The Seattle Mariners have been up-and-down in terms of prospect success in recent years. Regardless, of who has panned out and who hasn’t (Dustin Ackley and Justin Smoak may ring a bell), the club always seems to be full of young talent. At the moment, they definitely still have some prospects worth talking about. So, let’s dive into the Top-10 prospects in the Mariners organization.
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1. Taijuan Walker, RHP:
No pitcher ranks higher on DSE’s Top-50 Fantasy Baseball Prospect list than Taijuan Walker. Out of every pitching prospect, Walker is perhaps the most MLB-ready of them all. Walker’s mechanics are near perfect for what you’d want out of a Major League pitcher. The 21-year-old employs a mid-to-upper 90’s fastball, a low-90’s cutter, a slow curveball, and a change-up. Put it all together with his good command, and he has a very solid arsenal. Walker recorded a 2.93 ERA, 1.196 WHIP, and 10.2 K/9 in his 25 starts between Double-A Jackson and Triple-A Tacoma last season. He should make the Mariners rotation to start the season, assuming he’s at least decent in the spring. I expect him to be a worthy candidate for AL Rookie of the Year, with a good shot to actually win the award.
ETA: Start of 2014
2. D.J. Peterson, 3B:
Though Peterson did not make the cut for DSE’s Top-50, but he likely would have made the Top-75 if we went that deep with the rankings. This 22-year-old third baseman was drafted 12th overall by the Mariners just last season. Peterson looks to be a future threat at the plate for both contact and power. At 6’1”, 225 pounds, he has raw power and the ability to hit the ball hard to all fields. He’s pretty slow and could probably stand to stretch out his at bats a little more, but the bottom line is that he should some day produce in multiple categories in fantasy. Peterson had quite a start in the minors last season, as he recorded a .303 batting average with 13 home runs, 25 total extra-base hits, and 47 RBI in 55 games in Single-A last season. He’s a bit blocked with Kyle Seager manning the hot corner in Seattle, but his skills are too good for the Mariners to not utilize, or perhaps use as trade bait in the future.
ETA: Late 2015
3. James Paxton, LHP:
Though he’s not as highly regarded as Walker, James Paxton is yet another flame-thrower with a decent arsenal. His fastball sits in the mid-90’s, and he also throws a slider, a curveball, and a changeup. Paxton recorded a 4.45 ERA, 1.483 WHIP, and 8.1 K/9 in his 145.2 innings with Triple-A Tacoma last season. He was actually more successful in his stretch in the majors, as he recorded a 1.50 ERA, 0.917 WHIP, and 7.9 K/9 in 4 starts. He was tough to hit, as he gave up just 5.4 hits per 9 innings. Additionally, he averaged 6.0 innings per start in the big leagues. Paxton should be considered a candidate to begin the season in the Mariners rotation. If not, he should be next in line for starts if anyone in the rotation gets injured during the season. Keep a close eye on him in 2014, as he should find his way to the majors at some point.
4. Chris Taylor, 2B/SS:
Taylor is an athletic middle infielder with plenty of future fantasy potential. He has good patience at the plate, ability to hit for contact, good bad speed that gives him at least a little bit of power, and is a serious threat on the base pads. Taylor recorded a .314 batting average, .409 on-base percentage, 8 home runs, 47 extra-base hits, and 38 stolen bases in his 134 games between High-A High Dessert and Double-A Jackson last season. Additionally, he drew 84 walks on the year and held a stolen base success rate of 88%. At the very least, he’s shown an ability to find a way to get on base and has the speed to rack up steals when he does. This alone can be useful in fantasy when he finally gets a chance. However, he’s pretty blocked with Robinson Cano, Brad Miller, and Nick Franklin set to occupy the Mariners middle infield. Still, if things fall the right way, or if he gets traded, he has good fantasy upside.
ETA: Late 2015
5. Edwin Diaz, RHP:
At just 19 years old, Edwin Diaz looks like he has a heck of a future. The Puerto Rican was drafted in the third round of the 2012 MLB Draft and has been impressive since then. While he’s a bit undersized and probably still needs to tweak is mechanics a bit, he has electric stuff. He throws gas, as his fastball averages in the mid-90’s and already reached up to 99 MPH. He still has work to do on his curveball, slider, and change-up, as he relies a lot on his velocity at the moment. Diaz recorded a 1.43 ERA, 0.913 WHIP, and 10.3 K/9 in 13 starts in rookie ball last season. His control was fantastic, as he held an above average 4.39 strikeout to walk ratio. Diaz is still young, relatively under experienced, and still needs to work his way through the minors. Regardless, we may see Diaz join an already good rotation in a couple of years.
ETA: Late 2016
6. Victor Sanchez, RHP:
At just 19 years old, Sanchez is a talented, but raw, young pitcher with great stuff. He throws really hard already, with his fastball in the low-to-mid-90’s, and also employs an effective change-up in the mid-80’s. He also throws a curveball that he will really need to focus on in 2014. His command and control are very impressive for his age, but there are some questions about his delivery. Sanchez recorded a 2.78 ERA, 1.094 WHIP, and 6.3 K/9 in his 20 starts with Single-A Clinton. While he wasn’t racking up the K’s, he also only walked batters at a rate of 1.4 BB/9. He had his success pitching to contact and was a bit of a fly-ball pitcher, so it would be nice to see him use his stuff to strike batters out this coming year. He probably won’t get much farther than Double-A this year, but we can see him in the majors by 2016 if he develops well.
7. Austin Wilson, OF:
22-year-old outfielder Austin Wilson is one of the Mariners most recent draft picks, as he was taken in the second round of the 2013 MLB Draft. At 6’4”, 210 pounds, Wilson has the chance to be a threat as both an average and power hitter. He has good bat speed, an effortless swing, and the strength to drive balls far. However, the skills have not translated much so far in his professional career. Wilson slashed .241/.319/.414 with 6 home runs, 20 extra-base hits, and 2 stolen bases in 56 games with Low-A Everett last season. Possibly the most encouraging thing he did was rack up plenty of doubles and triples, giving him a .172 ISO for the season (MLB average is .142). Though some don’t believe in his power, I think we’ll see an increase in home runs in coming seasons. He also has better average potential than .241, so we can see an increase in that too. Outfield is probably the most wide-open position in Seattle, so if he can improve, he’ll have a chance to make the Mariners roster eventually.
ETA: Late 2016
8. Danny Hultzen, LHP:
While he missed most of 2013 and will now miss all of 2014 due to a shoulder injury, it’s tough to keep Hultzen off this list. This former 3rd overall pick was a consensus Top-30 prospect prior to 2013 and is just too talented to write off. He throws hard, with his fastball in the mid-90’s, and employs a plus-pitch in his change-up, and a solid offering in his slider. Before being injured last season, he recorded a 2.02 ERA, 0.813 WHIP, and 10.6 K/9 in his 7 starts between the rookie leagues and Triple-A Tacoma. Not to mention, he had incredible control, with a 6.00 strikeout to walk ratio. It’s hard to expect him to come back as the same pitcher in 2015, but he was very close to the majors back then. If he can get healthy than he shouldn’t have to put in much minor league work before getting a chance in the majors upon his return.
ETA: Late 2015
9. Luiz Gohara, LHP:
Brazilian left-hander Luiz Gohara is only 17 years old, but has shown a lot of promise for his age. At 6’3”, 210 pounds, he has a fastball in the low-90’s and he may actually see some increase in his velocity in coming years. He has had some issues commanding his slider, but it can eventually become a plus-pitch as well. He also mixes in the occasional change-up, which isn’t too good yet, but learning to throw it better would give him a deeper arsenal. Gohara recorded a 4.15 ERA, 1.413 WHIP, and 11.2 K/9 in 21.2 innings of rookie ball last year. Next year he should work his way through the low minors, probably not making it much further than High-A High Dessert. Still, he’s very young and has a lot of time to develop into a good starting pitcher.
10. Tyler Pike, RHP:
At 20 years old, Tyler Pike is yet another young starter with some solid potential. Taken in the 3rd round of the 2012 MLB Draft, Pike has been very good in his time so far in the minor leagues. He throws his fastball in the low-90’s, and also incorporates a curveball with plus-potential and a serviceable change-up. Pike recorded a 2.37 ERA, 1.178 WHIP, and 7.3 K/9 in 22 starts with Single-A Clinton last season. He had control issues, with a high rate of 4.6 BB/9, but all things considered, he was tough to hit. The Mariners have a rotation full of starters with plenty of potential, not to mention some pretty good arms that I’ve already mentioned. As a result, it’ll probably be a couple years before we see Pike in the majors.