Interview with M’s Prospect Expert Jay Yencich: Part One


Sodo Mojo: Dustin Ackley headlined the 2010 Mariners draft, but Rich Poythress and Nick Franklin, two clearly very talented young position players, flew slightly under the radar. What’s your take on these two and their respective potentials and weaknesses?

Jay Yencich: I think perhaps the only reason they were “under the radar”, so to speak, was because our expectations around that time were rather different from what happened. I suppose anything after Ackley might end up disappointing anyway, though with the state of the system right now, both have their arguments for top ten placement.

I loved the Poythress pick at the time, still do. He has a great deal of innate strength, but the underrated aspect of him is that he’s done it mostly with bat skills rather than just muscling the pitch out of the park. For his size, he pulls the ball surprisingly little. The lacking aspects of his game are that he’s not going to be moving off first for any reason and some think his bat speed might be lacking, which would obviously hamper him the more he moves up. It’s enough to be somewhat concerned, even if concerns about bat speed are often exaggerated.

Of Franklin, I recently heard someone say “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”. That’s probably the best description I’ve heard of him yet. His tools are all average or slightly better, nothing standout except maybe his speed, but he’ll have scouts and coaches gushing about him because his reflexes are above-average and he plays harder on ordinary plays than most would when the game is on the line.

Sodo Mojo: Julio Morban, Guillermo Pimentel, and James Jones are all young outfield prospects who are all fairly new to the system. What are your thoughts on them and their respective strengths and weaknesses? Which one of them do you like the most, and why?

Jay Yencich: I generally refrain from ranking guys like Pimentel until they’ve played a bit because the reports you’ll get on them can be distorted to mythic proportions. I’ve seen videos of him swinging, and it looks good relative to other players that would come up as high school picks, but will he carry it into games? That’s always the hardest thing to tell.

I saw Jones when I made a stop by Everett this summer and he didn’t disappoint. The first at-bat I saw out of him, he hit a double straight down the right field line, and the third time, he hit a mirror image of that. Next time he went deep to right-center. So, obviously, if you value the ability to go to all fields, Jones has that going for him. I think that he’ll develop more now that his focus is solely on hitting, but I did note that he wasn’t seeing a lot of pitches, so that’s something that could work against him. He’s also not likely a center fielder.

Morban probably is, on instincts alone. He didn’t make it into center much because he busted his shoulder a bit in spring training, but when he did get out there, everyone liked him. His routes are good and he knows how to use what speed he has to his advantage. At the plate, he obviously had great numbers and also a great number of Ks. My guess is that he was trying too hard to impress, considering he wasn’t able to play as much as he would have liked to. I expect his next season to be a bit more even.

Of the three, I probably like Morban the best at the moment. I want to like Jones more based off what I saw of him, but in context, that might have been his best individual game so far, and Everett Memorial can be quite friendly to lefties. I’d like to see more out of him before I start joining in on the early hype of him.