Seattle Mariners: Top 10 Prospects

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Matt Eddy
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TOP TEN
PROSPECTS
1. Jeff Clement, c
2. Phillippe Aumont, rhp
3. Chris Tillman, rhp
4. Carlos Triunfel, ss
5. Wladimir Balentien, of
6. Michael Saunders, of
7. Juan Ramirez, rhp
8. Mark Lowe, rhp
9. Ryan Rowland-Smith, lhp
10. Matt Tuiasosopo, 3b
BEST
TOOLS
Best Hitter for Average Carlos Triunfel
Best Power Hitter Jeff Clement
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Jeff Clement
Fastest Baserunner Danny Carroll
Best Athlete Greg Halman
Best Fastball Phillippe Aumont
Best Curveball Chris Tillman
Best Slider Mark Lowe
Best Changeup Cesar Jimenez
Best Control Robert Rohrbaugh
Best Defensive Catcher Rob Johnson
Best Defensive Infielder Juan Diaz
Best Infield Arm Carlos Triunfel
Best Defensive Outfielder Michael Saunders
Best Outfield Arm Wladimir Balentien
PROJECTED 2011
LINEUP
Catcher Kenji Johjima
First Base Jeff Clement
Second Base Carlos Triunfel
Third Base Adrian Beltre
Shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt
Left Field Michael Saunders
Center Field Ichiro Suzuki
Right Field Adam Jones
Designated Hitter Wladimir Balentien
No. 1 Starter Felix Hernandez
No. 2 Starter Brandon Morrow
No. 3 Starter Phillippe Aumont
No. 4 Starter Chris Tillman
No. 5 Starter Carlos Silva
Closer J.J. Putz
TOP PROSPECTS
OF THE DECADE
1998 Ryan Anderson, lhp Out of baseball
1999 Ryan Anderson, lhp Out of baseball
2000 Ryan Anderson, lhp Out of baseball
2001 Ryan Anderson, lhp Out of baseball
2002 Ryan Anderson, lhp Out of baseball
2003 Rafael Soriano, rhp Braves
2004 Felix Hernandez, rhp Mariners
2005 Felix Hernandez, rhp Mariners
2006 Jeff Clement, c Mariners
2007 Adam Jones, of Mariners
TOP DRAFT PICKS
OF THE DECADE
1998 Matt Thornton, lhp White Sox
1999 Ryan Christianson, c Cardinals
2000 Sam Hayes, lhp (4) Out of baseball
2001 Michael Garciaparra, ss (1s) Phillies
2002 *John Mayberry Jr., of Rangers
2003 Adam Jones, ss/rhp (1s) Mariners
2004 Matt Tuiasosopo, ss (3) Mariners
2005 Jeff Clement, c Mariners
2006 Brandon Morrow, rhp Mariners
2007 Phillippe Aumont, rhp Mariners
*Did not sign
LARGEST BONUSES
IN CLUB HISTORY
Ichiro Suzuki, 2000 $5,000,000
Jefff Clement, 2005 $3,400,000
Brandon Morrow, 2006 $2,450,000
Matt Tuiasosopo, 2004 $2,290,000
Ryan Anderson, 1997 $2,175,000
MARINERS
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Seattle Mariners

To say the Mariners had a season of ups and downs would be an understatement.

They won 88 games, fifth-most in the American League, and held the lead for the wild-card berth deep into the season. Yet they were outscored by 19 runs on the year, and they lost 13 of 14 games to close August and open September, ruining their playoff chances.

Seattle had an eight-game winning streak earlier in the year—during which manager Mike Hargrove resigned. He was replaced by bench coach John McLaren, who guided the team as high as 20 games over .500 before its collapse.

At least the season was a step in the right direction after the franchise’s precipitous decline in the last few seasons. The Mariners haven’t made the playoffs since 2001 and averaged just 70 wins a year from 2004-06—their worst three-year stretch since the dark days of the 1980s.

The team’s success in 2007 was built around three players: Ichiro Suzuki, who led the AL in hits for the fourth time and kept his Gold Glove and All-Star Game streaks alive at seven years; Felix Hernandez, who went 14-7, 3.92 and took another step toward superstardom at age 21; and J.J. Putz, who saved 40 games with a 1.38 ERA.

The farm system helped the bullpen significantly. Brandon Morrow, the fifth overall pick in the 2006 draft, stuck in Seattle all year and posted 18 holds. Sean Green, 28 and in his first full big league season, contributed 13. Two other rookies, Eric O’Flaherty and Ryan Rowland-Smith, gave Seattle a pair of dependable lefty options.

He no longer qualifies as a rookie—or as a prospect for the purposes of this list—but 2008 should be Adam Jones’ coming out party in the majors. He has played surprisingly sparingly during previous callups, but he’s an all-around athlete who hit .314 with 25 homers in Triple-A last season.

One year after landing Morrow, Chris Tillman and Tony Butler in the draft, the Mariners again went for pure arm strength, taking Canadian righthander Phillippe Aumont with the 11th overall pick. After Aumont, they maintained their focus on pitching, their greatest need at the major and minor league levels.

Seattle also continued to show open-mindedness in all areas of player development, drafting players equally from the college and high school ranks and committing fully to the international market. Aside from the United States, Mariners prospects hail from Australia, Canada, Curacao, the Dominican Republic, Italy, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Taiwan and Venezuela.

The Mariners invested $2.9 million—a sum surpassed only by the Yankees—on 10 players during the international signing period. They landed Dominican shortstop Jharmidy DeJesus ($1 million), Venezuelan shortstop Gabriel Noriega ($800,000) and Dominican outfielder Efrain Nunez ($450,000) for six-figure bonuses.

Seattle continued to aggressively push its prospects through the system, regardless of age. Their top five affiliates were younger than average for their leagues, so it shouldn’t be surprising that none of those teams made the playoffs. In fact, not one finished with a winning record, though the Rookie-level Arizona League Mariners had the AZL’s best record and won the league title.

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