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Top Ten Prospects: Seattle Mariners
Complete Index of Top 10s
By Jim Callis
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, 2005.
Most of Bavasi’s offseason acquisitions didn’t work out. Eddie Guardado got hurt, while Rich Aurilia and Scott Spiezio were disasters. Making matters worse, the addition of Aurilia led to the trade of Carlos Guillen, who became an all-star in Detroit. Bavasi’s best move came in June, when he traded pending free agent Freddy Garcia for young catcher Miguel Olivo and two of the White Sox’ top prospects, outfielder Jeremy Reed and shortstop Michael Morse.
By that point, there was little to cheer for outside of Ichiro’s successful pursuit of the single-season hits record. The Mariners soon gave up on the season and began taking a look at their young talent, as a club-record 16 players made their major league debuts. Lefthander Bobby Madritsch turned in the best performance among the rookies, using a deceptive changeup to go 6-3, 3.27. Cult hero Bucky Jacobsen whacked nine homers in 42 games before having knee surgery.
Not all the debuts went so swimmingly. Seattle’s two most advanced pitching prospects, righthander Clint Nageotte and lefty Travis Blackley, didn’t go after big league hitters, constantly fell behind in the count and got ravaged.
Seattle’s biggest phenom didn’t make it to Safeco, though righthander Felix Hernandez might have acquitted himself well had he been given his chance. He conquered every other challenge thrown his way, dominating high Class A and Double-A and establishing himself as the game’s best pitching prospect—all at the age of 18.
Hernandez sits atop a Top 10 Prospects list that once again has a heavy international flavor. Six of the players were signed on the international market, coming from Australia, Curacao, Korea and Venezuela. Seattle may have the most diverse organization in baseball, also featuring players from Aruba, Canada, China, Colombia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Japan, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Panama, South Africa and Taiwan.
The foreign players stand out, in part, because the Mariners haven’t drafted well. They were without a first-round pick for the fourth time in five years in 2004, but scouting director Bob Fontaine Jr. found an equivalent talent in third-rounder Matt Tuiasosopo. A heralded quarterback recruit, Tuiasosopo signed for $2.29 million and quickly stood out among Seattle’s deep crop of shortstops.
New manager Mike Hargrove will need a lot of new talent to turn around a club that finished 26 games out of third place. The Mariners will have to move on without Roger Jongewaard, who retired. Jongewaard became Seattle’s scouting director in December 1985 and was in charge of both scouting and player development from 1989-2003.
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