Seattle Mariners: Top 10 Prospects

Seattle Mariners

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, 2007.

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 AverageYung-Chi Chen
Best Power HitterJeff Clement
Best Strike-Zone DisciplineBrent Johnson
Fastest BaserunnerSebastein Boucher
Best AthleteAdam Jones
Best FastballBrandon Morrow
Best CurveballTony Butler
Best SliderMark Lowe
Best ChangeupEmiliano Fruto
Best ControlRyan Feierabend
Best Defensive CatcherRob Johnson
Best Defensive InfielderOswaldo Navarro
Best Infield ArmCarlos Triunfel
Best Defensive OutfielderAdam Jones
Best Outfield ArmAdam Jones
CatcherKenji Johjima
First BaseRichie Sexson
Second BaseJose Lopez
Third BaseAdrian Beltre
ShortstopYuniesky Betancourt
Left FieldChris Snelling
Center FieldIchiro Suzuki
Right FieldAdam Jones
Designated HitterJeff Clement
No. 1 StarterFelix Hernandez
No. 2 StarterBrandon Morrow
No. 3 StarterTony Butler
No. 4 StarterRyan Feierabend
No. 5 StarterChris Tillman
CloserJ.J. Putz
YearPlayer, Position2006
1997Jose Cruz Jr., ofDodgers
1998Ryan Anderson, lhpOut of baseball
1999Ryan Anderson, lhpOut of baseball
2000Ryan Anderson, lhpOut of baseball
2001Ryan Anderson, lhpOut of baseball
2002Ryan Anderson, lhpOut of baseball
2003Rafael Soriano, rhpMariners
2004Felix Hernandez, rhpMariners
2005Felix Hernandez, rhpMariners
2006Jeff Clement, cMariners
YearPlayer, Position2006
1997Ryan Anderson, lhpOut of baseball
1998Matt Thornton, lhpWhite Sox
1999Ryan Christianson, cDevil Rays
2000Sam Hays,lhp (4th round)Out of baseball
2001Michael Garciaparra, ssMariners
2002*John Mayberry, ofRangers
2003Adam Jones, ss/rhpMariners
2004Matt Tuiasosopo, ssMariners
2005Jeff Clement, cMariners
2006Brandon Morrow, rhpMariners

*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."