less than impressive. Sure, Brendan Ryan has been incompetent at the plate, but the gold glove defense is worth the .290 OBP at least until the end of the year.
Keep an eye on the Rainiers to see how these two players are doing in Tacoma. Expect to see Hultzen in the MLB in September, but wait at least until late next seasons to see Nick Franklin at Safeco Field.
The baseball season has finally started! The Mariners are now 1-1 on the season as they return home from the two game set in Japan. Here are some of my thoughts on what we saw in the first series of the 2012 baseball season.
Things I … [visit site to read more]
Tags: Chance Ruffin, Chone Figgins, Danny Hultzen, dustin ackley, featured, Felix Herandez, Forrest Snow, George Sherrill, Jason Vargas, justin smoak, kyle seager, Mariners General, Mike Carp, Opening Day, Popular, shawn Kelley, Steve Delabar
Well as Bryant just reported, Hong-Chih Kuo has been released by the Mariners. His struggles this spring are too bad, I and too wish the best for the guy.
Now … [visit site to read more]
Tags: carlos triunfel, Cesar Jimenez, Charlie Furbush, Danny Hultzen, Erasmo Ramirez, George Sherrill, hong chih kuo, james paxton, kevin millwood, Mariners General, mauricio robles, Munenori Kawasaki, nick franklin, Popular, spring training, Vinnie Catricala
I love talking about MLB Draft and it’s that time of year that the wheels are just starting to turn. Some high schools are already practicing and most colleges are about two weeks from kicking off (the Washington Huskies kick off a three game series the 17th at San Deigo State). There is no way to even guess who certain teams are even interested in and who they are even looking at. I doubt that Scouting Directors even have a finalized list of who they are even going to see this spring. Regardless of if you are the top of the draft or even in the back, I’d imagine that all lists are all quite long and I guarantee they include more than just the “big” names.
What’s funny is looking at all pre-draft top 100 lists back in February of last year there was some crazy projection. Crazy in the context of where they ended up actually being drafted. Danny Hultzen was on our radar as Mariner fans and even when we drafted him there was a ton of uproar.
Now, we’re rocking some of the best young arms in baseball and possibly one of the best farm system -thanks to those young arms- in all of baseball. That’s not entirely done by Hultzen but he’s a contributing factor.
All that said to say that while it’s great to talk about some of the young draft prospects that will all be on the tip of our tounges early on in the season it’s quite possible that the young man, whose name will be announced by Bud Selig on June 4th, is one that we haven’t yet identified or really considered in depth.
There has been a lot of talk about Prince Fielder and supposedly there is talk that “this” maybe the week that we may start to see some real action on a supposed deal. I suppose it’s possible, really anything is possible. But, we really don’t know when and where he’ll sign and while I don’t like to compare anyone to Manny Ramirez, simply because he’s what we like to refer to as “special”, Prince Fielder could wait out a deal until spring training. Again, anything is possible.
But I started reviewing the rumors that are out there and sizing things up.
It’s commonly believed, those whom write the said rumors, that the Mariners are very much in the mix with the bidding and will attempt to go the distance to sign him. While money isn’t so much the issue, again, “supposedly”, there seems to be common belief that outside the dollar bill, the Mariners don’t have much to offer Fielder and have more “against” them than for them.
I like arguing. My mom thought, when I was 8 years old, I was destined to become a lawyer. Yeah, that didn’t really work out and come to think of it, I’m not sure why… that’s a thought for a different time. What I would like to present is some reasons outside of the ‘ol might buck, why Prince Fielder may actually consider the Mariners.