2013 Seattle Mariners Top 10 Prospects Chat With Conor Glassey




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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.

Conor Glassey: Hey everybody! Thanks, as always, for subscribing to Baseball America, taking the time to read our stuff and coming out to the chats. It should be a fun few days with the Winter Meetings happening in Nashville. Lots of good questions in the queue! I'm listening to my favorite album of 2012, "The Heist" by Seattle rapper Macklemore, and I'll let it loop a couple times as I get to as many questions as I can. Here we go!

    Ben (Leland Grove): Just how close was it between Zunino and Walker for the #1 slot, and what was the deciding factor?

Conor Glassey: Several questions like this, so I'll start here. Zunino and Walker are very close and could have gone either way. Zunino profiles as a solid catcher who will hit in the middle of a lineup and Walker profiles as a top-of-the-rotation workhorse. Walker has a little more upside, but there's also more risk involved. That's why I went with Zunino—there's still plenty of upside there, but he's a safer bet to reach his potential. When our Top 100 list comes out this winter, those two player won't be separated by much.

    @Jaypers413 (IL): Thanks for the chat, Conor. How far off the top 10 was 3rd rounder Tyler Pike, and what was the consensus opinion of him during his time in the AZL?

Conor Glassey: Pike wasn't too far off. He really impressed people within the organization with his feel for pitching, especially his ability to command his fastball. Pike and Sanchez should anchor a strong rotation in Clinton next season.

    Frank (Chicago): How many of these prospects are likely to make BA's 100 next February?

Conor Glassey: Speaking of the Top 100…the Mariners will be well-represented there. Zunino, Walker, Hultzen, Paxton and Franklin are sure things for the list, which will give the Mariners five of the Top 100 prospects for the first time since 2003: Rafael Soriano at 27, Jose Lopez (38), Chris Snelling (39), Shin-Soo Choo (61) and Clint Nageotte (76). Brandon Maruer and Carter Capps will also have a shot at making the back of the list.

    JY (Seattle): The Mariners haven't exactly had a great track record lately in developing the big dollar international hitters they've signed. Who do you have more hope for at this point, Guillermo Pimentel or Phillips Castillo? Are there any other names we should be aware of?

Conor Glassey: That's putting it nicely, Jay. I have more hope for Castillo at this point, but I'm in wait-and-see mode on both until their production gets back to reflecting why they earned the big bonuses. The guy who has leapfrogged them both is Vlad's nephew, Gabriel Guerrero.

    Kyle (Tampa, FL): How much helium is there in Gabriel Guerrero? Did he reach the upper third of your overall list? Does he have any Vlad-like traits?

Conor Glassey: Well, we do a Top 30 list for the Prospect Handbook...so the top third of the list is right there in the Top 10. Guerrero didn't make the cut there, but wasn't far off. He's in the top half of the list and obviously he's a long ways away, but there's a lot to get excited about there. It's not fair to compare him to his uncle—who is a Hall of Famer in my opinon—but there are some similarities in his body type and swing.

    Ben (Leland Grove): Was it a matter of fatigue that led to Hultzen's command issues, or something else?

Conor Glassey: I think if it was fatigue, we would have seen his stuff take a little dip, too, and that didn't happen. The way it was explained to me is that it was just an adjustment period. This is a kid one year out of college already facing guys with big league experience. There's a lot to learn, even for a polished guy like Hultzen. His problems seemed to stem from the fact that when he got into trouble, he tended to go harder instead of smarter. He tried to overpower guys when he got behind in counts instead of out-thinking them and letting them get themselves out. The Mariners are not worried about him long-term, and neither am I.

    Grant (NYC): How far did Francisco Martinez's stock drop this past year? Still in your 30?

Conor Glassey: Pretty far. He's still in the Top 30, but he's nowhere near his No. 6 ranking last year. That'll happen when you post the second-lowest slugging percentage in the Southern League. Martinez still has some tools, but probably the best development for him this year was showing he looks pretty good in center field.

    Dara (Denver, CO): What are your thoughts on new acquisition Leon Landry?

Conor Glassey: He was a good get for the Mariners. League became expendable with the emergence of Wilhelmsen and the flame-throwing duo of Carter Capps and Stephen Pryor. He'll have to prove he can hit above A-ball, but scouts like Landry's swing and he's an average defender in center field, even though he's not a burner.

    Ty (Baltimore): What was the word on Jochi Ogando, according to scouts?

Conor Glassey: Ogando ranked as one of the Top 20 prospects in Matt Eddy's Appalachian League list this year, thanks mostly to a fastball that tops out at 97 mph. There's some rawness there and the Mariners have converted him to the bullpen full-time.

    Harry (New York City): What does Joe DeCarlo bring to the table? Any standout tools?

Conor Glassey: DeCarlo can do a little bit of everything, but his best tool is his power. There's a lot of strength packed into his compact, muscular frame. He's a below-average runner, but the rest of his tools have a chance to be average or better. I got an impressive player comparison on DeCarlo that factors in his tools and his hard-nosed style of play, but you'll have to buy the Prospect Handbook to see who it is!

    Frank (Chicago): Is Timmy Lopes the only viable option at 2B in their system if Franklin remains at short?

Conor Glassey: No, not at all. Franklin or Miller could both handle either middle infield spot. There's a chance Romero could stay there and there's another guy who ranks ahead of Lopes in the M's system...Jack Marder, who has moved to second base because of concussion problems. The Mariners seem to LOVE Marder for his makeup and leadership. Hitting .352/.416/.564 doesn't hurt either.

    Eddie (Atlanta): Carlos Triunfel — prospect or suspect at this point?

Conor Glassey: Still a prospect, but he is what he is at this point. He's capable of playing shortstop, but will be better as a utility player because teams will always be looking for more offense in this day and age.

    Ben (Leland Grove): Do you see any tangible comparisons between Victor Sanchez and Blue Jays' farm hand Roberto Osuna? Who has the higher ceiling between the two?

Conor Glassey: Oh yeah, it's easy to link those guys because they were the top pitching prospects in last year's international class, both have big, physical frames and both pitched well as 17-year-olds in the Northwest League this year. Their upside is pretty similar, too. Osuna has thrown a little harder, while Sanchez has a better changeup and a better feel for pitching. Both guys are working to improve their breaking balls. I'd take Sanchez by a hair at this point.

    Brett (Naperville, IL): Jabari Blash had some good pop in the MWL. Will he make your top 30?

Conor Glassey: Yeah, I'm hanging with Jabari Blash and keeping him in the Top 30. He's always shown impressive tools, but the biggest thing he did this year to help is case is improving his plate discipline. The strikeouts are still a concern, as is the fact that he's a very streaky player. But it's hard to ignore those tools.

    Tom (San Francisco, CA): Hi, Conor. Do you perceive Zduriencik as being Dayton Moore-ish in his capabilities (great shakes at amassing talent at the minor league level, woeful in terms of assembling a major league roster)? I guess I don't understand why the Mariners' brass continues to buy into his stewardship. Thanks.

Conor Glassey: No, I don't agree with that assessment. Prior to Zduriencik, the Mariners kept trying to patch holes. With a series of poor drafts early in the decade and then several years of trading prospects left the Mariners with a big shaky house on top of a crumbling foundation. Remember what Zduriencik inherited…he took over a big league roster with very little to get excited about. In the minors, we ranked the Mariners as the 24th-best farm system when Zduriencik was hired. Some of his trades have worked out well and some haven't. The Chone Figgins signing obviously stings. But he's been trying to rebuild the Mariners the right way, from the ground up, and that takes time and patience. They're definitely on the right track.

    Greg (Ohio): Based on Zunino success should more prep catchers go to college than turn pro?

Conor Glassey: I think it's always a personal decision. Some players are ready out of high school and some aren't. Some players are ready, but just prefer to have the college experience. If you're a high school player and you're ready for the grind of the minor leagues—and everything that comes with it (long roadtrips, being away from home, hard living conditions, etc.), then you can absolutely learn and progress a lot from being in that environment all-day, everyday. For Zunino (and many others like Buster Posey and Matt Wieters, to name a few) going to college appeared to be the right decision. The track record of high school catchers isn't good, but that doesn't mean that every high school catcher should go to college. Signing out of high school worked out pretty well for Joe Mauer and Yadier Molina.

    @ProspectD2J (Toronto): Which player gets better grades for this hit and power tools, Mike Zunino or Jesus Montero?

Conor Glassey: Montero gets the edge there. We gave Zunino a 55 hit tool with 60 power. Last year, we graded Montero as a 65 hitter with 70 power.

    Pierre (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada): Is the Mariners' system in the top 5?

Conor Glassey: We won't officially stack the organizations up until February, when the Prospect Handbook is off to press and all of our Top 10 lists are live. But just eyeballing the other systems, I think the only team that ranks ahead of the Mariners right now is the Cardinals.

    Frank (Westchester, NY): Maurer sounds very intriguing from your writeup. Did he always have frontline potential coming out of the '08 draft...and if he did, then why was he drafted so late? Also, with his renewed commitment to conditioning, do you feel that his injury issues are a thing of the past...or at least no more of a concern than anyone else?

Conor Glassey: No, he wasn't a frontline guy coming out of high school. He flew under the radar a little bit in that regard—even being teammates with Gerrit Cole—because he missed part of the summer showcase circuit due to mono. A healthy season for Maurer this year was huge and conditioning certainly helped, but it's not not clear whether his injury history was related to conditioning or something else, like genetics.

    Frank (Westchester, NY): Is it me, or is Romero's 2012 season eerily similar to Catricala's 2011 breakout? Both were solid, not great, hitting prospects going into the year, but both exploded in the Cal League and continued the onslaught after a promotion to AA. What does Romero have to do to avoid the same setback Catricala had this year in AAA? Who would've been the better prospect, 2011 Catricala or 2012 Romero?

Conor Glassey: Several questions like this and I had similar questions heading into the research and interviews for my chapter. The differences are that Romero was a better prospect coming out of college and is more athletic. So I think 2012 Romero is a better prospect than 2011 Catricala and, even though the SO/BB ratio is a little concerning, I have more faith that this is "real" for Romero.

    Frank (Westchester, NY): What happened to Vinnie Catricala? Was the step up in competition to AAA too much for him? Afterall, he only spent a couple months in AA last year. Or is he just not as good as his 2011 numbers indicated? Where does he rank in the top 30 now, if at all?

Conor Glassey: An obvious follow up...Catricala remains in the Top 30, but he's basically being propped up by the fact that his numbers were so loud last year. Catricala was pretty well overmatched in Triple-A. Some of the problems were mechanical and some of it was just mental. He tended to snowball in a bad way, much like he did in a good way in 2011.

    Jerry (Saratoga Springs, NY): Conor, I had a question about defense and projections. It seems like the M's under the current regime have a tendency towards drafting and developing guys who can hit but with fringy skills at premium positions, and working hard with them to stick defensively. Ackley and Romero at 2B, Saunders in CF, Montero and Jaso at C, and Franklin, Miller, and Carlos Triufel at SS all come to mind. The results seem to be good overall, as Ackley is way better than anyone expected, and Montero at least held his own at C. Do you think the M's will continue to have luck with this approach? Especially with guys like Romero, Franklin, and Miller having MUCH more value if they can stick at the more premium positions.

Conor Glassey: Great point, Jerry. And yeah—I think the Mariners will continue with this approach. Like every scouting director, Tom McNamara always tells his scouts, "Find me big leaguers." The easiest way to get to the big leagues is to hit. So, putting a lot of emphasis on a player's bat and then working to improve their other skills is a good way to go about things in my opinion. Obviously everyone wants both, but if you have to choose...take the bat.

    Joe LeCates (Easton, MD): A good Monday when Mr. Glassey is chatting. Conor, hope all is well. He has some big command issues, but no denying the raw electricity of Edwin Diaz - what were the reports on him, and is Seattle settled on him being in the pen?

Conor Glassey: Thanks, Joe! The reports on Diaz are the same from the draft. He's very skinny with a live arm. The Mariners aren't going to give up on him as a starter just yet, but I'd bet he remains in extended to start the year to get stronger, learn English and work on his delivery and secondary stuff.

    Norm C (Connecticut): Thanks for the Chat! Regarding Victor Sanchez, "Chiseled" is not an adjective often associated with pitchers, especially starters. Does his stuff hold up late into games. Do you think he is headed for the pen?

Conor Glassey: Sanchez's stuff holds up well and his feel for a changeup and advanced control work better as a starter. Now it's just about him developing a better breaking ball.

    Rafa (Los Angeles, CA): With Chone Figgings gone, would Seattle look at Romero at 3B in spring training with a chance to break with the team?

Conor Glassey: He'll probably get a chance, but it's going to be tough to unseat Kyle Seager, who led the team with 20 HRs in 2012.

    Mick (Chicago): With the change in their international scouting dept. will the Mariners still be players in countries other than Latin America? Specifically is there much to be had in Europe?

Conor Glassey: The Mariners will still be strong in the Pacific Rim, as the team still has Ted Heid and Hide Sueyoshi, and new international scouting director Tim Kissner has experience with the Phillies in Asia. Wayne Norton is the Mariners main guy for Europe, and he's still with the team, too.

    Mac (Atlanta): Will Carraway have a shot at a call up this year?

Conor Glassey: I like Carraway, but I think a lot would have to go wrong for him to pitch in the big leagues in 2013.

    Mike (Geoduckland): What's your opinon of Julio Morban's breakout season in High A? Legit or ballpark?

Conor Glassey: Morban's hitting ability has always been viewed as legit, it's just that he's never been healthy enough to really show it off. This year was his healthiest year and he still had issues with his hamstrings. He actually posted better numbers on the road in high-A than he did at home this year.

    Michael Stern (Rochester NY): With the logjam of prospects in the middle infield, how do you see the future shaking out? You have some nice talent in Franklin, Miller, and Romero pushing the incumbents Ackley and Ryan. Who do you see going, and who staying? Thanks for the great chat as always!

Conor Glassey: It's a good problem to have. I think some sort of trade this winter is likely. Easier to trade players from a loaded system to get a hitter in Seattle than to overpay for a free agent.

    Mike (New Jersey): What are your thoughts on Pat Kivlehan? Will he move to the outfield in 2013?

Conor Glassey: A move to the outfield is likely at some point, but it might not be until 2014.

    Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware): Although Zunino did tear up the Northwest League, and is a college guy, isn't it a bit presumptuous to think he will be starting at AAA after only a half sesaon in pro ball? How 'bout Jackson?

Conor Glassey: It's no sure thing that Zunino will start in Triple-A, but I do think it's likely after the season he had, staring in February and ending in the Arizona Fall League in November. The Mariners have shown that they're not afraid to be aggressive with their top prospects. Remember, they skipped Taijuan Walker from low Class A to Double-A as a teenager. Starting Zunino in Triple-A would be less of a risk than that move was and would come with the benefits of him being close to Seattle and sticking with the group of frontline pitchers he'll soon be working with at the big league level.

    Pat Murphy (Spokane, Wash): What's a Mariner's list without Ryan Anderson?? lol Any word on how "Chef Ryan"'s new career has turned out?

Conor Glassey: Anderson graduated from Le Cordon Bleu culinary school and is now the sous chef at Sushi Roku in Scottsdale, Ariz.

    Frank (Chicago): What type of prospect package would be enough for the M's to land Josh Hamilton?

Conor Glassey: No need...Hamilton is a free agent.

    Raul (Tucson, Az): Connor, is there any hope left for Jarmidy Dejesus? He was once a pretty big international prospect.

Conor Glassey: Nope, time to give up on Jharmidy.

    @ProspectD2J (Toronto): How far outside the top 10 did Chance Ruffin rank? Do you project him as a closer, or more of a set up man/middle reliever?

Conor Glassey: He projects as more of a middle reliever and ranks in the bottom third of the Top 30.

    Norm C (Connecticut): Timmy Lopes seemed to more than hold his own in his first pro season. What is his upside?

Conor Glassey: Lopes is a polished hitter who profiles as an everyday second baseman, if everything clicks. The Mariners really like him.

    Jerry (Saratoga Springs, NY): Con or, Thanks for doing this. Awesome info as always. Who are some sleepers in the M's system that could break out in 2013? Anyone to watch in the lower levels?

Conor Glassey: Keep an eye on lefthander Luiz Gohara, the Mariners main international signing this season from Brazil. He's a huge kid and could make the kind of leap that Sanchez did this year. I'm very excited about his potential.

Conor Glassey: That's all for me, folks. Gotta sneak out of here while the sun is still out so I can take my crazy dog to the park. Thank you for all the great questions. Hit me up on Twitter @conorglassey if I didn't get to you (or if you want to talk about the draft). And go here if you want to preorder the 2013 Prospect Handbook: https://www.baseballamerica.com/store/store.cgi?browse=cat_books