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.
The No. 5 prospect is …
|No. 5 — Gabby Guerrero, RF|
Guerrero is one of the more intriguing hitting prospects in all of baseball, both due to his lineage — his uncle Vladimir is a former MVP and perhaps future Hall of Famer and another uncle, Wilton, was also a major leaguer back in the 90s — and the raw power displayed in batting practice.
Guerrero, 21, generates big-time bat speed with a power swing plane and above-average hand-eye coordination that ultimately should help him keep the swings and misses to a minimum. He will expand the strike zone frequently, however — sound familiar? — and in order to take the next step toward the majors will have to avoid giving away strikes as a result of his aggressiveness.
He recognizes pitches well enough for a player of his experience levels but the aforementioned aggression nullifies his skill of picking up the spin of the baseball and reacting to it accordingly. He does square up the fastball well and when he isn’t pressing he handles the two-strike count, showing an ability to go the other way.
Defensively, Guerrero has solid instincts in right field and one of the better throwing arm in the organization. He’s athletic, especially for a player 6-foot-3 and just over 200 pounds who has been big for his age since he became a teenager, and takes good routes, making up for his longer strides that produce fringe-average jumps.
Guerrero remains a bit raw but he’s going to be tested this season in the Double-A Southern League, where the production can more easily be reconciled in combination with the scouting eye to assess how well his physical tools are developing into skills. The power showed up last year in the California League and if it does again in Jackson without sacrificing batting average and on-base percentage, Guerrero’s status will take quite a leap up the prospect latter.
If the right-handed hitting Guerrero can become more selective, all of the above becomes that much more likely, and his overall future value kicks up a full grade from average to above-average regular to multi-time all-star and potential superstar. His crude approach poses heavy risk to that kind of upside, however, which is why Guerrero remains a solid talent of intrigue rather than a blue-chip power hitter.
MLB ETA: 2017
MLB Comps: Yoenis Cespedes, Jeff Francouer, Hunter Pence
Jason spent 4 1/2 years at ESPN and two years at CBS Radio prior to joining HERO Sports in July, 2016.
Find Jason's Mariners podcast, Baseball Things, right here and follow him on Twitter @ProspectInsider.
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