Archive for the ‘ Prospects ’ Category

Hultzen and Paxton Named Top LHP Prospects by MLB.com

Hultzen_Paxton

Mariners pitchers Danny Hultzen and James Paxton have both been named among the top 5 left-handed pitching prospects heading into the 2013 season. Hultzen checked in at No. 2 on the list, while Paxton was No. 5 in the annual MLB.com Prospect Position Rankings.

Here is what MLB.com prospect guru Jonathan Mayo had to say about Hultzen and Paxton:

2. Danny Hultzen, Mariners: Hultzen signed an $8.5 million Major League contract after being picked second in the 2011 Draft by Seattle. Thought to be an advanced college pitcher who could move up quickly, he’s done just that, reaching Triple-A in his first season of pro ball. A 2012 Futures Game participant, the lefty out of the University of Virginia dominated in Double-A but then had serious control issues in Triple-A. If he can fix those problems – and he was known as a command guy coming out of college – his three-pitch mix should work nicely in the big leagues.

5. James Paxton, Mariners: Paxton was taken in the fourth round in the 2010 Draft by Seattle, though he didn’t sign until March 2011. He reached Double-A that season and spent all of 2012 at that level. A 2011 Futures Gamer and 2012 Arizona Fall League Rising Stars Game participant, there has never been any question about the Canadian’s pure power stuff, especially his fastball and breaking ball. That’s allowed him to strike out more than 10.5 per nine innings in two years in the Minors. Some thought he might eventually end up in the bullpen, but an improved changeup and better command could make him a formidable starter.

Here is a video clip from MLB.com featuring Hultzen:

Hultzen and Paxton join RHP Taijuan Walker, who was listed as the No. 2 right-handed pitching prospect. The full list of positional prospect rankings and their release dates are below:

Top 10 Prospects by Position
• Right-handed pitchers
• Left-handed pitchers
• Jan. 23 – Catchers
• Jan. 24 – Shortstops
• Jan. 25 – Third Basemen
• Jan. 26 – Second basemen
• Jan. 27 – First basemen
• Jan. 28 – Outfielders
• Jan. 29 – Top 100 Prospects

Taijuan Walker Named No. 2 Right-Handed Pitching Prospect by MLB.com

Taijuan Walker is listed as the No. 2 right-handed pitching prospect by MLB.com.

Taijuan Walker is listed as the No. 2 right-handed pitching prospect by MLB.com.

Mariners pitcher Taijuan Walker has been named the No. 2 right-handed pitching prospect by MLB.com heading into the 2013 season.

Here is what MLB.com prospect guru Jonathan Mayo had to say about Walker.

Walker looks like one of the biggest steals of the 2010 Draft after being picked 43rd overall and signing for $800,000. He has a plus fastball that stays in the mid to upper 90s throughout games to go along with a plus curveball and an improving changeup. The 2012 Futures Gamer faded a bit in the second half of last season, but he still has all the tools to be a top-of-the-rotation type of starter.

Here is a breakdown of when MLB.com will list their top prospect lists prior to the start of spring training. Prior to the 2012 season the Mariners have five players listed amongst the MLB.com Top 100 (Jesus Montero – #12, Danny Hultzen – # 16, Taijuan Walker – #18, Nick Franklin – #52, James Paxton – #77). Walker moved up from his #8 listing to #2 this season as top RHP prospects.

Here is a look at the MLB.com schedule for prospect rankings by position:

Top 10 Prospects by Position
• Right-handed pitchers
• Jan. 22 – Left-handed pitchers
• Jan. 23 – Catchers
• Jan. 24 – Shortstops
• Jan. 25 – Third Basemen
• Jan. 26 – Second basemen
• Jan. 27 – First basemen
• Jan. 28 – Outfielders
• Jan. 29 – Top 100 Prospects

Mariners Farm System Continues to Strengthen

Prior to the 2012 season, the Mariners farm system was ranked by MLB.com as the No. 1 organization based on their prospect points system, with five players rated in the top 100. After a record 496 wins by the Mariners 9 minor league affiliates, and 6 playoff berths, the Mariners remained the top team when MLB.com re-ranked the top 100 and each club’s top 20 prospects.

Here is an article by Mariners.com beat writer Greg Johns detailing the impressive group of prospects:

The updated rankings show the Mariners ranking first among all 30 MLB teams based on point values assigned to each of the top 100 prospects, just ahead of the Pirates, D-backs and Cardinals.

Top Prospect Points
 1.  Seattle               327
 2.  Pittsburgh            326
 3.  Arizona               321
 4.  St. Louis             320
 5.  Toronto               281

The following Mariners ranked in the top 100 by MLB.com (prospect ranking):

And here are the players included in the Mariners top 20 prospects list by MLB.com:

 

 

Spring Training Update – Day 38

Day 38 / Sunday, April 1, 2012 / 12 Days ‘til Opening Night in Seattle (April 13 vs. Oakland)

Weather:
It was 71° and sunny at game time with not a cloud in the sky.

Tweet of the Day:

Rotation Set for Series against Oakland & Texas:
 Seattle Mariners Manager Eric Wedge announced today the probable pitchers for the Mariners first two series, at Oakland (April 6 & 7) and at Texas (April 9-12).

The Mariners played the Oakland A’s in the Japan Opening Series 2012 on March 28 and 29 in Tokyo, Japan, with Felix Hernandez and Jason Vargas each recording no-decisions.

Here’s a look at Seattle’s projected starting pitchers for the first six games:

AT OAKLAND ATHLETICS
Day, Date                        Probable Pitcher (record)
Friday, April 6                  LHP Jason Vargas (0-0, 1.42)
Saturday, April 7             RHP Felix Hernandez (0-0, 1.13) 

AT TEXAS RANGERS
Day, Date                        Probable Pitcher (record)
Monday, April 9                RHP Hector Noesi (1st 2012 GS; was 2-2, 4.47 in 2011)
Tuesday, April 10             RHP Blake Beavan (1st 2012 GS; was 5-6, 4.27 in 2011)
Wednesday, April 11        RHP Kevin Millwood (1st 2012 GS; was 4-3, 3.98 in 2011)
Thursday, April 12            LHP Jason Vargas (0-0, plus start on April 6)  

Peoria Diamond Club Rookie of the Year:

Peoria Diamond Club Rookie of the Year

Mariners rookie Alex Liddi has been voted the Peoria Diamond Club Rookie of the Year. Entering today, Liddi, a native of Sanremo, Italy, was hitting .429 this spring, with 9 runs scored, 7 doubles, a home run and 10 RBI in 15 games.

His on-base percentage is an even .500, and he is slugging at a .714 clip. His on-base percentage leads all players in the Cactus League, he is tied for first in batting average, and his slugging percentage is sixth-best among all Arizona teams.

Liddi started fine, but has been red-hot over his last 11 games, collecting 14 hits in his last 29 at-bats with 6 doubles and 7 RBI.

Moving Day Has Arrived:

The moving trucks will make their way to Tacoma, Jackson and Clinton starting Monday.

The Mariners minor leaguers had their last day in camp today and will travel to their respective clubs tomorrow. The moving trucks showed up today and while they arrived empty, that certainly wasn’t the case at the end of the day. Three full-season clubs will have their equipment hauled away and on their way to Tacoma, Jackson and Clinton respectively.

Game Recap vs. Royals: Recap | Box Score
The Mariners erased a four-run deficit with a six-run sixth inning highlighted by back-to-back home runs by Miguel Olivo and Kyle Seager as the Mariners defeated the Royals 6-4 in Cactus League play in front of 5,435 at Peoria Stadium. 

Blake Beavan made his fifth start of the spring and tossed 5.1 innings before being relieved by Lucas Luetge having allowed two runs and left two more runners on base (both runners scored). Beavan made 94 pitches, 61 for strikes in his final outing before the re-opening of the regular season.

Down 4-0 in the sixth, the Mariners rallied off Kansas City reliever Tim Collins. Munenori Kawasaki led off the inning with a single, Ichiro singled to short right field (Kawasaki thrown out at third), Justin Smoak reached on an error and after a Jesus Montero RBI single, Miguel Olivo hit a 1-0 pitch over the left-field wall for a game-tying three-run home run. Kyle Seager followed with a solo shot to right-center that gave the Mariners the lead and after walks to Alex Liddi and Casper Wells, Kawasaki added an insurance run with his second hit of the inning, both to left field.

Kawasaki finished the day 3-for-5 and is now batting .417 (15×36) this spring. Justin Smoak, Jesus Montero and Miguel Olivo all collected multi-hit games.

Baseball America Organizational Ratings

Today, the fine folks at Baseball America released their 2012 organizational talent ratings, and the Mariners checked in at No. 6 on the list. This is a drastic improvement from when the Mariners were ranked 18th prior to last season.

The Mariners got a giant lift when five players were listed amongst BA’s top 100 prospects heading into the 2012 season, including Jesus Montero (#6), Taijuan Walker (#20), Danny Hultzen (#21), LHP James Paxton (#52) and INF Nick Franklin (#77).

“Seattle’s ranking improved based on future star power. Few teams can match the mariners front-line pitching prospects. Jesus Montero is an elite hitting prospect, and a healthy Nick Franklin could be as well,” said Baseball America Editor John Manuel. “Breakthroughs by the likes of Vinnie Catricala, and some intriguing high-upside player at lower levels, such as Phillips Castillo, complete the picture of a very improved system.”

Here is the excerpt from their website:

Baseball America’s annual organization talent rankings evaluate the overall value of each system’s prospect-eligible players (no more than 130 at-bats, 50 innings or 30 relief appearances in the major leagues, without regard to service time). Baseball America’s editors determined the rankings, and are listed below.

1. Texas Rangers
2. Kansas City Royals
3. San Diego Padres
4. Arizona Diamondbacks
5. Toronto Blue Jays
6. Seattle Mariners
7. Oakland Athletics
8. Tampa Bay Rays
9. Boston Red Sox
10. St. Louis Cardinals
11. Pittsburgh Pirates
12. Washington Nationals
13. New York Yankees
14. Chicago Cubs
15. Atlanta Braves
16. Cincinnati Reds
17. Colorado Rockies
18. Houston Astros
19. Los Angeles Angels
20. Minnesota Twins
21. Baltimore Orioles
22. San Francisco Giants
23. Detroit Tigers
24. Los Angeles Dodgers
25. New York Mets
26. Milwaukee Brewers
27. Philadelphia Phillies
28. Miami Marlins
29. Cleveland Indians
30. Chicago White Sox

Jesus Montero is rated by Baseball America as the No. 6 prospect heading into the 2012 season (Rob Tringali/Getty Images)

- JE

Mariners Youngsters Shine in Win Over Dbacks

For you late night blog followers, the Mariners beat the Diamondbacks 7-1 tonight in Scottsdale, in the second game of the day. The Mariners top pitching prospects were on display, and they did not disappoint. Right-hander Erasmo Ramirez fired 3.0 scoreless innings to earn the win, allowing only two hits on 28 pitches (23 strikes). Left-hander Danny Hultzen followed with 2.0 shutout innings, and right-hander Taijuan Walker threw a 1-2-3 inning with two strikeouts. Left-hander James Paxton struck out 4 and allowed one run in 2.0 innings.

Erasmo Ramirez tossed 3.0 shutout innings vs. the Dbacks (AP Photo)

We ran this note on the youngsters in today’s game notes:

PROSPECTS ON PARADE…tonight’s game vs. the Dbacks will feature some of baseball’s top pitching prospects, including LH Danny Hultzen (#16 by MLB.com, #21 by Baseball America, #30 ESPN.com, #35 by Baseball Prospectus), RH Taijuan Walker (#14 by BP, #18 by MLB.com, #20 by BA, #24 ESPN) and LH James Paxton (#51 ESPN, #52 by BA, #59 by BP, #77 by MLB.com). Ramirez is listed by Baseball America as the Mariners No. 13 prospect.

Here is a link to the box score from tonight’s game vs. the Diamondbacks.

Taijuan Walker struck out 2 in a perfect inning vs. the Dbacks (Getty Images).

- JE

Prospects Report For Mini-Camp

Director of Player Development Chris Gwynn, in his first season with the Mariners, will lead the mini-camp and it will also be one of the first opportunities for him to evaluate players in the system. The Mariners have conducted a winter program for their minor league players for years, but this is the third year for a structured mini-camp that features 35 of the organizations top prospects that are not already in Major League camp. The players went through physicals yesterday, with the first workout today at the Peoria Sports Complex. The mini-camp runs through March 1.

“Mini-camp is comprised of players in our organization (that are nominated by our Minor League Coordinators) that have potential to play at a higher level, said Gywnn. “Each player goes through extensive performance tests to determine their strength and fitness level. Players will then meet with individual coordinators and coaches to determine their plan for the upcoming season.”

The goal is to get players a head start through instruction. Mini-camp is similar to instructional league in fall, but in the spring guys are fresh and what you teach them can carry on into the season.

“Each player will have something different to focus on during camp, Gwynn said. “It is an opportunity for one-on-one instruction to help players iron out deficiencies they might have as well as keeping their strengths growing. “

The camp is not only about hitting and throwing, but also focuses on off-field instruction.  Players will be involved in community events, such as talking to local elementary students and visiting children at area hospitals.  There are English classes for players who don’t speak it and tips on nutrition and etiquette.

“Many of the players are players from Latin American countries and have never been to the states or players who are entering their first year in professional baseball, Gwynn said. “They will be able to rely on our staff to answer any questions they may have on or off the field. “

Infielder Kyle Seager went through mini-camp in 2010 and remembered how important that camp was for him.

“Being able to come into camp early and learn all the drills ahead of the time helps a ton,” Seager said. “Having all the one-on-one instruction with the coaches helped a lot with my development heading into the 2010 season.”

Right-hander Forrest Snow went through mini-camp last season and was able to continue what he learned in mini-camp throughout the 2011 season.

“For pitchers mini-camp is continuation of our throwing program that we received at the end of the previous season,” Snow said.  “Showing up to Peoria in early February allowed me to work with the pitching coaches to figure what I needed to improve on for the season. “

Among players taking part in the mini-camp are highly regarded prospects that include right-handed pitchers Victor Sanchez and Carter Capps, catcher Marcus Littlewood, infielders Brad Miller and Cavan Cohoes and outfielders Guillermo Pimentel, Phillips Castillo and Jabari Blash.

Littlewood is continuing to make the transition from shortstop to catcher, which began during Instructional League in September. He hopes to continue his development, while taking advantage of the one-on-one instruction with the catching coordinators.

“It is still a work in progress, but Roger Hansen, Jose Moreno and Scott Steinnmann have worked with me a lot in the offseason to help make the transition as smooth as possible,”  Littlewood said. “I had to work a lot on my flexibility long before I started taking balls behind the plate.”

Littlewood looks forward to viewing the game from a different point of view.

“I am looking forward to being the captain and controlling the game behind the plate,” Littlewood said. “It is my job to help set the defenses as well as working with the pitcher on pitch selection and location.”

Marcus Littlewood

Infielder Brad Miller, the Mariners second round selection in the 2011 June draft, played in just a few games with the Clinton LumberKings at the end of last season and is looking forward to 2012.

“I am excited to get here early and to start working with all the coaches,” Miller said. “Darren Garner and Eddie Menchaca have worked with us a lot on all aspects of the game, including baserunning.”

Miller spent the last three seasons playing shortstop at the Clemson University. He received the 2011 Brooks Wallace Shortstop of the Year Award, after hitting .395 (77×195) with 53 runs scored, 11 doubles, 3 triples, 5 home runs and 50 RBI in 56 games during his junior season.  Miller has already noticed big differences between the collegiate and professional levels.

“There is a lot of emphasis on details and focusing on improving the little things,” Miller said. “When Major League coach Mike Brumley came over and worked with us on baserunning it really set in how important everything was. I really look forward to getting more time to talk and ask questions to all the coaches. “

Brad Miller

The Mariners signed 9 of their first 10 picks in the 2011 June Draft and currently have 7 players participating in mini-camp, including right-handed pitchers Carter Capps and Carson Smith, catchers John Hicks and Tyler Marlette and infielders Brad Miller, Steven Proscia and Cavan Cohoes. The Mariners first-round selection in the 2011 draft, LHP Danny Hultzen is currently participating in Major League camp this year.

Ten players that have participated in the Mariners mini-camp are in Major League camp this spring, including right-handed Erasmo Ramirez, infielders Alex Liddi and Nick Franklin and outfielders Johermyn Chavez and Carlos Peguero. Of the 30 players listed as the Mariners top prospects by Baseball America in 2012, 19 will have participated in mini-camp.

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- KM

Mariners Listed On More Top Prospect Lists

We have already updated you on a few prospect lists that came out leading up to the 2012 season, including Baseball America and MLB.com.

Much like the college football polls, there are a lot of these, and it can get confusing, but we wanted to pass along a few more to get you excited for the upcoming baseball season.

Baseball Prospectus unveiled their Top 101 Prospects today, and four Mariners were listed:

  • C Jesus Montero (#7)
  • RHP Taijuan Walker (#14)
  • LHP Danny Hultzen (#35)
  • LHP James Paxton (#59)

Additionally, author Kevin Goldstein noted on his Twitter feed that infielder Nick Franklin would also likely be included in the top 125 players.

Jesus Montero is listed as a consensus top prospect heading into the 2012 season. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

ESPN.com and Keith Law also unveiled their annual Top 100 prospects (hidden behind ESPN’s pay wall), with five Mariners listed among the top 100.

  • C Jesus Montero (#9)
  • RHP Taijuan Walker (#24)
  • LHP Danny Hultzen (#30)
  • LHP James Paxton (#51)
  • INF Nick Franklin (#57)

Larry Stone of the Seattle Times has a nice write-up on the ESPN.com piece in his Hot Stone League Blog.

- JE

Baseball America Cover Boy – Taijuan Walker

Earlier this week, MLB.com came out with their Top 100 prospects, with 5 Mariners on the list. Today, it was Baseball America’s turn to unveil their annual Top 10 Mariners Prospects via their website.

And look who is on the cover of this week’s edition of Baseball America, Taijuan Walker.

Taijuan Walker is on the cover of Baseball America.

And Taijuan was a guest on Sports Radio KJR this morning talking about his goals for the 2012 season and his visit to Seattle this weekend for FanFest.

Here are the Mariners Top 10 Prospects, as well as the publications listing for the Best Mariners Tools:

  1. Jesus Montero, c
  2. Taijuan Walker, rhp
  3. Danny Hultzen, lhp
  4. James Paxton, lhp
  5. Nick Franklin, 2b/ss
  6. Francisco Martinez, 3b
  7. Chance Ruffin, rhp
  8. Tom Wilhelmsen, rhp
  9. Vinnie Catricala, 3b/1b/of
  10. Phillips Castillo, of

Best Hitter for Average – Jesus Montero
Best Power Hitter – Jesus Montero
Best Strike Zone Discipline – Vinnie Catricala
Fastest Baserunner – Jamal Austin
Best Athlete – Taijuan Walker
Best Fastball – Taijuan Walker
Best Curveball – James Paxton
Best Slider – Chance Ruffin
Best Changeup – Danny Hultzen
Best Control – Danny Hultzen
Best Defensive Catcher – Steve Baron
Best Defensive Infielder – Gabriel Noriega
Best Infield Arm – Carlos Triunfel
Best Defensive OF – Danny Carroll
Best Outfield Arm – Johermyn Chavez

- JE

Mariners Invite 9 Organizational Players to Spring Training

Today, we announced that 9 organizational players have been invited to Major League Spring Training. These players are in addition to the 16 players the Mariners have signed as minor league free agents. So, as of right now, the spring training roster consists of 65 players. Here is the Mariners current 40-Man Roster with spring training invites.

Here are the 9 Mariners minor league players that will participate in Major League Spring Training:

  • RHP Taijuan Walker
  • LHP James Paxton
  • INF Nick Franklin
  • OF Vinnie Catricala
  • RHP Erasmo Ramirez
  • RHP Stephen Pryor
  • RHP Forrest Snow
  • C Jesus Sucre
  • C Ralph Henriquez

There are a few names on here that fans will be very excited to see roaming the upper fields in Peoria.

The list includes seven of the Mariners top 20 prospects for the 2012 season as listed by Baseball America, including Taijuan Walker (#2), James Paxton (#4), Nick Franklin (#5), Vinnie Catricala (#9), Erasmo Ramirez (#13), Stephen Pryor (#15) and Forrest Snow (#19). Additional top 30 prospects C Jesus Montero (#1), LHP Danny Hultzen (#3), RHP Chance Ruffin (#7), RHP Tom Wilhelmsen (#8), INF Alex Liddi (#14), OF Chih-Hsien Chiang (#24), INF Carlos Triunfel (#25), LHP Mauricio Robles (#26) and OF Johermyn Chavez (#28) are on the 40-man roster.

Additionally, the Mariners had five players named among MLB.com’s Top 100 Prospects:

  • C Jesus Montero (#12)
  • LHP Danny Hultzen (#16)
  • RHP Taijuan Walker (#18)
  • INF Nick Franklin (#52)
  • LHP James Paxton (#77)

The Mariners were one of five organizations to place at least 5 prospects on this year’s Top 100 list, and ranked highest with 329 Prospect Points (100 points to the team with the No. 1 prospect, 99 to the team with No. 2 and on down).

Walker, 19, was named the Mariners Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2011 going 6-5 with a 2.89 ERA (31 ER, 96.2 IP) with A Clinton. He was recently named the No. 8 right-handed pitching prospect by MLB.com. Walker was originally selected by Seattle in the supplemental first round (43rd overall) in the 2010 June Draft.

Paxton, 23, was recently named the No. 8 left-handed pitching prospect by MLB.com (Hultzen was No. 3). He made his debut in 2011 combining to go 6-3 with a 2.37 ERA (25 ER, 95.0 IP) in 17 starts with A Clinton and AA Jackson. Overall, he ranked 2nd in the minors with 12.41 strikeouts per 9.0 innings (131 SO). Paxton signed with the Mariners last March after being selected in the 4th round of the 2010 June Draft.

Franklin, 20, also garnered attention from MLB.com as the No. 6 shortstop prospect. Despite missing an extended period of time in 2011 with a concussion, Franklin still hit .281 (99×352) with 64 runs scored, 13 doubles, 7 triples, 7 home runs and 26 RBI with the AZL Mariners, High Desert and Jackson. He capped his 2011 season being named the MVP of the Arizona Fall League Rising Stars Game. In 2010 he was one of only three minor leaguers to turn in a 20 HR-20 SB season (23 HR, 25 SB). Franklin was selected by Seattle in the first round (27th overall) in the 2009 June Draft.

Catricala, 23, was named the Mariners Minor League Player of the Year in 2011 combining to bat .349 (182×521) with 101 runs, 48 doubles, 4 triples, 25 home runs and 106 RBI in 133 games with A High Desert and AA Jackson. Among full season minor leaguers he ranked 2nd in extra base hits (77), 3rd in hits, T3rd in doubles, T4th in batting average and T9th in RBI. Catricala was selected by the Mariners in the 10th round of the 2009 June Draft out of the University of Hawai’i.

Ramirez, 21, combined to go 10-8 with a 4.83 ERA (82 ER, 152.2 IP) in 26 starts with Jackson and Tacoma. Ramirez is 35-14, 3.10 in his minor league career (79 G/73 GS), including being named the 2009 Mariners Minor League Pitcher of the Year after going 11-1, 0.51 as a 19-year-old with the Venezuelan Summer League Mariners.

Pryor, 22, combined for 10 saves with High Desert and Jackson last season. The hard-throwing right-hander averaged 11.05 strikeouts per 9.0 innings in 39 relief appearances. He was originally selected by Seattle in the 5th round of the 2010 June Draft out of Tennessee Tech University.

Snow, 23, went 5-12 with a 5.09 ERA (81 ER, 143.1 IP) in 28 appearances (21 GS) split between Clinton, High Desert and Tacoma. The University of Washington product led the Arizona Fall League with a 1.10 ERA (2 ER, 16.1 IP). Snow was originally selected in the 36th round of the 2010 June Draft.

Sucre, 23, split time between AA affiliates with Atlanta (Mississippi) and Seattle (Jackson) organizations last season. He combined to throw out 31 of 60 attempted base stealers (51.7%).

Henriquez, 24, saw action in 80 games last season with High Desert, Jackson and Tacoma. He was originally selected by Houston in the 2nd round of the 2005 June Draft and signed with Seattle as a minor league free agent on Dec. 11, 2009.

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