Seattle Mariners: Top 10 Prospects Chat With Matt Eddy

Seattle Mariners: Chat




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.

Q:  Jon from Peoria asks:
Hi Matt: Did Danny Carroll come close to being on this list? Also, has Alex Liddi made much progress where he can be projected as a future big leaguer?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: Carroll, the club's third-rounder in '07, finished outside the top 20, but the organization remains high on him. He showed grittiness in playing through two broken bones in his hand (the result of an HBP) during the season which curtailed — no, eliminated — his offensive production. Still have to really like the speed (look at those SB attempts), the range in center and the throwing arm. If his bat recovers, he's a big leaguer, possibly in a reserve role.

 Q:  Jon from Peoria asks:
What is the scouting report on Fabian Williamson? Is he a guy to keep an eye on?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: A 22nd rounder in '06 who signed too late to play that year, Williamson had a great season with Pulaski this year, striking out 67 in 53 innings, but he succeeded more with pitchability than stuff. That's not a bad thing — it just means he has more to prove as he moves up. Reports from the Appy League indicated an 87-91 mph fastball and a nice curveball which he already throws for strikes. Williamson also made improvements to his changeup.

 Q:  JY from NYC asks:
Will Noriega hit well enough long-term to be considered in the running the M's shortstop of the future? How good exactly is his defense?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: Gotta answer the Appy League questions back to back. Venezuelan Gabriel Noriega got $800 K to sign with Seattle in '07 and he absolutely could develop into the regular. No questions exist about his glove, with one evaluator comping his defensive acumen to that of Rey Ordonez ... terrific hands, range and arm strength.

Matt Eddy: Noriega may move fast for his glovework alone, but he's got significantly more offensive development in front of him. His hand-eye coordination is solid and he has almost no power, and the Mariners would like to see him develop a better feel for the situational aspects of hitting. But then that's true of most all 17-year-old.

 Q:  ScottAZ from Phx, AZ asks:
Does Big Mike Wilson have a crack at a MLB job this year? If so, what will it be? I know he's older, but could he still be a guy that starts for a few years and outs up some decent power numbers?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: Wilson's reintroduction to the 40-man roster was the most positive sign for his big league prospects. He would have been a minor league free agent otherwise, but don't forget that he led the Southern League in home runs this year, while showing improved conditioning and plate discipline.

Matt Eddy: Working against Wilson is that he has just one usable tool — plus-plus raw power. If he gets off to a quick start next season, it's possible he could get a foot in the door as a platoon corner OF and DH. The Russell Branyan signing aside, it appears that Seattle will have plenty of DH at-bats to go around.

 Q:  Todd from Tosa asks:
Where did Carlos Peguero wind up on the list? What do you think his potential might be?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: Peguero's past two seasons have been abbreviated by injury (first an elbow and then a wrist), but still this is a guy with as much raw power as any Mariners' farmhand, and that includes Dennis Raben and Michael Wilson. Peguero settled in the 11-20 range. But because of the injuries and the frankly uninspiring 2008 performance (just a .480 SLG in High Desert with 10-96 BB-SO) he never was a strong top 10 candidate.

Matt Eddy: As to his future potential ... he could develop into a run-producing LF if he develops more selectivity at the plate. Seattle is not expecting this to happen overnight.

 Q:  Craig from Walla Walla asks:
Matt, How close was Luis Valbuena to the top 10 and is he more of a utility player or do see him developing into the next 2B ?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: Valbuena was the final and most painful cut from the top 10, so he ranked just outside it at No. 11. He's improved his standing in the organization a great deal in the past year by dedicating himself to improving on defense. In fact, he may be the steadiest second baseman in the system at this point, as he's especially quick and efficient on the DP pivot.

Matt Eddy: Obviously, Valbuena has offensive potential, too. He's fearless and never gives away an at-bat, so he seems like a natural top-of-the-order hitter. Don't look for big power numbers, especially in Safeco, but if he can continue to get on base, he'll play. And it's probably second base or bust for Valbuena, and not a utility role, because generally it's the natural shortstops who dabble at second, third and in center.

 Q:  Ben from Leland Grove asks:
Alex Liddi - prospect or suspect?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: Prospect ... for one more year, at least. Barring future offseason acquisitions, Liddi has a spot in the 30 because of his wiry strength, feel for hitting and strong work ethic. He's also shown second-half improvement in both of his years in the Midwest League. If he breaks camp in the Cal League (a tough proposition with all the third basemen in the system), we may see him begin to tap into a bit of his opposite field power.

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
With Martinez and DeJesus ahead of him on your list, what does the future hold for Tuiasosopo? Is he still residing anywhere on your Top 30?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: Sure, Matt Tuiasosopo retained a top 30 spot. But your point still holds. If Triunfel, Martinez and DeJesus all develop as third basemen, then that leaves Tuiasosopo a narrow window to establish himself in the bigs. Despite an encouraging second half (.303/.380/.538), evaluators still were not 100 percent sold on his viability as a regular. While he's reasonably well-rounded, he just doesn't do any one thing well enough to guarantee regular playing time.

 Q:  James from Seattle asks:
Reguardless of position in ranking, isn't it entirely possible that Truinfel is going to have the best career of any player on this list? I'm absolutely shocked to see him so lowly rated.
 A: 

Matt Eddy: In reality, I viewed it as if the top five prospects were all on fairly equal footing. Each has a case as the top guy. Aumont may have the highest absolute ceiling, but then we don't know how his elbow will respond next season. Halman could be a true power-speed threat in the Alfonso Soriano mold, and he's already reached Double-A at a young age. Don't mean to imply that he'll necessarily be big league ready in the next season and a half, but he got the most support as the top guy among the evaluators I talked with.

Matt Eddy: As to Triunfel, you have to like the youth, the arm, the hand-eye coordination and the line-drive stroke. The three things that in our eyes drive him all the way down to No. 4: 1) his road performance — he batted .265/.320/.330 with 1 of his 8 HR away from hitter's haven High Desert, 2) the lingering questions about maturity, and 3) his defensive home, because if he's not a middle-of-the-diamond player, will the power be enough?

 Q:  Kyle from Middletown asks:
How good is the Mariner's system compared to the rest of baseball, in the 20-30 range?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: This is a question we'll address as the Prospect Handbook nears completion, which is just two weeks away now. Look for it in January or order from the online store.

 Q:  Teddy KGB from NYC asks:
Does Halman's lack of strike zone discipline scare you at all? Is this something he can concentrate on and get better at or will he always be a hacker with high Ks?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: Absolutely, Halman's strike-zone awareness worries me. Because he's such a gifted athlete, he's absolutely convinced that he can barrel up any pitch. He can't, but he can hit with authority ones that most batters can't. The curse of great hand-eye coordination, that's how it was described to me. Triunfel exhibits this, too.

 Q:  Ben from Leland Grove asks:
What can you tell us about Brett Lorin, and did he make the 11-20 range?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: The early returns are positive for Lorin, a 5th rounder in June, who was a good find for the Mariners and signing scout Tim Reynolds. Sure, he got hit a littler harder in Low A than maybe he should have, but you have to love the strikeouts and the fact that he gave up just 2 HR in 52 innings. Lorin delivers a low-90s fastball with plus deception and plane, thanks to his 6-foot-7 frame, and his curveball already is plus offering for him.

 Q:  Kyle from Middletown asks:
Wouldn't it make more sense for a team that is weak top to bottom like the Mariners were this year to invest more heavily in the draft?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: Theoretically, yes, but then they spend more on international talent than do most clubs. What killed them this year, obviously, was not assessing (or just ignoring) Joshua Fields' signability for slot money.

 Q:  James from Wilmington, NC asks:
Hey Matt, thanks for the chat! Matt Mangini spent his first full year in pro ball mostly at Double-A. What are your thoughts on him as a prospect, and where do you see him starting off next year?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: Seattle's supplemental first-rounder in '07, Mangini took a giant tumble down the ranking this year. It wasn't just his Double-A performance — not that hitting .202/.247/.248 helped — it also was that evaluators saw a player who had no quickness and a player who may not have the bat speed to hit top-flight pitching. He sees the ball well, though, so maybe he can compensate in that way. Mangini's a fringy defender at third with an average arm, but he has shown some aptitude for first base.

 Q:  Browning Nagle from Louisville, KY asks:
Does Denis Raben have Morneau power ability minus the high average? Since he's a college guy, he should be more of a fast track, right? What is his ETA and gut feeling on where he ends up position wise?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: Sure, Raben has that kind of power potential, but he can't approach Morneau's feel for hitting. In the minors, Morneau would look to use the middle or opposite field, and the power came later. Raben's approach is almost the exact opposite. He could hack it as a RF, but the presence of so many athletic outfielders ahead of him may dictate a role as first baseman or DH.

 Q:  Tony from Toronto asks:
Hi Matt, thanks for the chat. Is Justin Thomas viewed (inside or outside the organization) as a potential candidate for the rotation in 2009 or 2010? Seems that you could do worse and more expensive for a fifth starter.
 A: 

Matt Eddy: Most everybody liked Thomas as a left-on-left reliever, and for the most part that's how he was used in his big league debut. His tailing fastball and flat-plane slider are geared toward retiring lefthanded batters, who struggle to lift Thomas' pitches.

 Q:  Steve from Wappinger's Falls asks:
I am wondering where you see LHP Nick Hill in the Mariners system. I am a big Army baseball fan and want to know if you think Hill has a shot at a bullpen role in the near future.
 A: 

Matt Eddy: Hill was placed on the military list and recalled to active duty last summer when the Army's alternate service option was rescinded. It's not clear when or if he'll return to the Mariners.

Matt Eddy: Kary Booher's story on Hill is here: http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/minors/news/2008/266673.html

 Q:  rob from nyc asks:
Robert Rohrbaugh was the best pitcher for tacoma the past two years before gettin hurt this year. Whats his status and does he have shot at playin in the bigs?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: Sure, Rohrbaugh's got a chance to be a 5-starter type. He cuts his fastball at 86-90 mph and throws a slurve, but his opportunity may come with a different organization because he's Rule 5 eligible.

 Q:  Jeff from Baltimore asks:
How do you see Halman in comparison to other top outfield prospects (Andrew McCutchen, Colby Rasmus, Cameron Maybin, etc.)? Is he in that group, just a notch below, or is there a pretty big gap between them?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: Good question. Halman's power ceiling is higher than McCutchen or Rasmus, but he's probably behind all three of them in terms of overall prospect status because of a shorter track record and a less-refined approach.

 Q:  Tod from Portland asks:
Thanks for the interesting list - you've given the blogosphere something to chew on. Regrettably, my question is prosaic: where would Fields rank if he signs?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: Probably at No. 7, behind Adam Moore and ahead of Mario Martinez.

 Q:  John from Honolulu asks:
On the projected 2012 lineup you folks seemed to squeeze Balentine out of the outfield in favor of Halman and Saunders. Considering Ichiro's age and that Halman, Saunders and Balentine can play all three OF positions do you think it is likely that Balentine sticks around?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: Don't read too much into the 2012 lineups. It's really just a fun exercise, something to roughly point out organizational strengths and weaknesses. Who knows where Ichiro will be in '12? Or how Halman or Saunders will turn out?

 Q:  Jake from Seattle asks:
With Halman and Saunders coming fast do you see a future with the M's for Balentine?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: Balentien should have most of 2009 to show what he can do. With the team looking to the future and with a new front office in place, the Mariners can afford to be patient with Halman and Saunders.

 Q:  Troy from Fort Worth asks:
Matt, Looking back on this list in 5 years, who do you think will have become a star or on the verge of becoming one?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: I'd go with Juan Ramirez. His future is brighter than most give him credit for. He's got 93 mph gas and he does it easy and with movement. And if he finds consistency with his breaking ball, he could be really special.

 Q:  Tod from Portland asks:
Denny Almonte or Danny Carroll? Will either develop enough bat to matter? What do you think of the Mariner strategy of grabbing fast, limited-power centerfielders? It feels so 1980s to me?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: Almoted has impressive power potential; it's just that he strikes out ... a lot. He's still ironing out his lefthanded swing, though, so wait a few years on him. But with Carroll, Tyson Gillies and Jarrett Burgess ... yes, they're speed- and defense-first center fielders. It's not a terrible proposition because it adds org depth and does help the pitching staff.

Matt Eddy: But you have no reason for concern. Seattle has enough OF power options elsewhere, in Halman, Saunders, Raben, Peguero, Wilson and potentially Julio Morban.

 Q:  Tod from Portland asks:
Will the Mariners see any results from their recent history of drafting a slew of college pitchers in each draft? Of the college pitchers they've added, who do you like best?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: I'm cautiously optimistic about Brett Lorin, who we touched on earlier, and also Shawn Kelley (13th round, 2007), who sits at 92 mph with sink and unleashes a knockout two-plane slider. He's pitching well in Venezuela this winter, too, so he may be positioning himself to spend a lot of time in Seattle next season.

 Q:  Jonathan Aicardi from San Francisco asks:
Would Chris Tillman have beaten out Halman? How much lower is Seattle now on the farm rankings due to the 2008 trade?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: Yes, Tillman would have ranked No. 1. That trade, as well as the Fields situation, will knock them out of the top half of the talent rankings.

 Q:  Paul from Tacoma asks:
Matt, What kind of power potential does Triufel have? IF he doesn't have enough power to profile as a 3B is it more likely he ends up at 2b?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: This is why evaluating Triunfel is so difficult. His best defensive position probably will be third base, but his bat profiles better up the middle.

 Q:  Paul from Spokane asks:
Does Nathan Adcock finally break the top 30 after being left out the past two years? He strikes out a fair number of batters, but i've never seen a scouting report. Low 90's fastball, plus-curve?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: Yes, Adcock ranked this year. The M's 5th-rounder from a Kentucky HS in 2006, he sits at 88-92 mph and relies on a sharp, downer curveball for strikeouts. An elbow injury cut short his season, but he was a key part of Wisconsin's prospect-laden rotation, which also included Aumont, Ramirez, Pineda and Edward Paredes.

 Q:  Paul from Spokane asks:
How much projection does Michael Pineda have left. For someone 6'5 180 lbs., it seems he has room for added strength. Is it feasible to add 2-3 ticks onto the fastball?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: It's feasible, sure, but his funky arm action is working against that possibility.

 Q:  Paul from Spokane asks:
If Michael Saunders doesn't stick in center, does the position change lessen his value? How much value is there to 20/20 corner outfielders?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: It does, but Saunders still projects to be plenty valuable. He's athletic with solid on-base ability and modest power. That will play at any position.

 Q:  Will from Philly asks:
What are your thoughts on Jose Rivero, Efrain Nunez, and Axel Wel? Were they in the running for the Top 30?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: Rivero (Pulaski) and Nunez (DSL) both were considered for the 30, but ultimately fell short. Rivero, an 18-year-old Venezuelan, is a gifted outfielder who shows some feel for hitting. The switch-hitting Nunez, who signed out of the Dominican in '07, had a solid year in the DSL, batting .267/.387/.441, and he can run a little bit, too. It was just a case of too many other strong candidates for either of these outfielders to receive serious consideration.

 Q:  Paul from Spokane asks:
Did Donnie Hume break the top 30?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: Hate to ruin the suspense, but no Hume did not make it. The feeling was that if he makes it, it will be because he scrapped his way to the big leagues. He spots an OK fastball and still has an above-average changeup, and the Mariners thought enough of his makeup not to rule him out.

 Q:  Tony from Durham, NC asks:
I may be alone in this, but I actually see Juan Ramirez as the studliest dude in the system, especially as he trimmed his walks per 9 from the 5s to the 2s without dinging any of his other peripherals. I'm also intrigued by the fact that hitters can't hit him hard, it seems (at least according to his hr/9 and line drive rates). What does he need to do to have a mega breakout next year along the lines of a Cahill or a Chacin this year?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: Publishing this mostly as a stand-alone comment. Yes, I agree that Ramirez is generally overlooked, both for the reasons you listed and because he just does it so easy.

 Q:  Sammy from Columbia River, Wash asks:
Should I be concerned that most of our Top 10 Prospects were playing in Low A ball this past season?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: Yes, you should. Though if it makes you feel better, Pineda and Valbuena are interchangeable at No. 10. That would give Seattle one more Triple-A player/big leauger.

 Q:  Rob S from Jefferson, NJ asks:
How come in the top 20 AFL prosepcts Truifel in ranked above Halman and many others, but he's behind him on the Mariners top 10? Is it just a difference of opinion among scouts?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: Fair question. Yes, it's in the eye of the beholder, both in terms of the list's author and the viewpoint of his sources. Also, Triunfel had a much more productive month in Arizona than did Halman. That's also a factor, whether evaluators are seeing a player good or bad.

 Q:  Phil from Philly asks:
Any thoughts on Edward Paredes? Another soft-throwing left-hander or does he have a higher ceiling? He did finish the year at AA as a 21 year-old.
 A: 

Matt Eddy: Paredes has a quick arm and he pitches at 88-92 and touches 93 with tailing action. His two-plane slider is quite tough on lefties, and since he has poor command and no feel for a changeup, he might fit best as a reliever.

 Q:  James from Hawaii asks:
I noticed you listed Beltre as the 3rd for 2012 projected line-up. I don't think he'll be in Seattle at that time, but you have to list him because he's there now. If he's gone who would be the 3rd baseman. Jhardmidy? Martinez?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: Go with Mario Martinez or maybe Triunfel. I like Martinez because he's already shown tremendous defensive aptitude and hitting ability. He projects to have the strength to hit for power, too. And it never hurts when a foreign-born player takes to English quickly, as the Venezuelan-born Martinez has.

 Q:  Jon from Davis, CA asks:
Do you see Halman as an all or nothing kind of player? What is the middle ground, if any, between his ceiling and bust? Is it possible he ends up as a Preston Wilson type of player?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: I like that. Preston Wilson might be a fair middle ground for Halman, between ceiling (Soriano, Dawson) and bust (AAA player).

 Q:  Tony from Durham, NC asks:
Also, do you have any early impressions or reads on Julio Morban? He looks to have a big ceiling. Thanks!
 A: 

Matt Eddy: Signed out of the Dominican for $1.1 million, Morban has an advanced feel for hitting for a 16-year-old, and he has drawn internal comparisons to Triunfel in that regard. Morban bats lefty, though, and already hits to all fields. In terms of power, speed, range and arm strength, he projects as no better than average. Look for him to debut in the U.S. next season.

 Q:  Joe Hamilton from Shoreline WA asks:
Hi Matt, Halman and Saunders both started their pro careers in 2005. why was Halman put on the 40 man roster and Saunders not put there?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: Great question. Saunders signed at age 18 in 2005, giving the Mariners until 2009, or five years, until they have to add him to the 40-man. Halman signed with the Twins at age 16 in November 2003 (the deal was later voided), but he spent all of 2004 on the restricted list, which means that technically he has been a professional for five full seasons.

Moderator: Thanks for stopping by. Aaron Fitt is up next on Monday to talk Rangers prospects with you.