Mariners Top Prospects - 1 Through 5

We’re finally here! The moment you’ve been waiting for is finally here. All that time you probably spent lethargically reading through 6-20 has paid off, as the end is near! Here they are, my top 5 Seattle Mariners prospects for 2010.

#5 – Matt Tuiasosopo

Matt Tuiasosopo, “Tui”, is a 23 year old right handed infielder, and the Mariners’ third round pick in the 2004 amateur draft. First off, Tui gets big points for being basically major league ready. He’s been in the system for quite awhile now, and if the team currently had a spot for him, he’d be ready to produce, offensively at least, at ML level. And while he isn’t the most exciting prospect tools-wise, it’s important to realize how valuable major league readiness is. As for talent, the biggest thing Tui has going for him his offense – he’s been a consistently good hitter in the minor leagues. Last year in Triple-A he posted a .261/.368/.473 slash line. In 2008 it was .281/.364/.453. He’s a solid all around hitter with a good amount of pop, and he gets on base pretty often. He does strike out a lot, though. His defense at third base has been in question for quite awhile, as he doesn’t have real good range – though his arm is above average. The team has also entertained thoughts of trying him out at second base.

#4 – Michael Pineda

Michael Pineda is a 21 year old right handed pitcher out of the Dominican Republic, and he was signed by the Mariners internationally back in 2006. Pineda is the clear pick for the best pitcher in the Mariners system, for a few reasons. While his fastball isn’t blazing like that of Mauricio Robles or Dan Cortes, it generally sits in the low 90′s, with excellent command and good movement. He also throws a cutter, a change, and a slider, which are all above average pitches. He just does everything well. A more detailed description of what he brings to the table, via Jay Yencich, can be found here.

#3 – Adam Moore

Adam Moore is a 25 year old catcher, and was the Mariners 6th round pick in the 2006 amateur draft. While Moore certainly isn’t going to blow you away with his tools, he’s pretty much average across the board, which is nothing to scoff at when it comes to catching prospects. A lot of his value comes from the fact that he’s nearly major league ready, and pretty close to a sure thing when it comes to having a long big league career. He put up really solid power numbers in 2007 & 2008, but those numbers came in High Desert and West Tennessee, respectively. As one would expect, he had a bit of a drop off in that area last year in Tacoma, but he still hit 9 home runs there in 340 AB’s and slugged .429. He can definitely hold his own at the plate, but he probably won’t be winning any silver slugger awards or having any 25 HR seasons. As for his defense, his blocking ability is a bit questionable – although he’s apparently been improving, and his arm is excellent.

#2 – Michael Saunders

You should all know how I feel about Michael Saunders by now. He’s just an awesome prospect. All of his tools are above average, and he’s basically major league ready. He’s a good all around hitter, he’s got a lot of pop and profiles as a 25-30 HR player as a left handed hitter at Safeco, he’s got good speed, and he plays above average defense in left field. One of the bigger knocks on him in the past has been his plate discipline, and he’s recently improved on that – although he still strikes out more than I’d prefer. Saunders is fairly close to being one of those elusive “can’t miss” prospects you hear about every once in awhile, simply for the fact that he doesn’t have any real weak spots. He’s been brought up in a lot of trade ideas by fans recently, but in reality he’s one trade chip that I’d really hate to see go.

#1 – Dustin Ackley

This one was even more of a no-brainer than Saunders. Dustin Ackley is a 22 year old (today’s his birthday!), left-handed hitting second baseman/center fielder. He was the Mariners first round draft pick in the 2009 amateur draft. Ackley is a fantastic prospect. He’s an excellent all around hitter with good gap power, and he can hit some home runs. He was regarded as the best pure hitter in the draft by a long shot, and for good reason. He profiles as somewhat of a Chase Utley lite – Excellent offensive hitter from the left side of the plate, with good gap power. The biggest difference is obviously the fact that Dustin Ackley is probably never going to be a 30-HR guy, hence the “lite”. However, there’s no shame in being worse than Chase Utley. Ichiro is worse than Chase Utley. Felix Hernandez is worse than Chase Utley. You can be worse than Chase Utley and still be an awesome player, and Dustin Ackley probably will be. His defense is hard to get a finger on right now, as the team has decided to try him out at second base – a position that he hasn’t really spent any time at, so only time will tell on that front. Last but not least, he’s got good speed, good contact rates, and excellent plate discipline. What more could you want in a prospect?

For reference, here is the complete top 20 list:

1. Dustin Ackley, 2B

2. Michael Saunders, LF

3. Adam Moore, C

4. Michael Pineda, RHP

5. Matt Tuiasosopo, IF

6. Carlos Triunfel, SS/3B

7. Rich Poythress, 1B

8. Dan Cortes, RHP

9. Nick Franklin, SS

10. Gabriel Noriega, SS

11. Maikel Cleto, RHP

12. Alex Liddi, 3B

13. Julio Morban, OF

14. Mike Carp, 1B

15. James Jones, OF

16. Guillermo Pimentel, OF

17. Steven Baron, C

18. Mauricio Robles, LHP

19. Joseph Dunigan, 1B

20. Kyle Seager, 2B

Thanks for reading – hope you guys enjoyed my prospect series.

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Tags: Adam Moore Dustin Ackley Mariners Matt Tuiasosopo Michael Pineda Michael Saunders Prospects

  • Jon

    I am with you on Saunders, to a point. I think he’s very underrated. I’m looking forward to seeing his revamped swing.

    I do have issue with your Pineda blurb. If Pineda was as you wrote, he would be a big league pitcher right now, and a pretty good big league pitcher at that. 4 above average pitches with great command? Sign me up! Something is missing.

  • Griffin Cooper

    Part of it is the simple fact that he’s still really young, and to a point, raw. I’d imagine the rest of it has to do with concern about his elbow. Here’s the money quote on Pineda from jay Yencich:

    “What I’ve heard with regard to how Pineda was throwing after he came back leaves me less concerned. If anything, I’d be more inclined to chalk his issues this season to pitching 138.1 innings in Wisconsin two years ago when his previous high was less than half that. He has some issues he could still work out, like he overthrows a bit sometimes (which could contribute to the elbow issues), but otherwise it’s all there.”

  • Jon

    Are you saying above average pitches for the level and experience level, or for baseball in general, with the implication being big league pitches? It’s all relative, of course.

  • Griffin Cooper

    Well, I think it’s certainly possible for a prospect to have above average stuff without necessarily being a ML ready player. Specifically, though, I’d say a 91-93 MPH fastball with solid command and as Jay says, the ability to throw strikes inside, is an above average pitch regardless of level. As for his other pitches, all I’ve been able to gather is that they’re all polished with good command, and that he has the ability to be deceptive and uses a lot of movement.

  • Mike

    Any reason Josh Fields and Nick Hill weren’t included in your top 20 list?

    Arguments for Halman and Chavez could be made as well despite the risk that is associated with them as prospects

  • Griffin Cooper

    Fields and Hill were both close – Fields missed out because he’s a relief prospect, which just don’t have as much value, and Hill missed out because he has a relatively low upside and he’s fairly likely to end up being a reliever.

    Halman and Chavez are extremely similar, and I just couldn’t justify placing them above anyone on this list. Halman was just awful in 2009, and I really feel like I need to see more from Chavez. It’s all subjective, of course.

  • Mike

    Yeah I understand. Good job Griffin it was well done!

  • joe

    Felix and Ichiro are both better than utley

  • Griffin Cooper

    Chase Utley 2009 WAR: 7.6
    Ichiro 2009 WAR: 5.1
    Felix Hernandez 2009 WAR: 6.8