Jul 14, 2013; Flushing , NY, USA; USA pitcher Taijuan Walker throws a pitch during the second inning of the 2013 All Star Futures Game at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Mid-Season Top Prospects List: Part 2

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Yesterday I posted the first half of my mid-season top prospect list, and now I present to you my top 10 prospects in the Mariner organization.

10.       Stefen Romero

Age: 24   Position: 3B/2B   Height: 6’2”   Weight: 220

Romero is an interesting case because he hits the ball well but lacks great power, on base ability, or even a clear position. He hits lots of line drives which have justified fairly high BABIP’s throughout his minor league career, but his strikeout rate has leaped since coming to AAA Tacoma. Some prospect lists will have him higher, but personally, I don’t think a lot of Romero. All I see is a one-tool player who is 24 years old, and I don’t think that one tool will be great enough to make him an everyday player at the major league level. If he does pan out, it probably won’t be in Seattle, but he may get one shot this September.

 

9.       Julio Morban

Morban after hitting a homerun in spring training. Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Age: 21   Position: OF   Height: 6’1”   Weight: 205

Morban was a big international signee in 2008, but he has had ups and downs. In class AA Jackson this year, he has needed a .411 BABIP to hit .297. He has struck out a lot, which is cause for concern, but he has also shown good power, and his glove will play up in a corner outfield position. If his hit tool develops, Morban will be a good ballplayer at the major league level, and he still has a few years to make that happen.

 

 8.       Austin Wilson

Age: 21   Position: OF   Height: 6’5”   Weight: 245

Wilson was a probable first round pick going into the 2013 collegiate season, but an injury set him back and Seattle stole him in the supplemental round. The beginning of his pro career has been rocky, but the tools are there and he has an excellent build to go with it. Give him time to transition and hopefully the player that was a possible top 15 draft pick will shine through.

 

7.       Gabriel Guerrero

Age: 19   Position: OF   Height: 6’3”   Weight: 190

Guerrero’s transition from the Dominican Summer League to baseball in America has not been smooth. His strikeout rate has nearly doubled while his walk rate has been cut to a fraction of its previous number. Nevertheless, he seems to be coming around. His month by month OPS in 2013 has gone .476 in April, .648 in May, .713 in June, and .871 so far in July. He’s trending in the right direction. Defensively, he projects well in right field with a good arm and nice defensive tools to accompany it. If Guerrero’s mid-season production is indicative of his true ability, the Mariners could have a pretty impressive prospect on their hands.

 

6.       Tyler Pike

Age: 19   Position: LHP   Height: 6’0”   Weight: 180

Pike was an exciting selection for Seattle in the third round of the 2012 draft. He throws in the low 90’s from the left side, but also has a changeup that gets lots of swings and misses, while his curveball should work into a good offering as well. His command was excellent in high school, but he has surrendered more walks than expected in his year of pro baseball. If he trims down his bases on balls, he could be another pretty exciting arm in the Mariner system down the road.

 

5.       Victor Sanchez

Age: 18   Position: RHP   Height: 6’0”   Weight: 255

Let me begin by saying that Sanchez threw a no-hitter for class A Clinton Wednesday night. Although still a teen, Sanchez is fairly far along in his development. He doesn’t issue many free passes, but he doesn’t get a lot of strikeouts yet either. Don’t write him off as another Blake Beavan, though, because he already throws harder and has the potential to possess a good curveball and changeup down the road. Sanchez has lots of time, but he may not need it if he continues with his steady development.

 

4.       James Paxton

Paxton in spring training. Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Age: 24   Position: LHP   Height: 6’4”   Weight: 220

Paxton sits in the low to mid 90’s with a great curveball, but there is uncertainty concerning his command. Over the course of his pro career, he has averaged nearly five walks per 9 innings. In Tacoma this year, his ERA is 4.58 as a result of an unlucky BABIP and LOB%, but the walks have still come too often. If Paxton can improve his control and develop a serviceable changeup, he will have a spot in the middle of Seattle’s rotation, but those are two ifs that seem farther and farther away from achievement with every year that Paxton ages. He’s still a great prospect, but he may be destined for a life in the bullpen.

 

3.       DJ Peterson

Age: 21   Position: 3B/1B   Height: 6’0”   Weight: 205

Going into the 2013 draft, Peterson was considered to have one of the best pure bats in the class, and the Mariners got him with the twelfth overall pick. There is no doubt he can hit; in 23 pro games in class low A Everett, he has put up a line of .293/.353/.522 with a BABIP of .301. The bat is undoubtedly going stick around, but his position is a question mark. His glove may not stick at third base, but his body isn’t great for first base. If Peterson can continue his offensive output as expected, the Mariners will find a place in the field for him. Just because he is in the short-season level doesn’t necessarily mean he is a long ways from the majors. Zunino was in the same place at this time last year. Peterson is a mature hitter that could certainly skip some levels if warranted.

 

2.       Danny Hultzen

Hultzen in the 2012 Futures Game. Credit: H. Darr Beiser-USA TODAY Sports via USA TODAY Sports

Age: 23   Position: LHP   Height: 6’3”   Weight: 200

Injuries have plagued Hultzen thus far this year, but in the 28.2 innings Hultzen has thrown in Tacoma, his ERA has been 2.20 and his FIP 2.33. Despite his ailments, he is still the second best prospect in the Seattle farm system considering that he has the potential to throw three above average pitches, and his command appears to be back on track following a miserable end to the 2012 season.

Once Hultzen is healthy again, expect him to turn some heads with his stuff and force his way into the rotation within the next year.

 

1.       Taijuan Walker

Age: 20   Position: RHP   Height: 6’4”   Weight: 210

The Mariners got a steal when they took Walker in the supplemental round in the 2010 draft. Now heralded as one of the top pitcher prospects in baseball, Walker has dominated this year after a less-than-stellar 2012 campaign. In class AA Jackson, Walker posted a 3.13 FIP in 84 innings of work.

Walker earned a call-up to AAA at the end of June and has started three games there thus far.  In sixteen innings scattered over three starts, Walker has allowed just eleven hits while striking out a batter per inning and posting a 0.95 ERA. Walker’s command has improved this year, and there is no doubt that he has electric stuff, so he may get a taste of the majors this year as a September call-up.

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Tags: Austin Wilson Danny Hultzen DJ Peterson Gabriel Guerrero James Paxton Julio Morban Seattle Mariners Stefen Romero Taijuan Walker Tyler Pike Victor Sanchez

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