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).
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
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.
We ran this note on the youngsters in today’s game notes:
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.”
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. “
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
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.
Here are the Mariners Top 10 Prospects, as well as the publications listing for the Best Mariners Tools:
- Jesus Montero, c
- Taijuan Walker, rhp
- Danny Hultzen, lhp
- James Paxton, lhp
- Nick Franklin, 2b/ss
- Francisco Martinez, 3b
- Chance Ruffin, rhp
- Tom Wilhelmsen, rhp
- Vinnie Catricala, 3b/1b/of
- 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
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.
And we just found out that 5 Mariners are ranked among the top 100.
- 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. The Padres, Rays and A’s each had six prospects on the list. But they ranked the 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).
Top Prospect Points 1. Seattle 329 2. Kansas City 290 3. Pittsburgh 276 4. Atlanta 267 5. Arizona 253
MLB.com writer T.R. Sullivan caught up with Danny Hultzen and General Manager Jack Zduriencik in his piece on Mariners.com. Jonathan Mayo also breaks down the top 100 prospects in this detailed article.
And we can also note that 4 of the 5 players (Montero, Hultzen, Walker, Paxton) will be in town this weekend at FanFest.
The Mariners are certainly excited about all the talent that is coming up through the minor league pipeline and as some of you may know, a few of those talented young players will be here at FanFest this weekend: LHP Danny Hultzen, RHP Taijuan Walker, LHP James Paxton & OF Vinnie Catricala.
If you would like to get an idea of what the future of baseball may look like around the league, you’ll want to check out MLB Network or MLB.com tonight at 7pm PST when they will unveil the Top 50 Prospects in baseball. The complete rankings, including prospects 51-100, position and team lists, can be found at “Prospect Central” at MLB.com/prospects. MLB.com writer Jonathan Mayo will also discuss the top 100 prospects in an online chat on Friday, January 27th at 2:00 p.m. ET on MLB.com.
Newly acquired Mariners catcher Jesus Montero will surely be on the list, but he certainly hopes it is the last time:
“I don’t want to be a prospect anymore, I want to be in the big leagues,” said Montero. “I want somebody else to be the number one.”
If you read our earlier post about MLB.com’s list of the top 10 prospects at each position, you will have an idea of some of the Seattle players that will show up on the Top 100 list tonight. You can also add Montero to the list, as he was rated as the top catching prospect.
A few of the Mariners top minor league prospects have garnered some national publicity lately as MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo is taking a look at baseball’s top 10 prospects at each position. MLB.com’s Top 50 Prospects list has been expanded to 100, and will be unveiled on Wednesday, Jan. 25, on MLB.com as well as on a one-hour show on MLB Network, airing at 7 p.m. PT.
So far, MLB.com has looked at what they consider the top crop of right-handed pitchers, left-handed pitchers and shortstops, and the Mariners are represented on each list.
Starting with the right-handed pitchers, Taijuan Walker ranks No. 8. Walker, who doesn’t even turn 20 until Aug. 13, was the Mariners first selection in the 2010 Major League Baseball June Draft, taken 43rd overall in the supplemental first round. Walker is coming off a phenomenal first full professional season, earning Mariners Minor League Pitcher of the Year honors and being named the Midwest League’s top prospect by Baseball America. The 6-4, 210-pound native of Yucaipa, Calif., went 6-5 with a 2.89 ERA (31 ER, 96.2 IP) in 18 starts with the Clinton LumberKings. Here is the excerpt from MLB.com on Taijuan:
With the way Walker pitched in his first full season, the Mariners will quickly forget they didn’t have a first-round pick in 2010. The SoCal high school product was a multi-sport star and, as a result, is really focusing on pitching full-time for the first time as a professional. So far, so good, as Walker has been dominant as the Mariners have been cautious with him up until this point. The stuff is there, with a mid-to-high 90s fastball and excellent curve. His changeup is rapidly improving. That three-pitch mix, his size and athleticism could all add up to a frontline starter in the future.
A pair of Mariners are listed amongst the top 10 left-handed pitchers: Danny Hultzen (No. 3) & James Paxton (No. 8).
Hultzen had a dominant debut in the Arizona Fall League, posting a 1-0 record with a 1.40 ERA (3 ER, 19.1 IP) in 6 starts with the Peoria Javelinas. He was the No. 2 overall selection in the 2011 June Amateur Draft out of the University of Virginia. His college career included a 32-5 record with a 2.08 ERA. Here is the excerpt from MLB.com on Danny:
While most thought the Mariners would go after Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon with the No. 2 overall pick of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, they actually had their sights set on Hultzen all along. The University of Virginia product is the kind of college lefty who is expected to move quickly, but he’s more than just a command/pitchability type. Hultzen’s velocity increased in his junior season, giving him a plus fastball from the left side as well as a plus changeup. His breaking ball — a slider — isn’t quite as good as those first two, but it’s a serviceable pitch, and Hultzen is the type of player who will work to improve it. If his performance in the Arizona Fall League is any indication, he should indeed be able to move quickly through the Mariners’ system.
Danny has been a busy guy recently. He recently attended Major League Baseball’s Rookie Career Development Program at the Lansdowne Resort in Leesburg, VA (along with Paxton, Steve Delabar & Erasmo Ramirez). You can watch an interview with him at the Rookie Development Program talking about his performance in the Arizona Fall League and what is goals are for the 2012 season. And Danny also caught up with David Heck at MiLB.com for a fun Q&A.
Paxton was listed as the No. 8 top left-handed pitching prospect, and could be one of the most intriguing names on the list. James didn’t sign with the Mariners until March, after being selected in the 4th round of the 2010 June Draft. He quickly made a name for himself as one of the premier strikeout pitchers, ranking ranked 2nd in the minor leagues with 12.41 strikeouts per 9.0 innings pitched. Here is the excerpt from MLB.com on James:
Paxton didn’t sign with the Mariners until March 2011, but he made up for lost time quickly by double-jumping from low Class A to Double-A during the season, pitching well at both levels. His two best pitches are his fastball — a truly plus offering he can crank up into the upper-90s — and an excellent power breaking ball. The improvement he’s shown with his changeup is a big reason why the Mariners are even more excited about his potential as a Major League starter. He was shut down a bit early last year, more as a precaution than anything. Seeing him Seattle’s rotation soon is not out of the question.
Nick Franklin was ranked as the No. 6 shortstop prospect. Despite missing an extended period of time in 2011 with a concussion after being hit in the head with a bat, Nick still had a solid “sophomore” campaign batting .281 (99×352) with 64 runs scored, 13 doubles, 7 triples, 7 home runs and 26 RBI with the AZL Mariners, High Desert Mavericks and Jackson Generals. He capped his 2011 season being named the MVP of the Arizona Fall League Rising Stars Game, going 4-for-5 with a pair of doubles and a home run. Here is the MLB.com excerpt on Nick:
After Franklin went 20-20 in his first full season, everyone was excited to see what he would do in year No 2 in the Mariners system. But the 2011 season really never got going for the infielder because he was hit in the face with a bat during batting practice in June. He did eventually return and played well in the Arizona Fall League, named the No. 14 prospect there by MLB.com. Some feel a move from shortstop might be in Franklin’s future, but he’s played well enough to stay there for the time being. With 2011 now firmly behind him, Franklin will finally get the chance to show that 2010 was no fluke.