The Seattle Mariners farm system isn’t one of the best in the league and once Taijuan Walker becomes a major league mainstay next April, they won’t have a single top 100 prospect. Prior to the season, Walker was just one of three elite pitchers in Seattle’s prospect ranks, but Danny Hultzen‘s injury and James Paxton‘s struggles were huge hits to the organization. Also eating at the farm system has been the recent graduations of top hitting prospects Mike Zunino, Kyle Seager, and Nick Franklin. But there is still some talent in this system, as highlighted by these fifteen players:
Special thanks to Dan Hughes of the Mariners blog site Sodo Mojo for his invaluable assistance in the completion of this list.
The Mariners Minor League Teams are as follows:
Triple-A: Tacoma Rainers (PCL)
Double-A: Jackson Generals (SOU)
High-A: High Desert Mavericks (CAL)
Class-A: Clinton LumberKings (MID)
Short-Season A: Everett AquaSox (NOR)
Advanced Rookie: Pulsaki Mariners (APP)
Complex-Rookie: AZL Mariners (AZL), DSL Mariners (DSL), VSL Mariners (VSL)
Xavier Avery – OF
Date of Birth: January 1, 1990
Height/Weight: 6’0′, 190 lbs
Acquired: Trade, Baltimore Orioles
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Analysis: Since the day he was drafted by the Orioles in 2008, Avery has been the player with all the tools, but who lacked the ability to channel them onto the diamond. In six minor league seasons, not once has he posted an OPS above .725. Still, as a potential leadoff hitter, his .345 OBP last season was a positive sign, and most of his value will come in the field or on the basepaths anyway. A plus runner, Avery has excellent range in center and has stolen over 30 bases four times in the minors. He’s a backup outfielder at least, but he could be more if the bat ever comes along.
2014 Prognosis: Avery will probably start next season in Triple-A Tacoma, but he’ll be one of the first players on call if a Mariners outfielder goes down with injury.
Patrick Kivlehan – 3B
Date of Birth: December 22, 1989
Height/Weight: 6’2′, 210 lbs
Acquired: 4th round, 2012 draft
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Analysis: After a somewhat disappointing start to the year in Class-A, Kivlehan was promoted to High-A and proceeded to ravage the high-dessert league, hitting .320 with a .384 OBP, and 13 home runs in just 68 games. He’s this low on this list, however, because at 23, he was slightly old for A ball and the High-Dessert ballpark, where Kivlehan played the second half of his season, is the best hitters park in all of full-season minor league baseball, according to a report published by Matt Eddy of Baseball America. Kivlehan has the potential to be an everyday major league third baseman, but having not played any baseball between his senior year of high school and his senior of college, he will probably need more time and seasoning in the minors than most other 24 year olds.
2014 Prognosis: Kivlehan proved himself in High-Desert and should play all of next season in Double-A Jackson
Edwin Diaz – RHP
Date of Birth: March 22, 1994
Height/Weight: 6’2′, 165 lbs
Acquired: 3rd round, 2012 draft
Analysis: The slender righthander was incredibly raw when Seattle drafted him in 2012, but he is coming along nicely, as indicated by his 1.43 ERA and 4.39 K:BB ratio in rookie ball last year. His 2.3 BB/9 is particularly noteworthy, as Diaz had been rather wild after the draft two seasons ago, walking just under a batter per inning over the course of nineteen innings.His potential is largely an outgrowth of a solid repertoire that includes a mid-90’s fastball, and a developing change up and curve.
2014 Prognosis: After a successful rookie league season, Diaz will get his shot with full season Class-A Clinton.
Carson Smith – RHP
Date of Birth: October 19, 1989
Height/Weight: 6’6′, 215 lbs
Acquired: 8th round, 2011 draft
Analysis: Few relievers ever make top prospect list, but Smith’s potential as a closer or elite set up man merits him a spot. His minor league numbers speak for themselves, particularly the 12.8 SO/9, and are the result of power-reliever type stuff. Smith primarily works off of a mid-90’s sinker, adding in a hard slider and even the occasional change. His strange side-arm delivery adds deception to his swing-and-miss stuff, but, as MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo notes, it can also make him more erratic.
2014 Prognosis: He should start next season in Triple-A, but could be called up to the big league bullpen any time.
Tyler Marlette – C
Date of Birth: January 23, 1993
Height/Weight: 5’11’, 195 lbs
Acquired: 5th round, 2011 draft
Analysis: Marlette was paid well over-slot by Seattle in 2011 and has done nothing but hit since. His .304 average and .367 OBP last year were impressive, but he has always been known for his power, even if it has yet to really show up in games. He still has some work to do defensively behind the plate, but he has the arm to play the position well and he should profile as an able catcher long term
2014 Prognosis: Whether or not the Mariners push Marlette to High-A High Desert to start next season, he should be there before long. Once he’s promoted, the hitting environment that the desert air produces should lead to a great season for the young catcher.