Seattle Mariners: Top 10 Prospects

1. Adam Jones, of
2. Jeff Clement, c
3. Brandon Morrow, rhp
4. Tony Butler, lhp
5. Ryan Feierabend, lhp
6. Wladimir Balentien, of
7. Mark Lowe, rhp
8. Chris Tillman, rhp
9. Yung-Chi Chen, 2b
10. Eric O’Flaherty, lhp
Best Hitter for Average Yung-Chi Chen
Best Power Hitter Jeff Clement
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Brent Johnson
Fastest Baserunner Sebastein Boucher
Best Athlete Adam Jones
Best Fastball Brandon Morrow
Best Curveball Tony Butler
Best Slider Mark Lowe
Best Changeup Emiliano Fruto
Best Control Ryan Feierabend
Best Defensive Catcher Rob Johnson
Best Defensive Infielder Oswaldo Navarro
Best Infield Arm Carlos Triunfel
Best Defensive Outfielder Adam Jones
Best Outfield Arm Adam Jones
Catcher Kenji Johjima
First Base Richie Sexson
Second Base Jose Lopez
Third Base Adrian Beltre
Shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt
Left Field Chris Snelling
Center Field Ichiro Suzuki
Right Field Adam Jones
Designated Hitter Jeff Clement
No. 1 Starter Felix Hernandez
No. 2 Starter Brandon Morrow
No. 3 Starter Tony Butler
No. 4 Starter Ryan Feierabend
No. 5 Starter Chris Tillman
Closer J.J. Putz
Year Player, Position 2006
1997 Jose Cruz Jr., of Dodgers
1998 Ryan Anderson, lhp Out of baseball
1999 Ryan Anderson, lhp Out of baseball
2000 Ryan Anderson, lhp Out of baseball
2001 Ryan Anderson, lhp Out of baseball
2002 Ryan Anderson, lhp Out of baseball
2003 Rafael Soriano, rhp Mariners
2004 Felix Hernandez, rhp Mariners
2005 Felix Hernandez, rhp Mariners
2006 Jeff Clement, c Mariners
Year Player, Position 2006
1997 Ryan Anderson, lhp Out of baseball
1998 Matt Thornton, lhp White Sox
1999 Ryan Christianson, c Devil Rays
2000 Sam Hays,lhp (4th round) Out of baseball
2001 Michael Garciaparra, ss Mariners
2002 *John Mayberry, of Rangers
2003 Adam Jones, ss/rhp Mariners
2004 Matt Tuiasosopo, ss Mariners
2005 Jeff Clement, c Mariners
2006 Brandon Morrow, rhp Mariners
*Did not sign
Ichiro Suzuki, 2000 $5,000,000
Jeff Clement, 2005 $3,400,000
Brandon Morrow, 2006 $2,450,000
Matt Tuiasosopo, 2004 $2,290,000
Ryan Anderson, 1997 $2,175,000
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Seattle Mariners

Bill Bavasi may have helped lay the foundation for a 2002 World Series championship as Angels general manager from 1994-99, but he has struggled in three years at the helm of the Mariners. Bavasi’s Seattle clubs have averaged 70 wins per season, a steep drop from the 98 victories the M’s averaged in four years under his predecessor, Pat Gillick.

Seattle has gone from 63 wins to 69 to 78 under Bavasi, but that incremental progress hasn’t been enough to get out of last place. The Mariners were a tease in 2006. They were 41-39 and just two games back in the American League West on June 30, when they traded one of their top infield prospects, Asdrubal Cabrera, to the Indians for platoon DH Eduardo Perez.

By July 26, Seattle had dropped 13 of 20 games to fall into last place, albeit just three games out. The M’s acquired the other half of a DH platoon from Cleveland, getting Ben Broussard for another of their best prospects, outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, plus lefthander Shawn Nottingham.

Those trades looked foolhardy less than a month later. On Aug. 19, the Mariners had slipped to 56-66 and 12 games back, ending any thought of contending. They actually reversed course, dealing the winningest pitcher in franchise history, Jamie Moyer, to the Phillies for Class A righthanders Andy Baldwin and Andrew Barb.

The highlight of Bavasi’s tenure has been the major league ascendancy of homegrown prospects Yuniesky Betancourt, Felix Hernandez, Jose Lopez and J.J. Putz. But all of them except for Betancourt were signed by the previous front-office regime, as was their latest phenom, outfielder Adam Jones. Bavasi has tried to put his stamp on the club by signing big-ticket free agents Adrian Beltre ($64 million), Richie Sexson ($50 million) and Jarrod Washburn ($37.5 million), but they haven’t lived up to their contracts or changed Seattle’s fortunes.

Because the Mariners’ major league record has been so poor, free-agent compensation rules have protected their recent first-round picks after they forfeited four of them and failed to sign a fifth from 2000-04. Seattle took catcher Jeff Clement with the No. 3 choice in 2005 and righthander Brandon Morrow at No. 5 in 2006, selections it hopes will help reverse a series of poor drafts that have undermined the farm system.

Most of the Mariners recent top prospects have been the results of their efforts on the international scouting market. Seattle placed a total of 21 players on 10 different World Baseball Classic provisional rosters, and its short-season Everett affiliate featured 13 foreigners from seven different nations. But spanning the globe hasn’t been enough to prop up the system’"or, by extension, the big league club.

More losing won’t be tolerated. The day after he announced that Bavasi and manager Mike Hargrove would return in 2007, M’s chairman and CEO Howard Lincoln said that he expected a dramatic turnaround. That will be difficult, considering Seattle finished next to last in the AL in scoring and won’t bring back the two starters with the best ERAs (Moyer and free agent Gil Meche) on its eighth-ranked pitching staff.

“I don’t want to leave any doubt in anybody’s mind,” Lincoln said. “Mike Hargrove and Bill Bavasi are on my hot seat, and I expect that they are going to work even harder than they’re already working to produce the results the fans and, I think, the ownership group expects.”