1999 Top 10
Seattle Mariners Top 10 Prospects
Index of Top 10 Prospects for all 30 Major League Teams
By James Bailey
1. Ryan Anderson, LHP
Background: After storming through the Class A Midwest League in his professional debut in 1998, Anderson ran into speed bumps in his second season. Still, the 19th overall pick from the 1997 draft showed he has the stuff to become a dominant pitcher in the big leagues. Though he struggled early with the jump to Double-A New Haven, the Young Unit settled down to lead the Eastern League in strikeoutsdespite taking three weeks off to pitch for Team USA in the Pan American Games. Anderson allowed no earned runs in seven innings in Winnipeg and struck out nine. He was the only player to appear in the Pan Am Games, the Futures Game and the Double-A all-star game. The Mariners say he can be as good as he wants to be, provided he continues to accept the discipline and structure necessary to get the most of his enormous talent.
Strengths: Anderson brings the same kind of fastball that his hero Randy Johnson does. When everything is clicking he gets the ball to the plate at 97-98 mph, and with his frame it seems to be halfway to the batter before he lets go. His curveball has potential to be a plus major league pitch, though some believe he threw it too much last season. His changeup is progressing as well.
Weaknesses: Anderson still needs to be more consistent with the slot of his arm angle. His focus on that and his attempts to quicken his delivery from the stretch may have caused his early struggles last year. His fastball was also down in the more hittable low 90s, though the high-90s heater returned in the Arizona Fall League. He made no progress on cutting down his walks during the season, though he allowed just nine walks in 34 AFL innings.
The Future: Developmentally, Andersons early struggles last season might help him in the long run. The Mariners assigned him and righthander Gil Meche to New Haven last spring, hoping one of them would be ready to help the big club by the end of the year. Meche turned out to be the one, and Anderson got a full season of Double-A experience. He figures to open the 2000 season at Triple-A Tacoma and will get the call when he shows hes ready.
1999 Club W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H BB SO New Haven (AA) 9 13 4.50 24 24 0 0 134 131 86 162
2. Carlos Guillen, 2B/3B
Age: 24 B-T: B-R Ht: 6-1 Wt: 180
Signed: Venezuela, 1992 Signed by: Jesus Aristimuno/Andres Reiner (Astros)
Background: Guillen had a torrid spring last year and was an early favorite for rookie of the year. But a torn anterior cruciate ligament in early April cost him the rest of the season. A shortstop early in his career, Guillen could move to third base this spring to help keep his knee away from sliding baserunners.
Strengths: Guillen has a strong arm and should be above average defensively at either second or third base. The Mariners also believe he could handle short if the need arises. Guillen has doubles power from both sides, though hes a slightly better hitter from the left side.
Weaknesses: The Mariners cited Guillens need to become more consistent in his approach at the plate last winter. He didnt get a chance to work on that and now must shake off a seasons worth of rust to boot. For a guy with good speed, he doesnt steal many bases.
The Future: Guillen will man one of the Mariners infield spots this season. Which one will be determined in the spring.
1999 Club AVG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB Seattle .158 19 2 3 0 0 1 3 1 6 0
3. Ryan Christianson, C
Age: 18 B-T: R-R Ht: 6-2 Wt: 210
Drafted: HS--Riverside, Calif., 1999 (1st round) Signed by: Steve Rath
Background: The No. 11 overall pick in June, Christianson signed for a $2.1 million bonus. After a quick tuneup in the Rookie-level Arizona League he reported to Everett, where he was named the No. 2 prospect in the Northwest League.
Strengths: Christianson has the tools to be a strong defensive catcher and a middle-of-the-order run producer. Hes quick behind the plate and displayed a plus arm last spring before the draft. He has a strong upper body and shows above-average power with a short stroke. The Mariners love his leadership qualities and already look at him as a quarterback on the field.
Weaknesses: Shoulder stiffness limited Christiansons time behind the plate last summer, and his arm strength wasnt where it was before the draft. The Mariners believe it will return. Christianson runs like a catcher, though hes not a complete base clogger.
The Future: Christianson should open the season at Class A Wisconsin, but could move quickly for a high school catcher.
1999 Club AVG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB AZL Mariners (R) .263 38 3 10 8 0 0 7 2 12 2 Everett (A) .280 107 19 30 7 0 8 17 14 31 3
4. Jeff Heaverlo, RHP
Age: 22 B-T: R-R Ht: 6-1 Wt: 180
Drafted: Washington, 1999 (Supplemental 1st round) Signed by: Phil Geisler
Background: Heaverlo is the son of former Mariners reliever Dave Heaverlo. The all-time strikeout leader at Washington, the younger Heaverlo led the Cape Cod League in strikeouts in 1998. The Mariners chose him with the supplemental first-round pick they got for losing free agent Mike Timlin to the Orioles last winter.
Strengths: Having grown up around the game, Heaverlo has a mature approach to his craft. He owns a nasty slider, which is the best in the organization. He mixes that in with both a two-seam and four-seam fastball.
Weaknesses: Heaverlo isnt overpowering and he didnt throw much of a changeup in college, though he took to the pitch well last summer. Its already an average pitch, though hell need to keep improving it.
The Future: The Mariners expect Heaverlo to move through the system quickly. He should become a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter.
1999 Club W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H BB SO Everett (A) 1 0 2.08 3 0 0 0 9 5 2 9 Wisconsin (A) 1 0 2.55 3 3 1 0 18 15 7 24
5. Cha Sueng Baek, RHP
Age: 19 B-T: R-R Ht: 6-4 Wt: 215
Signed: Korea, 1998 Signed by: Jim Colborn
Background: Baek was regarded as the top high school prospect in Korea when the Mariners signed him for $1.3 million in September 1998. The Mariners hoped to place him at Wisconsin to open the season, but visa problems kept him in Korea until June. Though it took time before his arm got in pitching condition, he was impressive enough to be named the Arizona Leagues No. 2 prospect.
Strengths: Baek already has good command of his low to mid-90s fastball and his slider. He also throws a curveball and changeup. The Mariners generally prefer their young pitchers to stick with one breaking pitch, but Baeks curve is distinct enough from his slider for him to keep both.
Weaknesses: The visa trouble cost Baek valuable development time last season. He also needs to learn English. Though he made progress last year he still needs an interpreter.
The Future: Baek likely will begin this season at Wisconsin, and could move slowly through the system. The Mariners believe he can develop into a No. 1 starter.
1999 Club W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H BB SO AZL Mariners (R) 3 0 3.67 8 4 0 0 27 30 6 25
6. Antonio Perez, 2B/SS
Age: 18 B-T: R-R Ht: 5-11 Wt: 175
Signed: Dominican Republic, 1998 Signed by: Johnny Almaraz (Reds)
Background: Perez came from the Reds as part of the package for Ken Griffey. After months of rumors about higher-level middle infielders Pokey Reese and Travis Dawkins being involved, the Mariners settled for Perez, the Reds No. 8 prospect. Perez skipped Rookie ball and began his U.S. career at Class A Rockford last year.
Strengths: Perez can fly. He gets to first base in 3.9 seconds and uses his speed well on the basepaths. He also has plus range and good hands in the field. He began the 99 season at second base and moved to shortstop when Dawkins was promoted to Double-A. He has a little pop in his bat, too.
Weaknesses: Perez inexperience shows at times at the plate and on the bases, where he was caught stealing 24 times last year.
The Future: The trade allows Perez to go to high Class A and not jump all the way to Double-A as he would have in the Reds organization. He should spend the season at Lancaster.
1999 Club AVG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB Rockford (A) .288 385 69 111 20 3 7 41 43 80 35
7. Rafael Soriano, RHP
Age: 20 B-T: R-R Ht: 6-1 Wt: 175
Signed: Dominican Republic, 1996 Signed by: Ramon de los Santos
Background: Soriano signed in 1996 as an outfielder, but hit just .220-0-18 in two Arizona League seasons. His best tool was his strong arm and the Mariners decided to give him a try on the mound. He became one of the pleasant surprises of the system in his debut as a pitcher.
Strengths: Soriano has one of the best arms in the organization and throws an above-average fastball and a hard slider. He took to pitching much quicker than the Mariners expected and showed a feel for it that is uncommon for someone so inex-perienced.
Weaknesses: As one might expect from an outfielder-turned-pitcher, Sorianos changeup has a long way to go before it becomes a quality pitch. He might not need it if he moves to the bullpen, but the Mariners would like to keep him in a rotation for the time being.
The Future: Soriano will get his first taste of full-season ball this year, likely at Wisconsin. It will be interesting to see how his arm holds up over the course of the summer.
1999 Club W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H BB SO Everett (A) 5 4 3.11 14 14 0 0 75 56 49 83
8. Chris Snelling, OF
Age: 18 B-T: L-L Ht: 5-10 Wt: 165
Signed: Australia, 1999 Signed by: Jim Colborn
Background: The Mariners discovered Snelling and fellow Australian Craig Anderson with the Sydney Storm in the Australian Baseball League. Snelling came to the United States a scrawny 17-year-old, but soon convinced the Mariners they had something impressive. They compare him to a young Lenny Dykstra.
Strengths: Snelling is at least average in all five tools. He takes good routes in center field and throws with accuracy. He has the speed and patience to hit leadoff, but could develop enough power to hit farther down in the order. Most of all, the Mariners love his aggressiveness and heads-up attitude.
Weaknesses: Snelling has no glaring weaknesses and just needs time to climb the ladder.
The Future: Snelling has a chance to make the biggest impact of any position player from Australia since Dave Nilsson broke in with the Brewers. Hes already found more success than Glenn Williams, a ballyhooed prospect who has struggled in the Braves system.
1999 Club AVG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB Everett (A) .306 265 46 81 15 3 10 50 33 24 8
9. Joel Pineiro, RHP
Age: 21 B-T: R-R Ht: 6-1 Wt: 180
Drafted: Edison (Fla.) CC, 1997 (12th round) Signed by: Fernando Arguelles
Background: Like Anderson and Meche, Pineiro was challenged with an assignment to New Haven though he hadnt tasted success above the Class A Midwest League. Perhaps tired from a busy winter in the Puerto Rican League, he struggled. The Mariners tried to limit his innings in winter ball this year in the hopes hell stay fresher.
Strengths: Pineiro has a good feel for pitching and good command of an above-average curveball. He showed an average fastball in 1998, though his velocity dropped a bit last year. The Mariners are convinced hell regain his stuff in time.
Weaknesses: Pineiro left too many pitches in the middle of the zone last year and got hit hard as a result. His changeup needs work and if he cant regain his fastball, hell have a difficult time getting hitters out with only a curve.
The Future: Hes still younger than several of the pitchers who are behind him on the ladder, like righthanders Chris Mears and Melqui Torres. Pineiro will repeat Double-A in 2000.
1999 Club W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H BB SO New Haven (AA) 10 15 4.72 28 25 4 0 166 190 52 116
10. Willie Bloomquist, 2B
Age: 22 B-T: R-R Ht: 5-11 Wt: 180
Drafted: Arizona State, 1999 (3rd round) Signed by: Rodney Davis
Background: The Mariners drafted Bloomquist, who played his high school ball in Port Orchard, Wash., in the eighth round of the 96 draft, but he went to Arizona State. Three years later they got their man. He played all over the field in college, making the All-America team at shortstop as a junior, but the Mariners moved him to second base.
Strengths: Bloomquists makeup is off the board. The Mariners love his leadership and how he always finds a way to succeed. He took well to second base and could become above-average defensively. Hes a good hitter and has the instincts to lead off.
Weaknesses: Bloomquist doesnt awe with his tools, but he gets the job done. His best tool, according to Ken Compton, Seattles director of professional scouting: "Hes a good baseball player."
The Future: Bloomquist is fully recovered from a broken hamate bone that prematurely ended his 1999 season. Based on the maturity theyve seen, the Mariners might challenge him with a jump to Lancaster.
1999 Club AVG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB Everett (A) .287 178 35 51 10 3 2 27 22 25 17
Rest of the Best:
11. Peanut Williams, 1b
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