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In scouting circles, a player who stands out in showcase after showcase is known as a famous player. Jackson is about as famous as they come. One of two two-time Under Armour All-America game participants, Jackson led all California high schoolers in home runs as a sophomore. He couldn't match that home run total as a junior or senior, but he was a threetime High School All-American and became the fifth Rancho Bernardo High product to go in the first round, joining a group that includes Cole Hamels. Jackson was in play ito go as high as No. 1 overall in the 2014 draft, but he was there for Seattle at No. 6 due in part to the pitching depth at the top of the class. Seattle signed Jackson for $4.2 million and promptly moved him from catcher to right field. He missed a month after being hit by a line drive that caused a small sinus fracture but got back on the field for the Rookie-level Arizona League's last three games. Jackson was considered the best high school bat in the 2014 draft class, and he has the potential to be an above-average hitter with at least plus power. His swing is fluid with a picturesque finish that is usually the exclusive domain of lefthanded hitters. He combines bat speed, hand-eye coordination and a feel for controlling the barrel of the bat. He's an up-the-middle hitter with natural power to straightaway center field and the right-center gap. Because of his large number of at-bats on the showcase circuit and his participation in a highly competitive high school environment, Jackson has learned how to handle premium velocity by reducing what used to be a pronounced load at the start of his swing. He recognizes breaking balls well and should draw walks in addition to hitting for average. Jackson's plus power already plays in games, but his raw power is even more impressive. Defensively, he made a quick transition to the outfield, partly because he made a point of getting time both there and at third base during his high school career to increase his versatility. He's a below-average runner who should be at least an average right fielder long-term. His plus-plus arm recorded regular pop times of 1.8 seconds on throws to second base when he caught, and it looks to be a significant asset in the outfield, especially once he learns to take a proper outfielder's arm stroke. Jackson has the highest ceiling among high school hitters the Mariners have drafted since they picked Alex Rodriguez No. 1 overall in 1993. By keeping Jackson away from catcher's gear, the Mariners will be able to move him up the ladder as his bat dictates instead of waiting for his defense to catch up . Jackson should be ready to head to low Class A Clinton in 2015. Long-term, if he develops as expected, he projects as a three-hole hitter who provides batting average, on-base ability and power.
When James Paxton failed to sign with the Blue Jays in 2009, it triggered a chain reaction that sent Peterson to New Mexico. With Paxton returning to Kentucky, the school cut its scholarship for infielder Andy Burns, so Burns transferred to Arizona. To make room for Burns, Arizona reduced its offer to Peterson, who went to UNM instead . A short-armed, stocky hitter with extremely strong arms, Peterson was hit by a pitch that broke his jaw and knocked out some teeth in 2013. He showed no ill effects in 2014. Peterson has a low trigger to his swing and is short to the ball with a pullheavy approach. He can turn on premium velocity and shows an ability to recognize spin, but if he's going to live up to his potential to be an aboveaverage hitter to go with his plus power, he's going to have to use the opposite field more. Defensively, Peterson is below-average at third base with limited range . His above-average arm is his best asset . He's a below-average runner, but he is smart on the basepaths. Peterson isn't all that far from the big leagues. If Seattle doesn't fill its needs at DH this offseason, he could be ready midway through 2015. Long-term, his bat should more than make up for his defensive limitations.
Signed for $100,000 in 2010 as part of a $6 million Mariners international signing class, Marte has proved to be the group's best prospect. He spent just 100 at-bats at high Class A High Desert before jumping to Double-A Jackson and made it to Triple-A Tacoma before his 21st birthday. Marte shows a compact, line-drive stroke from both sides of the plate. He is comfortable with deep counts, but he's always looking to hit. He is a difficult hitter to strike out and nearly impossible to walk. Marte has aboveaverage speed and has developed into a solid bunter. Defensively, Marte has the easy hands and actions scouts like, but he lacks focus and his .932 fielding percentage was worst among regular Southern League shortstops. Marte's arm limits him at shortstop. He'll show above-average arm strength occasionally, but more often his throws are average at best. A number of scouts see him eventually moving to second base, where he projects as an above-average defender. Marte will be one of the youngest players in the Pacific Coast League in 2015. With Chris Taylor and Brad Miller at shortstop and Robinson Cano at second base in Seattle, there's no clear path to the big leagues for him right now, but time is on his side.
Coming out of high school, Kivlehan had offers to play college baseball, but he opted instead to play football at Rutgers. He was a backup safety and special teams player for four years. When his football career concluded, he decided to take another crack at baseball. In his lone year of baseball at Rutgers, he finished sixth in NCAA Division I with a .693 slugging percentage. No hitting coach would teach hitting the way Kivlehan sets up for a pitch. He looks almost nervous in the box, tapping his front foot up and down, waving his bat in a circle. But his energetic setup works for him. Kivlehan is a tough out because he's a bad-ball hitter who has shown he can make in-bat adjustments. He not only punishes mistakes with average power now that he's learned to pull the ball, but he also hits line drives on pitcher's pitches. Scouts who like Kivlehan see him as having a chance to be an above-average hitter with average power. After beginning his career at third base, he now profiles best at first base or left field. He has athleticism and average running speed but lacks first-step quickness or throwing accuracy. Kivlehan's bat should make him suited for a big league role, possibly as a versatile multi-position player. He's ready for Triple-A Tacoma.
A possible first-round pick in 2010 coming out of high school in the Los Angeles area, Wilson's parents both held MBAs from Harvard, so teams knew that education was important to the Stanford commit and he fell to the 12th round. Three years later, Wilson fell to the second round but got first-round money ($1.7 million) to forgo his senior year. Wilson has long impressed with a physical, athletic build. Unfortunately, that physicality has not led to good health. He missed half of his junior year at Stanford with an elbow injury and missed more than a month in 2014 with a strained Achilles tendon. He then missed instructional league with minor elbow surgery. Wilson has shortened his lengthy swing as a pro, but evaluators still worry about his ability to turn on quality fastballs. He has made strides to become more fluid and athletic at the plate--he's not as upright in his stance, and he's using his legs more in his swing. He needs to take pitches on the outer half the other way more often. Defensively he's an average right fielder. Moreso than most premium college draftees, Wilson is a high-ceiling outfielder who still is a long way from that ceiling. The struggles of former Stanford outfielder Michael Taylor have led some evaluators to be more skeptical of Wilson, but if he puts it all together, he will be an impact outfielder.
When the Mariners drafted Diaz, he was a raw, pencil-thin righthander with a promising arm but not enough meat on his bones. He's done a good job at adding good weight and now has the frame of a potential starter. Signed for $300,000, Diaz had only pitched for three years at that time, but he's made a quick transition to pro ball. Diaz has arguably the best arm in the system. He sits at 91-93 mph and will touch 97 on his best day. His low three-quarters arm slot is a tough look for righthanders, especially as he gets plenty of armside run. Diaz has shown average control with an ability to locate his fastball to both sides of the plate, but his delivery is long in back, with a hooking arm action and recoil as he finishes. He sometimes rushes too quickly through his delivery, though he does self-diagnose his delivery flaws as they crop up and his head remains still. Diaz's slider is an average pitch when he stays on top of it, but he too often drops his elbow and gets on the side of it. His changeup has improved to flash average. Diaz's delivery and his still-skinny frame makes some scouts project him as a reliever, but he's shown feel for setting up hitters and has the makings of three pitches. If he can survive at high Class A Bakersfield in 2015, then he'll further establish himself as the Mariners' best young arm.
If your last name is Guerrero, you have a high-pocketed, limber frame and you've even worn No. 27 at times, you're going to draw comparisons with Vladimir Guerrero, especially when you're his nephew. As one opposing manager explained it, Guerrero doesn't really have an approach. He swings hard each and every time, but he is doing a better job of recognizing which pitches to lay off. Now when he swings through a breaking ball, he just might send the next one over the fence, and he will punish any pitcher who misses with a fastball. Guerrero has plus-plus raw power thanks to an extremely loose swing and strong hands. He has a chance to eventually have above-average productive power, though his free-swinging ways and long swing will limit his hitting ability. His plus-plus arm in right field keeps runners honest, though he is sometimes a little too aggressive at trying to gun down any and all. Defensively, Guerrero is still a little erratic (six errors), but he has above-average range thanks to long strides. He's a tick above-average runner underway who turns in average times out of the batter's box. Guerrero's numbers will likely take a step back as he jumps to Double-A Jackson, but he's a high-ceiling, high-risk prospect and potential everyday right fielder.
The word "polished" doesn't often describe a Brazilian baseball player, but Gohara fit the bill with years of baseball under his belt when he signed for $800,000 in 2012. The Mariners were impressed enough to push him right to Rookie-level Pulaski for his pro debut. Gohara's fast track through the minors hit a pothole at short-season Everett. He showed every reminder that he was one of the youngest players in the league. He struggled to repeat his delivery, didn't throw nearly enough strikes and was squared up too often when he did find the strike zone. In one start, Gohara gave up home runs to three of the first six batters he faced. In another, he walked three of the first five and hit another. The good news for Gohara is that his stuff was still apparent, and he stayed healthy after a balky shoulder limited his innings in 2013. He sits at 92-94 mph and will touch 96, and at times he showed a potentially above-average breaking ball to go with a changeup that flashes average.Gohara is farther away from the big leagues than he was when the season began. His control and feel both took steps back, but he's still a 6-foot-3 lefty who throws in the mid-90s, so he has plenty of time to get back on track as a potential mid-rotation starter.
With the Mariners planning to go well above slot to sign second-rounder Gareth Morgan, the scouting staff knew to be on the lookout for inexpensive senior signs who could fit as top 10-rounds picks. Scout Devitt Moore hit the jackpot, for he signed fourth-rounder Yarbrough for just $40,000, then watched him make a loud debut at short-season Everett, showing better stuff than he had displayed in college. As dominant as Yarbrough's performance was in the short-season Northwest League, his stuff was equally impressive. He sat at 88-91 mph at Old Dominion, succeeding by mixing pitches and hitting spots, but with the Mariners he picked up a tick or two, sitting at 90-93 mph in shorter, three-inning stints and touching 95. Yarbrough gets excellent angle and sink on his fastball and pairs it with a changeup that is above-average at its best. His slurvy curveball has a chance to be a fringe-average pitch. All three play up because of his above-average control. Thanks to his low arm slot and deceptive delivery, Yarbrough should be at least a useful lefty reliever. But if he can maintain his newfound velocity over longer stretches in 2015, he could climb the ladder quickly as a starter.
The Mariners have a history of finding one useful rookie reliever per year to fit into the big league bullpen. It was Dominic Leone in 2014, Yoervis Medina in 2013, Carter Capps in 2012 and Tom Wilhelmsen in 2011. Expect Smith, a starter at Texas State who quickly moved to the pen as a Mariner, to be the next to make the jump after he impressed in a brief stint as a September callup in 2014. Pitching from the extreme glove side of the pitcher's rubber, Smith slings from an almost sidearm slot, mixing in a dive-bombing 84-86 mph slider that grades as plus. But thanks to his ability to locate to both sides of the plate and his mid-80s mph changeup, Smith is nearly as tough on lefthanders. His fastball gained a tick to sit at 92-94 mph with bumps up to 96, but it's the sink he gets when he's working down in the zone that makes his heater most effective. He has allowed just four home runs in 141 pro appearances and has racked up more than 3.5 groundouts for every airout at his last three stops. Smith isn't conventional and his delivery has plenty of effort, but he's steadily improved his control to average. He's ready to help the Mariners as a middle reliever in 2015, and he has a shot to eventually handle the eighth inning.
11 TYLER O'NEILL, OF Much as they did with Alex Jackson, the Mariners liked O'Neill's bat enough that they simplified his defensive responsibilities. A high school catcher, O'Neill moved to left field upon signing. Frustrated with a May 10 strikeout while with low Class A Clinton in 2014, O'Neill punched a dugout wall and broke his hand. He didn't return to action until the final day of July. In just 57 games, he led Clinton with 13 home runs. A thickly-muscled son of a body builder, O'Neill has started to reshape his body as a pro, losing some bulk in his chest while developing stronger arms, wrists and legs. He has premium bat speed and can turn on any fastball. That has partly been his downfall, because he also ends up trying to yank offspeed offerings on the outer half. He's hasn't shown the ability to adjust his approach, but he will punish a loopy breaking ball. Because of O'Neill's bat speed and a straightforward, simple swing path, a number of scouts project him to be at least an average hitter with above-average power. He's an average runner with a solid-average arm. That athleticism hasn't translated to results in left field so far, for his poor routes and reads make him a below-average defender. He will have to improve his approach at high Class A Bakersfield in 2015.
By taking Morgan, a Toronto prep product, in the second round of the 2014 draft, a year after selecting Tyler O'Neill, the Mariners have taken the first Canadian off the board in back-to-back years. Morgan, like O'Neill, played for Team Canada's junior national team. The Mariners signed Morgan out of the supplemental second round for $2 million. Morgan had a big league body as a high school junior, which, coupled with his mature strength, gives him plus-plus raw power. The ball flies off his bat when he connects squarely. Morgan had made significant strides over the final year of his amateur career as he started to recognize breaking balls more often. His bat suffered a relapse in his pro debut. Morgan played some center field in his debut, but he's already a below-average runner who will only slow down further. The real question is whether his strong but erratic arm will play in right. Morgan has the ceiling of an impact everyday player, but his contact issues are troubling. He probably won't be ready for low Class A Clinton in 2015.
When area scout Mike Moriarty sat on Virginia's club, he made his time count. The Mariners drafted Cavaliers lefthander Danny Hultzen, third baseman Steven Proscia and Hicks in 2011 and followed with shortstop Chris Taylor in 2012. Hicks proved to be one of the best defenders in the organization. He lacks a standout tool, but he has an average arm and is considered an average to tick above-average receiver. Pitchers love throwing to Hicks because he calls a good game and smothers everything in the dirt. At the plate, he has made strides, but he has well below-average power to go with a tick-below average hit tool. He's gotten better at incorporating his lower half into his swing, but he still chases too many pitches and doesn't really do damage when he does connect. Hicks is an average runner, good enough that the Mariners have toyed with the idea of having him play the corner outfield. Added to the 40-man roster in November, Hicks will begin at Tacoma in 2015. He has all the tools to be a big league backup catcher.
Marlette's bat has always been ahead of his glove. He's not a smooth receiver, and he struggles to block balls in the dirt. He has yet to learn the focus to bear down pitch after pitch, and his game-calling must improve. Marlette led the California League in errors (12) and passed balls (22) at high Class A High Desert in 2014. He does show an average arm and threw out 33 percent of basestealers. At the plate, Marlette has fewer issues. He always looks to yank a fastball and do damage, and thanks to his quick hands, he can turn on inside pitches despite a significant load to start his swing. Marlette's bat gives him a chance to be an average hitter with 10-12 home runs. He's a bottom-of-the-scale runner. Marlette has a long way to go defensively, but his hitting ability will give him plenty of chances to work on his defense.
The frenzied hitting environment at high Class A High Desert distorts offensive production for all types of batters. Some evaluators see Lara's season as a product of that environment--he won the California League batting title (.353) and finished runner-up for on-base (.413) and slugging (.609) percentage-- but others aren't so dismissive. He used the right-center field gap well and squared balls up with the approach of an above-average hitter whose solid contact from the right side leads to at least average power. Lara's well below-average running ability limits him defensively. He has a plus arm with aboveaverage accuracy, but his range in right field is well below-average. He's an adequate first baseman. Lara doesn't get tripped up when he faces a pitcher who can spin a breaking ball, and he hits the ball where it's pitched. Lara should return to Double-A Jackson to begin 2015. As a right/right first baseman, he'll have to remain prolific to get a shot in the big leagues.
Hernandez was considered one of the best hitters and athletes available in the 2014 international signing class, though a shoulder injury limited his throwing and kept him from switch-hitting during the leadup to the opening of the signing period on July 2. The Mariners signed him for $2 million. Hernandez showed no long-term effects from the injury and was once again swinging lefthanded during instructional league. His swing is pretty simple from both sides. He doesn't have a significant load before coming through the zone with a level swing that stays in the zone a long time. Scouts have more questions about Hernandez's power potential. He has strong wrists, but like many teenagers he'll need to fill out further to develop even average power. Hernandez is a tick above-average runner with an athletic build. He likely will start his career in center field, where his solid reads and routes should allow him to stick even if he slows down a little as he fills out.
Evaluators around baseball generally believe it's difficult to find a true shortstop from the four-year college ranks, where players can play the position reliably but are thought to lack the range and athleticism teams desire. The Mariners have bucked that belief and it has paid off, for they have Chris Taylor and Brad Miller, a pair of college shortstops, splitting the job in Seattle. Reinheimer could add to that trend. He has an average arm and average range, but he's an extremely steady defender with good footwork and an excellent internal clock. To avoid a utility profile, Reinheimer will have to show more pop. He needs to add upper-body strength, because he has virtually no power. He does a good job of slapping the ball to the opposite field, but he lacks the bat speed to do much more. He does have a tick above-average speed. Reinheimer most likely ends up as a steady utility player whose bat limits him from a larger role. He will move to high Class A Bakersfield in 2015.
A second-round pick in 2012, DeCarlo signed for $1.3 million to pass on a commitment to Georgia. He and low Class A Clinton teammates Austin Wilson and Tyler O'Neill spent too much time in Arizona rehabbing injuries in 2014 rather than anchoring the middle of the LumberKings lineup. In DeCarlo's case, he suffered a thumb injury when he was hit by a pitch on June 11. While the injury was a setback, it also served as a chance for the physical third baseman to hit the reset button after an awful start to the season. He hit .200/.311/.330 before the injury, then .349/.443/.494 after his return. DeCarlo's swing is short and direct, which should allow him to hit for at least average power with a solid-average hit tool. He's the best defensive third baseman the Mariners have in their system, with quick reactions, solid range and an above-average, accurate arm. He's a below-average runner. DeCarlo's defensive tools take some pressure off his bat, but he has modest potential at the plate as well. He'll begin 2015 at high Class A Bakersfield.
Scouts don't have many reasons to check out NCAA Division II schools like Mercyhurst in Erie, Pa., but every now and then, a hidden gem like Altavilla emerges. He became the highest-drafted player in Mercyhurst program history, going in the fifth round in 2014 and breaking the record previously held by Orioles outfielder David Lough, an 11th-round pick in 2007. The D-II pitcher of the year, Altavilla posted a 0.57 ERA in his senior year of high school, a 0.91 ERA as a freshman and a 1.23 ERA as a junior. So he's had long stretches of dominance against admittedly weaker competition. Altavilla's dominance comes from impressive stuff. He sits 90-94 mph and has touched 97, thanks to strong legs which he incorporates into his delivery. His fastball has boring action to the arm side. He also throws a hard 82-85 mph power slider with tilt that could give him a second plus pitch. His changeup has some late drop, but it's a little too firm. Most scouts project him as a reliever because of the effort in his delivery, though the Mariners plan to see if he can remain in the rotation.
The Mariners' search for inexpensive college pitchers who could step in and contribute paid off with a number of intriguing arms who were better in their pro debuts than they were during their amateur careers. Lefty Ryan Yarbrough stood out the most, as his stuff jumped up a full grade, but Cochran-Gill, a three-year reliever at Auburn, also impressed with a pair of pitches that allow him to profile as a potential big league reliever. He dominated at Rookie-level Pulaski and short-season Everett with a 92-94 mph fastball that showed outstanding sink as well as a plus slider. Cochran-Gill has a compact delivery that makes it relatively easy for him to fill the zone. Unlike Yarbrough, Cochran-Gill's stuff did not improve as a pro, but his results did. He can move quickly as a two-pitch reliever with the ability to generate groundballs.
If not for a separated shoulder that ended his 2013 season early, Mejia might not have had to share the middle infield in 2014 with Rayder Ascanio in the Rookie-level Arizona League. But because that injury cost him a month, he came back to the AZL where he teamed with Ascanio to form a dynamic duo. Mejia has much more present strength than his teammate, which was apparent as he finished tied for third in the AZL with six triples. An above-average runner, he shows the pop to grow into an average hitter with 5-10 home run power, and he has advanced plate discipline for his age. He's not nearly as smooth or flashy a defender as Ascanio, but he has a chance to be an average or even tick above-average second baseman who is a fringy defender at shortstop because of average actions and range. That might be selling Mejia a little short because he does have a plus arm. He may jump ahead of Ascanio to head to short-season Everett.
Many shortstops around the minors fail to make the majors because they don't hit enough to justify giving them regular playing time, despite their excellent glovework. But every now and then, those defensive wizards add strength and turn into productive everyday shortstops. Ascanio is a long way from being a productive big leaguer, but he has a variety of the tools and skills to get there. Jack Reinheimer is the Mariners' most reliable minor league shortstop, but Ascanio grades out better in terms of raw tools, for he has plus range, outstanding hands, excellent footwork and a plus arm. Ascanio split time between second base and shortstop, but he projects as shortstop. At the plate, he has zero present power and will have to gain plenty of strength to even start stinging line-drive singles, but he does know how to draw a walk and he is a tick above-average runner. His ability to switch-hit serves him well, but he needs to improve his lefthanded swing, which produces even less thump or bat speed than his righthanded stroke.
When Cousino was in high school, he injured his left shoulder playing hockey. So when baseball season rolled around, he decided to try throwing with his right arm. It didn't work--he had to sit out the season, but it illustrated his all-out approach. After turning pro for $400,000, he showed a more mature approach than he exhibited at Kentucky, vital for a player who profiles best as a top-of-the-order hitter with speed. Cousino always has been a free-swinger, but he showed a better sense of when to take a pitch in his pro debut. He has a loose swing with gap power that should provide doubles and 5-10 home runs. Cousino's calling card is his baserunning and defense. He's a tick above-average runner, and he's an above-average defender in center field thanks to excellent routes and quick, accurate reads of the ball off the bat. His average arm would be stretched in right field. He's been a successful basestealer, though his lack of pure speed likely will limit steals as he moves up. As a lefty hitter with a strong glove and an idea on the bases, Cousino can end up an extra outfielder. He should head to low Class A Clinton in 2015.
Any righthander from the Dominican Republic who stands 6-foot-3 and throws 90 mph is bound for a big payday. If he stands 5-foot-11 with the same stuff, he probably will have to settle for a smaller bonus check. Peralta fits in the latter category, which explains his $137,000 bonus when he signed in April 2013. But as Johnny Cueto and Yordano Ventura have shown, teams can find bargains among Latin American righthanders with compact deliveries, quality fastballs and feel. Peralta has a relatively clean delivery, a loose arm and a quality 90-93 mph fastball. He flashes an average curveball and throws a fringy changeup that currently lacks movement or deception. With a strong extended spring he could head to short-season Everett.
One of the higher-priced international signings the Mariners have landed in the past decade, Morban signed for $1.1 million in 2008. He's generally hit whenever healthy since then, but he's yet to play 100 games in a season. He saw his 2013 season end early when he broke his right tibia sliding into second base. He tried to return from his broken leg quickly in 2014, but he was a shell of his normal self and was shut down. He returned healthier in mid-June and once again showed hand-eye coordination and a smooth swing. Morban's swing has some length but plus bat speed allows him to handle velocity. A below-average runner, he fits best in left field, though his above-average arm works well in right. Morban has strength, but his swing is more geared for line drives than loft power. Morban is running out of time to prove he can both stay healthy and provide enough thump to be a big league corner outfielder.
Guaipe serves as a reminder that patience is advised when it comes to young pitchers who struggle. He signed with the Mariners out of Venezuela back in 2006 but didn't make it to the U.S. until his fifth pro season in 2011, which meant he was first eligible for the Rule 5 draft before he even advanced past Rookie-level Pulaski. But through steady development, Guaipe has smoothed out his delivery to more consistently get to his velocity, which has jumped up to 91-93 mph more consistently now, and he touches 95. Guaipe's slider flashes plus as well, though it's more erratic. After pitching well in a late-season promotion to Double-A Jackson and in the Venezuelan League following the season, the Mariners added him to the 40-man roster. Guaipe could be a useful reliever if he can maintain his fine control--he walked 1.4 batters per nine innings in 2014--and if he can sit at the upper end of his velocity range.
Barbosa has absolutely zero power. Nor does he throw as well as teams would like to see from a center fielder, and he has little pedigree. The Mariners signed him out of the Cape Cod League after he went undrafted as a Northeastern junior in 2013. But the tools Barbosa does have fit together really well. He is an 80 runner on the 20-80 scouting scale who knows how to use his speed on the basepaths, stealing 52 bases in 2014 to rank sixth in the minors. While his arm is well below-average, he covers plenty of ground in the outfield, showing plus range in center. A lefthanded hitter, Barbosa's swing is geared to flaring balls to the opposite field, and even his extra-base hit once a week is generally lined the opposite way. He's a solid bunter who can turn a grounder to third base or shortstop into an infield hit. Barbosa knows he needs to figure out any way he can to get on base. That mans that unlike many young speedsters, he looks to draw walks. He is tough to strike out and comfortable working deep counts. Slap hitters with no power like Barbosa have to excel at the little things to make the majors, but so far, he has excelled at those little things. He's ready to tackle high Class A Bakersfield in 2015.
Ogando has a strong case to be considered best pure arm in the Mariners system. Now if only he could throw a strike when needed. A thick-bodied righthander with a quick arm, Ogando can carry his 92-96 mph velocity for four or five innings as a starter, and touches 99 in shorter stints. His delivery isn't smooth and it leads to issues with his well below-average control. His slider and changeup are both below-average, though his changeup will flash average on his best days. The Mariners left Ogando unprotected in the Rule 5 draft and he went unpicked. His velocity gives him a ceiling as a back-of-the-bullpen arm if he can improve his delivery and control as he heads to Double-A Jackson in 2015.
Choi always has been known as a hit-first player--he moved off catcher to first base in 2011--whose lack of power limits his chances of being an everyday big leaguer. So when hit with a 50-game suspension early in 2014 for using a performance-enhancing substance, he faced further skepticism. Upon his return from his suspension, Choi didn't really assuage that criticism by slugging .392. He is a pure hitter who can line the ball to all fields with a short, direct, lefthanded stroke, but he doesn't have much natural loft in his swing. His best-case scenario is as a James Loney-type offensive first baseman, but as a fringe-average defender, he lacks Loney's defensive value. The Mariners tried Choi in left field, but he's not a viable option out there. Choi will head back to Triple-A in 2015 to try to prove his doubters wrong.
If Hultzen's career had developed as he and the Mariners envisioned, then he would be a part of Seattle's rotation by now. Instead Hultzen has missed most of 2013-14 with a shoulder injury that eventually required rotator-cuff surgery. Pre-injury, Hultzen's fastball sat 91-94 mph and touched 96 at his best, and he also threw an above-average changeup that had deception and late fade a well as a useable slider. Nowadays, the Mariners have to hope he can simply hold up to a starter's workload. Hultzen worked off the mound late in the 2014 season, but he never saw game action before shutting it down for the winter. He did face live hitters at the organization's Arizona complex, however. His velocity wasn't back to his pre-injury form, but he did show a fastball in the high 80s and his breaking balls and changeup were both sharp at times. Hultzen always will have a crossfire delivery--it's part of what makes him tough to hit-- but the Mariners have worked on ensuring he's more direct to the plate. Seattle also has been encouraged enough by his rehab to keep him on the 40-man roster, but they will have to be patient with him as he tries to work back into form after making just seven appearances in the past two seasons.
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