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.
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?
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?
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?
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?
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,
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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
Brett (Naperville, IL): Jabari Blash had some good pop in the MWL. Will he make your top 30?
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.
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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.
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?
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?
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?
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
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?
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?
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!
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
Mike (New Jersey): What are your thoughts on Pat Kivlehan? Will he move to the outfield in 2013?
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?
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?
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?
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.
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?
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?
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?
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.
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: