Alright, this top 20 prospects series is taking way too long, and at this rate I won’t be done till May. So, I’m just going to shorten this up by doing a short blurb about each in groups of 5. Sure, this would have made way more sense if I had done it for 10-20 instead of 1-10, but what’s done is done. Let’s get a move on.
#10 – Gabriel Noriega
Noriega is a 19 year old, switch hitting shortstop out of Venezuela. He’s still extremely young and fairly new to the system, but it’s clear that he’s got the talent. He’s a decent hitter, with good speed and not a lot of power. He posted a .311/.360/.456 line in 229 rookie ball PA’s last year, and while that’s a decent looking like, his plate discipline could definitely stand to improve (60:16 K:BB). As a 19 year old, though, he should have sufficient time to work on that. He’s also an outstanding defensive player, and according to prospect expert Jay Yencich, probably the best in the system.
#9 – Nick Franklin
Franklin is also a switch hitting shortstop (go figure, they’re valuable!), and he was the Mariners’ other first round pick in the 2009 amateur draft. While his position, age & handedness are the biggest reasons that he’s ranked so highly, he has other qualities as well. Despite the fact that he certainly isn’t the most talented prospect you’re going to find in this system, he doesn’t have any real weaknesses, and he plays really hard, all the time. Tools-wise, he’s pretty close to average across the board, though from what I can gather he’s got some upside as well – remember, he isn’t even 19 yet.
#8 – Dan Cortes
Shifting away from teenage, switch hitting shortstops, we have RHP Dan Cortes at #8. I originally had Cortes significantly higher up on this list, right up until I learned how awesome Michael Pineda was (stay tuned). Cortes is pretty good too, though. As you probably know, he was acquired from the Royals along with relief pitcher Derrick Saito in the Yuniesky Betancourt deal, which I’m sure a fair amount of us are still laughing about. While he has a whole lot of talent and some really good stuff, he’ll have to significantly improve his command if he wants to at some point realize his potential. His fastball regularly sits in the mid 90’s, on top of a solid curve and an okay slider. 2010 has a chance to be extremely telling as to what we can expect from Cortes in the future.
#7 – Rich Poythress
Rich Poythress is a 22 year old, right handed first baseman who was drafted by the M’s in the 2nd round of the 2009 amateur draft. In short, he’s a really nice prospect. He has a ton of power, good plate discipline, solid contact rates, and he doesn’t strike out very often. The only knocks I’ve heard against him are that his bat speed isn’t great, and his defense over at first is average at best. He’s also really slow on the basepaths. But, yeah, he can really hit, and his power is tremendous.
#6 – Carlos Triunfel
Carlos Triunfel is a 19 year old (20 in 4 days), right handed shortstop/third baseman out of the Dominican Republic. A year ago, he was considered one of, if not the best prospects in the Mariners system, but he suffered a leg injury early in 2009 that cost him a full season of development. So, as you would expect, his stock has dropped a fair amount – however, he’s still a young prospect, and still extremely talented, so all hope is not lost. He’s a solid all-around hitter, with good speed and average power, who also doesn’t walk or strike out real often. Unfortunately, as an offensive player, Triunfel, though clearly quite talented, is still extremely raw. Hopefully, he’ll stay healthy in 2010, and we’ll be able to see what he looks like after another year of development, and if we’re lucky, significant improvement.