tyler-olsonAfter an offseason spent plugging various holes, the Seattle Mariners entered Spring Training with only a few notable position battles: the back of the rotation, the bullpen, and the starting shortstop job.

The shortstop delimma took care of itself when Chris Taylor was shelved with fractured wrist. Taijuan Walker locked up the No. 5 spot with a dominant spring. Although nothing is technically official, yet, it looks like the final spot in the bullpen will go to Tyler Olson.

At the outset, manager Lloyd McLendon suggested closer Fernando Rodney was the only sure bet in the bullpen. We could have reasonably added Charlie Furbush, Yoervis Medina, and Danny Farquhar to that list with Tom Wilhelmsen and Dominic Leone all but guaranteed to head north with the club.

The departure of Brandon Maurer meant that, should the M’s begin the year with a seven-man bullpen, one spot would truly be available. Knowing that McLendon prefers to have the second left-hander, we estimated early on that Lucas Luetge and Rule 5 pick David Rollins were the likely candidates to secure the job vacated by Joe Beimel. In the event the M’s broke camp with Furbush as the sole southpaw, right-hander Carson Smith would be a favourable choice for the seventh spot.

However, it’s Olson, a Gonzaga alum, that’s secured that final spot after a strong spring. Pitching as a starter at Double-A in 2014, the former seventh-round draft pick posted a 3.52 ERA and 3.19 FIP across 125 and 1/3 innings alongside strong walk and home run rates. Another find of scouting director Tom McNamara, Olsen has a fastball that sits around 90 miles per hour alongside a slider, curveball, and changeup.

Olson ranked No. 21 in Jason A. Churchill’s prospect rankings, and Churchill notes that the 25-year old’s stuff plays up due to a deceptive delivery. Though he profiles as a back-end starter, Churchill says, Olson should be able to dominate left-handed batters at the major league level immediately.

It appeared that the battle for the final bullpen spot had come down to Olson and Rollins, with the latter appearing to have the upper hand due to his Rule 5 status. But with Rollins suspended for PED use, Olson became the easy choice.

Since he was a non-roster invitee to camp, Olson will have to be added to the Mariners 40-man roster. With the deadline for setting Opening Day rosters not until Sunday, the wait for the move to be made official is more procedural than anything. Expect the move to occur over the weekend, likely later on Saturday if not Sunday morning.

Earlier in the winter I had thought Luetge would be the favourite to get the nod to replace Beimel. But after seeing Rollins over the past several weeks, I figured he had done enough to get a look to start the season. With both pitchers no longer in the pitcher, Olson is the logical choice, and his performance over the past month has definitely warranted his presence on the 25-man roster.

Perhaps more surprising than Olson making the team, is Churchill’s No. 11 prospect, Carson Smith, not making the team. Smith dazzled in a brief stint with with the big club in September and was a logical candidate to replace the departed Maurer as a high leverage power-arm. Pitching exclusively as a reliever since being drafted in 2011, and succeeding at each level, the 24-year old’s job will more or less be to stay healthy and await an opportunity as he provides important depth at Triple-A.

McLendon gets the second left-hander in the bullpen he wanted, and the Mariners roster is now all but set for Opening Day.…

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 are prospects 11-15, in reverse order.

No. 15 — Gareth Morgan, OF
25/40 40/65 45/45 55/55 40/40 47.5

Morgan is a physical beast with big raw power that could tick up if he cleans up his approach and refines his swing to become a better overall hitter. He’ll need to take such steps rather quickly, however, since there are many of them to take before he can be seen as a viable big-league option.

At 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds The Canadian-born’s natural swing has a lot of length to it, and tends to get circular, which cuts down his ability to make contact consistently. He does show big-time bat speed, however, which is what makes his upside so intriguing.

Morgan is a below-average runner, but a solid athlete nonetheless, and possesses enough arm strength to profile in right field. It’s all about the hit tool for Morgan, and shortening his swing and using more of the field could go a long way to get him there.

The 19-year-old likely starts his 2015 season in extended spring training, which means a short-season assignment. A very strong showing this spring could change that, however, and he did look better in March than he did last August in all facets.

No. 14 — Jordy Lara, OF/1B
45/55 50/55 45 60/60 25/25 47.5

Lara, 24 in May, showed he could hit for average, limiting strikeouts and reaching the gaps and beyond at Advanced-A a year ago and was solid in a short stint in Double-A Jackson to end the season. Lara has a pretty swing that generates high line drives. He controls the zone fairly well and improved his performance versus offspeed stuff, after struggling to high levels early in his career.

Lara occasionally gets the leverage and loft necessary to hit the ball out of the ballpark but he’s better when he stays on top and hits the ball to left-center and right-center field. The doubles come naturally while he does have to dial up a bit for fly balls to reach home run depth.

Lara has a plus arm but is a below-average outfielder due to poor range. He fits well at first base, though I question his long-term power at the position. To alter some of his profile shortcomings, he’ll need to hit well for three months in Jackson and earn a promotion to Triple-A by the end of 2015 or start of 2016. A stagnant year pushes Lara off the radar, as he’ll be 25 next season and just about out of time.

No. 13 — Danny Hultzen, LHP
55/55 50/55 55/60 50/55 40/45 49.0

Hultzen’s status is buried by the uncertainty of his return from injury and subsequent surgery on his throwing shoulder, or his ranking and OFP would reflect that of a Top 10 prospect and surefire future major-league contributor. He’s adjusted his delivery and it appears to be one that can at least assist in the lefty’s effort to take pressure off his shoulder for the long term, which is truly the lone question attached to his resume.

The stuff remains above average; Hultzen’s fastball has sat 90-94 mph this spring with a couple of 95s and a 96 sprinkled within. The slider has been solid, yet flat at times, which is to be expected. The more he’s thrown it the more effective it’s been, however, and it’s an important pitch for him since it’s his only weapon inside on right-handed batters.

Hultzen’s best pitch remains a plus changeup that he feels through very quickly. He repeats his delivery well, even the new one, and his arm speed on the change is terrific, generating sink and fade, but with command and consistency.

The former No. 2 overall pick still has a long road ahead, but he should begin 2015 in Double-A Jackson (warmer weather as he builds arm strength) with a chance to get to Tacoma and set himself up well for next season. It’s not out of the realm of possibility, however, that the 25-year-old gets a cup of coffee in The Show this season, depending on how his season goes and how many bullets are left in his ’15 campaign once the club is ready for him.

No. 12 — Ryan Yarbrough, LHP
50/50+ 45/50 45/50+ 50/55 50/50 49.0

Yarbrough was very good in short outings at Short-season Everett in 2014 after being a cheap, 4th-round senior sign ($40,000) out of Old Dominion. Basically, Seattle drafted the inexpensive Yarbrough because doing so helped them give Morgan top-15 money to get him to pass up college. The move may pay off more than most thought.

The southpaw possesses some projection, still, despite being 23 years of age. He’s 6-foot-5 and 205 pounds, stays on top from a three-quarter arm slot to get some plane and sink on his fastball that touched 95 mph. Yarbrough, as he stretches out into longer outings as a starter, likely will sit 90-92 mph and complement with an average changeup that has a shot to be plus. His curveball flashes average and he throws strikes with everything.

If I were the Mariners I’d get aggressive with Yarbrough and test him in Advanced-A Bakersfield to start the season and get him some time in Jackson before schedule is completed. Doing so puts him position to compete in spring training for a back-end gig next March; remember, J.A. Happ is a free agent at season’s end, as is right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma, and Yarbrough, a four-year college player, may be the next option to fill the opening.

No. 11 — Carson Smith, RHP
65/65 55/60 40/45 55/60 55/55 49.0

Smith finished 2014 strong, including 8 1/3 lights-out frames in the big leagues that included 10 punchouts and just three walks. Smith’s delivery is deceptive, employing a low three-quarter arm slot, the former Texas State starter stays on top of his pitches, creating heavy sink on the fastball and late, sharp bite with the 84-86 mph slider.

Smith also has a chanegup that can be useful but in a one-inning relief role hasn’t used it much and isn’t likely to do so anytime soon.

The 24-year-old pounds the strike zone and while I don’t see a closer’s role in his future, necessarily, he gets groundballs and misses bats, strongly suggesting a high-leverage role, and for dirt cheap for now, for several years.…

Kyle SeagerThe short answer for what’s at the top of the wish list for the Seattle Mariners this winter is obvious: bats, offense, runs, whatever one wants to call it. As has been the case for much of the Jack Zduriencik era and beyond, the club enters the offseason with the need to upgrade the offensive corps. The club’s 634 runs scored tied them with the Boston Red Sox for No. 18 in Major League Baseball and only the St. Louis Cardinals reached the playoffs while scoring fewer runs than did Seattle.

There are just a few spots on the field where everyday upgrades are not necessary, but there are others where the chances significant resources are put into better personnel is neither wise nor very likely. Those include second base, third base, and for different reasons shortstop and catcher. Robinson Cano is the answer at second base, obviously, with Kyle Seager now one of the better third baseman in the game. The Mariners are very likely — and wisely, due to the lack of options on the free agent market and ultra-high cost via trade — to stick with what they have at shortstop (Chris Taylor, Brad Miller) and behind the plate in former No. 3 overall pick Mike Zunino.

There are, however, several others places to add necessary pieces. Before we get into specific pieces, let’s identify those areas.

Seattle Mariners 2015 Payroll Commitments
2015 MLB Draft Order
2014-15 MLB Free Agents

One of Seattle’s biggest strengths in 2014 was their starting rotation, but there will be holes to fill heading into next season. Chris Young is a free agent and may look to maximize his salary on a one-year deal after a strong comeback campaign, although there’s reportedly mutual interest in a return to the Emerald City. King Felix Hernandez isn’t going anywhere and his second in command, Hisashi Iwakuma, is also under contract for 2015 with an affordable $7 million club option that reportedly was exercised last week. Iwakuma is a candidate for an extension beyond 2015 and locking up the 33-year-old should be among the priorities for Zduriencik.

The club entered this past season with the hope that top prospects Taijuan Walker and James Paxton would be able to provide two-fifths of the big league rotation. That wasn’t the case as Paxton missed significant time with injury and Walker struggled early with shoulder inflammation and then finding consistency once he was healthy. There’s also the case of surprise rookie Roenis Elias who is coming off a strong campaign that ended with some concerns over his elbow, though the team refuted claims that they were of any significance.

[pullquote]Seattle had 10 different pitchers start a game in 2014 and four made 28 starts or more. Healthy seasons from Paxton and Walker should replace Young’s 29 starts if he moves on this winter.[/pullquote]

A rotation consisting of Hernandez, Iwakuma, Paxton, Walker, and Elias is strong on paper, though there are legitimate concerns surrounding the latter three hurlers. When Paxton was healthy in 2014 he was a capable No. 3 starter and should he stay healthy in 2015 the club can expect 190 innings of that quality of work. Walker finished the season with a strong September and got some work in the Arizona Fall League in October. The stuff is absolutely there for the top prospect, but he’ll have to put a disappointing year behind him and move towards his top-of-the-rotation potential.

Elias struggled with command and eventually fatigue in 2014 but that was to be expected. Another year of experience should do the young left-hander wonders, but the question that will be asked is whether or not he’ll be able to make the necessary adjustments next year to stay on top of major league hitters.

If the club retains Young it’s possible that Walker starts the year in the bullpen or at Triple-A, but it’s likely the club would prefer to have him a part of the big league rotation. Erasmo Ramirez provides insurance for the rotation though he has had his share of struggles in the past. The Mariners have two bullpen arms that may have an opportunity to be stretched out in the spring for the rotation in Tom Wilhelmsen and Brandon Maurer. It seems unlikely that Wilhelmsen will transition to a starter, though he did pitch strong in several extended outings in 2014. Maurer came up through the system as a starter but excelled in the bullpen in the second half. It’s likely he gets at least one more shot at cracking the rotation, though he may be better suited to his role in the pen.

Seattle doesn’t need to add premium talent to the top of their rotation and may already have some in the form of Walker and Paxton, but it’s not impossible that they take a run at Jon Lester, or one of the other top starters available. Adding a pitcher like Lester, and to a lesser extent Brandon McCarthy for example, could make it easier for the Mariners to move a young pitcher in a deal for middle-of-the-order bat, if the free agent market dries up on them. If Seattle is to acquire the power hitter they covet via trade, it’ll likely be at the expense of one of Paxton and Walker, though there’s nothing to suggest that the club is intent on trading one of them at this time.

The rotation is in good shape and arguably is one of the club’s biggest strengths heading into 2015. However, no team can have too much depth in that department and the M’s should look to add a couple arms that can be stockpiled at Triple-A in case of emergency while the limited number of pitching prospects in the lower levels develop.

The bullpen is one aspect of the club that can maintain the status quo and arguably be just as strong in 2015. Joe Beimel is the lone reliever set to hit the open market and despite a strong platoon split, wasn’t used as a specialist. His 2.20 ERA in 45 innings may be difficult to replace, but his 4.18 FIP was nothing special and easily can be replaced on the cheap with another veteran. Beimel has expressed a desire to stay in Seattle, Lucas Luetge is one possible in-house answer.

Closer Fernando Rodney is under contract through 2015 and is expected to anchor the back of the relief corps again. Danny Farquhar and Yoervis Medina will likely return as set-up men with Charlie Furbush and Dominic Leone in the picture as well. Rookie Carson Smith should also be a fixture in the 2015 bullpen after a strong September in some big situations. Maurer and Wilhelmsen were mentioned as plausible rotation candidates but are likely to continue providing middle relief innings. Medina, Wilhelmsen and Maurer are the three M’s relievers most likely to be moved over the winter, at least from the club’s standpoint, as Farquhar, Smith and Leone have shown enough to take over full-time setup duties.

Once glance at the M’s returning outfield crop suggests Zduriencik and company have to be burning up the phones for better options. It’s clear the Mariners prefer Dustin Ackley over Michael Saunders, so expect Saunders to be traded over the winter, despite the fact that Saunders is a better player. The M’s should not bank on Ackley, either, though, since they already are counting on Austin Jackson to return to form. The time for hoping and wishing on players has to be over with after the club showed promise with 87 wins this past year. Since it’s probably too much to ask for the club to find an everyday centerfielder that can hit, hoping on Jackson’s rebound seems more likely and wiser than praying Ackley’s second half (again) is what he’ll be for 2015.

Either way, the M’s have at least one spot open in the outfield. There will be talk of free agents and trade targets alike, but if one regular is not acquired this winter in some manner, Seattle’s outfield is likely to be their weak spot, yet again.

One outside-the-box idea, however, is to shop some talent (including Jackson) in a deal to acquire another center fielder that is more adept at making consistent contact, though as previously stated it is not an easy position to fill. Something tells us Lloyd McClendon would balk at the idea of trading Jackson, a player he’s familiar with from his days in Detroit, almost no matter the return, and despite the fact he’s not the player he was three years ago by any stretch of anyone’s logical imagination.

First Base/Designated Hitter
Logan Morrison may have done enough to warrant a regular job to start 2015, and it doesn’t matter if he’s considered the DH or the first baseman at this point. He’s a capable first baseman, albeit fringe-average rather than anywhere near Gold Glove caliber. That still means the club has no designated hitter. There is more than one way to fix this; One, Zduriencik can try and spend money to add a proven DH, or two, the club can acquire at least two outfielders and give skipper Lloyd McClendon some flexibility within his lineup.

[pullquote]The St. Louis Cardinals were the only team to make the playoffs with an average runs scored per game of less than 4.00 with 3.82. The Mariners actually scored a higher rate of runs per game at 3.91, but the AL playoff team with the lowest average was the Kansas City Royals at 4.02 runs per game.[/pullquote]

It could be argued that the Mariners are in an enviable position heading into the winter. The pitching staff is strong on both the rotation and bullpen fronts, though both still have room for upgrades. Up the middle the club has strength at the catcher, shortstop, second base, and center field positions — providing a bounce back year from Jackson — which are typically regarded as the toughest to fill. Unless another higher-end centerfielder becomes an option, the M’s can look to bolster both corner outfield spots and one of first base or designated hitter, depending on where Morrison fits.

Seattle’s lineup flexibility stems from have no fixed DH at this time. If an upgrade at first base is the target, Morrison can move to DH and spot start at first. If a veteran corner outfielder with durability concerns is brought in, they can take a regular turn in the DH slot to preserve their health. The M’s could double up on the veteran corner outfielders and enter the year with four regulars that rotate through the DH position — any number of lineup possibilities are plausible.

For the Mariners to sign any free agent who has received and declined the $15.3 million qualifying offer, they would have to surrender their first-round draft pick, which will be No. 21 in the 2015 amateur draft.

The hole in the middle of the lineup is obvious, but Zduriencik can’t forget about the top of the order. Despite the strong month from Jones and the addition of Jackson, the leadoff position was a mess for much of the season. After being acquired Jackson did not hit anywhere aside from the leadoff spot in a Mariner uniform despite spending much of his time in Detroit this year hitting in the No. 5 and No. 6 spots. The centefielder posted an 81 wRC+ as a leadoff hitter in 2014 and has a reputation for being a streaky player who strikes out often. Paired with the uncertainty of Ackley, the M’s could have an issue setting the table for the bats of Cano and Seager.

Certainly Jackson performed below expectations in a Mariner uniform and is expected to produce more offense in 2015, but what if he doesn’t? McClendon was married to his leadoff hitters until he absolutely had to make a change. Almonte spent three weeks in the role despite clearly being over-matched and Chavez had a prolonged stint in the role despite clearly being a below average player. Saunders and Jones took turns at the top of the order as well, but they may not be regulars in 2015. Taylor is the most likely in-house option to hit in the No. 1 or No. 2 spots given his contact abilities, but he may be a stretch at this point.

The term leadoff hitter is largely an irrelevant term, but it’s vital that those receiving the most plate appearances each game are able to get on base.

The one thing that the Mariners absolutely cannot do this winter, if they fancy themselves playoff contenders for 2015, is fail to upgrade at least one of the outfield positions. A threesome of Ackley, Jackson, and Saunders is a legitimate major league outfield but they are all question marks entering 2015 due to injury and production issues. One question mark out of three is manageable, but two questions marks out of three is recipe for another disaster … and three “we hope he hits” is downright criminal.

One common denominator among postseason clubs, and especially those that have success in October, is depth. They can play matchup against good bullpens, they can cover injuries with satisfactory or better secondary options and they have reserves that can do more than just fog a mirror. Bench play is important in Major League Baseball and while the Mariners need a plethora of starting lineup additions, they could use a key backup or two to add to what they’ll carry over from last season.

Some of the depth issues will occur naturally should the club add, say, an everyday outfielder, pushing a current projected starter to a reserve role, but don’t count on Michael Saunders being in Seattle come Opening Day. There’s nothing wrong with acquiring a player that has proven he can produce in a part-time or platoon role, anyway.

In the end, the M’s need a lot of help. Most of their needs are in the everyday lineup where there boast merely two solid to very good hitters joined by a bunch of ‘we hope he hits’ options. Outfield, perhaps times two, and either first base or designated hitter are the obvious spots in the field to add such offense. Whether it’s free agency or the trade market, the Mariners have a number of roster spots to upgrade which may include adding a premium starting pitcher. There are few untouchables in the organization from the big leagues all the way to their top prospects and they have no business worrying much about protecting their first-round draft pick. Expect a lot of rumors, but a lack of action by the Seattle Mariners would surprise the entire league. The M’s are motivated from top to bottom, ownership to field staff, and they aren’t all that far away, particularly if they’re lucky enough to get marked improvements from a few of the young players in addition to a few key winter acquisitions.

Buckle up.…

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Seattle MarinersThe goal for all organizations is to draft and develop everyday major leaguers. Every year thousands of players are are drafted or signed but few end up graduating to a big league roster. In 2013, the Seattle Mariners sent ten rookie pitchers to the mound including the debuts of top prospects Taijuan Walker and James Paxton. However it was relievers Danny Farquhar and Yoervis Medina that played key roles in the bullpen as rookies. Farquhar would finish the season as the team’s closer. Brandon Maurer would also debut in 2013, as a starter, before eventually transitioning into a bullpen role in 2014.

The Mariners had six different rookie pitchers toe the rubber this year. Let’s take a look at the impact each of them made during the season.

Roenis Elias, 26 | 2013: Double-A, 130 IP

Elias 2014 4

Elias broke camp with the club after spring training and never looked back. There was some concern as to what could reasonably be expected out of the 26-year old who entered the season with no experience above Double-A. The southpaw worked through a decent first two months of the season with three quality starts before a particularly dominating outing against the Detroit Tigers on June 1. Elias tossed a complete game shutout yielding three hits and one walk alongside eight strikeouts as he shut down one of the best offenses in baseball. Elias would put up the fifth most strikeouts among rookie pitchers this year with 143.

Elias finished the first half with a relatively strong 4.29 FIP, but would see his walk rate increase by an entire run in the second half as he battled some control issues. He had only thrown 130 innings in 2013 and as he approached and eventually eclipsed that number in 2014 he showed some signs of slowing down — the club would then lighten his workload for the remainder of the season. The year ended on a disappointing note for Elias as he left his September 22 start with elbow soreness. Though it was serious enough to effectively shut down his season, the Mariners stressed that there was no reason for concern heading into 2015.

How big of a surprise was Elias this year? He failed to crack the preseason top-30 prospects list by Prospect Insider’s Jason A. Churchill in his annual PI Handbook, and was on practically nobody’s radar prior to the spring. Sometimes, surprises are great.

James Paxton, 25 | 2013: Triple-A, 145 2/3; MLB, 24 IP

Paxton 2014Paxton shined in his September 2013 debut, but spent significant time on the disabled list in 2014. The left-hander had an outstanding 2014 debut throwing seven scoreless innings with nine strikeouts. After going five innings in his second start, he wouldn’t pitch in the majors again for nearly four months due to a strained lat muscle. Paxton incurred a setback during a rehab start in late May and would eventually return to the mound in mid-July.

Upon the Canadian’s return to the rotation in August he showed some flashes of brilliance and put together a string of five starts in which he pitched six or more innings that ran through the first half of September. The strikeout numbers weren’t quite as high for Paxton as they were in 2012 and 2013 in the minors, but he featured a very strong curveball and his velocity peaked in the upper nineties when he was healthy

From Churchill’s preseason Handbook: Paxton made an adjustment last season in Triple-A … [and] … if he’s able to keep things compact and fluid, he’ll throw enough strikes to allow him to pitch through the lineup three times and at a frontline level.

Dominic Leone, 22 | 2013: Rookie, 12 IP; Single-A, 6 1/3 IP; High-A, 39 2/3 IP; Double-A, 18 IP

Leone 2014Though he didn’t directly make the team out of spring training, Leone was called up in early April and would go on to play a key middle relief role in baseball’s best bullpen. A 16th-round pick in 2012, the right-hander wasted no time reaching the majors after throwing just over 100 minor league innings. The 22-year old is of the typical power arm mould, but threw multiple innings consistently throughout the year.

Leone did have a platoon split in which left-handed batters posted a .353 wOBA compared to a .229 wOBA by right-handed batters. At a glance the reliever may have benefited from pitching at Safeco Field as his home FIP of 2.05 was significantly lower than the 4.10 he posted on the road — his innings in these samples were nearly exactly the same.

From Churchill’s preseason Handbook: He repeats his delivery well and profiles as a high-leverage reliever with a chance to close with improved fastball command and another tick on the slider.

Taijuan Walker, 22 | 2013: Double-A, 84 IP; Triple-A, 57 1/3 IP; MLB, 15 IP

Walker 2014

Expectations were high for Seattle’s blue-chip prospect, but shoulder inflammation derailed his season before it could begin. Walker missed most of spring training and suffered a setback in his rehab in April. He was activated from the disabled list in early June and was optioned to Triple-A where he made a handful of starts to build up his strength, including the first complete game shutout of his young career.

Walker made his season debut on June 30 and pitched six strong innings. However, he struggled mightily with his command and walked 11 batters in his next two starts. He was then optioned back to Tacoma where he spent the month of August. Upon his return to the big leagues on September 1, he pitched well out of the bullpen before replacing Elias in the rotation at the end of the month. Walker would deliver a dominating performance in his final start of the year against Toronto going eight innings and allowing a single earned run. His fastball was back up to a 96 MPH average and he featured a much improved changeup — though his grip resembles a splitter — that was filthy at times.

From Churchill’s preseason Handbook: The right-hander can get a lot of outs using just his fastball and cutter, but without the curveball and changeup jumping a grade, Walker’s ceiling of a No. 1 or 2 starter takes an impact hit.

Carson Smith, 24 | 2013: Rookie, 5 IP; Double-A, 50 IP | 2014: Triple-A, 43 IP; Called-up 9/1

Smith 2014

After a solid season at Triple-A Smith was called up to the majors when rosters expanded in September and showed he belonged. Of the 29 batters he faced only five reached base and ten fell victim to the strikeout. The 25-year old added some fresh life to the bullpen and enabled the club the chance to give righties like Maurer, Farquhar, and Medina some much needed rest late in the season. Smith averaged 94 MPH on his fastball and has all the makings of a major league closer in the future.

Smith pitched well in Triple-A this year and managed to improve on the 3.06 walk rate he posted in Double-A the previous year. He also allowed just one home run while he was with Tacoma and continued to show an ability to prevent the long ball.

From Churchill’s preseason Handbook: It’s Triple-A Tacoma to start the year … but Smith is a legit late-inning arm and he’s very close, if not ready to get big-league hitters out right now.

Stephen Pryor also made an appearance as a rookie for the Mariners this year when he threw 1 2/3 innings against the Texas Rangers in July. However two-and-a-half weeks later, Pryor was dealt to the Minnesota Twins in exchange for Kendrys Morales. The hard-throwing righty missed most of 2013 with a lat injury that required surgery and finished the year with the Twins at Triple-A.

Overall, Seattle featured an impressive crop of rookies in 2014. If it weren’t for the injuries to Walker and Paxton, it’s possible that the rotation would have been lead by three of them. The emergence of Elias proved to form a crucial part of the club’s starting five and the role that Leone played in the bullpen shouldn’t be overlooked. Barring any potential offseason transaction, all five pitchers should have a role on the big league roster in 2015.…

Ketel MarteProspect Insider does it a little differently. Multiple outlets as well as the organization itself will name minor league players of the year. Many already have done so. PI sticks to prospects, which means the 26-year-old repeating Double-A for the third straight year isn’t even a candidate, nor is the 29-year-old in Triple-A or the 23-year-old repeating the Midwest League.

Prospects are a risk, a gamble, and they always have been, just as are the upcoming MLB Postseason Props and all baseball betting at williamhill.com.

Who qualifies for Prospects of the Year? Prospects, of course. Legitimate, developing young players that have a chance to make an impact in the big leagues.

The Seattle Mariners’ farm system is decent. Depth is growing in the lower minors with bats blooming and while there is a lack of it in the upper minors — a subject we’ll attack over the offseason — it’s a solid-not-great collection of talent. Among those are some that had big years, some struggled to stay off the disabled list and a few struggled on the field. The Prospects of the Year — one position player and one pitcher — will have produced at a high level, taken a full step forward in his development and done so with consistency.

Note: In no manner does the following suggest or reflect a prospect’s potential impact at the big league level or his overall status as a prospect. The prospects of the year are not necessarily the top prospects, they simply are very good prospects who had the best years, per the above criterion.

Pitching Prospect of the Year: Edwin Diaz, RHP
With James Paxton and Taijuan Walker graduating to the big leagues late last season, returning to the majors this season and exhausting their rookie status, the pre-season favorites for pitching prospect of the year are not eligible. An arm not even in the top 25 prospects, Roenis Elias, never was eligible, either.

Right-hander Edwin Diaz spent the entire season at Class-A Clinton, making 24 starts that covered 116 1/3 innings. He posted a 3.33 ERA, allowed 96 hits — just five home runs — walked 42 and struck out 111 batters. He battled some inefficiencies early in the year but broke though over the summer, including a nine-inning, complete-game shutout August 3.

Diaz, 20 all season, was a third-round pick, No. 98 overall, in the 2012 Draft out of Puerto Rico. This past season was his first full season in pro ball after he stayed behind in extended spring training and pitched at Pulaski a year ago. He came to the Mariners a thrower with a sleight build, but he’s added some good weight to his 6-foot-2 frame (he’s up near 180 pounds) and he’s learning to pitch.

That showed in 2014 as he threw his changeup more, commanded his fastball a little more consistently and avoided overthrowing his slider, a low-80s snake with tilt. As with all prospects at Diaz’s age and level of experience, the bullpen remains a possibility, but there’s a lot to like about his work ethic, athleticism and pure stuff. Further development of his changeup and continued work in the weight room may closet some of the bullpen talk.

Diaz’s fastball touches the mid-90s but sits 90-94 with arm side run and life up in the zone, setting up the slider, his best swing-and-miss pitch. In mid-April, after Diaz’s third start, a scout opined that Diaz, as-is, was destined for the bullpen. In July, the same scout texted “he’s learning … fast.”

Diaz finished the season August 29 with five hitless innings and nine strikeouts. He improved his command, secondary stuff and simplified a very loose delivery without sacrificing deception, velocity or movement. That’s not only earned him the 2014 Prospect Insider Mariners Pitching Prospect of the Year, but it’s probably earned a shot to skip High Desert in 2015, depending on his health and performance in Arizona come March.

Runners-Up: Tyler Olson, LHP; Matt Anderson, RHP; Victor Sanchez, RHP; Zack Littell, RHP; Daniel Missaki, RHP; Carson Smith, RHP; Stephen Landazuri, RHP.

Position Prospect of the Year: Ketel Marte, SS
It would be easy to hand the award to D.J. Peterson, who slugged 31 doubles and 31 home runs in 123 games this season, but he spent 65 of those games at Advanced-A High Desert and batted just .261 with a .335 on-base percentage at Double-A Jackson, despite good power numbers — .473 slugging percentage, eight doubles, 13 home runs.

If it weren’t for time spent on the disabled list, Tyler O’Neill and Austin Wilson may have shared the honors. O’Neill batted .247/.322/.466 with 13 home runs and nine doubles in just 57 games while Wilson posted a .291/.376/.517 triple slash to go with 32 extra-base hits — 12 long balls — in 72 games.

Patrick Kivelhan and Gabriel Guerrero improved the most; Kivelhan burned through High Desert in a month and then hit .300/.374/.485 at Jackson with 11 home runs, 23 doubles and seven triples. He spent the majority of the second half playing the outfield, a sign of his potential future and a testament to his athleticism. Guerrero, 20, slugged .467 and produced 48 extra-base hits and 34 walks after posting 30 extra-base hits and 21 bases on balls in 2013. He did play in the hitter-friendly California League, but clearly he’s learned to create some loft and be a little more selective, though he has a long ways to go.

The best numbers belong to Jordy Lara, who also would own the most improved statistics if that was a thing — it’s not — after he dominated the Cal League — .353/.413/.609, 22 HR, 26-2B, 5-3B, 38 BB, 82 SO in 201 games — he succeeded in Jackson to the tune of a .286/.326/.492 line with 18 extra-base hits, including four home runs, eight walks and 19 strikeouts in 33 games.

The club’s first-round pick in June, right fielder Alex Jackson, played just 23 games, all but eliminating him from contention, despite a very strong showing for the club’s rookie affiliate in Arizona.

This came down to Marte, Peterson and Tyler Marlette. Marlette batted .301/.351/.519 with 23 doubles, 15 home runs, 24 walks and 61 strikeouts in 81 games at High Desert, then spent a few weeks in Double-A, hitting .250/.333/.500 with two doubles and a pair of home runs in nine games.

Marlette is just 21, dealt well with catching and maintaining his focus at the plate at the same time and showed improvement across the board offensively and defensively.

Marte, however, was the straw that stirred the drink in Jackson, impacting games at the plate — from both sides — with his glove and arm when in the field and on the bases. He made 29 errors in the Southern League but turned just as many gems that saved runs. He bunted, he produced key hits with runners on base — .327 with a .457 slugging — and batted .302/.333/.429 with runners in scoring position and two outs. He spent most of the season batting leadoff or in the No. 2 spot, was consistent in both roles, batted .302/.335/.388 the first half of the season and .303/.321/.426 in 46 games after the break.

When he moved on to Triple-A Tacoma, Marte continued to play with energy, aggressiveness and discipline, posting a .313/.367/.450 line with five doubles and two home runs, mostly batting second in the order.

Did I mention he’s just 20 years of age? He has all the tools to explode into a well above-average player in the big leagues, both in the field and at the plate — details to come in the handbook over the winter — and exceeded all expectations several times over during the 2014 season.

Marte had a terrific year, vaulting him into the conversation for a cup of java in the majors as early as late summer 2015., though he’s likely a few years from being ready for the show. No Mariners prospect did more this season to help his status than Marte, the 2014 Prospect Insider M’s Position Prospect of the Year.

Here is what I wrote on Marte earlier this season.

Runners-Up: Tyler Marlette, C; Austin Wilson, RF; Tyler O’Neill, LF; Gabriel Guerrero, RF; Patrick Kivlehan, 3B/OF; Jordy Lara, 1B; John Hicks, C; D.J. Peterson, 1B/3B.…

peterson_djIt’s a small sample size — most of the affiliates have played six or fewer games on the schedule — but a positive start is better than a negative one and several noteworthy prospects in the Seattle Mariners farm system have done just that — start fast.

That group is led by the draft class of 2013, including the club’s first three picks last June, and the previous class highlighted by rounds 3-6. Dom Leone, that class’ 16th round picks, joined No. 3 overall selection Mike Zunino in the big leagues late last week.

It’s early, but here are some scouting notes that include some looks from scouts left over from spring training.

Clinton LumberKings — Class-A | Midwest League
Tyler O’Neill is off to a promising start to full-season ball after being selected in Round 3 a year ago and being considered a bit raw for a prep draftee. He won’t turn 19 until late June but creates great torque and top-end bat speed with strong hands, wrists and forearms. His lower half is sturdy and despite the explosion that occurs at contact, O’Neill his head still and on a swivel as he rotates his hips and shoulders through the ball.

He’s just 7-for-27 thus far (.259/.333/.519), but has three extra-base hits, including two long balls. Perhaps the best sign is that he’s not chasing pitches out of the zone.

“I haven’t seen that yet,” one scout told me via text Thursday. “He’s been unfazed by the assignment (to Class-A from rookie league) and he looks comfortable in the outfield even though he needs to keep working on the fundamental there.”

Austin Wilson may not be long for Clinton if he continues what he’s started this season — .296/.387/.481 — after finishing strong at Short-season Everett last summer. He’s putting on impressive BP sessions, one club’s pro scouting director said this week, and the swing continues to progress with consistency.

Wilson could find himself in High Desert by mid-June and that may not be the end of his trek in 2014.

Clinton’s catchers have been hot early on, but it’s Marcus Littlewood‘s defense that is the real topic. He’s 9-for-18 with just one strikeout — contact has been an issue for the former second-round pick — but defensively he’s making slow, steady strides after transitioning from shortstop two years ago. His catching mate, Christian Carmichael, is better fundamentally than is Littlewood, but that only helps him remain steady in his work. Receiving is perhaps Littlewood’s biggest obstacle, but he has the hand strength to do the job and he’s already shown the ability to shift laterally. His pop times have shaved down under two seconds but there’s work to do getting off quick throws without sacrificing accuracy.

Carmichael, too, has hit early on and there’s a couple of pro scouts who believe he could be backup in the big leagues with the right work ethic. He was suspended last year for violating baseball’s JDA, so there are questions about that very thing — work ethic — Carmichael will have to answer.

Right-hander Edwin Diaz is the LumberKings best arm and he’s picking up where he left off last season in rookie ball. Diaz, who just turned 20 last month, continues to get stronger — he’s up to about 173 pounds after weighing in at 155 before signing two summers ago.

Diaz has made two starts and punched out 13 of 39 batters faced and allowed just six hits. “Everything is explosive,” the pro scouting director said of Diaz. “He’s got that Pedro Martinez build and even some of the athletic actions. I had him 90-92 and up to 95. There’s ride to his off (glove) side and he knows how to use his slider.” That slider is typically 78-82 mph and his changeup, while behind his other two pitches, is a full grade better than when the M’s popped him in Round 3 in 2012 Draft.

Keep An Eye On: Clinton has two other arms to keep an eye on as the season progresses. Emilio Pagan, who is pitching in long relief in preparation for a starting role later on, has been nails, led by a 92 mph fastball and two average off-speed pitches that play up out of the bullpen. Carlos Misell, who was signed as a minor league free agent and has a JDA suspension in his past, has terrific arm speed and shows the potential for a plus change and slurve. He’s likely a reliever but is starting for Clinton.

High Desert Mavericks — Advanced-A | California League
It’s a haven for home runs, long games and crazily poor field conditions that make it even more difficult to prevent runs, but the Mariners assigned left-hander Tyler Pike to start the season there. Pike, in two outings, has held his own, lasting five innings twice and allowing just two earned runs despite six bases on balls. Pike lacks premium, bat-missing stuff so he’ll have to throw more strikes and command his fastball better if he’s to reach his ultimate potential as a No. 3 or 4 starter.

Gabriel Guerrero already is teasing scouts with his plus raw power, bat speed and easy swing, but despite his ability to square up fastballs one has to wonder if he’ll learn to be a little bit more selective. He’s failed to draw a walk this season in 32 plate appearances after just 21 a year ago.

He does handle right field just fine and offers a plus arm and the bloodlines — in case you didn’t know, gabby is Vladimir Guerrero’s nephew — but watch his walk and strikeout rates. He doesn’t have to walk a lot, but if he’s striking out 25 percent of his plate appearances, he’ll need to counter that some with a few walks to go with his power. One scout wondered aloud if Guerrero was the second coming of Jeff Francoeur at the plate. That wouldn’t be fun, and the good news is Guerrero is just 20 and has time to polish his game.

Third baseman Patrick Kivlehan, a middling prospect for me, is hitting again in the Cal League, but I do believe it’s somewhat telling that he was reassigned to High Desert after spending last year with the Mavs. This may be because the club doesn’t expect D.J. Peterson, also a third basemen, to remain in Adelanto very long. If Kivlehan started in Jackson and Peterson was promoted in June, Kivlehan would have to be demoted. This way, the club avoids that scenario.

Both players are hitting early, though Peterson has made some fundamental errors in the field fueling the fire that he’ll have to move to first base. Ignore the errors; Peterson’s shortcomings in the field at the hot corner are about range, not really hands and arm, though both grade out as merely average for the position. The Mariners believe Peterson is the kind of worker that can turn him into a passable third baseman — very much the way Josh Donaldson did after going from third base in college to catcher back to third base.

He’ll likely play primarily third base until the club is convinced he can’t do it, then he’ll move across the diamond and become the club’s long-term first baseman. “He’s a good bat,” an NL East scouting coordinator told Prospect Insider Thursday. “He’ll hit .280 with walks, some strikeouts and 25-30 home runs.”

Keep An Eye On: Jordy Lara, who will be 22 in May, has a sweet right-handed swing and may be putting it together in High Desert. He’s 12-for-30 with six extra-base hits — two home runs — in his six starts. Lara is athletic for a first baseman and he can throw. He began his pro career as a third baseman.

Jackson Generals — Double-A | Southern League
Jabari Blash returns to Jackson where he was perhaps the most improved player int he system a year ago. He’s a tad old for the league at 24, but he’s not likely to be there long if he performs. He’s begun the season well, showing some pop to go with his natural patience. Sometimes he’s too patient, leading to high strikeout totals — seven so far this season — but he’s closing that gap and will be tested by Triple-A pitchers once he arrives this summer.

Right-hander Victor Sanchez skipped High Desert — good for him — but the reason he did so was command. The Mariners believed his three-pitch mix could survive the Southern League because he can throw them for strikes and with consistency. Sanchez lacks the big upside of most 21-year-old arms in Double-A; he’s listed at 6-foot and 255 pounds, suggesting there’s little to zero projection left physically. His low-90s fastball isn’t likely to improve in velocity, but his curveball teases plus and his changeup is already average or better at times, lacking only consistency.

“He’s brought that mix here, but the fastball was soft for me,” said one scout who witnessed Sanchez’s firsts tart with Jackson. “He was mostly upper 80s. I’ve seen it better, though. It’s April, he may not be loose.”

Sanchez, indeed, showed similar velocities early last season before loosening up some and hitting 90-92 more often.

Keep An Eye On: Right-hander Stephen Kohlscheen can pitch and though he’s without a big out pitch or huge velocity — sound a little like Jim Johnson to you? — he gets outs and misses enough bats. Kohlscheen, a 45th-round pick in 2010, throws downhill and pounds the strike zone with a 91-93 mph sinking fastball. Shortstop Ketel Marte makes a lot of contact and has some bat speed that helps him reach the gaps and he’s at least a 60-grade runner. There’s enough arm to stick at short and he’s smooth ranging to both sides. He’s hitting early in Jackson and doing so from each side of the plate, though he’s much stronger from the left side. Marte is just 20 and there’s some physical projection left in his 6-foot-1, 180-pound frame. For those wondering, it’s pronounced Ket-tle, just like the kitchen appliance. Maybe that’ll help you remember his name.

Tacoma Rainiers — Triple-A | Pacific Coast League
Prospect Insider’s Brendan Gawlowski went down to see Tacoma and Los Angeles Dodgers affiliate Albuquerque and wrote up what he saw right here.

Nick Franklin is doing his thing — three homers in 23 at-bats — and right-hander Brandon Maurer is showing off the 70 slider again, but neither are technically prospects, and the same goes for Jesus Montero, who has looked fine at the plate and terrible in the field at first. James Jones is a prospect and he’s hit some line drives and handled himself well at the plate overall in the early going. I’m not convinced he’s a centerfielder, but he can play right and has a big arm. If he can hit for enough average there’s a place for him on the 25-man roster.

Chris Taylor is a legitimate major-league shortstop glove and we’ll see what he can do with that swing against Triple-A pitching. It’s flat and he’s often late to good velocity because for a player without much power he loads deep, and worst of all most of that load moving his hands horizontally. He’s got some of Brad Miller’s self-scouting skills, though, and has already made some changes that have allowed him to get this far after some clubs didn’t believe he could hit beyond Class-A ball, which explains why he lasted to Round 5 two years back.

He has maintained a patient and disciplined approach at the plate, but hasn’t had any luck on balls in play just yet — his swing tends to generate ground balls and fewer line drives than is generally acceptable.

Keep An Eye On: Carson Smith is a no-brainer here. He’s struggling with command in his first few outings, but he’ll get it going and before you can say ‘Tom Wilhelmsen’ Smith will be sitting 92-95 mph with a plus low-80s slider thrown from a low three-quarters arm slot. First baseman — and former catcher — Ji-Man Choi is worth watching because he has a chance to hit for average but the power isn’t going to play regularly at first. Logan Bawcom is a solid middle innings relief prospect and should see the majors at some point this season. Xavier Avery once was a top-10 prospect for the Baltimore Orioles and could be a useful major leaguer at some point. He and Abe Almonte are redundant, however, and Almonte is clearly ahead of Avery on the depth chart, so Avery may have to wait awhile to return to the big leagues. He is swinging the bat well for Tacoma right now, though it’s all singles.

Photo: D.J. Peterson by Shari Summerfield

As the Seattle Mariners continue their managerial search, I’ve changed up the manner in which I’ll make trade suggestions and cite potential matches as the club turns its attention to the roster soon after the World Series. Rather than one drawn-out piece in October, I’ll discuss multiple possibilities via numerous pieces over the next several weeks. I started that Sunday by suggesting the M’s and Detroit Tigers could hook up again.

The Mariners need a lot of help — understatement of the decade, right? What they don’t need are aging players with bloated contracts — does any team need that? But in order to make significant progress, the organization may have to make some concessions in terms of how perfect everything fits together, including taking calculated risks with contracts and trading young players the team has drafted and developed.

Jack Zduriencik’s former employer has two players I feel are fits in Seattle to enough degree that a phone call should be made. Carlos Gomez, a terrific centerfielder who has exploded at the plate the past two years, and right-hander Yovani Gallardo.

It’s easy to see why Gomez fits; team-friendly contract — three years, $24 million — through 2015. He’s 29 years old in December, a right-handed batter and would be a natural fit at lead-off. He’s not going to be easy to get, assuming Milwaukee Brewers GM Doug Melvin is even willing to have the conversation, but if I were Melvin and owner Mark Attanasio, no player on my team is untouchable after the struggles the past two years.

The 28-year-old Gallardo, drafted by Zduriencik in the second round of the 2004 Draft, struggled at times in 2013, with his strikeout rate sinking to 7.17 after sitting between 8.99 and 9.89 the previous four seasons, though his FIP basically stayed the same as 2012.

The concern is with Gallardo’s health; his velocity was down a full tick for the second straight season, but his other pitches held serve for the most part, and if he’s given a clean bill of health he’s the kind of risk the Mariners should look into taking. Gallardo is due $11.25 million in 2014 and the club holds an option for 2015 at $13 million. The contract is perfect. If the M’s like what Gallardo gives them in 2013, they have the option to bring him back for another year. If he regressed or shows more signs that he’s injured — or actually suffers a significant injury — they can buy him out at $600,000.

His performance could bounce back after two non-ace seasons in a row, provided his medicals check out, and he’d fit nicely sliding into the No. 3 spot behind Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma.

I’m not suggesting the M’s go after Gomez or Gallardo, however. I’m thinking a Gomez-Gallardo package deal.

So, how do the Mariners get Gomez and Gallardo from the Brewers, who finished 74-88 this past season? And how do they do that without trading away so much that it’s counterproductive? Offer the Brewers what they don’t have, of course. What the Brewers don’t have, generally speaking, is enough young talent. The M’s have some of that.

The only young players I’d mark untouchable are Mike Zunino and Taijuan Walker. I’d be willing to move any other player in a package for Gomez and Gallardo, even if that means middle infielders Nick Franklin or Brad Miller have to be involved.

Left-hander James Paxton plus Miller or Franklin is a decent start. Shortstop prospect Chris Taylor, right-handers Tom Wilhelmsen, Carter Capps, Brandon Maurer, Yoervis Medina, Carson Smith, Dom Leone, Danny Farquhar and Erasmo Ramirez, and left-hander Charlie Furbush, as well as outfielder Michael Saunders, first baseman Justin Smoak, and infielder-outfielder Dustin Ackley could also provide value in such a trade. The only other prospect that should be protected is D.J. Peterson, who can’t be traded until February, anyway. Names such as Edwin Diaz, Victor Sanchez, both right-handed starting pitchers, could be included.

If certain other clubs wanted to make the same trade, they’d probably be able to outbid the Mariners — since Walker and Zunino aren’t likely to be discussed to any level. [Yes, it’d help if left-hander Danny Hultzen were healthy.] The Brewers’ position as a team with a non-contending roster with significant holes without a strong farm system to supplement it exponentially, could help the M’s. It might be a slight ‘bulk’ style trade, but those have worked out for clubs in the past, including when Zduriencik dealt closer J.J. Putz to the New York Mets for Jason Vargas and Franklin Gutierrez.

Trades are difficult to consummate, of course, and the Mariners would have to give up a good chunk of legit talent, so this idea has little chance, at best, of happening, but it’s the kind of idea, with the kind of players, that the Mariners need to consider, and it’s not like the Brewers are contenders that have no business talking trades that include their best players.

And no, the Mariners should not try to trade for Ryan Braun.…

To accompany the 2013 M’s Prospects of the Year, we’ve also put together the All-Prospects Team for 2013.

Unlike the POY, players that continue to hold onto prospect status qualify, so, for example, Brad Miller is not eligible, despite his being named Prospect Insider’s 2013 Seattle Mariners Prospect of the Year. Nick Franklin also does not qualify.

This is not a top prospects list of any nature.  It’s also not simply a list of players at each position that improved their status the most. It’s the top talents that performed the best and made the most progress, improving their stock and getting closer to the big leagues in the process. It’s not based on statistics and it’s not based on a player being promoted. Those are each results of what matters most — development — the most significant major factor in choosing the All-Prospects Team.

It’s worth noting that a player that conducts such development closer to the majors was given a bit more consideration, but at times the player’s upside and performance — again, not statistics — won out, too.

Pos. Player Levels MiLB Stats
SP Taijuan Walker AA, AAA, MLB 2.93 ERA, 141.1 IP, 57 BB, 160 SO
SP James Paxton AAA, MLB 4.45 ERA, 145.2 IP, 58 BB, 131 SO
SP Edwin Diaz R 1.43 ERA, 69 IP, 18 BB, 79 SO
RP Dominic Leone A, A+, AAA 2.25 ERA, 64 IP, 18 BB, 64 SO
RP Carson Smith AA 1.80 ERA, 50 IP, 17 BB, 71 SO
RP Stephen Kohlscheen AA 2.30 ERA, 66.2 IP, 25 BB, 85 SO
1B Ji-Man Choi A+, AA, AAA .295 AVG/.394 OBP/.535 SLG
2B Tim Lopes A .272 AVG/.315 OBP/.344 SLG
3B D.J. Peterson SS-A, A .303 AVG/.365 OBP/.553 SLG
SS Chris Taylor A+, AA .314 AVG/.418 OBP/.455 SLG
C Tyler Marlette A .304 AVG/.367 OBP/.448 SLG
OF Jabari Blash A+, AA .271 AVG/.387 OBP/.534 SLG
OF Stefen Romero AAA .277 AVG/.331 OBP/.448 SLG
OF Julio Morban AA .295 AVG/.362 OBP/.468 SLG