Mariners Top 20 Prospects: #11 LF Dario Pizzano

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Aug 18, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; A view of a Seattle Mariners ball cap and glove during the game between the Texas Rangers and the Seattle Mariners at Globe Life Park in Arlington. The Mariners defeat the Rangers 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 18, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; A view of a Seattle Mariners ball cap and glove during the game between the Texas Rangers and the Seattle Mariners at Globe Life Park in Arlington. The Mariners defeat the Rangers 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /
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Dario Pizzano is one of the most MLB ready prospects in the Seattle Mariners system, and yet nobody is talking about him.

Dario Pizzano can flat out hit the baseball. The 24-year-old outfielder has quickly established himself as one of the top all-around offensive players in the Seattle Mariners organization. Pizzano does not get a lot of fanfare, but he could be a big time contributor for the M’s in the near future.

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Originally selected by the Mariners in the 15th round of the 2012 draft, Pizzano hit the ground running as a pro. Seattle assigned him to the Pulaski Mariners in 2012, and Pizzano tore apart the Appalachian League. He hit .356 with 15 doubles, 4 home runs and 28 RBI across 53 games. Pizzano also registered a .442 on base percentage and slugged .511 in 225 plate appearances.

The Mariners promoted Pizzano to their Single-A affiliate in the Midwest League in 2013. He continued to dominate opposing pitchers, slashing .311/.392/.471 through 531 plate appearances with the Clinton LumberKings. Pizzano tallied 40 doubles, hit 8 home runs and drove in 70 runs across 126 games.

The Columbia University alum began the 2014 season with the High Desert Mavericks of the California League. Not surprisingly, Pizzano continued to produce, batting .275 with 3 homers and 21 RBI. He finished the season with the Mariners Double-A affiliate in Jackson. Pizzano struggled with the Generals, hitting .228 with 8 home runs and 55 RBI in 81 games. Despite his dip in batting average, Pizzano still managed to post a .341 on base percentage in the Southern League.

Pizzano repeated with the Jackson Generals in 2015, and he had much better results the second time around. He slashed .308/.366/.457 through 243 plate appearances last season. Pizzano added 13 doubles, 4 triples, 4 home runs and 33 RBI to his impressive stat line. The Mariners sent him to the Arizona Fall League following the season, and Pizzano did a nice job against the best young talent in the game.

The biggest question mark about the Malden, MA product is his ability to defend in left field. He is steady with the leather, but his lack of athleticism limits his range. Pizzano has a .983 career fielding percentage and has accumulated 10 outfield assists in four seasons. Those numbers are underwhelming, but he took significant strides defensively in 2015. Pizzano did not commit an error in 208.1 innings last season, and he had 3 outfield assists.

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For the third consecutive year, Pizzano will play for the Mariners this spring in Arizona. He has yet to get a hit in 5 at bats in Cactus League action, but that is likely to change this spring. The M’s opening day outfield is set in stone, but I believe Pizzano will get an extended look with the big league club in Peoria. His skill set could be very appealing to Jerry Dipoto and his staff, who are very sabermetric friendly.

The stat that is most likely to impress the Mariners is Pizzano’s strikeout to walk ratio. He is one of the few players in baseball history who has walked more than he has struck out during his minor-league career. Pizzano has nursed 178 free passes in the last four seasons, and he has struck out just 159 times. This remarkable achievement has allowed him to post a .383 career on base percentage. Dipoto is said to value this stat above all others, and you won’t find anyone more impressive in this regard than Pizzano.

Next: New-look M's Hope to Thrive at Safeco Field in 2016

Dario Pizzano is the most MLB ready Mariners prospect that nobody is talking about. He may never be a great left fielder, but he could develop into an incredible designated hitter. Pizzano will likely begin the year with the Tacoma Rainiers, but I expect him to earn a late-season promotion to the Emerald City.

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