Seattle Mariners: Top 10 Prospects With Scouting Reports

Seattle Mariners: Scouting Reports




Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects lists are based on projections of a player's long-term worth after discussions with scouting and player-development personnel. All players who haven't exceeded the major league rookie standards of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time) are eligible. Ages are as of April 1, 2009.

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Seattle Mariners

The 2008 Mariners were a study in dysfunction. They didn't hit, they didn't pitch and they didn't catch the ball, a formula that produced the worst run differential in the American League. In fact, Seattle became the first team to lose 100 games with a $100 million payroll, or $118 million on Opening Day, to be exact.

After the smoke cleared on Seattle's 101-loss disaster—a slip of 27 games from 2007 and the franchise's worst season in 25 years—the road had been paved for a much-needed change in direction.

General manager Bill Bavasi got the ax on June 16, when the Mariners' record stood at 24-45, and manager John McLaren followed him out the door three days later. Associate GM Lee Pelekoudas and bench coach Jim Riggleman stepped in on an interim basis.

After replacing Pat Gillick as GM in November 2003, Bavasi presided over a series of transactions that proved to be devastating to the organization. He traded young players such as Asdrubal Cabrera, Shin-Soo Choo, Carlos Guillen, Rafael Soriano and Matt Thornton for little return. Bavasi also signed mediocre free agents such as Miguel Batista, Richie Sexson, Carlos Silva, Scott Spiezio and Jarrod Washburn to lengthy, expensive contracts. That group cost Seattle $169 million.

Yet his worst move may have been trading five players for Erik Bedard last offseason, as Adam Jones and Chris Tillman now look like future stars for the Orioles and Bedard made just 15 starts before succumbing to shoulder surgery.

In late October, the Mariners settled on former Brewers scouting director Jack Zduriencik as the club's new general manager. Zdurienick, Baseball America's 2007 Executive of the Year, was the catalyst in transforming Milwaukee from a laughingstock into a playoff team almost solely through the draft. Now he'll be asked to do the same in Seattle, where he hired former Athletics bench coach Don Wakamatsu as his manager, named former Brewers crosschecker Tom McNamara his scouting director and promoted Mariners coordinator of instruction Pedro Grifol to farm director.

Despite furnishing the Mariners with big leaguers Jeff Clement, Mark Lowe and Brandon Morrow—not to mention Tillman and other prospects such as outfielder Michael Saunders, righty Phillippe Aumont and catcher Adam Moore—scouting director Bob Fontaine was the first member of the old regime dismissed by Zduriencik. Fontaine's last draft was marred by Seattle's inability to sign its first-round pick, Georgia closer Joshua Fields. As a result, the Mariners have spent less on the 2008 draft ($2.5 million) than any other club. A college senior represented by Scott Boras, Fields can continue to negotiate until a week before the 2009 draft. If he doesn't sign, the Mariners would collect the 22nd pick in 2009 as compensation.

Led by international scouting director Bob Engle—whom Zduriencik retained after Engle was interviewed for the GM job—the Mariners continued to invest heavily in Latin America. They signed four players to six-figure bonuses in 2008, headlined by Dominican outfielder Julio Morban ($1.1 million) and Nicaraguan righthander Francisco Valdivia ($726,000). Seattle paid out $2.6 million in international six-figure bonuses, ranking seventh among all clubs.

1.  Greg Halman, of  Born: Aug. 26, 1987. B-T: R-R. HT: 6-4. WT: 192.
Signed: Netherlands, 2004. Signed by: Wayne Norton/Bob Engle/Peter Van Dalen.
Greg HalmanBackground: Halman's father Eduardo played professionally in Holland into his mid-30s, and Greg knew from an early age that he wanted to pursue a career in baseball. He turned pro in 2003 at age 16, when he joined Hoofdklasse Honkbal, or the Dutch Major League. The Twins signed him that year, but the contract later was voided. As a 17-year-old first baseman in 2004, Halman earned MVP honors in the Dutch league while nearly winning its triple crown. He signed with the Mariners for $130,000 that June. After an encouraging U.S. debut in 2005, he played just 28 games in 2006 because he broke his right hand in an on-field brawl. He voiced his displeasure with a 2007 Opening Day assignment to low Class A Wisconsin, thinking he had played well enough in a few big league spring-training games to move further up the system. Instead of making a case for promotion, he sulked and hit just .182 before earning a demotion to short-season Everett in June. Humbled by experiencing failure for the first time, he led the short-season Northwest League in slugging (.597) while finishing second in homers (16)—and strikeouts (85). Halman started putting it all together in 2008, hitting .272/.326/.528 and advancing to Double-A West Tenn, where at age 20 he was the Southern League's youngest regular position player. Halman hit 29 home runs and stole 31 bases, narrowly missing becoming the minors' only 30-30 player since Terry Evans in 2006.

Strengths: Halman is a physical specimen with the potential for five average or better tools. He has drawn comparisons to Andre Dawson and Alfonso Soriano because he's a long-limbed, high-waisted, quick-twitch athlete. Wiry strong, especially in the wrists and forearms, he figures to add strength as he physically matures. He already has the reflexes and whip-like bat speed to hit for plus-plus power. Seattle believes he has the confidence, hand-eye coordination and ability to make adjustments mid-swing that will enable him to be an above-average hitter in time. Though his speed is just a tick above-average, Halman covers swaths of center field with long, graceful strides. He also thrives as a basestealer because of his first-step quickness and acceleration. He has a plus arm.

Weaknesses: For all his upside, Halman presents more risk than most No. 1 prospects. His pitch recognition is below-average, resulting in many swings and misses and mis-hits as he chases pitches out of the zone. He's too aggressive at the plate to execute much of a plan, and as a result he strikes out too much and walks too little. His plate coverage suffers because of his tendency to get pull-happy. Halman shows visible frustration on the field at times and has admitted to having a quick temper. He has improved his maturity by leaps and bounds, however, in part by working with Dr. Jack Curtis, who aids Mariners players with their mental approach.

The Future: Halman shows real passion for the game to go with his noteworthy toolset. Because he'll be 21 in 2009 and needs repetitions to get a handle on the strike zone, the new regime in Seattle may opt to slow down his timetable a bit by sending him back to Double-A. He could challenge for a big league job in 2010.
 
2008 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
High Desert (HiA)
.268
.320
.572
257
52
69
15
3
19
53
16
76
23
West Tenn (AA)
.277
.332
.481
235
43
65
14
2
10
30
16
66
8
 
2.  Michael Saunders, of   Born: Nov. 19, 1986. B-T: L-R. HT.: 6-4. WT.: 205.
 Drafted: Tallahassee (Fla.) CC, D/F 2004 (11th round). Signed By: Wayne Norton.
Michael SaundersBackground: A visa shortage made it impossible for Saunders to play in the United States when he was drafted in 2004, so he spent a year at Tallahassee (Fla.) CC before signing for $237,500 as a draft-and-follow. He followed up on a breakout 2007 with a strong 2008, which included batting .286 and leading Team Canada with two homers at the Beijing Olympics.

Strengths: Saunders' compact lefthanded swing generates leverage, loft and plus power to all fields, and he could develop into a 20-home run hitter as he builds on his 6-foot-4 frame. A good fastball hitter, he already possesses a strong knowledge of the strike zone, and his willingness to use the opposite field suggests he'll be at least an average hitter, too. Saunders has average speed and instincts on the basepath, and West Tenn manager Scott Steinmann called him the organization's best drag bunters. He has average range for center field, and a plus arm that would fit in right.

Weaknesses: Saunders strikes out a lot because he still chases offspeed pitches out of the zone. Though added bulk could augment his homer totals, it also stands to detract from his speed and range.

The Future: Saunders should be ready for spring training after having offseason arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder. With the Mariners starting a massive rebuilding process, He could make his big league debut in 2009 and figures to man an outfield corner in Seattle for years to come.
 
2008 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
West Tenn (AA)
.290
.375
.484
248
46
72
18
3
8
30
30
66
11
Tacoma (AAA)
.242
.308
.400
95
12
23
4
1
3
16
9
30
1
 
3.  Phillippe Aumont, rhp  Born: Jan. 7, 1989. B-T: L-R. HT.: 6-7. WT.: 220.
 Drafted: HS—Gatineau, Quebec, 2007 (1st round). Signed By: Wayne Norton.
Phillipe AumontBackground:  Aumont's Quebec high school didn't offer baseball, but he impressed scouts so much while pitching for travel teams that the Mariners selected him 11th overall in 2007 and signed him for $1.9 million. He signed late and made his pro debut in 2008, pitching just 56 innings as Seattle took a cautious approach when he developed a sore elbow.

Strengths: Aumont cuts an imposing figure on the mound, and his stuff is just as intimidating. He already throws 90-95 mph with plus-plus sink and boring action, and he may be able to throw even harder as he matures physically. If batters sit on his sinker, he can blow a high-90s four-seam fastball by them. Aumont's crossfire delivery and low three-quarters arm slot can make it tough for batters to pick up his pitches. His low-80s breaking ball has plus potential.

Weaknesses:  For such a high pick, Aumont is quite unpolished, and now he has to prove he can stay healthy. His arm angle makes it hard to stay on top of his breaking ball, and he has a long way to go with a true changeup after using a splitter as an amateur. If he came up with a more balanced delivery, his secondary pitches and his command would benefit.

The Future: Aumont's physical presence and the natural movement on his pitches suggest that he can fill a role at the front of a rotation. He'll pitch at high Class A High Desert in 2009.
 
2008 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
Wisconsin (LoA)
4
4
2.75
15
8
0
2
55.2
46
4
19
50
.224
 
4.  Carlos Triunfel, ss/2b  Born: Feb. 27, 1990. B-T: R-R. HT.: 5-11. WT.: 175.
Signed: Dominican Republic, 2006. Signed By: Patrick Guerrero/Bob Engle.
Carlos TriunfelBackground: Triunfel signed for $1.3 million in 2006, the fourth-highest bonus among Latin American free agents that year. He reached high Class A as a 17-year-old in his pro debut and spent the entire season there in 2008, when he was the California League's youngest regular by 15 months.

Strengths: With tremendous hand-eye coordination, vision and barrel awareness, Triunfel has the raw attributes to be an above-average hitter, capable of spraying drives from line to line. His arm rates at least a 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale in terms of both precision and carry. He has solid first-step quickness and strong reactions at third base, his likely position in the future.

Weaknesses: Triunfel lacks classic shortstop actions and struggles with the angle of the ball off the bat at second base. His smooth swing isn't conducive to generating loft, and he also employs a bat wrap that inhibits his ability to turn on inside pitches. Despite stealing 30 bases in 2008, he's a below-average runner who figures to slow down as he fills out. He drew a 10-game suspension in May for violating team rules, calling into question his attitude and maturity.

The Future: Triunfel played second base, third base and shortstop in the Arizona Fall League, and the Mariners will keep his options open, as they did with Jose Lopez when he was coming up. Triunfel should advance to Double-A in 2009.
 
2008 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
High Desert (HiA)
.287
.336
.406
436
75
125
20
4
8
49
30
52
30
 
5.  Juan Ramirez, rhp   Born: Aug. 16, 1988. B-T: R-R. HT.: 6-3. WT.: 175.
 Signed: Nicaragua, 2005. Signed By: Luis Molina/Nemesio Porras.
Juan RamirezBackground: The Mariners have as strong a presence in Nicaragua as any club. They have the nation's top minor league prospect in Ramirez, and signed its top 2008 prospect, righthander Francisco Valdivia, for $726,000 in July. Ramirez handled low Class A well for a teenager last season, showing dominating stuff and improved command.

Strengths: Tall, loose-armed and still projectable, Ramirez fires off easy 92-93 mph heat and can push his four-seam fastball to 97 on occasion. One scout lauded Ramirez for having a heavy ball, and all his pitches feature plus movement as the ball jumps out of his hand from a high three-quarters arm slot. Though he limited Midwest League batters to a .239 average largely on the strength of his fastball, he also throws a hard slider that has plus potential.

Weaknesses: Like most young flamethrowers, Ramirez lacks feel for his changeup because he's accustomed to blowing the ball past batters. He struggles to stay on top of his secondary pitches on a consistent basis. He needs to do a better job of pacing himself and holding his stuff deep into starts. He also needs to work on controlling the running game.

The Future: His build and delivery are reminiscent of former Mariner Rafael Soriano. Ramirez has the raw stuff to project as a front-end starter, but he also could follow Soriano into a role as relief ace.
 
2008 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
Wisconsin (LoA)
6
9
4.14
25
22
0
0
124
112
9
38
113
.239
 
6.  Adam Moore, c   Born: May 8, 1984. B-T: R-R. HT.: 6-3. WT.: 220.
 Drafted: Texas-Arlington, 2006 (6th round). Signed By: Mark Lummus.
Adam MooreBackground: Moore tore the meniscus in his left knee while at Nebraska, missing the entire 2005 season before transferring to Texas-Arlington. He has been durable and one of Seattle's best minor league hitters since turning pro. After clubbing 22 homers and driving in 102 runs in 2007, he ranked sixth in batting (.316) and third in throwing out basestealers (36 percent) in the Southern League last season.

Strengths: With plus power, a solid arm and natural leadership skills, Moore has all the makings of a starting catcher at the big league level. A career .306 hitter, he has a short swing and good balance at the plate, allowing him to wait on offspeed stuff and to hit with power to all fields. He knows how to work counts and makes steady contact.

Weaknesses: Moore has improved his blocking and receiving, but some SL observers regarded him as a work in progress defensively, and his 23 passed balls ranked second in the league. A broken hand kept him from honing his defense in the Arizona Fall League. His speed is considerably below-average.

The Future: Mariners catching instructor Roger Hansen has a strong track record in helping catchers develop—from Dan Wilson to Jeff Clement to Rob Johnson—and Moore could be his next breakthrough. His hand shouldn't hamper him in 2009, when he'll open the year at Triple-A Tacoma.
 
2008 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
West Tenn (AA)
.319
.396
.506
429
60
137
34
2
14
71
40
77
0
 
7.  Mario Martinez, 3b Born: Nov. 13, 1989. B-T: R-R. HT.: 6-1. WT.: 208. 
 Signed: Venezuela, 2006. Signed By: Bob Engle/Emilio Carrasquel.
Mario MartinezBackground: Carlos Triunfel and Martinez, the headliners from the Mariners' 2006 international haul, have wasted no time in establishing themselves as prospects. Signed as a shortstop for $600,000, Martinez moved to third base full-time in 2008 and ranked eighth in the Rookie-level Appalachian League in hitting (.319).

Strengths: Martinez has an advanced approach for such a young hitter. He stays inside the ball well and looks to use the opposite field with two strikes. His athleticism, strength and body control suggest he'll develop at least average power, and those attributes already have manifested themselves in his defensive game. He has made a smooth transition to third base, where he displays sure hands to go with plus range and a plus throwing arm. The Mariners rave about his makeup, and he learned English during his first instructional league.

Weaknesses: Now that Martinez has moved to an infield corner, he'll have to prove he can consistently drive the ball. He's already strong and doesn't have a lot of room for projection, despite his youth. As with most young hitters, his swing can get too long at times and he struggles to recognize quality breaking balls. He's a below-average runner.

The Future: Martinez had little trouble in adjusting to older competition. Look for more of the same in 2009, when he'll move on to Seattle's new low Class A Clinton affiliate.
 
2008 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Pulaski (R)
.319
.344
.462
251
43
80
15
3
5
32
10
47
2
 
8.  Jharmidy DeJesus, 3b Born: Aug. 30, 1989. B-T: R-R. HT.: 
6-3. WT.: 185. 
Signed: Dominican Republic, 2007. Signed By: Bob Engle/Patrick Guerrero/Franklin Taveras.
Jharmidy DeJesusBackground: DeJesus didn't sign in 2006, his first year of eligibility, because teams failed to meet his asking price. That move paid off in 2007 when the Mariners gave him $1 million, the third-highest international bonus of the summer.

Strengths: As a converted shortstop with present strength and a feel for hitting, he's similar in some ways to Mario Martinez, with more present power and a higher initial trajectory. DeJesus already has demonstrated above-average power and could develop more as he adds to his 185-pound frame. He has taken quickly to third base, where his range and footwork are average and his arm is strong.

Weaknesses: DeJesus has solid hand-eye coordination, but because he's too pull-conscious and has yet to develop pitch recognition, his ability to hit for average may atrophy as he climbs the ladder. He needs to tighten his strike zone, stop chasing breaking balls and use the entire field. His speed is a tick below-average.

The Future: If he learns restraint, DeJesus could become a dangerous hitter and his bat could profile at any of the four corner positions. He's ready for low Class A, which could mean a timeshare at third base with Martinez.
 
2008 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Mariners (R)
.339
.417
.591
127
27
43
12
1
6
18
14
25
4
Everett (SS)
.267
.316
.444
90
12
24
4
0
4
15
6
28
0
 
9.  Dennis Raben, of  Born: July 31, 1987. B-T: L-L. HT.: 
6-3. WT.: 200.
 Drafted: Miami, 2008 (2nd round). Signed By: Mike Tosar.
Dennis RabenBackground: The Mariners drafted Raben out of high school in the 49th round in 2005, but he opted to attend Miami, where he led the Hurricanes to the College World Series in 2006 and 2008. He starred in the Cape Cod League as a sophomore, marking him as one of the top college power prospects for 2008, but back problems dropped him to the second round, where Seattle signed him for $616,000.

Strengths: Raben has a patient approach, advanced feel for the strike zone and huge lefthanded power to all fields. He already has demonstrated prowess with wood bats in Cape Cod and in his debut, when he slugged .560 despite a nagging finger injury. He has strong instincts in the outfield, where he's an average defender. His arm is average but quite accurate, as he also pitched in college.

Weaknesses: The drawback to Raben's power approach is that his long swing leads to frequent swings and misses, which will cut significantly into his average. He hit .275 in his pro debut and topped out at .292 as a junior at Miami. He's a below-average runner, and he may face a move to first base as he slows down.

The Future: A lefty version of former Hurricane Pat Burrell represents Raben's ultimate upside. He could skip a level and start 2009 in high Class A.
 
2008 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Everett (SS)
.275
.411
.560
91
24
25
11
0
5
14
19
24
1
 
10.  Michael Pineda, rhp   Born: Jan. 18, 1989. B-T: R-R. HT.: 6-5. WT.: 180.
 Signed: Dominican Republic, 2005. Signed By: Patrick Guerrero/Franklin Taveras.
Michael PinedaBackground: Joining Phillippe Aumont and Juan Ramirez, Pineda rounded out the trio of teenage pitching sensations who fronted Wisconsin's 2008 rotation. He spent two seasons in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League before tearing up the Midwest League in his U.S. debut. He ranked second in the league in ERA (1.95) and opponent average (.216), and he capped his season with a 14-strikeout one-hitter.

Strengths: Pineda spots his 88-92 mph fastball at will and isn't afraid to pitch inside. Batters have a tough time squaring him up because of the life on his pitches. He shows deceptive arm action on an above-average changeup. His durable 6-foot-5 frame and strong control suggest that stamina won't be a problem.

Weaknesses: Pineda lacks feel for his 77-80 mph slider and could end up in the bullpen as a result. Despite strong fastball command, he has an awkward quality to his arm action and doesn't always repeat his delivery.

The Future: MWL observers had enough qualms about Pineda's arm action and lack of feel for a breaking ball that they were split on his future role—either No. 3 starter or reliever. His control is so advanced for a 19-year-old, though, that he could move quickly through the system. The Mariners will keep him in the rotation as he advances to high Class A.
 
2008 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
Wisconsin (LoA)
8
6
1.95
26
21
1
0
138.1
109
7
35
128
.216

Complete Index of Top 10 Prospects
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Photo Credits: Bill Mitchell (Halman, Triunfel, Martinez, DeJesus, Raben)
Rodger Wood (Saunders)
Paul Gierhart (Aumont)
Steve Moore (Ramirez, Moore)