2014 Seattle Mariners Top 10 Prospects


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The weekend of Dec. 6-8 contained an offseason’s worth of drama in just three days.

TOP 10 PROSPECTS
1. Taijuan Walker, rhp
2. D.J. Peterson, 3b
3. James Paxton, lhp
4. Luiz Gohara, lhp
5. Edwin Diaz, rhp
6. Austin Wilson, of
7. Victor Sanchez, rhp
8. Tyler Marlette, c
9. Chris Taylor, ss
10. Danny Hultzen, lhp
BEST TOOLS
Best Hitter for Average D.J. Peterson
Best Power Hitter D.J. Peterson
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Ty Smith
Fastest Baserunner Ketel Marte
Best Athlete Gabriel Guerrero
Best Fastball Taijuan Walker
Best Curveball James Paxton
Best Slider Taijuan Walker
Best Changeup Tyler Pike
Best Control Dylan Unsworth
Best Defensive Catcher John Hicks
Best Defensive Infielder Gabriel Noriega
Best Infield Arm Carlos Triunfel
Best Defensive Outfielder Leon Landry
Best Outfield Arm Gabriel Guerrero
TOP 15 PLAYERS 25 AND UNDER
No Player, Pos (Age) Peak Level
1. Taijuan Walker, rhp (21) Majors
2. Mike Zunino, c (23) Majors
3. D.J. Peterson, 3b (22) Low Class A
4. Brad Miller, ss (24) Majors
5. James Paxton, lhp (25) Majors
6. Nick Franklin 2b (23) Majors
7. Jesus Montero, dh/c (24) Majors
8. Luiz Gohara, rhp (17) Rookie
9. Edwin Diaz, rhp (20) Rookie
10. Austin Wilson, of (22) Short-season
11. Erasmo Ramirez, rhp (23) Majors
12. Victor Sanchez, rhp (19) High Class A
13. Brandon Maurer, rhp (23) Majors
14. Tyler Marlette, c (21) Low Class A
15. Chris Taylor, ss (23) Double-A
TOP PROSPECTS OF THE DECADE
Year Player, Pos. 2013 Org.
2004 Felix Hernandez, rhp Mariners
2005 Felix Hernandez, rhp Mariners
2006 Jeff Clement, c Twins
2007 Adam Jones, of Orioles
2008 Jeff Clement, c Twins
2009 Greg Halman, of Deceased
2010 Dustin Ackley, of/1b Mariners
2011 Dustin Ackley, 2b Mariners
2012 Taijuan Walker, rhp Mariners
2013 Mike Zunino, c Mariners
TOP DRAFT PICKS OF THE DECADE
Year Player, Pos. 2013 Org.
2004 Matt Tuiasosopo, 3b (3rd round) Tigers
2005 Jeff Clement, c Twins
2006 Brandon Morrow, rhp Blue Jays
2007 Phillippe Aumont, rhp Phillies
2008 Josh Fields, rhp Astros
2009 Dustin Ackley, of Mariners
2010 Taijuan Walker, rhp (1st round supp.) Mariners
2011 Danny Hultzen, lhp Mariners
2012 Mike Zunino, c Mariners
2013 D.J. Peterson, 3b Mariners
LARGEST BONUSES IN CLUB HISTORY
Danny Hultzen, 2009 $6,350,000
Dustin Ackley, 2011 $6,000,000
Ichiro Suzuki, 2000 $5,000,000
Mike Zunino, 2012 $4,000,000
Jeff Clement, 2005 $3,400,000
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3ds_mariners82On Dec. 6, the Mariners stunned the baseball world by agreeing to terms with free agent second baseman Robinson Cano on a 10-year, $240 million contract, surprising many who had assumed Cano and his agents, Jay-Z and CAA, would steer the negotiation toward New York and staying with the Yankees. The next day saw the Mariners take their share of criticism from media leading into the Winter Meetings, as the magnitude of the contract set in, as did the realization Seattle was committed to Cano until he is 40.

Another bombshell hit Dec. 8, when the Seattle Times published a well-sourced look inside the Mariners front office. Former special assistant to the general manager Tony Blengino made various assertions about his old boss, GM Jack Zduriencik, stating that Zduriencik inflated his knowledge of statistical analysis when applying for the job. Manager Eric Wedge, who resigned at the end of the 2013 season, talked about how Mariners CEO Howard Lincoln and club president Chuck Armstrong would come to his office and berate him and his players.

Regardless of the bad publicity, Zduriencik and the Mariners believe they are now at a stage where they are ready to make noise in the American League West, in spite of losing an average of 94 games a year in the last four seasons.

“We have been putting a core of young players in place at the major league level for the last few years, and we’ve always said when the time was right we would augment that group,” said Zduriencik, who quietly received a one-year contract extension in 2013. “We felt now was the time.”

Since going a surprising 85-77 in 2009 in Zduriencik’s first year on the job, the Mariners haven’t sniffed playoff contention. Seattle, however, almost certainly will have to make the playoffs or at least be competitive this season in order for the GM to keep his job.

Zduriencik has put his faith in Lloyd McClendon, hiring him to help engineer a turnaround as he replaces Wedge as manager. McClendon spent the past eight years with the Tigers on Jim Leyland’s coaching staff. He had a five-year stint as manager of the Pirates from 2001-05 and compiled a 330-440 record with some awful teams. He’s the fourth manager in Zduriencik’s tenure.

Cano and ace Felix Hernandez—who is signed through 2019—are strong building blocks, but the Mariners need young players to mature into competent complementary pieces. Catcher/DH Jesus Montero, second baseman-turned-outfielder Dustin Ackley, first baseman Justin Smoak and outfielder Michael Saunders have failed to live up to their lofty billing to this point. Seattle hopes three of its 2013 rookies, second baseman Nick Franklin, shortstop Brad Miller and catcher Mike Zunino, turn out better than Ackley, Montero and Smoak.

The farm system is not deep, but Taijuan Walker gives the Mariners one of the top young righthanders in the game. However, lefthander Danny Hultzen, the No. 2 overall pick in 2011 and last year’s No. 3 prospect, had a disastrous year that ended with shoulder surgery that clouds his future.