I kind of missed this one yesterday, but it bears repeating and also some generals thoughts.
The Mariners have a lot of talent in their minor league system. Guys such as Nick Franklin, James Paxton and even Alex Liddi. Yes, only Taijuan Walker made Baseball America’s top-50 but you could take a step back and see that we have three guys that are compareable with others on this list.
Note on the numbers: I only used Paxton’s numbers from Clinton since he only had the one start in AA and it kind of skews the numbers slightly. Same with Anthony Ranaudo, who split equal time in both Greenville and Salmen, I used his betters numbers so not to skew the stats in one direction.
What Paxton did in Clinton, regardless of the age differential, is very, very good. Out of everyone in the Mariners system that could have a case for being left off the Top-50 I feel Paxton has the very best case. Yes, he was too old for the level but the amount of rust that he had and what he did progressively with each start was very impressive. I won’t be surprised when at this point next year he’s making starts for the Mariners. I very well think he could be a guy that could end up in the BA top 50 by years end.
I know that Nick Franklin had a “down” year. But we need to put it into perspective. Our 20 year old held his own pretty well for the level against some really good pitching. Sure, you expect more from a player that put up insane numbers in a pitchers league and is now in a hitters paradise. But, had Gabe Norriega put up these numbers there would be a lot more people excited about him.
Is Franklin a top-50 prospect right now? No, I don’t really think so. But, he’s still very good. I just hope he doesn’t go all Nate Tenbrink the rest of the way after the bat incident and now with getting food poisoning. Franklin isn’t that far from being a top-50 talent. I know he doesn’t get the love from a lot of other prospect agencies but after seeing him with my own eyes I’m pretty certain he can stick at short and I think that’s the major knock him right now.
One more thing that I want to point out is while in High Desert his kL% (strike out looking percentage) was only 1.7%, while he still struck out 18.4% of the time (above league average), the major league average for striking out looking is over 4%. This tells us something about his ability to understand the strike zone. The fact that he also improved his walk rates and lowered his over all strike out percentage also tells us he’s making strides in the right direction.
Alex Liddi is an engima. There are times that I’ve thought he is most defitinley an every day third basemen with a chance to be really good and other times that I’ve thought he’s a platoon first basemen and more likely a decent power stick off the bench in the late innings. But the guy has showed some things this year (and beyond the fact that he can strike out over 30%+ of the time.
He has put up some very good numbers even with the fact that the PCL is usually a pretty good hitters league. I don’t know if I buy into the 25+ home run power, the additions to Cheney stadium have skewed the numbers he’s posted so far. But, at the same time those home runs turn into doubles so while it’s not the same it does kind of even out.
Ultimately I believe in Liddi could be a third basemen, but the strike outs are one huge red flag. John Sickles wrote a bit about him and it gave me a little optimism, which was a nice change of pace, but you can’t ignore the fact that there a legitimate questions that he still has to answer even before he gets his first “cup of coffee”.
I don’t think that Liddi is even a top-100 prospect let a lone top 50. I don’t even think he’s the number 3 prospect even in the organzation at this time. But, I think he’s the still a solid prospect and maybe even the best in AAA right now which is partially why I’m using him as an example.
This post in and of itself isn’t an indicement on the players that were selected or that anyone over at Baseball America did the organization wrong. Rather this is just an oportunity to take a step back and reminder ourselves that despite the fact no one else made the list from the farm system there are still some good and legitimate prospects here.
I think that for the most part the list that was assemebled is a very good one and I wouldn’t argue that any of them were unworthy to be on that list. This is purely a reminder.