As they embark on their 25th season as the Triple-A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners, here’s the tentative 2019 Tacoma Rainiers Opening Day Roster. Bold indicates a pre-season Top 25 Prospect. PITCHERS B/T HT/WT DOB 40-MAN? Justus Sheffield L/L 6-0/200 5.13.96 YES Erik Swanson R/R 6-3/235 9.4.93 YES R.J. Alaniz R/R 6-4/219 6.14.91 YES Dan Altavilla R/R 5-11/200 9.8.92 YES David McKay R/R 6-3/205 3.31.95 YES Nabil Crismatt R/R 6-1/215 12.25.94 NO Tyler Danish R/R 6-0/200 9.12.94 NO Ryan Garton R/R 5-10/190 12.5.89 NO Robinson Leyer R/R 6-2/175 3.13.93 NO Taylor Scott R/R 6-3/185 6.1.92 NO Matt Tenuta L/L 6-4/225 12.16.93 NO Gerson Bautista (IL) R/R 6-3/195 5.31.95 YES Tom Milone L/L 6-0/215 2.16.87 NO CATCHERS B/T HT/WT DOB 40-MAN? Austin Nola R/R 6-0/195 12.28.89 NO David Freitas R/R 6-3/225 3.18.89 YES Jose Lobaton S/R 6-1/205 10.21.84 NO INFIELDERS B/T HT/WT DOB 40-MAN? J.P. Crawford S/R 6-0/183 1.11.95 YES Shed Long L/R 5-8/184 8.22.95 YES Kris Negron R/R 6-0/190 2.1.86 NO Joey Curletta R/R 6-4/245 3.8.94 YES Adam Law R/R 6-0/195 2.5.90 NO Tim Lopes R/R 5-11/180 6.24.94 NO OUTFIELDERS B/T HT/WT DOB 40-MAN? Braden Bishop R/R 6-1/190 8.22.93 YES Ian Miller L/R 6-0/175 2.21.92 NO Tito Polo R/R 5-10/195 8.23.94 NO Eric Young, Jr. S/R 5-10/195 5.25.85 NO
1. Power grades are projected game power based on raw power and other factors that impact a player’s chances to realize it — such as hit tool.2. Thresholds have been adjusted to account for the increase in home runs and power in general throughout MLB, as well as the uptick in velocity (up a full mph from 2014), and decrease in batting average (down five points since 2014).3. Have adjusted (a bit) for the slight downward trend in speed. It’s tiny, but it’s there.4. Scales can vary slightly, depending on the org/evaluator, and other surrounding factors can impact the grade; tail/sink on a fastball can tick up the FB grade, since velo isn’t the entire grade on a FB. Command can have an impact on a pitch grade, as can a player’s ability to use his speed better than others with similar raw speed.5. 80 grades are rare.6. Lefty velo is rarer than righty velo, hence the difference in grades.7. Reliever velo is slightly downgraded versus starter velo.8. When some evaluators say fringe-average or solid-average, it’s saying slightly below or slightly above, and often that means a tweener grade in between the initial half grade. Fringe-average = 47.5. Solid-average = 52.5. These aren’t used much in baseball; more so in prospect analysis outside the industry itself. Scouts will instead explain a tweener grade in writing. Rather than use the tweener grades I’ll use a plus sign on the half grade, as I have in the past. 9. Grades are not permanent, although speed tends only to decrease with very little room for increase. Most tools can be improved, and are, with development time. It may or may not show up on the radar as a significant improvement, or enough to change a player’s grade or overall profile, depending on the level of development of the tool in question.10. The 20-25 grades are rarely used, because if a significant tool grades that low, the player isn’t a big-league prospect. They are typically only used on speed for slugger/catcher types, but even then it’s rare, and overall concerning for prospects, since ‘prospects’ are young players, usually between 16-25 years of age. Here is the 20-80 Scale and what the grades represent in terms of performance on the field at the major-league level. TAG HIT PWR SPD to 1B 60 Velo RH Velo LH Pop (C) 80 80 .315 AVG 43+ HR 3.9L, 4.0R 6.3 98 96 1.85 & under 75 — .310 38-42 HR 3.95L, 4.05R 6.4 97 95 — 70 Plus Plus .290 34-37 HR 4.0L, 4.1R 6.5 96 94 — 65 — .280 30-33 HR 4.05L, 4.15R 6.6 95 93 — 60 Plus .270 26-29 HR 4.1L, 4.2R 6.7-6.8 94 92 1.9 55 Above Average .260 22-25 HR 4.15L, 4.25R 6.9 93 91 — 50 Average .255 18-21 HR 4.2L, 4.3R 7 92 90 1.95 45 Below Average .245 14-17 HR 4.25L, 4.35R 7.1 91 89 — 40 Well Below Average .240 10-13 HR 4.3L, 4.4R 7.2 89-90 88 2 35 — .230 6-9 HR 4.35L, 4.45R 7.3 88 87 30 — .220 4-6 HR 4.4L 4.50R 7.4 87 86 2.05+ The above chart may explain why an average player is actually good. Everyday players are valuable. Being average across the board is a solid player. Below is the same scale used to place a number on a player’s potential value, often referred to as Future Value or more traditionally, Overall Future Potential (OFP). The chart format is inspired by Kiley McDaniel of FanGraphs, but has been adjusted for 2017-19 MLB production & performance standards.Note: If a player is a 65-grade performer for most of relatively long career, he’s a HOF’er. That’s likely an avg of 5 wins per year for 10-12 years plus the intro and outro value to start and end his career. That’s a 60-70 WAR career. The elite players in the game today, the 1-3 80-grade performers, are posting 8-10 wins per year the past 5 years or so. If a player sustained that for 10 years, they’re elite Hall of Fame material. It’s also important to note that OFPs need to be adjusted, because simply averaging out the tools doesn’t result in a meaningful assessment. Why? Because hitting is more important than speed. Such factors are taken into consideration when determining OFP/FV. PLAYER SP RP 80 Top 1-2 Elite Ace NA 75 MVP, Top 5-7 Player No. 1/Ace NA 70 Superstar, Top 10-15 No. 1 SP NA 65 All-Star/Star No. 2 SP NA 60 Plus/All-Star No. 2/3 SP Elite Closer 55 Above-Avg Regular No. 3 SP Top 15 CL 50 Average regular No. 4 SP AVG HL RP/SU 45 UT/Platoon Adv. No. 5 SP 7th/8th 40 Pure Reserve Swing/Long Middle 35 911 911 911 30 ORG ORG ORG Contrary to tools grades, tweener grades are often used in overall evals, out a decimal half point along the way. It’s common to see 51.5 or 46.5 or 65.5, but the formula for the grade is more complicated than averaging out the tools.
With the offseason behind us for the most part, let’s take a look at the best move by each National League club since the end of the 2018 season. MARINERS: Seattle May Have a CF Problem Arizona Diamondbacks Acquiring Carson Kelly, Luke Weaver and a Competitive Balance draft pick in exchange for 1B Paul Goldschmidt. It was either going to cost the D-Backs $200 million to keep him or they had to move him. They chose wisely. The haul may seem a tad light for what amounts to the game’s best first baseman over the past six seasons, not to mention the third most valuable position player by fWAR (32.9) over that same span. But Goldschmidt is 31 and entering the final year of his contract and in return Arizona acquires five years of control of Kelly, who may be their next No. 1 catcher and as early as 2019, and five years of Weaver, who has a chance to be a mid-rotation value right away with a ceiling that could scrape No. 2 starter at his peak. Kelly brings power potential and arm strength but is working on the hit tool, having struggled mightily in his short stints in the big leagues with the Cardinals. Weaver sits 92-95 mph with plus control and command and an above-average changeup. His cutter is at least average and if his curveball, currently fringe-average at best, reaches average or better levels, he has a shot to hit the aforementioned ceiling. On top of that, both players will combine to earn about $3 million total over the next two years — at best. And for a club that’s kinda-sorta retooling, adding draft capital is never a bad idea. Atlanta Braves One could easily make an argument the best move the Braves made this offseason was NOT trading multiple prospects for a veteran, but instead it’s the addition of former MVP Josh Donaldson that takes home the trophy. Donaldson has had trouble staying healthy, but the Braves take a chance on the 33-year-old for one season and $23 million. That deal pays off if Donaldson repeats either of his last two full seasons when he batted .284/.404/.549 with 37 HR in 155 games in 2016 and .270/.385/.559 with 33 HR in 113 games in 2017. He wasn’t awful last season (117 wRC+) but managed just 219 plate appearances, but his peripherals look similar enough to his better days, even though he played much of ’18 at less than 100 percent: Last 3 Years, Most Recent FirstBB%: 14.2, 15.3, 15.6K%: 24.7, 22.4, 17.0EV: 90.2, 90.6, 92.0LA: 11.8, 13.5, 14.7Hard Hit%: 41.0, 44.0, 49.5 The Braves were already No. 5 in the NL in runs scored a year ago and add a boost with Donaldson, but there are two hidden values here: If Donaldson holds down third base, utility man Johan Camargo (.272/.349/.457, 19 HR) can move around and spell Dansby Swanson and Ozzie Albies or venture into the outfield, while also providing insurance for Donaldson and giving the veteran time off when needed. Also, the Braves were the NL’s best offense versus left-handed pitching last season with a 107 wRC+. Donaldson not only helps the club improve upon that, but offers another boomstick to complement lefty-hitting Freddie Freeman.This could be especially helpful since the division went out and got more left-handed on the mound the past year and a half. Chicago Cubs The Cubs’ best acquisition for 2019 probably came last summer when they stole Cole Hamels from the Texas Rangers, but the best move this offseason by Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein was to avoid the panic trade and hang onto Kyle Schwarber, Albert Almora, Duane Underwood, Carl Edwards Jr., Dillon Maples, Adbert Alzolay, Miguel Amaya, among others. It was clear before the winter hit the Cubs weren’t likely to splurge on payroll and buy Bryce Harper or Patrick Corbin, which means the Cubs brass had two choices; stand pat and get better from within or trade young pieces on the way up for above-average to great proven veterans. But if the Cubs want sustained success, bailing on the present core as well as the future in one offseason could be disastrous and more likely than anything else ends in failure or at very best, short-term success but a shallow farm system and no 0-3s to build upon moving forward. The Cubs weren’t one player away. They probably weren’t even two. The roster likely needs four or five upgrades to win 100 games and contend for the World Series, and the best bet for that to occur is to ask the same cast of characters to handle the chore. There’s no reason Kyle Schwarber can’t improve on a .238/.356/.467 season or Anthony Rizzo can’t go from a .283/.376/.470 showing back to where he was in 2015, 2016 and 2017 when he hit 32 homers per season. Kris Bryant‘s 125 wRC+ pales in comparison to what he’s proven he’s capable of (146, 148, 136 his first three seasons), not to mention he played just 102 games last season. Getting Yu Darvish back healthy may not be a guarantee, but the club had just one starting pitcher compile more than 1.7 fWAR last year and only two went over 180 innings. While no one would have blamed them for spending on Harper or Corbin, the Cubs did the right thing avoiding the panic trade. Cincinnati Reds In their attempt to become more competitive, the Reds went out and added proven talent, but the best deal they made was the one that landed them LHP Alex Wood and OFs Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig and cash. The Reds control the trio for just a year, but it cost them but Homer Bailey and two prospects not likely to help in the majors for a while, if at all, and the Dodgers are footing $7 million of the bill. The move led them to more — trading for Sonny Gray, then extending Gray’s contract, signing Jose Iglesias and Derek Dietrich as key role players — and was set up by the club’s deal to acquire RHP Tanner Roark. The Queen City could be fun this summer and the veterans give the Amir Garretts, Robert Stephensons and Jesse Winkers more traction to finish off their development, which lends confidence to the success of the club well beyond 2019. Colorado Rockies The easy one here is the contract extension handed to Nolan Arenado to keep him in Denver for the next eight years, barring a player opt-out. But in terms of winning in 2019, the Rockies didn’t do a whole lot in terms of personnel. But the signing of Daniel Murphy could be huge for them. Murphy can hit, even if he can’t play a legit second base anymore – if he ever could in the first place. Colorado got Murphy on the cheap — two years, $24 million — after the 33-year-old had microfracture surgery and missed a lot of time in 2018. With DJ Lemahieu leaving via free agency, the Rockies potentially replace the production and then some by using Ryan McMahon at second and keeping Murphy at first base. Don’t be surprised if Murphy runs out a .320/.380/.500 season again, as he did with the Nationals in 2016 and 2017. Los Angeles Dodgers If L.A. would have grabbed Manny Machado or Harper or added Corbin or Dallas Keuchel to their rotation, the best move they made this offseason might be the deal that sent Kemp, Puig and Wood to the Reds, which would be weird, but it saved them $40 million off the 2019 payroll. But they didn’t do any of those things, so … I like the Pollock move a lot, despite his injury history, but the biggest reason it’s their best move is the cost, or lack thereof, I should say. Pollock received $60 million over four years and if the Dodgers get even two 140-game seasons out of him it will be worth it. In two abbreviated seasons in 2017-18 that totaled 926 plate appearances, Pollock was worth 4.7 fWAR. His last full season was 2015 when he posted a 6.8 fWAR in 673 PAs. Anywhere in between is a huge win for the Dodgers. Miami Marlins It’s not often trading your best player is the best move, but in the case of the Marlins and J.T. Realmuto, the club did well to trade two years of control of the All-Star catcher to Philadelphia for pitching prospects Sixto Sanchez and Will Stewart, and catcher Jorge Alfaro. Sanchez offers a potential frontline arm in a year or two when Derek Jeter‘s club wants to start competing again and the ceiling there is at least of a No. 2 starter. He’s up to 99 mph with a promising curveball and changeup and present average control and command. He’s just 20 and likely starts 2019 in Double-A. Alfaro is a big-league catcher with five years of control remaining and coming off a 2.1 fWAR season of his own at age 25. Stewart is the forgotten player in this trade. He’s a ground-ball lefty with a sinking fastball generated from a low 3/4 arm slot. He offers some deception to go with a potential big-league slider and changeup. Milwaukee Brewers Yasmani Grandal signed a one-year, $16 million deal with the Brewers in January, and that’s the first of many reasons this move sits atop the list for the defending NL Central champs. Grandal, 30, has had some defensive issues, primarily late in 2018 and into the postseason, but continues to offer above-average power and some on-base percentage. He batted .241/.349 with 24 long balls last season and posted a career-best 3.6 fWAR. Despite the cult heroism of Erik Kratz in October, the Brewers struggled mightily at the plate from the catcher’s position in 2018, posting a 76 wRC+ (21st in MLB), .363 slugging percentage (20th) and .294 on-base percentage (19th). Despite the issues at catcher, as well as second base and third base, the Brewers ranked No. 7 in the NL in runs scored, just three runs from ranking No. 5. Grandal shores up the position and then some. New York Mets Easily one can argue NOT trading Noah Syndergaard or Jacob deGrom is the best move by new Gm Brody Van Wagenen this offseason, but the Mets made enough additions to go that route instead. A year ago, the Mets posted the No. 4 FIP in the NL and the rotation ranked No. 1. The bullpen, by itself, struggled, finishing dead last in the National League in FIP (4.61) No. 14 in fWAR (-0.6) and piled up the most losses (36). If Edwin Diaz has anything to say about it, those lows won’t be repeated in 2019. Diaz, acquired along with Robinson Cano and cash in exchange for Jay Bruce, Anthony Swarzak and prospects Jarred Kelenic, Justin Dunn and Gerson Bautista, was the game’s best reliever last season and comes with four more years of control and the first one costs under $600,000. Diaz is relentless up to 100 mph with a wipeout slider and greatly improved control and command that led him to stardom in 2018. He struck out 44.3 percent of the batters he faced a year ago, walking just 6.1 percent and is as dominant as any reliever in baseball. If Jeurys Familia, Seth Lugo and company can hand leads to Diaz, the Mets are going to win a lot of games they didn’t win a year ago. Philadelphia Phillies This one’s easy: Harper (13/$330). Despite landing J.T. Realmuto and Jean Segura via trade and signing David Robertson and Andrew McCutchen, Harper is the championship get. The former MVP will change games with one swing as much as anyone in baseball when healthy and anchors a loaded lineup full of speed, power and patience. Harper can carry a team at times, but the Phillies won’t need to ask him to do that very often. Pittsburgh Pirates The Pirates might be No. 1 on a rankings list of moves the club should have made but didn’t, but … Pittsburgh landed Chris Archer last summer at a steep price but did almost nothing to help their club this offseason. If they’re banking on Jameson Taillon and Archer leading the charge to a surprising 2019, it also means they’re hoping Colin Moran is the answer at third base and Corey Dickerson repeats 2018. It appears the move of the offseason for the Pirates was simply not tearing it all down, because the next best option is the signing of Lonnie Chisenhall. The upside of the Pirates roster is high, but it also comes with tons of risk. And in one of the most competitive divisions in baseball, the Bucs could play relatively well and lose 85 or more games. Not really a great time to stand pat, but it isn’t the time to cut bait on Gregory Polanco, Starling Marte, Josh Bell, Adam Frazier, closer Felipe Vazquez and the top of the rotation, either. San Diego Padres Another easy one. Manny Machado (10/$300) gives the Padres a bona fide star in the middle of the lineup. The winning might be a year or two away, but Machado’s presence allows the Padres brass to focus on developing Manuel Margot, Luis Urias, Francisco Mejia and to target pitching in the majority of future signings and trades. The signing also legitimizes, a little bit at least, the Eric Hosmer signing (8/$144M) from last winter. San Francisco Giants The Giants flirted with Bryce Harper and perhaps made serious offers, but in the end, the biggest addition to the Giants over the winter is probably lefty swingman Drew Pomeranz. As a result, the best move the Giants made over the offseason was NOT committing $300 million to Harper. With the Giants boasting an aging core, Harper likely would have ended up serving as the start of a rebuild rather than finishing off a title-contending roster. Had they added more earlier in the winter when more options were available — like a high leverage reliever or two, more rotation depth behind Madison Bumgarner and another bat in an outfield that right now boasts three unproven players — Harper would have made more sense. St. Louis Cardinals The Cardinals’ addition of Goldschmidt not only adds a legit MVP candidate to their roster — a roster that had an MVP candidate a year ago in Matt Carpenter — it allows that other MVP candidate to play a position perhaps more fitting to the team’s needs. But the best move of the offseason for the Cardinals is the signing of Andrew Miller to help solidify the bullpen. It cost only money (2/$25M) and Miller’s experience and willingness to pitch in any role — closer, setup, situational, middle relief, setup — helps manage the usage of Jordan Hicks, who appeared in a career-high 73 games last season in his first year as a full-time reliever. Washington Nationals The signing of Patrick Corbin (6/$140M) reestablishes the Nationals’ Big Three when Jordan Zimmermann was posting 3-5 win season in D.C, and it gives the club the power lefty it’s lacked during the current run. Corbin, 29, had a career year in 2018, posting his first 200-inning season since 2013. He posted his third healthy season in a row, however, and struck out 30.8 percent of the batters he faced. With Max Scherzer still at the top of his game and Stephen Strasburg healthy this spring, the Nationals boast the league’s best 1-2-3 and despite the loss of Harper, added Yan Gomes to Anthony Rendon (6.3 fWAR), Juan Soto (3.7), Trea Turner (4.8) and a healthy Adam Eaton (1.9 in 95 G). Corbin may put the Nationals over the top in the senior circuit in 2019.
For scouting reports and tools grades (including pitch velocities) for the Top 25, subscribe to the Baseball Things Podcast right here and get the full report via PDF and access to every single podcast episode — including the audio Top 25 scouting reports. Also included in the PDF: Tools Grade & OFP/Future Value breakdown; What velo is a 65 fastball? What speed is a 60? How many HR is a 70-grade power tool? What AVG would a 50-grade hit tool produce? How about a 60-grade pop time from a catcher? What role is a 55-grade position player? A 60-grade pitcher? No. Player Pos. MV Tool 2019 1 Justus Sheffield LHS SL AAA 2 Jarred Kelenic CF HIT A 3 Justin Dunn RHS FB AA 4 Julio Rodriguez RF PWR R 5 Kyle Lewis RF PWR AA 6 Evan White 1B HIT AA 7 Logan Gilbert RHS FB A 8 Shed Long 2B HIT AAA 9 Noelvi Marte SS/3B PWR DSL 10 Erik Swanson RHS FB AAA 11 Cal Raleigh C PWR A 12 Sam Carlson RHS FB REHAB 13 Juan Querecuto SS DEF DSL 14 Dom Thompson-Williams CF DEF AA 15 Ricardo Sanchez LHS FB AA 16 Braden Bishop CF DEF AAA 17 Damon Casetta-Stubbs RHS FB R 18 Wyatt Mills RHR SL AAA 19 Gerson Bautista RHR FB AAA 20 Nick Rumbelow RHR FB MLB 21 Matt Festa RHR FB AAA 22 Art Warren RHR FB AA 23 Joey Gerber RHR FB A 24 Jake Fraley CF RUN AA 25 Luis Baez RHS FB DSL
My annual Seattle Mariners Top 25 is set for publishing soon, but here’s the NEXT 25 that missed the cut. The below group is NOT listed in any particular order, but represent the best chance to crack the Top 25 in 2019 among those not currently ranked. MiLB free agents not considered. Max Roberts, LHP Project with physical projection. Lefty poor-man’s Doug Fister?Joe Rizzo, 3B No power, no speed, no position, hit tool isn’t carrying him (yet), either.Joey O’Brien, RHP Up to 95 mph, good athlete, two-way JC player. Splitter is his best pitch.Luis Veloz, OF Raw power, learning to hit, plus arm. So far, all tools at 18.Ljay Newsome, RHP Strike thrower with two average or better offspeed pitches and MR ceiling.Robert Whalen, RHP ML stuff with non-baseball hurdles.Ruben Alaniz, RHP Heavy FB up to 98, 40 control & breaking ball. ML ready soon.Eric Filia, OF/DH ML hit tool, no power, position.Joey Curletta, 1B 60 power, 40-45 hit tool, 1B only. Jorge Benitez, LHP Undersized, 50 cmd, potential 3 ML pitches.Luis Liberato, CF Intriguing tools, performance hasn’t shown up.Freuddy Batista, C Shows mature plate skills & bat-to-ball … can he catch?Donnie Walton, 2B 50 hit tool, avg glove & speed, no power.Osiris Castillo, SS 18, disciplined bat, but swing needs work.Holden Laws, LHP Projectable, 55 ctl, FB true.Robert Perez, 1B Above-Avg power, OF might work.Arturo Guerrero, OFPhysical projection for power, solid athlete. Gunn Omosako, OFBrazil native flashes hit and power tools… plus arm.Brayan Perez, LHPCommand and feel southpaw with shot at two ML secondaries. Max Povse, RHP Stagnant development after reaching majors in ’17, 40 cmd of straight FB.Nolan Hoffman, RHPLow 3/4/Sidearmer has sinking FB up to 95, no out pitch for LHB. Juan Mercedes, RHPMature 18-year-old is up to 93 with more to go get. Sam Delaplane, RHP 90-94, high slot, 60 ctl, reliever only. Ryne Inman, RHP Low-90s FB up to 94, 40 cmd, 45 ctl, projectable frame.Keegan McGovern, 1B/OFHas ML power, 40 hit tool, could be late bloomer after swing adjustment senior year.
After the trades of Mike Zunino, James Paxton, James Pazos, Edwin Diaz and Robinson Cano, the Seattle Mariners have greatly improved their farm system. Here’s a quick look at the Top 15 Prospect Rankings as of December 13, 2018. Players in bold acquired after the 2018 season. Player in italics acquired in the last 365 days. NO. PLAYER POS AGE MV TOOL 1 Justus Sheffield LHP 22 FB 2 Jarred Kelenic CF 20 HIT 3 Julio Rodriguez RF 17 POWER 4 Justin Dunn RHP 23 FB 5 Kyle Lewis CF 23 POWER 6 Logan Gilbert RHP 21 FB 7 Evan White 1B 22 HIT 8 Noelvi Marte SS 16 POWER 9 Erik Swanson RHP 25 FB 10 Cal Raleigh C 21 POWER 11 Josh Stowers CF 21 HIT 12 Sam Carlson RHP 19 CH 13 Juan Querecuto SS 17 THROW 14 Dom Thompson-Williams CF 23 FIELD 15 Nick Rumbelow RHR 26 CB
It wasn’t what one might ever call a banner year in the Seattle Mariners farm system — it’s been several years since that’s occurred — but there are always positives to counter the club’s lack of impact talent and depth. For years I’ve done postseason prospects of the year, but to remind everyone, these are not ‘player’ and ‘pitcher’ of the year awards. They are specifically about a player’s prospect status. What’s their upside? How much did they improve their stock as a future major leaguer? Statistics do NOT tell the whole story. In fact, stats generally lie more than anything else. 2017 Prospects of the Year | 2016 Prospects of the Year Position Prospect of the Year Infielder Bryson Brigman was an early favorite, but was traded to Miami this summer. Kyle Lewis started late and never really got on a roll — though he did finish the year healthy, which was really the most important thing for the former 1st-round pick. Braden Bishop was a mid-season star, but he got hurt and missed the second half of the season. Late in the season, 2017 1st-round pick Evan White got hot and made his case, as did ’18 draftees Josh Stowers and Cal Raleigh, who spent their summers in Everett. Converted catcher Joe DeCarlo had his moments at Double-A Arkansas and Daniel Vogelbach had a big year in Triple-A Tacoma. Joey Curletta, whom I have yet to rank, was the Texas League Player of the Year after a .282/.383/.482, 23 HR campaign, but I didn’t consider him here, since I can’t find a scout who thinks he’ll hit big-league pitching. Why? He’s strong, finds the barrel some, but the swing is a bit long and he punishes fastball mistakes. There’s some young Justin Smoak in him, without the discipline and strike zone judgment. Curletta can change his profile — and my mind — by shortening up, using the middle of the field with authority more often and finding a way to deal with soft stuff better. WINNERJulio Rodriguez, RF — DSL AVG OBP SLG HR 2B/3B BB SO .315 .404 .525 5 13/9 30 40 Rodriguez was the club’s prized summer signing a year ago and entered 2018, his first in affiliated pro ball, with an advanced-for-his-age-and-experience bat, power potential, average speed and above-average arm. The kid’s debut really couldn’t have gone better. Aside from hitting for average and power in the DSL this summer, he showed instincts on the bases and in the field, firmed up his throwing arm and mechanics and impressed the organization off the field. He was a Top-10 Lat Am prospect but if those rankings were re-shuffled, he might be top 4-5 now. He’s made tons of progress maturing, too (see link above), learning and grasping the English language, and is in Arizona this fall for the club’s month-and-a-half long performance camp designed by Andy McKay, the Mariners’ director of Player Development. His 2018 season was cut a bit short due to a foot injury, but the performance camp does not involve playing ball, and the 59 games he did play were impressive. Scout 1: “I think what we saw was a glimpse of a young player in control of his emotions on the field with a quick, powerful swing and enough athleticism to profile as a regular defender. It’s tough to get a great idea when you see these players for a short period, but we saw why Seattle liked him so much.” Scout 2: “Yeah. Yeah, yeah. He’s got a real shot to play for awhile. I like how he uses his lower half and stays simple up top. He’ll have to tinker as he goes like everyone does but that’s a man’s swing that should play.” Runner-UpEvan White, 1B — Modesto Nuts AVG OBP SLG HR 2B/3B BB SO .303 .375 .458 11 27/7 52 103 White was having a good-enough season until he struggled in July at .239/.308/.284 with just four extra-base hits pulled his full-season line down to worrisome levels. When White was drafted in Round 1 he entered pro ball as a good athlete with 65 speed and some hitting skills, but there was question about the power and whether or not he’d handle hard stuff with the wood bat. While the power still is developing, some of the other questions were answered, at least somewhat. From July 25 through the end of the season — 33 games — White batted .347/.446/.605 with five homers, 11 doubles and three triples. He walked 19 times during that span, striking out 28. The five long balls represented nearly half his season total and the 19 extra-base hits overall was 42 percent of his entire season total. White has shortened up everything over the course of the season and eliminated a slight and occasional hitch. He finishes with more violence and with more flyball authority. He also started to use his hips better and lay off stuff out of the zone a little more. I actually got a couple of ceiling comps on White I hadn’t heard before in Marcell Ozuna and Stephen Piscotty, but I still thinks his absolute ceiling is more George Springer with a more realistic landing on Ian Kinsler or Ben Zobrist. White, who has added strength without sacrificing quickness since draft day, has the feet, speed and arm to play left or right field and while some think center isn’t out of the question, I never saw, nor could I find anyone who believed they did, either, the kind of instinct it generally takes to play out there on any kind of regular basis. But White shouldn’t be playing first base, despite his platinum glove at the position, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him start to get reps in the outfield. He’s on the roster in the Arizona Fall League, listed as an infielder, but a nice surprise would be to see him get OF time down there when the games are solely about development, though I don’t expect that to be the case. White’s finish to the season, and how he got there, pushed Rodriguez for this award and closes the gap a bit on the rankings. The club’s top 3 — Lewis, Rodriguez, White — are about as close as can get right now, and while that’s mostly due to Lewis not really getting untracked at the plate, we shouldn’t sell Rodriguez and White short by any stretch. Pitching Prospect of the Year Andrew Moore, Tommy Romero, Seth Elledge and Chase De Jong were traded over the summer, but only Romero was on my PPoY radar. It’s a thin group, highlighted by relievers such as Wyatt Mills, Darin Gillies and Joey Gerber, or low-level performers such as lefties Brayan Perez, Orlando Razo, Michael Plassmeyer and Jorge Benitez and right-hander Dayeison Arias. Ryne Inman and Ljay Newsom had very strong years, but neither grade very high at this stage and didn’t necessarily improve their stock much this year, either. Newsome is likely to get the honors as chosen by most major outlets after a stat line that produced a 123-13 K/BB ratio in 138 2/3 innings. He did, however, allow 169 hits and served up 24 home runs. He’s a fringe prospect at best, though I’d like to see what happens in the long run with him since he throws strikes with everything despite a lack of ideal size (5-11, 210) is a bulldog who could work in a swing role. WinnerMatt Festa, RHR — Arkansas Travelers G IP H BB SO HR ERA 44 49 50 12 67 6 2.76 Festa wins mostly by default here, but that’s not his fault. He’s a solid-average relief prospect with a fastball up to 95 and slider that flashes plus but lives in the 50-55 range most of the time. He’s very effective when he stays on top and creates some plane and does a good job pitching away from RHBs with his four-seamer, which isn’t as common in the majors as one might think. The fastball lacks movement up in the zone and while it tops out at 95, he’s often 92-94, which isn’t overpowering in the majors these days. There may be more velocity to go get, however; More effort? Mechanics tune? The right-hander isn’t the best relief prospect in the system, but Art Warren spent much of the year injured and some of the other arms have yet to put in full seasons — Gerber, O’Brien, et al — and Festa did perform very well late for the Travelers before rejoining the Mariners this month. Festa profiles as a middle reliever with high-7th inning upside, but there’s a pretty good shot he gets to these projections, and he’s more athletic than he gets credit for, which is why I still prefer trying him as a starter (middle relievers are not hard to find and they’re cheaper than No. 4 starters, he started in college, so why not?). Runner-UpAustin Hutchison, RHP — Modesto Nuts G/GS IP H BB SO HR ERA 26/9 83 74 25 89 5 3.47 Hutchison is a name that popped up earlier this summer and prompted me to tweet about him in August — the first time I’d talked about him anywhere outside of a quick note on draft day. M’s 26th rounder from last year’s draft, RHP Austin Hutchison, punched out 11 and walked NONE in six innings for Modesto Saturday. Has made six starts now after beginning the season as a reliever. Low-90s, CB, CH. More of a 2-pitch guy right now. Interesting project, though. — Jason A. Churchill (@ProspectInsider) August 19, 2018 He made three more starts after that and continued to flash. Hutchison, a Mount Olive product, is just 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds, but stays closed well and explodes through his release point from a high 3/4 slot. He’s a little upright at finish but knows how to use the two-seamer to set up a pretty good mid-70s curveball he can throw for called strikes and vary the speed. His future should be in the rotation unless the club feels they can him into the mid-90s in shorter stints, but he needs to work on the changeup quite a bit to become a viable option to get through the lineup three times. In future seasons, the Mariners certainly hope names such as Plassmeyer, Logan Gilbert, Sam Carlson and Damon Casetta-Stubbs dominate this space. Plassmeyer was pretty good in an ‘Opener’ role in Everett, but has a back-end ceiling for me (although he may move quickly), Carlson had Tommy John this summer and isn’t going to be heard from until 2020, Casetta-Stubbs got his feet wet and that’s about it in rookie ball and first-rounder Gilbert had some foot work done this summer, rather than the club pushing his workload after a full college season.
The Seattle Mariners ended 2017 with the worst farm system in Major League Baseball. They started 2018 the same way. While they’re still rank at or near the bottom of the league in organizational talent, the club’s collection is growing. Since the 2017 MLB Draft, the Mariners have acquired Evan White, Sam Carlson, Julio Rodriguez, Juan Querecuto, Noelvi Marte and Logan Gilbert, among others. It’s not what I’d call flipping the farm system on end, but for a little over a year it’s a solid set of additions that gives the club some foundation to start truly rebuilding the system. The lone significant departure in the last 13 months is Tyler O’Neill, who was traded for left-hander Marco Gonzales. NO. PLAYER, POS. AGE MV TOOL NOW/FUTURE ETA 1 Kyle Lewis, CF 23 POWER 55/60 2020 2 Julio Rodriguez, RF 17 POWER 50/55 2023 3 Noelvi Marte, SS 16 POWER 50/60 2024 4 Logan Gilbert, RHP 21 FB 60/65 2020 5 Evan White, 1B 22 HIT 45/50 2020 6 Sam Carlson, RHP 19 CH 55/65 2023 7 Josh Stowers, CF 21 HIT 45/50 2021 8 Juan Querecuto, SS 17 THROW 60/60 2023 9 Cal Raleigh, C 21 POWER 50/60 2021 10 Damon Casetta-Stubbs, RHP 18 FB 55/65 2023 11 Nick Rumbelow, RHR 26 CB 55/60 2018 12 Braden Bishop, CF 24 FIELD 70/70 2020 13 Matt Festa, RHR 25 SL 55/60 2018 14 Art Warren, RHR 25 FB 65/70 2019 15 Rob Whalen, RHP 24 CB 55/60 2018 16 Wyatt Mills, RHR 23 SL 55/60 2019 17 Daniel Vogelbach, 1B 25 HIT 50/55 2018 18 Joe DeCarlo, C 24 THROW 60/60 2020 19 Luis Liberato, CF 22 FIELD 50/55 2021 20 Jansiel Rivera, RF 19 POWER 45/55 2023 21 Michael Plassmeyer, LHP 21 CMD 55/60 2020 22 Anthony Jimenez, CF 22 FIELD 50/55 2021 23 Joe Rizzo, 3B 20 HIT 40/50 2022 24 Joey Gerber, RHR 21 SL 55/60 2020 25 Osiris Castillo, SS 17 HIT 40/55 2024 26 Ivan Fortunato, RHP 19 FB 50/60 2022 27 Johendi Jiminian, RHP 25 FB 60/60 2019 28 Donnie Walton, 2B 24 HIT 45/50 2020 29 Eric Filia, RF 26 HIT 50/55 2020 30 Luis Veloz, OF 18 POWER 50/55 2023 31 Joey O’Brien, RHR 20 CMD 50/60 2021 32 Gunn Omosako, OF 17 HIT 45/50 2024 33 Ronald Rosario, RF 21 POWER 40/50 2023 34 Max Povse, RHP 24 CB 45/55 2018 35 Freuddy Batista, C 18 HIT 40/50 2023 36 Ryne Inman, RHP 22 CMD 45/55 2022 37 Brayan Perez, LHP 17 CMD 50/60 2024 38 Max Roberts, LHP 21 CB 45/55 2022 39 Nolan Hoffman, RHR 21 FB 50/60 2020 40 Juan Mercedes, RHP 18 CB 40/50 2023
The Seattle Mariners ended 2017 with the worst farm system in Major League Baseball. They started 2018 the same way. While they’re still rank at or near the bottom of the league in organizational talent, the club’s collection is growing. Since the 2017 MLB Draft, the Mariners have acquired Evan White, Sam Carlson, Julio Rodriguez, Juan Querecuto, Noelvi Marte and Logan Gilbert, among others. It’s not what I’d call flipping the farm system on end, but for a little over a year it’s a solid set of additions that gives the club some foundation to start truly rebuilding the system. The lone significant departure in the last 13 months is Tyler O’Neill, who was traded for the American League’s 12th-best starting pitcher this season, left-hander Marco Gonzales. Subscribe to Baseball Things 25-Man Roster by Club Control Here’s the Top 40, which includes a handful of international signings from the classes of 2017 and 2018, as well as draftees from both classes. NOTE: Prospects are evaluated and ranked on upside, risk & probability, future role and performance. Many will wonder why a hitter in Double-A that’s batting .310 with a .400 OBP is ranked so low when players with significantly lesser production are ranked higher. There could be several reasons for that, but a good place to start is age vs. level, then perhaps positional value and projection. If the .310/.400 bat is 26, hits for no power and has no real position on the field, perhaps his ceiling is severely limited. Just saying. Some roles just aren’t that valuable. I’d rather a 3% chance at an everyday position player or mid-rotation starting pitcher, for example, than a 60% chance of a middle reliever, which is why you’ll see many others ranking many of the Mariners’ relievers in Double-A and Advanced-A a lot higher than I do. Unless it’s a potential closer — which means a high-leverage, Alex Colome–Edwin Diaz role is apparent at present — it’s a middle reliever profile. That’s literally Nick Vincent. That’s literally Chasen Bradford. Which is literally talent clubs can get for nearly free every year. Vincent cost almost nothing (cash) to acquire a few years ago. Bradford cost literally nothing beyond his minimum salary prior to this season. Give me another lottery ticket, instead, thank you. Below is a Top 40 updated through July 27, 2018. NO. PLAYER POS AGE LEVEL 1 Kyle Lewis RF 23 A+ 2 Noelvi Marte SS 16 NA 3 Logan Gilbert RHP 21 NA 4 Julio Rodriguez RF 17 DSL 5 Evan White 1B 22 A+ 6 Damon Casetta-Stubbs RHP 18 NA 7 Josh Stowers CF 21 SS-A 8 Sam Carlson RHP 19 NA 9 Braden Bishop CF 24 AA 10 Cal Raleigh C/1B 21 NA 11 Juan Querecuto SS 17 DSL 12 Bryson Brigman SS 23 A+ 13 Luis Liberato CF 22 A+ 14 Joe Rizzo 3B 20 A+ 15 Dan Vogelbach DH 25 AAA 16 Rob Whalen RHP 24 AAA 17 Art Warren RHR 25 AA 18 Matt Festa RHR 25 AA 19 Wyatt Mills RHR 23 A+ 20 Joe DeCarlo C 24 AA 21 Jansiel Rivera RF 19 SS-A 22 Anthony Jimenez CF 22 A+ 23 Johendi Jiminian LHP 25 AA 24 Ronald Rosario RF 21 SS-A 25 Michael Plassmeyer LHP 21 SS-A 26 Joey Gerber RHR 21 SS-A 27 Eric Filia LF 26 AA 28 Max Povse RHP 24 AA 29 Holden Laws LHP 18 NA 30 Joe Rosa 2B 21 A 31 Ian Miller CF 26 AAA 32 Osiris Castillo SS 17 DSL 33 Ismerling Mota C 20 R 34 Brayan Perez LHP 17 DSL 35 Donnie Walton 2B 24 AA 36 Ryne Inman RHP 22 A 37 Luis Veloz OF 18 DSL 38 Jake Anchia C 21 SS-A 39 Joey O’Brien RHR 20 SS-R 40 Arturo Guerrero OF 17 DSL
The Seattle Mariners’ farm system is shallow, lacks impact, lacks arms and is among the worst collections of talent in all of baseball. But there are some good things happening below the minors, suggesting a peak into an improving immediate future. Right-hander Rob Whalen gets back on track after a lost 2017, showing low-90s stuff with a plus curveball. Tommy Romero debuts with advanded feel and improving secondaries. Joe DeCarlo is taking to catching but his bat has shown up early and often in Double-A Arkansas. Middle infielder Donnie Walton has shortened up and is blistering the ball in Modesto. Right-hander Matt Festa has been a model of consistency for the Nuts late in game. Last June’s top pick Evan White is hitting and on schedule and while Braden Bishop is off to a very slow start at the plate, he continues to shine on the bases and in the field. Best of all, top prospect Kyle Lewis is slated to get his first official action in a matter of days. RANK PLAYER POS LEVEL CEILING FLOOR 1 Kyle Lewis OF A+ 2 Evan White 1B A+ 3 Sam Carlson RHP NA 4 Julio Rodriguez OF NA 5 Braden Bishop CF AA 6 Joe Rizzo 3B A+ 7 Juan Querecuto SS NA 8 Luis Liberato OF DL 9 Rob Whalen RHP AAA 10 Anthony Jimenez OF A+ 11 Ronald Rosario OF NA 12 Nick Rumbelow RHR DL 13 Max Povse RHS AAA 14 Bryson Brigman 2B A+ 15 Daniel Vogelbach 1B AAA 16 Matt Festa RHR AA 17 Greifer Andrade OF A 18 Tommy Romero RHP A 19 Art Warren RHR AA 20 Ian Miller CF AAA 21 Joe DeCarlo C AA 22 Johendi Jiminian RHP AA 23 Joe Rosa 2B A 24 Cesar Izturis, Jr. 2B NA 25 Wyatt Mills RHR A+ 26 Mike Marjama C AAA 27 Seth Elledge RHR A+ 28 Donnie Walton SS A+ 29 Oliver Jaskie LHP A 30 Chase De Jong RHP AA 31 Ariel Sandoval OF A 32 Dimas Ojeda OF A 33 Chuck Taylor OF AA 34 Ljay Newsome RHP A+ 35 Nick Wells LHP A 36 Ryne Inman RHP A 37 Kyle Wilcox RHR A+ 38 Darin Gillies RHP AA 39 Nolan Perez 3B DSL 40 Jack Larsen OF A
The Seattle Mariners welcome pitchers, catchers and players rehabbing from injury to spring training next week, officially beginning the long trek that is the 2018 Major League Baseball season. But the club lacks the upside necessary to quiet doubters, and the restrictions on rebuilding the old-fashioned way may be fading fast. When Jerry Dipoto took the GM job in September of 2015, the belief was he’d try and rebuild on the run. That appears to be clear after two seasons and three winters. What isn’t clear is the Mariners’ path to the playoffs anytime soon, and that’s due to a lack of aggression this offseason, and perhaps last. Minor additions to a 78-win club will not strike optimism among the fan base. And while every team starts at zero in April, Seattle’s roster begs of another mediocre ending; compete for awhile, fade in August or September or even come up just short. What changes that kind of result is overflow. Overflow in talent, that is. Want to win 90? Construct a roster that should win 95 and could win 100. Want to win 85? Shoot for 90-95. BASEBALL THINGS PODCAST: 5 Reasons to Believe in the ’18 Mariners The best-case scenario so rarely works out in baseball, even for clubs that eventually get into the postseason and win it all. The Astros lost key players for big chunks of the 2017 season. So how did they win 101 games and the World Series? They not only had reasonable replacements — which has NOT been the Mariners’ issue — they had so much talent in other areas of the roster that losing even a star for a month wasn’t enough to push them down below the next-best team in the division. The Mariners not only have a razor thin margin for error in 2018, one could argue they NEED the margin for error to FAVOR them in order to wake up in late September with a shot at 90 wins. That’s not a plan for winning, that’s wishing upon a star. The Right Path Dipoto and the new Mariners ownership group may be on the right path, despite the club’s apparent drive toward an 18th-straight season without postseason play. Rebuilding is difficult for every team that runs into a wall and needs to start again. The Mariners’ chances to rebuild has not existed since they signed Robinson Cano to a 10-year, $240 million deal. Not because of the Cano deal, but because that signing was part of a win-now plan under Jack Zduriencik that also brought Nelson Cruz to town, among other win-now transactions. Neither player-contract scenario was ever a valuable enough trade chip to jumpstart a rebuild. Neither was the value of younger, cheaper players such as Kyle Seager and James Paxton. That has changed as time has passed amd perhaps the middle of the 2018 season will represent the first legitimate opportunity for Dipoto to seek to assist his rebuild by trading his better players, rather than low-minors prospects for young major-league talent, or in the straight young-player-for-young-player deals we’ve witnessed the past few years. It will indeed make sense to shop Seager in July if the Mariners are nine games back of the No. 2 Wild Card with five or six teams ahead of them in the standings. It will absolutely make sense to field calls on Cruz, or even Cano if a club has interest in taking on the vast majority of the remaining money left on that contract. And if the return appears amiable for a few of Seattle’s veterans, it could even be wise to see what James Paxton can fetch. Put Mike Zunino‘s name out there and see what clubs are willing to give up for one of the better catchers in baseball with 2 1/2 years of control remaining. Edwin Diaz, too. David Phelps and Juan Nicasio, if healthy, would certainly attract interest, as would Dee Gordon, who may have value at his former position, second base, and his new one, center field, by the time trade talk begins to fly. Jean Segur also a is a trade piece. So why this summer and not last July (or this winter) for veteran trades that bring back young talent? A handful of reasons, beyond the cry that ownership wants to sell tickets. There absolutely is baseball sense behind it. 1. Rebuilding, especially in this manner (on the go, rather than a full tear-down, which flat out is not happening in Seattle anytime soon), is like a hoop. If you can’t connect the two ends, it’s worthless. WORTHLESS. So if the end-result roster after making multiple veteran-for-youth trades does not look to the baseball people like a potential winner with a few tweaks and a major grab, the return for the traded veterans is not good enough and making the trades is less valuable. That’s the truth for the Mariners the past few seasons. This is partially due to a lack of valuable trade chips and partially due to the dollars attached. Since Dipoto arrived, it was not sensible to expect the kind of return on veterans to get the talent required to connect the two ends of the hoop. As years go by, the dollars attached shrink down some, and while the player’s value does, too, as he gets older (Cano), it still removes dollars Seattle may have to eat. The time expired also makes it clearer the fewer opportunities to win with said player and the evaporating chances for it to happen. 2. The players the club is likely to keep (which could include Paxton, Diaz or Zunino, or a variation of the trio, since they’re valuable now and also performers in the majors and not simply hopeful prospects), were far from ready to be part of a winning core entering the past three years. They’re much closer now, with the likes of Mitch Haniger showing off his ability last season, and Zunino’s breakthrough at the plate. 3. Even though it was unlikely, though plausible, the roster the Mariners have produced at the start of the 2015-17 seasons would bust through and win a Wild Card berth, it in fact did not, which lends more evidence to the projection this core simply will not in 2018, either. And trading away the weakened chance at the postseason with the current core veterans appears less of a concern if the club wakes up on July 1 and is under .500 with a steep hill to climb. 4. Trading Cruz last winter was trading away a valuable piece to the potential playoff team. His contract is up after 2018, however, he’s 37, and in the aforementioned scenario, the Mariners with Cruz are not going to the postseason. Not trading Cruz this summer with a team out of the race would be one of the more idiotic things a club can fail to accomplish. 5. And now that Cruz is projecting to be off the roster in 2019 (at least without a new deal, of which should not remove him from the trade market this summer), what does that do the ’19 club’s chances? It puts undue, unfair pressure on young players and other veterans such as Seager, and the club still will not project as a playoff team. So, going out of their way to retain Seager, Phelps, Nicasio, et al, would suddenly make zero sense, rather than little or some the past few deadlines and offseasons. In year’s past, it would have made sense in some scenarios to move these types of players, depending on the return package, but in this case, at this stage, it’s bottomed out to a large extent. Now, the hoop is frayed on the front end. Waiting for it to sever completely is what the club did 15 years ago. What Can the Mariners Get For their Best Trade Chips? Trading Felix Hernandez and Robinson Cano will remain difficult. Felix has to show something on the mound to reestablish any trade value whatsoever and it’s tough to envision any deal not including cash to the acquiring team. Cano, too, but the return in any Cano deal is likely to be worth a lot more than any trade for Hernandez, since he can still hit. Trading Cano for the Mariners should net a valuable return, albeit far from what trade mongers would call a ‘haul.’ Look around the league the past few years for examples of similar — albeit not identical, trades — and it becomes more apparent what the Mariners could net. But keep in mind, the idea is to shorten the window to contention, not lengthen it, so options will be limited to clubs willing to trade MLB talent or near-ready talent for proven MLB players, and that group has shrunk down over the past year, as evidenced by this year’s player markets. Felix Hernandez, RHP Would be a pure salary dump unless a different King Felix shows up consistently this spring. The contract is up after 2019, suggesting moving Hernandez’s money shouldn’t be a priority. Robinson Cano, 2B There aren’t a lot of players in their mid-30s with half or more of a 10-year contract remaining being traded. In fact, it’s never happened. Perhaps the closest example is Prince Fielder, who was in the middle of a nine-year, $214 million contract as he was entering his age-30 season. This may be a solid comparison, since Fielder’s age was advanced by his injury history and the bad body. Fielder was sent to Texas with $25 million in exchange for Ian Kinsler, meaning the Rangers were set to pay Fielder $119 million over six seasons. Kinsler was due $57 million over the ensuing four seasons, making the Rangers’ payroll responsibilities increase by $62 million. Fielder was coming off a 2.3 fWAR season at age 29 and was a year removed from a 4.8 fWAR campaign. Cano is six years older at 35 and coming off a 3.2 fWAR season, a year removed from a 5.9 fWAR season in 2016, the third-best year of his career. Cano is owed the same $144 million Fielder was due. It’s reasonable to think the Mariners, sending cash, could get out from under the rest of Cano’s deal. I’d hypothesize, however, they’d need to send more than $25 million to do it — I’d start at $35 million, which makes Cano, essentially, an $18 million a year player through age 41. There’s certainly a decent chance Cano retires before the end of the contract, too. He won’t need a red cent and his Hall of Fame credentials will be cemented with 2-3 more good years. As for the return? Don’t count on a useful big-league player coming back, at least not of the everyday variety, i.e., Kinsler. But a young, cheap middle reliever with some upside? Sure. A few long-term prospects? Yep. Worth noting in July, Cano’s total dollars owed will be cut by about $12 million. Nelson Cruz, DH Unless Cruz falls off the planet in production, he’ll be easy to trade. He’s due $14 million in 2018 and is currently slated to hit free agency after the season. Looking back to last season, the deals for Lucas Duda and J.D. Martinez can serve as the guide. Somewhere between the two is where Cruz’s value likely sits; a little closer to Duda’s than Martinez’s but nearing the median. Duda fetched minor league reliever Drew Smith, who has a shot to be a setup man or closer; he’s up to 98 mph. Martinez returned the better package, of course, netting Detroit Jose King, Dawel Lugo and Sergio Alcantara. I’d suggest the Mariners can get a Smith and another player for Cruz and avoid including cash. Dee Gordon, CF/2B No need to look further back than the deal that brought Gordon to Seattle to get an idea what the speedster may be worth this July. Seattle sent SS Chris Torres. RHP Nick Neidert and RHP Robert Dugger to Miami. The Mariners also received international slot money to make a better pitch to Shohei Ohtani. Barring injury or extremely poor performance by Gordon, not a lot has changed, Gordon is probably worth Neidert and a lower-minors prospect with upside this summer. The dollars, while not ideal for some clubs — $38.5 million over the next four years, about $33 million left at the 2018 deadline — but contenders will see a performing Gordon and not sweat that kind of money for a quality player in his prime. Gordon may have draw layers of intrigue if he shows well in center field the first half of the season, potentially increasing the teams interested two-fold. David Phelps, RHR Phelps, a free agent after the 2018 season, will earn $5.55 million and will be due about $2 million once the deadline comes and goes this summer. Trading relievers is an easy task for clubs out of the race and dealing Phelps should net the club a young player or two, perhaps one that fits into the Top 10 spots in the weakest farm system in the game. The deal the Dodgers made for Tony Watson last summer may be a good starting point for a healthy Phelps. Pittsburgh received 3B Oneil Cruz and RHP Angel German from Los Angeles. Arizona acquired RHP Luis Madero from the Angels for David Hernandez, Joe Smith got the Blue Jays LHP Thomas Pannone and 2B Samad Taylor and Addison Reed was worth Stephen Nogosek, Gerson Bautista and Jamie Callahan to the Red Sox. Phelps is likely to be worth somewhere near two of the latter three in the Boston-Mets deal, one of which would have ranked in the club’s Top 8. Juan Nicasio, RHR Nicaso signed for two years and $8.5 million per season and if he repeats his 2017 performance will be worth a nice haul at this year’s deadline. Assuming performance levels are similar, Nicasio is literally worth 150 percent as much, suggesting he could a two-player deal that includes a prospect landing in Seattle’s Top 5 and another in the Top 10-12 range. James Paxton, LHP Here’s where the Mariners could make a dent in their ‘rebuild.’ Paxton could impact three pennant races for a contender looking to add impact pitching. Seattleis unlikely to get full value for Paxton thanks to his injury history, but take the Jose Quintana deal as a nice place to start the conversatiom. Now walk backwards about three steps and there’s Paxton’s value, provided he pitches well again in 2018 and stays off the DL for long stints. The White Sox acquired four players from the Cubs, including OF Eloy Jimenez, one of the game’s best prospects, and right-hander Dylan Cease. Realistically, the Mariners could get a similar packge without Jimenez at the top, instead replacing his elite prospect status with one carrying ‘very good’ status. Whether or not Seattle makes such a move depends on when the front office believes the club truly will be able to contend. If that’s within two years, Paxton is probably more valuable remaining on the roster, and perhaps extending for a few years. Mike Zunino, C Zunino’s trade value right now isn’t as high as it could be in July if he proves 2017 was no fluke. He’ll have two additional years of team control, like Paxton, and there are few teams in baseball not in need of catcher upgrades. Gauging Zunino’s trade value is too difficult at this point, but if a deal were made today there’s no reason Seattle doesn’t fetch a pair of Top 8 prospects and a pre-arbitration big-league reliever with upside. Again like with Paxton, if Dipot and company believe 2019 or 2020 is the year, Zunino fits into that plan and it may make more sense to keep him. In either deal, if Seattle can gain club control and/or upside in return, it could be too tough to pass. Edwin Diaz, RHR Diaz may be the club’s golden ticket if they’re willing to test the market this summer. More of the 2016 Diaz the first half of this season could create a market in July where Diaz is worth more than both Paxton and Zunino to contenders, which is why it hasn’t made a lot of sense to seriously entertain offers on Diaz until this summer. If Diaz doesn’t show more consistency, we’ll probably have this conversation again in 365 days. What might such a deal look like this summer of Diaz indeed performs well? Not a lot of higher-end relievers are moved before they become arbitration eligible, so there aren’t many (none,r eally) recent deals upon which to base a 2018 trade. But the move for Ken Giles made by the Houston Astros in December of 2015 could serve well in this discussion, even though Seattle likely comes up short of that package because Diaz’s track record isn’t as stacked. Philly received right-handers Mark Appel, Thomas Eshelman, Harold Arauz and Vince Velasquez, plus lefty Brett Olberholtzer. If we slice out the first three names, Velasquez and Olbertholtzer is probably bottom rung in this scenario. Without injuries mucking up his career, Velasquez was on his way to No. 2 starter status. Jean Segura, SS Most clubs see Segura as a second baseman but he;s handled shortstop just fine in Seattle, which could mean a boost in immediate trade value. Clubs with young, up-and-coming shortstop prospects and no long-term second base answer could view Segura’s contract as a major coup and offer a three-stage haul for the veteran, meaning, one prospect from each layer of the minors and/or layer of quality. Of course, all of the above becomes 100 percent moot if the Mariners are the upstart and end up legitimate contenders in July. But this year it would be a surprise due to a lack of impact additions this winter, and the time to connect the two ends of the hoop is near.
How often do you search Google for ‘mariners prospects,’ ‘mariners top prospects,’ ‘mariners prospect rankings,’ ‘Kyle Lewis scouting report,’ ‘Evan White scouting report’ or even ‘Luis Liberato scouting report’? Whether you have or haven’t, you’ve found the answers to such searches, and more. It’s that time of year. The Top 25 Prospect Rankings are out and if you are a 4-Ever subscriber or a subscriber to Baseball Things, you get FULL access without spending another penny. 4-Ever Subscribers: All you need to do is email or DM me on Twitter and I’ll shoot a copy of the PDF right over. For Baseball Things subscribers, here are the podcast episode links: Audio Top 25 Reveal Scouting Prospects Nos. 21-25 Scouting Prospects Nos. 16-20 Scouting Prospects Nos. 11-15 Scouting Prospects Nos. 6-10 Scouting Prospects Nos. 1-5 Prospect & Preview Guide PDF For those that are neither 4-Ever subscribers or Baseball Things subscribers, you can still get the guide. Get it at Amazon and view it on any device for $5.99. For just $5 per month, however, you can gain access to all of the above, plus two podcast episodes per week. Become a Baseball Things subscriber and gain immediate access to everything you see above.
Several outlets dole out minor league player of the year awards. Prospect Insider is different. Rather than player of the year, I focus on the Mariners prospects that made the most progress since this time last year. Occasionally, the two are one in the same — player of the year and prospect of the year. Usually they are different, and often the prospect of the year lacks the statistical performance of the player of the year award winners. Subscribe to Baseball Things Podcast for Under $1 Per Episode Players in the big leagues as of August are not eligible. This year’s prospects of the year for Full-Season Assignments: Pitching Prospect of the Year Nick Neidert, RHP 2017: 25 GS, 127.2 IP, 24% K, 4.2% BB2016: 19 GS, 91 IP, 19.4% K, 3.7% BB Neidert was the choice of many as the organization’s minor league pitcher of the year. He’s also the pitcher that took the biggest step forward among the legitimate prospects. The right-hander sat firmly at the top of his velocity range in most of his starts in 2017. A year ago he sat 88-91, touching 92. This season the 20-year-old pounded the strike zone at 90-92, touching 94, with good gloveside movement, average command and plus control. Your browser does not support iframes. Neidert’s changeup remained his best secondary pitch, often flashing 55/60 on the 20-80 scouting scale. His arm speed is consistent and he commands the picth well with some dead-fish fade and sink. The breaking ball was sharper more often than a year ago and at times was a strikeout pitch for Neidert. His upside is limited to the middle of the rotation, but has raised his floor from future potential major league to the point where it’d be a surprise if he wasn’t starting big-league games inside of two years. No other pitching prospect in the organization has the combination of probability, present stuff and track record of development, and he’s just 20 with a lot of green in front of him. Others: Robert Dugger, RHP; Andrew Moore, RHP; Ryne Inman, RHP Positional Prospect of the Year Joe Rizzo, 3B 2017: .254/.354/.346, 17-2B, 3B, 7 HR, 24% K, 13% BB2016: .291/.355/.392, 7-2B, 3B, 2 HR, 21% K, 10% BB Rizzo did not have as good a year overall as Braden Bishop, who absolutely deserves the player of the year accolades. But Rizzo did more over the last year on the development side, partially because there was more room to do so. The 19-year-old did more than hold his own in the Midwest Lerague where the average opposing pitcher was over 22 and the average age of the reliever was nearly 24. Your browser does not support iframes. The left-handed batter handled left-handed pitching well and the numbers back that up, too — .297/.355/.369. He batted just .239 versus right-handers but there was evidence all year of Rizzo’s swing developing into more of than just a line-drive stroke. He doesn’t possess big-time bat speed but the biggest factor in the lack of power was the swing plane and the inability to create loft. He’d square one up middle-in and hit it to center field for a single and rifle it into the gap where he could end up at second. Despite going homerless in August, Rizzo hit six homers in 52 games in June and July. Pitcher stopped pounding him inside with hard stuff as much and that’s the first sign of a hitter dictating a portion of the strike zone. He’s never going to be a power hitter and there are legit questions about his future position but Rizzo possesses advanced plate skills and is disciplined within the strike zone. Others: Bishop, CF; Luis Liberato, OF Short-Season Pitching Prospect of the Year Andres Torres, RHP 2017: 15 GS, 74 IP, 19.5% K, 6.7% BB2016: 14 GS, 78.1 IP, 18.2% K, 4.6% BB Torres, 21, has the physicality of a future major leaguer at 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds but has lacked the maturity to go with it. His numbers the past three seasons were a result of pure natural talent. He showed a better approach to the game this year, including word he took his offseason a lot more serious than ever before. Your browser does not support iframes. For the record, it’s common for young players to spend a year or two struggling with their offseasons. At 17-18 years old, fall and winter is play time, like July and August during high school. Words of encouragement and planned tasks from their new employers ring like summer reading assignments from teachers. Torres was in better condition and ready for spring training. He went start-for-start the entire short-season schedule and rarely appeared to lose focus. I saw him three times, two good outings and one where his fastball was flat and up where he allowed 11 hits and walked three. Each off outing was followed by a better one. He went six innings or more six times in 15 starts and failed to get into the fifth just once. He misses bats with fastball life and slurvy but efective breaking ball. His changeup grades out in the 40 range now but his arm speed improved and he was more willing to throw it this season than ever before. Torres remains a fringe prospect overall but has decent stuff and there’s some physical projection left. Next season may be a make or break for his long-term future. Others: Tommy Romero, LHR; Juan Then, RHP Short-Season Positional Prospect of the Year Ronald Rosario, OF 2017: .275/.327/.478, 12-2B, 2-3B, 7 HR, 29.6% K, 7.4% BB2016: .292/.335/.433, 13-2B, 4-3B, HR, 17.4% K, 6.8% BB Rosario was the subject of more texts from scouts this summer than any other Mariners prospect, and for good reason. He’s athletic, has good present strength and at 20 years of age showed this season he can put instruction to use in games. Rosario learned to create more consistent backspin, turning line drives into deep fly balls a little more often, hence the seven home runs after entering the season with just one in 485 career plate appearances. While he’s always been willing to be patient, early in 2017 he still was chasing too many pitches and swinging his way into pitcher’s counts. In July, he went on a run where he was among the best hitters in the Northwest League, working counts and squaring up just about everything, including offspeed mistakes. He still swings and misses too much overall, but the progress made this season gets him on the radar as a long-term prospect. If he earns an assignments to Class-A Clinton next season and performs … well, we’ll talk then. Others: Griefer Andrade, OF; Joe Rosa, 2B; Eugene Helder, UT
The Seattle Mariners selected outfielder Gareth Morgan with overall pick No. 74 in the 2014 MLB Draft. He signed for $2 million. It was a pure upside play for a raw Canadian player with big power potential. Through the 2016 season, however, Morgan looked lost at the plate: 2014-16 YEAR LEVEL PA AVG OBP XBH% BB% SO% 2014 Rookie 178 .148 .244 7.1 9.0 41.0 2015 Rookie 241 .225 .270 9.5 5.0 36.9 2016 Rookie 134 .216 .261 8.0 6.0 43.3 2016 Advanced-A 14 .385 .429 23.1 0.0 50.0 For his career entering 2017, Morgan had fanned in exactly 40 percent of his trips to the plate, walked in just 6.3 percent of his plate appearances. For a power hitter, his 7.4 percent extra-base hit rate was not just sub-optimal but downright awful. To compare, second base prospect Joe Rosa’s career extra-base hit rate is nearly nine percent. So, as 2017 approached, I left Morgan outside my Top 30 prospects, wondering if he just wasn’t going to be able to improve the hit tool enough for the natural power to matter. So far this season, Morgan, now 21, is batting .247/.343/.442 for Class-A Clinton. None of those numbers are inspiring, necessarily, but here’s why I can’t give up on the 6-foot-4, 225-pound Morgan. YEAR PA AVG OBP XBH% BB% SO% 2017 356 .247 .343 11.0 11.6 34.7 All of those numbers are improvements — versus better competition — than Morgan had ever posted before. All but 14 plate appearances through last season had come in rookie ball. He skipped Short-Season Everett and has performed enough in the Midwest League to suggest something’s starting to work. That something is unquestionably several somethings, and it’s not like Morgan is torching the ball regularly, but adjustments are starting to work. For context on the traditional rate stats, Morgan’s on-base percentage ranks No. 30 in the Midwest League. Among the 29 ranked ahead of him, 18 are at least six months older than Morgan and 24 of them have more pro experience by a minimum of 240 plate appearances. Morgan always was a long-term project. The Toronto native played less baseball as an amateur than the typical prep draftee from the States and in many cases a lot less. There’s a chance his production in 2017 is a sign he’s developing now, therefore I just can’t quit him.
The Seattle Mariners have made numerous moves since the Mid-Season Top 30 Prospect Rankings was released July 5. A handful of talents from that list are now with other organizations. Here’s the Updated Top 30. More on the farm system on Baseball Things Tuesday nightClick Here to Subscribe! Note: Players in big leagues do not qualify (Emilio Pagan, Marco Gonzales) Kyle Lewis, CF — Modesto (A+) Evan White, 1B/RF — Not Active Julio Rodriguez, RF — Not Active Sam Carlson, RHP — Arizona (R) Nick Neidert, RHP — Arkansas (AA) Juan Querecuto, SS — Not Active Chris Torres, SS — Everett (SS-A) Greifer Andrade, OF — Everett (SS-A) Thyago Vieira, RHP — Tacoma (AAA) Joe Rizzo, 3B — Clinton (A) Braden Bishop, CF — Arkansas (AA) Max Povse, RHP — Tacoma (AAA) David Banuelos, C — Everett (SS-A) Ronald Rosario, OF — Everett (SS-A) Boog Powell, OF — Tacoma (AAA) Luis Liberato, OF — Modesto (A+) Daniel Vogelbach, 1B — Tacoma (AAA) Luis Rengifo, UT — Clinton (A) Anthony Jimenez, OF — Clinton (A) Osmy Gregorio, SS — Arizona (R) Tyler Marlette, C — Arkansas (AA) Chuck Taylor, OF — Arkansas (AA) Joseph Rosa, 2B — Everett (SS-A) Ryne Inman, RHP — Clinton (A) Ian Miller, CF — Tacoma (AAA) Jorge Benitez, LHP — Arizona (R) Robert Dugger, RHP — Modesto (A+) Andres Torres, RHP — Everett (SS-A) Juan Then, RHP — DSL Alex Campos, SS — DSL Others: Gareth Morgan, OF — Clinton (A); Rob Whalen, RHP — Tacoma (AAA); Marcus Littlewood, C — Arkansas (AA); Christopher Marte, RHP — DSL; Bryson Brigman, 2B — Clinton (A); Nolan Perez, 3B — DSL; Nick Wells, LHP — Clinton (A); Ljay Newsome, RHP — Clinton (A); Matt Festa, RHP — Modesto (A+); Eric Filia, OF — Modesto (A+); Joe DeCarlo, C — Modesto (A+); Billy Cooke, OF — Clinton (A); Jepherson Garcia, 1B — DSL; Brayan Perez, LHP; Joseph Hernandez, RHP; Yeuri Tatiz, RHP. Gone from July 5 Top 30 Tyler O’Neill, OF; Brayan Hernandez, OF; Tyler Smith, SS; D.J. Peterson, 1B; Brandon Miller, RHP. Others Gone: Pablo Lopez, RHP; Lukas Schiraldi, RHP.
The Seattle Mariners farm system reminds of the 1989 Cleveland Indians. Not the actual baseball team, but the one portrayed in Major League. About mid-season, Harry Doyle proclaimed the Indians were “threatening to climb out of the cellar.” While I don’t believe at any point the Mariners had the worst farm system in baseball, they were closer than they’d ever like to be. But they’ve improved and even jumped a few spots in the rankings — perhaps into the high teens or low 20s. It started last June when the club drafted Kyle Lewis. It continued over the winter when the player development staff fully adopted their new ways. Last month, the Mariners added two legitimate Top 10 prospects, and over the weekend added two more long-term prospects with upside, and a third may be on the way. Here’s my updated Top 30, not including Dominican outfield prospect Stir Candelario, for whom the Mariners have been the favorite to sign, since he hasn’t signed yet. Note: Rank/Player/Position, Team/Age. Age is of July 15, 2017. Kyle Lewis, CF — Arizona (rehab)/21 Lewis is the one potential star in the system with a chance to stick in center while hitting for average and power. The club is taking their time with his secondary rehab — in his first game back with Modesto he banged his surgically repaired knee on the outfield wall. 2. Evan White, 1B/RF — Everett/21 White hasn’t played much yet but he’s athletic and not just on the bases or in the field. His swing reminds me of a young Jayson Werth. 3. Julio Rodriguez, RF — NA/16 A future corner outfielder that comes to pro ball with a lot of future 55 and 60 grades on the hit tool. The power will develop as he matures. He’s a right-handed batter with an above-average arm. Your browser does not support iframes.4. Tyler O’Neill, LF — Tacoma/22 O’Neill has shown defensive progress and the power still is showing up, but Triple-A pitching has predictably given him some problems. He just turned 22, however, and won’t be outworked. 5. Sam Carlson, RHS — NA/18 Carlson hasn’t — and may not — pitched since being selected in Round 2 last month but brings plus velocity and a chance for two above-average secondary pitches. Shot at No. 2 starter with higher probability as a stuff-led No. 3. 6. Nick Neidert, RHS — Modesto/20 Neidert’s ceiling remains a mid-rotation arm but he’s probably raised his floor a little bit this season, as well as his probability to reach the majors as a lite No. 3 or No. 4 starter. 7. Brayan Hernandez, CF — Everett/19 Hernandez is an upside play. He runs well, projects as average or better in center field and has the tools to project as an average big-league bat. If the hit tool allows for it, there’s 12-15 homer pop in the bat speed. 8. Juan Querecuto, SS — NA/16 Querecuto has a shot to stick at shortstop but he’s not a good runner and likely profiles at second or third base, or even the outfield where his 60 arm strength plays well. The Mariners will hope the power develops beyond most present projections if he has to move out of the middle of the diamond. 9. Greifer Andrade, LF — Everett/20 Andrade isn’t the athlete the Mariners hoped he’d be when they signed him — strictly a corner fielder now — but the bat has shown up, with some power. In a lot of ways, he’s Juan Uribe. 10. Chris Torres, SS — Arizona/19 Torres is tooled up as a top-of-the-order menace who sticks at shortstop long term. But at some point he’s going to have to perform or the confidence in his future will begin to fade. He doesn’t make consistent contact and makes too many mistakes with the glove. Center field? 11. Joe Rizzo, 3B — Clinton/19 Rizzo’s current swing plane won’t allow for much power but he’s one of the more natural hitters in the system and is holding his own in the Midwest League at 19. 12. Max Povse, RHP — Tacoma/22 As a reliever, Povse projects as a middle innings type, perhaps in a multi-inning role. There’s a non-zero chance the club revisits the right-hander as a starter, however, so he’s ranked accordingly. 13. Emilio Pagan, RHR — Tacoma/26 Pagan has been lights out this season, including two highly-effective, long-form outings in the majors before his current run in Tacoma. Fastball is up to 96, setting up a plus slider. 14. David Banuelos, C — Everett/20 Banelos has enough bat speed, but the swing mechanics aren’t ideal, which is why he lasted as long as he did. In time, he’s a big-league catcher defensively, led by a plus arm and good instincts. If he hits, he’s a starter. 15. Braden Bishop, CF — Modesto/23 Bishop is having a terrific season in Modesto and needs to be challenged with a promotion before the year is out, in my opinion. He’s making contact, reaching the gaps and working counts. Floor: fourth outfielder. 16. Thyago Vieira, RHR — Arkansas/24 Vieiera’s control and command have been inconsistent this season but he’s still sitting 95-99 mph with a developing power curveball. 17. Daniel Vogelbach, DH — Tacoma/24 He can’t play first and may not hit for ideal power but Vogelbach knows the strike zone and hits a lot of line drives. 18. Tyler Smith, SS — Tacoma/25 A legit shortstop glove and a quick trigger for fastballs keeps Smith on the list. 19. D.J. Peterson, 1B — Tacoma/25 Peterson is an average defender at first base and will need to hit to play regularly. He’s running out of time but has made progress this season, using more of the field and covering a hole at the bottom of the strike zone. 20. Luis Liberato, OF — Modesto/21 Liberato has three average or better tools and the chance for a fourth, but in the end he probably ends up in left field as a poor-man’s Luis Gonzalez. 21. Brandon Miller, RHS — Clinton/22 Miller sits 89-92 mph with an above-average slider that has flashed plus. His changeup is below average but shows some promise. If he’s moved to the bullpen, perhaps the velocity ticks up into the mid-90s and his slider lives in the plus range. 22. Anthony Jimenez, OF — Clinton/21 Jimenez has four solid tools and more power than his 5-foot-11, 175-pound frame suggest. He has good bat speed but the swing can get long and he’s still learning to lay off pitches above his hands and breaking balls down and away. Potential center-field defense. 23. Ronald Rosario, OF — Arizona/20 Rosario is a long-term upside play, but I much prefer this route to the low-ceiling, medium-risk talents such as Bryson Brigman. Rosario, a left-handed bat, creates good leverage and possesses above-average bat speed. The swing is lengthy and can get loopy, creating a lot of swings and misses. He’s a good athlete and ultimately fits in a corner outfield spot. 24. Rob Whalen, RHS — Tacoma/23 Whalen throws strikes with three pitches, touching 92 mph, and when his command is at its best he’s a No. 5 starter with a chance for a little more. 25. Ryne Inman, RHS — Everett/21 The 6-foot-5, 215-pound Inman — a 15th round pick two years ago — is a strike thrower who is developing stuff to go with it. The changeup is the most intriguing pitch, but he came to pro ball with both a slider and curve, the slider being the most promising. 26. Tyler Marlette, C — Arkansas/24 Marlette is developing the hit tool while he continues to work on his defense but the intrigue here is the power. He’s not hitting a lot of home runs right now, but 15-18 homers is not out of the question. 27. Luis Rengifo, 2B/UT — Clinton/20 Rengifo has been one of my favorites short-season watches for two-plus years since a Lat Am scout told me he had outstanding on-field instincts. He’s showing that now by playing multiple positions regularly. He’s a fringy shortstop at best, but could play second base and the outfield at average or better levels. 28. Chuck Taylor, OF — Arkansas/23 Taylor just keeps hitting and shows more power potential than teammates Ian Miller, who is two years older. Taylor profiles better in left field, but he, too, is a high-instincts player. 29. Osmy Gregorio, 2B/SS — Arizona/19 Like Rosario, Gregorio is a pure upide play that is more valuable for me than taking a chance on a player with little chance to be a regular, but a greater chance to reach the high minors or a part-time role. The arm works fine on the left side of the infield and he runs well. Gregorio’s swing needs some work, but the bat speed is there and he’s shown some solid strike zone judgment in Arizona. 30. Jorge Benitez, LHP — Arizona/18 Benitez offers projection, including future velocity, suggesting a high-leverage bullpen role as a potential floor. If he wants to start, he’ll have to add to his 160-pound frame, but he’s just 18. Others: Alex Campos, SS — DSL/17; Juan Then, RHS — DSL/17; Joseph Rosa, 2B — Everett/20; Christopher Marte, RHS — DSL/18; Nolan Perez, 3B — DSL/18; Jepherson Garcia, 1B — DSL/18; Bryson Brigman, 2B — Clinton/22; Andres Torres, RHS — Everett/21; Billy Cooke, OF — Clinton/21; Kyle Wilcox, RHR — Clinton/23; Ljay Newsome, RHS — Clinton/20; Nick Wells, LHS; Clinton/21; Gareth Morgan, OF — Clinton/21; Lukas Schiraldi, RHR — Modesto/24; Pablo Lopez, RHS — Modesto/21; Matt Festa, RHR — Modesto/24; Joe DeCarlo, C — Modesto/23; Eric Filia, OF — Modesto/25; Ian Miller, CF — Arkansas/25; Marcus Littlewood, C — Arkansas/25. The Mariners remain the favorites for 16-year-old Stir Candelario from the Dominican Republic. He offers plus raw power and a chance to hit for average, but isn’t as athletic as Rodriguez and may end up at first base, despite a good throwing arm. He hasn’t signed yet, so he’s not ranked above, but he’s fit somewhere in the 15-25 range. Boog Powell and Andrew Moore retain their rookie status, for now, but are on the big-league, 25-man roster, so they weren;t considered for the Mid-season Top 30. Powell would have ranked just ahead of Vogelbach and behind Bishop. Moore would have ranked No. 7. I did get some useful information on the other three international signings — LHP Brayan Perez (Venezuela), RHP Joseph Hernandez (DR), RHP Yeuri Tatiz (DR), but it was difficult to place them in the top 30 at this time. All three are considered particularly raw with heavy projections and not enough present ability.