The Seattle Mariners’ farm system has taken a hit the last couple of years with the graduations of the likes of Mike Zunino, James Paxton, Taijuan Walker, Brad Miller and Chris Taylor, among others. Still, the organization boasts a solid collection of talent, despite the lack of pitching in the high minors.
The club has taken advantage of the strengths in the draft classes the past three years, adding right-handed hitting outfielders with power and more depth in the middle-infield. Seattle also has done fairly well internationally, even with the departure of Bob Engle and some of his scouts to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
A lot of the club’s top talents are more than a year or two from the big leagues, and many come with a high risk to go with the exciting upside.
Here’s an update on the Top 10 Countdown:
10. Tyler Marlette, C | Analysis
9. Luiz Gohara, LHP | Analysis
8. Tyler O’Neill, OF | Analysis
7. Edwin Diaz, RHP | Analysis
6. Ketel Marte, SS | Analysis
5. Gabriel Guerrero, OF | Analysis
4. Austin Wilson, OF | Analysis
|No. 3 — Patrick Kivlehan, OF|
On the surface, Kivlehan’s profile reads similar to that of a 4-A player that may or may not have a big league future. He’s 25 already, has just two full years of pro ball under his belt and while his production has been solid he’s always been old for the league in which he’s played.
But Kivlehan is different; he played football at Rutgers, under hard-nosed coach Greg Schiano, for four years, skipping baseball for the first three years of his college days. His senior year he won the Triple Crown in the Big East and the Mariners selected him in Round 4 in 2012.
Since he’s turned his focus to baseball and baseball only, Kivlehan has done nothing but play well. He’s batted .282. 283, .300, .301 and .320 at five stops through 2014 and has progressed quickly as supported by his quick ascension from Short-season ball to Double-A Jackson. He tracks the breaking ball like a much more experienced hitter and he drives the ball using most of the field.
Kivlehan, athletically, can play almost anywhere. He’s an above-average runner who moves well enough laterally to manage at third base and in either corner outfield spot. He’s played some first base, too, so there’s flexibility in his game, but eventually he’ll be an option in left field after some heavy experience there early in 2015.
Kivlehan has just average power but he’s disciplined at the plate, can hit the ball to center and right-center field and employs a short, line-drive swing that plays well for him with two strikes. He’ll draw enough walks to help his OBP to at least average levels and if he can take one more step in the right direction in terms of making contact — he already possesses acceptable contact skills — the Mariners will have an everyday option in the former Scarlet Knights safety.
Kivlehan should start the year with Triple-A Tacoma after batting .300/.374/.485 in 104 games at Jackson in 2014. He’s more ready for the PCL than is the No. 2 prospect.
MLB ETA: 2015 (September), 2016 (mid-season)
MLB Comps: Chris Heisey, Allen Craig, Michael Cuddyer