August 12, 2012; Anaheim, CA, USA; Seattle Mariners shortstop Brendan Ryan (26) misses catching a hit in the third inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

Seattle's Future at Shortstop

The typical reaction to a Brendan Ryan at bat. Credit: David Banks-US PRESSWIRE

The shortstop situation in Seattle is quite bizarre. We have the best defensive shortstop in baseball right now, yet the majority of fans would like to see him go due to the fact that he can’t hit. It’s true, Brendan Ryan is a miserable hitter right now, but I don’t think that that means we should just get rid of him as soon as we can.

I believe that Seattle has taken good defensive shortstops for granted in recent years. The Seattle pitching staff has been blessed him Brendan Ryan and Jack Wilson, who were two of the best defensive shortstop of the decade, play shortstop for the last few seasons. People don’t realize how important having that stud up the middle is until it’s gone. Just remember what it was like having Yuniesky Betancourt’s disastrous glove. I don’t want that.

My point is that we shouldn’t just throw away Brendan Ryan simply because he doesn’t have a great bat. Ryan should get the job out of spring training next year. If he can raise his average up to a semi-respectable .240, I see no reason to try to move him. His glove is too valuable. In a few years when this team is challenging for a playoff spot, Brendan Ryan’s glove is the kind of tool that makes a good team great.

At the same time, if Ryan continues to display Mendoza line production, the Mariners will have to start looking elsewhere. In this scenario, there are lots of good options in the farm system.

With the exception of starting pitching, the shortstop position has more farm system depth than any other spot.

Carlos Truinfel has been a prospect in this organization since 2007 when he was 17. He was considered an organizational top 10 prospect from 2007 to 2010 and was a MLB top 100 prospect in 2008 and 2009. Unfortunately, his bat has never been impactful above class high A. His frequent strikeouts and poor BB% have plagued him as well. At this point, he is no longer the heir to the throne due to the draft of Nick Franklin and Brad Miller.

These two new players are now the guys who are expected to be the future at shortstop, specifically Nick Franklin. While Franklin has been the front runner at shortstop and is currently the 29th best prospect in baseball, I encouraged fans to pay attention to Miller in my 2nd base article, and I will use the same argument here.

Here is a comparison between Franklin and Miller during their time in AA Jackson in 2012.


































Pretty similar huh?

As I discussed in the 2nd base article, 2012 draft picks, Chris Taylor and Timothy Lopes have both moved swiftly through the farm system in their first years in professional baseball. Taylor has the glove to project pretty well at shortstop, while Lopes may be forced to stay at second.

Another name that has been tossed around on Mariner top prospect lists is Martin Peguero. Unfortunately, the 18 year old has spent his first two years in rookie ball and has little to show for it. In the Appellation League this year, he posted a triple slash of .231/.269/.294. Ouch.

If you ask me, if we want an 18 year old shortstop from the DR with no power and no ability to draw walks, then we should look at Ketel Marte. Who? Ketel Marte. That name is rarely used, but he spent this year in Everett and put up numbers very similar to the ones Peguero posted in rookie ball. Only a month separates these two international talents, but Marte is a bit more developed than Peguero.

I have little hope for either of these players in the long run, but if you are a Martin Peguero fanatic, I would recommend you start paying attention to Ketel Marte, because he is a nearly identical player who has progressed faster.

Although 2012 2nd round draft pick Joe DeCarlo is listed as a shortstop on the AZL Mariners roster, he has little hope of sticking at short, so he is more relevant at third base than shortstop. If by some miracle he can trim down his 5’10” 205 pound frame, get quicker, and improve his glove, he would be an option at short. I don’t see that happening however.

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Tags: Brad Miller Brendan Ryan Ketel Marte Mariners Martin Peguero Nick Franklin

  • maqman

    I note that Jack Wilson has just formally retired. He was good but just not for the M’s. Having Franklin and Miller in the upper minors is helpful but only if they keep moving ahead and become major league players. I believe Martin Peguero got a big signing bonus, in seven figures. I hope he turns out to be worth it. Handing out big money for 16-year old kids is riskier then roulette wheel odds. Hopefully the new CBA will reduce the prices for similar talent in the future. Ryan is a very good shortstop and as you indicate his fielding value makes up for a bad bat. His contract is up after this season, he signed for $2.75MM for two years ($1MM in 2011 and $1.75 in 2012). It will probably take the M’s more to sign him for two more years and another club might offer more. I’d say he’s worth $5MM for two years worth of service. Most likely replaced by Franklin or Miller for 2014 but still valuable as a backup. He’s a gamer and a good guy in the clubhouse, so I think they will want him back.

    • JCondreay

      im honestly not sure what Ryan’s value is. there really isn’t another player like him to compare with. I would really like Ryan to be there when Franklin and Miller come up, tho. With the exception of Omar Vizquel, there isn’t a better guy to learn from than Ryan.

    • Matthias_Kullowatz

      The roulette odds aren’t nearly that awful! It’s just so hard to know how a player is going to develop at 16.

      Since Ryan is 2nd-year arbitration eligible, and since arbitration doesn’t tend to pay for defense, I would bet the M’s wouldn’t have to pay much more than $2M – $3M per season for his services (though a gold glove award could ruin that).

      I don’t doubt that he’s worth $5M, but I think we can get him cheaper!

      • maqman

        The M’s bought out two years of arbitration time when he signed with them. Depending on his service time he may have one year left. If so he will probably get about $3MM in arbitration.

  • Matthias_Kullowatz

    I haven’t seen Brad Miller play, but Dave Cameron mentioned in his Fangraphs chat with Carson Cistulli on Monday that Miller has good lateral range for a shortstop, but a brick glove. I think that’s positive in that it’s easier to fix fielding errors than a lack of range.

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