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Mariners Prospects

Moderator: Jim Callis compiled the Mariners top prospects list, and will answer questions about the organization in the BA chat room at 3 p.m. ET.

 Q:  Adam Krell from Olympia, Washington asks:
How far down on your list is Ryan Anderson? I realized that the multitude of injuries he's had knocks him down on the prospect scale, but I thought that his ceiling was at least deserving of a spot in the top ten. Also, if Gil Meche hadn't used up his prospect eligibility, where would he rank on this list?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Sorry I'm a couple of minutes late, I had to put out some post-Christmas fires. Anderson will fit in the 15-25 range somewhere. I can't find anyone with two torn labrums in consecutive years, so it's unsure how much his stuff will bounce back. And he wasn't a finished product to begin with, as his command still needed a lot of work. Meche is kind of in the same boat, with repeated injuries making him difficult to rank. I'd put him behind the Little Unit.

 Q:  Bob from Bobcaygeon asks:
Who is the future SS of the Mariners? J.Lopez? or K.Matsui? Why did they move A.Perez so quickly? Was it injury's with him, or lack of talent?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Lopez, though Seattle is also very high on Luis Ugueto (though I'm a bit skeptical of his bat). They could make a big push for Matsui when he becomes a Japanese free agent next year. They also are very high on Willie Bloomquist and Michael Garciaparra. I've got those two and Ugueto in the 11-20 range. Perez handled high A well in 2001, and he was older than thought, so I don't really think he got rushed. A wrist injury really saps a hitter, and I think it was more injuries than anything with him.

 Q:  Lisa from Seattle asks:
Now that John Halama is gone (with nothing in return), who is most likely to be called up for the start of the season if the M's fail to make a trade for a starter or acquire one through FA?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Rafael Soriano is first in line, and I think J.J. Putz would be second. Rett Johnson is another possibility.

 Q:  Ken Phelps from Phx, Az asks:
Why doesn't Jamal Strong get any serious consideration as a prospect? The guy has put up good numbers in the minors and is one of the fastest guys around. Sure he doesn't have power and a mediocre arm, but there are plenty of teams that could use a .275-.290 hitter with 40+ steals to hit leadoff. Will Strong ever get a serious look?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I think he does, and he made my Top 10 in a deep organization. The one caveat with him is that if he hits .270 and has a .370 OBP, he might not have more than a .750 OPS. He has improved a lot in center field, but still needs to get stronger. He's in their plans, but the Mariners have a lot of OF. A lot of clubs are looking for CF, so it wouldn't surprise me if Strong wound up being a valuable trade chip.

 Q:  Adam Krell from Olympia, Washington asks:
After reading this list, there's one obvious question: Where is Ryan Christianson? I realize that he was injured, but catchers with passable defensive skills and middle of the order power are hard to come by. Matt Thornton said that Christianson was the reason for his breakout 2001 season, with his excellent game calling. His numbers aren't great, but they're more than acceptable from a high school catcher. I'm simply baffled that he's nowhere on the list. Could you explain your thinking on this one?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Sure...the Mariners are a deep club, and Christianson is No. 11. He has very good raw tools but he's inconsistent offensively and defensively. The 10 guys ahead of him, with the exception of Shin-Soo Choo, all have had success in high Class A or above. Christianson hasn't had as much success as they have at that level, and he was awful in Double-A this year. Still a prospect, and could have made the Top 10 in a lesser organization.

 Q:  Ken Phelps from Phx, Az asks:
Kenny Kelly. Last year the guy was hyped as a potential breakout player. His status must be diminshed now. What are your thoughts on him and is he another potential "back to football" guy?
 A: 

Jim Callis: He had a strong final two months in 2001, then did great in the Arizona Fall League. He will slip into the 16-25 range, and I still question whether his tools will become skills, but his tools are amazing. I'm not sure how much football eligibility he has left, because I think he played at least two years at Miami. This is a big year for Kelly. If he doesn't add some plate discipline and hit more, then I'd write him off. But he still has spent just two full years playing baseball.

 Q:  Dave from Seattle asks:
Jim- A question of philosophy. When projecting Seattle's line-up for 2006, you have an OF consisting of Choo, Strong and Suzuki. No question that these three players are very talented, but together, they would hit about 30 home runs. I can't see a major league team, especially in this day and age, having such little power in an OF. Do you agree or disagree?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Agree, though Choo is a wild card. His power potential ranges the spectrum from 15-30 homers, depending on whom you talk to. The lineups are always tricky, and with a deep outfield like Seattle's, I was trying to shoehorn a bunch of guys in. I think it's very possible that they'll trade Strong, put Snelling in the outfield, and then you could have three guys who might hit 45 homers. That wouldn't be much power, but they might hit .320 as a unit with a ton of doubles, so it could work.

 Q:  David Cameron from Winston Salem, NC asks:
Jim, I'm surprised a few pitchers didn't get mentioned in your others to watch section. Any thoughts on Emiliano Fruto, who several people think could be next year's Rafael Soriano?
 A: 

Jim Callis: The Best of the Rest section only gives us about 250 words to mention guys, and I dwelled on middle infielders. Fruto is interesting, but I don't think anyone believe his listed age of 18 and his breaking ball is very weak. He may never have an average breaking ball, which would severely limit his ceiling. The only way I see him being next year's Soriano is if he's detained while INS officials try to verify his age.

 Q:  Gil Ceder from Cincinnati ohio asks:
With the aquiring of Randy Winn What does the future hold for Chris Snelling? Is there any truth to the rumor that Mike Cameron has a vision problem that is getting worse?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I hadn't heard about a possible Cameron vision problem. I think Chris Snelling's bat, instincts and personality are going to make him fit into the Mariners' lineup as soon as he's 100 percent healthy. He just needs to tone down his aggression on the diamond a little. I like him better long-term than Winn.

 Q:  minhaz from toronto asks:
Did the Mariners make a mistake in trading away Antonio Perez? I know he is older than he said he was, but he's still 22. That is not that old.
 A: 

Jim Callis: I would rather have Perez than Winn, especially when you factor finances in, but on the other hand, the Mariners have the opportunity to win right now and Winn will help them do that more than Perez. So from that standpoint, I can understand the deal.

 Q:  Brandon James from Harrisonburg, Virginia asks:
I saw Gary Harris play in the summer after his junior year and thought he was heads above his competition. He had speed, a solid bat, and a good arm from the outfield. I think he got drafted last year in between the 10-20 rounds. How does he fare among the Mariners new talent and among their whole minor league system?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Harris is a very good athlete and the Mariners like him. He'd make a lot of Top 30s but probably won't make this one because he's 22 and hasn't proven himself above short-season ball yet. Chris Colton, Michael Wilson and Josh Womack all are very good athletes as well and played as teenagers in 2002.

 Q:  Kevin Carrier from Iowa asks:
Is there anything you see that could prevent Clint Nageotte from becoming a front of the rotation starter?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Nageotte has a high ceiling, but he needs to improve his command and changeup and not rely on his filthy slider so much. He still has some work to do. If he can't do those things, his slider is so good that I could see him becoming a dominant reliever.

 Q:  Big KG from Big Chicago asks:
Does Chris Snelling have the ability to play CF, and if that was a fringe skill at best, can he do it after the knee surgery? I like him, just worried that his offensive profile doesn't have as much value if he's relagated to a corner outfield slot.
 A: 

Jim Callis: It's not a BA chat without a shout out to Big KG, who helped design this website and has an interesting one of his own in theprospectreport.com. That's a legitimate concern about Snelling, though I do think he's the type of guy who could be a .320 hitter with a lot of doubles and walks, so he could give you corner production. His instincts are so good that he could play center if needed, though I think Strong, Ichiro and Shin-Soo Choo would be asked to do so before Snelling would.

 Q:  Brent from San Antonio asks:
Minor league releivers usually don't get much of a look but do Aaron Taylor and Allan Simpson have a future considering their high strike out rate? How about Looper and Mateo?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Taylor is the future closer for the Mariners and has been unhittable the last two years. He, Simpson and Looper were the organization co-pitchers of the year. Simpson has been diagnosed with lupus, and it's uncertain what his future holds now. Julio Mateo had his age revised and lost velocity in 2002, not a good combination. Taylor has true power stuff with his mid- to high-90s fastball, splitter and slider. Simpson throws 92-95 but doesn't have the same secondary pitches. Looper is a sinker-slider guy who usually pitches at 88-92.

 Q:  Brent from San Antonio asks:
Hunter Brown seemed to improve during his stint in the Midwest league. He also had a pretty good SO-BB ratio for a rookie. Did he go to IL, how does his defense stack up and where does he fall in the M's depth chart at 3rd base? Is there a chance he will wind up starting here in San Antonio next year?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Brown had a disappointing senior year at Rice after a strong 2001 in the Cape Cod League, and he was just OK in his pro debut. He's OK defensively, but needs to make a lot of all-around improvement before he makes this Top 30. I don't think there's any chance he'll start 2003 in Double-A. If Greg Dobbs can't play third base, the Mariners don't have a clear, polished prospect at that position right now.

 Q:  Truman from South Carolina asks:
Although it has been speculated that the Mariners want a left-hander to complete their pitching rotation..they do have quite a few good young right handers...what is your oppinion of Rett Johnson ,who was just promoted to the 40 man roster...making the 25 man team in Spring training?
 A: 

Jim Callis: The Mariners do have Jamie Moyer, so there's one lefty for them. I like Johnson a lott and think he's one of the better unheralded pitchers in the upper minors. His fastball is a plus pitch from the twin standpoints of velocity and movement, and his slider is also above-average. He competes, he's durable and he looked good in the AFL. I think he'll get some Triple-A time, but based on everything I just said, I wouldn't fall out of my chair if he made the club.

 Q:  Pete from New York asks:
Whats the story with Chris Snelling? Does he have a job next year? Is he still injured? That sure would be a speedy outfield.
 A: 

Jim Callis: Snelling, who's recovering from a torn ACL, probably will miss the beginning of spring training. I would think the Mariners would give him some Triple-A time at the beginning of the season. Randy Winn coming aboard gives the Mariners the luxury of not needing Snelling right away, unless Mike Cameron continues to slump or an injury strikes somewhere.

 Q:  L. Jacob from Chicago asks:
Does Jamal Strong have a shot at the 5th outfielder position on the Mariners this year, now that Charles Gipson has been non-tendered? Strong's on-base-stats remainded pretty good last year, and I understand he can still fly and play defense, so he'd seem like a useful MLB reserve.
 A: 

Jim Callis: I think Strong could be a useful reserve, but sitting him on a major league bench could really harm his chances of eventually becoming a productive regular. The plan is for him to play every day in Triple-A this year.

 Q:  Brent from San Antonio asks:
How much PT do you think the Mariners will give Bloomquist next year. I was very impressed with what I saw on the big league level. Will he be a 4th OFer, a utility guy, or do you think the M's are planning to trade Cameron and start him in Left?
 A: 

Jim Callis: The Mariners envision Bloomquist as another Mark McLemore. Bloomquist hit over his head last September; his biggest asset is probably his makeup. I see him more as a valuable backup than as a regular, but maybe he's Seattle's David Eckstein.

 Q:  L. Jacob from Chicago asks:
The Mariners still seem to have a serious shortage of power bats in the minor league system, and the failure to sign Mayberry was disappointing. Will Shin-Soo Choo or Ryan Christianson develop their power potential? Is John Lindsey a prospect? Will Jon Nelson ever get a clue about the strike zone? Any other sluggers of note in the system?
 A: 

Jim Callis: This is a legitimate concern. Not only did the Mariners lose out on first-rounder John Mayberry Jr., but third-rounder Eddy Martinez-Esteve also took his high-ceiling bat to Florida State. There's varying opinion on Choo, and I think the consensus would have him as a Mark Kotsay-type player with 15-20 homers per year. Christianson has raw power but still is learning to hit. Lindsey was 25 last year, so that detracts from his 22 homers. Nelson is very raw and needs to learn the zone, though he can drive the ball a long way. There are a lot more athletes than mashers in this system.

 Q:  brent from Seattle asks:
Hey Jim what about left handed pitcher Bobby Madrtisch earning a spot in the rotation. I believe he has a big league invite to spring training and is on the 40 man roster. He throws gas.
 A: 

Jim Callis: I think that's too early for Madritsch to make the big league rotation. He still needs work on his command and secondary pitches, though he does have a nice ceiling.

 Q:  L. Jacob from Chicago asks:
What ever happened to Sam Hays, the 4th round pick from 2000 with supposedly 1st or 2nd round stuff?
 A: 

Jim Callis: He has had a sore arm and hasn't progressed as hoped.

 Q:  Mike from Everett asks:
Jeff Heaverlo, like Anderson, is coming off a torn labrum. Before he was injured he was a very smart and polished pitcher with a good slider. Where does he rank with other Mariner prospects? And does he have a chance to help at the ML level this year?
 A: 

Jim Callis: He's in the same boat as Ryan Anderson, though at least Heaverlo only tore his labrum once. Guys don't bounce back as well from shoulder surgery like they do from Tommy John surgery, so it's hard to know what to expect from Heaverlo until he gets back on a mound. He can't afford to lose a lot of velocity, and I think expecting him to contribute in Seattle this year would be too optimistic.

 Q:  Kyle Crocker from Moscow asks:
Do you believe that the M's need to make a move for a frontline starter? Every year we hear the same thing about how they don't match up with the Yank's or The A's in the playoffs because they lack one. I've always believed Freddy Garcia is a true ace, but he has been inconsistent in the playoffs.
 A: 

Jim Callis: Teams have to be very good and very lucky to win in the playoffs, and the Mariners haven't been the latter. I think they could win without a huge addition, but getting a Bartolo Colon would help, and Seattle has the ammunition (cash to pay Colon, prospects to get him from the Expos) to make it happen.

 Q:  George from Portland asks:
Does Michael Garciaparra have any shot at at being as good as his brother? He supposedly has good tools but seems far away from the majors at this point.
 A: 

Jim Callis: He is far away. The Mariners really like Garciaparra's instincts and makeup, but he's nowhere nearly as physically developed as Nomar (though he's going through the same workouts now). You can't project Michael to win batting titles or hit 25-30 homers at this point. That would be as foolhardy than the comparisons the Orioles used to make with old friend Ed Rogers.

 Q:  Jeff Smith from Seattle asks:
Ismael Castro seemed to have a breakout season in Everett, even though his age is in doubt. Where is he on the Mariners prospect list and how does he project as a big leaguer?
 A: 

Jim Callis: He's in the 11-15 range. There's no official word that he's older than listed, but I don't think many people believe he was 18 last year. I thought the Mariners would be a little higher on him. He's a little stiff defensively, so he's got to get better defensively. Otherwise, maybe he fills the third-base void if Greg Dobbs can't handle the hot corner.

 Q:  L. Jacob from Chicago asks:
Do Jeff Heaverlo or Matt Thornton figure to be healthy and get to the majors by 2004?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Maybe late in 2004. Heaverlo probably won't be at full strength in 2003, and Thornton won't pitch until midseason at the earliest while coming back from Tommy John surgery.

 Q:  Kyle from Moscow asks:
What has happened to Miguel Villilo? After a blazing start to his pro career, he has been unable to progress. He is still young, but does he have the tools?
 A: 

Jim Callis: He really leveled off and isn't much of a prospect any longer. He hit .195 in low Class A this year.

 Q:  John from Las Vegas asks:
Is it too early to call Michael Garciaparra a bust or just a extreme long shot?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Too early to make any judgment really, and certainly to call him a bust. I want to see how he does in full-season ball.

 Q:  John from Tacoma asks:
Why don't the Mariners move some of their mid-INF prospects to 3B? Lopez should be able to handle SS and they may get Kaz Matsui too. Someone like Michael Garciaparra or Ismael Castro may be able to help out at 3B
 A: 

Jim Callis: That ties into a couple of the recent questions. It's hard to project Garciaparra with a third-base bat right now, however.

 Q:  Paul Covert from Lynnwood, WA asks:
Is the organization really that high on Greg Dobbs? I know he had a great month in AA, but still, that's only a month, and he wasn't exactly blowing the Midwest League away before that. Or were they higher on him than I'd realized even before the promotion?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Yes, and I am as well. His ranking isn't based on his Double-A month, and I should have mentioned him among the power prospects. He has hit everywhere he ever has been. The big question is whether he can play third base. The Mariners were high on him before the promotion.

 Q:  Mick from Chicago asks:
The Mariner's seem to be heavy in scouting internationally. Do you think this will continue? Does the far east appeal to them more because they are owned by Nintendo?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I've got about 10 more minutes, so it's lightning-round time. The answers to this are yes and yes.

 Q:  Kyle from Moscow asks:
What type of year do you see Joel Piniero having? His stuff is filthy and looks untouchable at times. Could he break out and become a big presence in that Seattle roation?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Yes. I'd put the over-under on Pineiro at about 14 wins. Always liked his stuff, always thought he was underrated in the minors.

 Q:  brad from newport news, va asks:
What do you think about Josh Womack? Is he a five tool player or does he lack power to be a home run hitter in the Big Leagues? Thanks!
 A: 

Jim Callis: Very good athlete, has to prove he can hit let alone hit for power, consensus was that he might have been overdrafted a little in the second round.

 Q:  Paul Covert from Lynnwood, WA asks:
Any comments on the likelihood of Rett Johnson as a future major-league starter? I'd like to think so, but some reports (after the AFL, as I recall) seemed to project him more as a bullpen setup guy.
 A: 

Jim Callis: I think the bullpen setup talk is more if he would make the Opening Day roster and more because he's got the fastball and slider to help in that role more quickly.

 Q:  Jason Barker from Seattle, WA asks:
Jim, any thoughts on where LHP's Bobby Livingston and Troy Cate might fall? I saw both pitch at SSA Everett last season and came away very impressed. Cate came from a JC and is more polished, while Livingston is a HS kid who supposedly has some maturity issues. Stuff isn't a problem, though. Thanks.
 A: 

Jim Callis: They'll make the list. Cate doesn't have the projectability that Livingston does but is much more polished. Both good guys to watch.

 Q:  Kyle from Moscow asks:
Do you think Michael Garciaparra was a bit of a reach for the supplemental first round? His best tool seems to be his speed, but I haven't heard of him being a blazer. Do you think he could ever turn out half as good as his brother?
 A: 

Jim Callis: The only other club that apparently would have taken him that high was the Red Sox. His best tool, really, is his instincts. He has the chance to be productive, not just as much as Nomar.

 Q:  Lloyd from Seattle asks:
Clint Nageotte did not finish the AFL. He was supposed to be hurt. Anything serious?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I think he was more tired than injured, nothing serious.

 Q:  Julie from myrtle beach asks:
considering that Rett Johson made the 40 man roster after only 2 yrs in the Minors.why have you not listed him as a top prospect?
 A: 

Jim Callis: He has spent three years in the minors and he's No. 8 in a very good system. I'd consider that a top prospect.

 Q:  Kyle from Moscow asks:
Overall, how do you think the Mariners fared in the 2002 draft? Who has the best chance at becoming a star in the big leagues?
 A: 

Jim Callis: We, or I should say I, rated them as having the worst 2002 draft. They didn't sign their first- or third-rounders, and second-rounder Josh Womack may have been popped early. Too early to call any of their draftees a future star. Troy Cate had the best debut.

 Q:  Brent from San Antonio asks:
Who do you see as the future 1B and DH?
 A: 

Jim Callis: I think John Olerud will be at first base for a while. When he's done, Greg Dobbs could fit there if he can't play third base. The DH will be one of Seattle's excess outfielders.

 Q:  matt from hawaii asks:
what is your take on sheldon fulse.
 A: 

Jim Callis: Very good athlete, just can't hit.

 Q:  Lloyd from Seattle asks:
You say that the M's are not super high on I. Castro. But in a interview on a local radio station, Gillick mentioned Castro as one of the reasons they could trade A. Perez. It seems that the general manager may be higher on him than some of the teams scouts. Your thoughts.
 A: 

Jim Callis: I'm not going to name names, but while the Mariners like Castro, the guys I talked to within the organization didn't rave about him as much as I thought they would have. Officials aren't going to be as candid on live radio than they are in a private interview. Castro isn't going to be much more than adequate defensively, he may already have pretty much reached physical maturity and there's a lot of question as to whether he's really 18.

Moderator: That's it for today. Happy holidays to everyone, and Jim says thanks for all the fine questions.

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