O’Neill exploding into potential star

In March of 2013 I was doing what I usually do in Arizona: spending the first several hours of every day on the back fields watching top prospects. From the 98 mph heater of Reds’ right-hander Robert Stephenson to the young arms in the Padres’ system, including Zach Eflin, Robbie Erlin, Max Fried and Matt Wisler, and so on. One day in the middle of the month, Canada’s Langley Blaze, a travel team from British Columbia, were in town taking on one of the lower-level clubs from those Padres. On…

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How MLB’s top 10 prospects have fared

Despite the historic influx of impact rookies last season in Major League Baseball, the crop of prospects in 2016 again is strong. Some began the season in the majors and remain stalwarts, while others began the season there and either remain or have since been promoted. I spent the past week digging, studying, calling, texting and emailing scouts that have seen the top talents to get their takes on the first month of the season for the game’s best prospects. For context, I’m using Keith Law’s Top 100, since he’s…

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Churchill: Evaluating 101

First off, I am not a scout. To me, the only scouts are those that work for clubs. That doesn’t mean, however, that others outside the game itself aren’t good — sometimes better — at evaluating a player’s present and future skills and abilities. It’s up to you to decide how valuable one’s assessments are. Second, it’s important to remember there is more than one right evaluation of a player, a player’s tools and his future. Sans the ridiculous, that is. Lastly, context is important in the evaluation game. Nothing…

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Mariners 2015 Prospects of the Year

It’s usually not difficult to identify the players of the year in minor leagues of a big-league organization. Determining the prospects of the year isn’t necessarily as elementary. In fact, it never is in my experience. The difference? Player of the year typically is all about performance. Prospect of the year is significantly more intricate and sophisticated, and requires a lot deeper and widespread investigating. The Seattle Mariners have what many call a weak farm system. I don’t entirely disagree, since a large portion of the club’s talent spent 2015…

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Mariners: rebuild or remodel?

The major league non-waiver trading deadline has passed and now, there’s time to reflect on the moves made by both buyers and sellers leading up to Friday’s 4 pm ET deadline. In Seattle – much to the chagrin of their fans – the under-performing Mariners are on track to miss the postseason for the fourteenth consecutive season. That’s why going into this week, Seattle was poised to be a seller with several veterans – Austin Jackson, Hisashi Iwakuma, Mark Trumbo, Fernando Rodney, Tom Wilhelmsen, Mark Lowe, Joe Beimel, J.A. Happ,…

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Marte needs time to master CF

The Seattle Mariners’ disappointing season has prompted some fans to call for the promotion of players from the Class-AAA Tacoma Rainiers to see if they can help the team salvage 2015. Fans are also anxious to see if any of these players have the potential to contribute in 2016 and beyond. In recent weeks, a popular veteran – Franklin Gutiérrez – returned to Seattle from Tacoma and one of the organization’s most enigmatic players – Jesús Montero made a brief visit with the Mariners before returning to the Rainiers. Based…

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De Los Santos a legit prospect

EVERETT, WA. — There’s only so much evaluation that can be done from afar. Boxscores, texts from scouts and emails from members of the player development staff are extremely helpful, but they’re without the appropriate context. Thus was my case with Enyel De Los Santos. Until Friday night. De Los Santos had the limited yet shiny stat line from his five starts in the rookie Arizona League, including 29 punchouts and five bases on balls in 24 2/3 innings of work. But despite an unimpressive line in his debut in…

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2015 M’s Mid-Season Prospect Rankings

As it was at the start of the season, the Seattle Mariners’ farm system is thin. Yes, there is talent. Most of it lies in a crude state in the lower minors. Of those that have graduated to the upper levels, many have struggled, been traded since or hold a status somewhere south of elite. The Mariners have a group of young talent on the 25-man roster that otherwise might create a much deeper, stronger crop down on the farm, including the likes of Mike Zunino and Taijuan Walker, suggesting…

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