Tuesday night was the last day teams had to add players to the 40 man roster to protect eligible prospects from the Rule 5 draft. This was one of the reasons for the Andino-Robinson trade, and caused a flurry of moves around baseball (including former Mariner Adam Moore being designated for assignment by the Royals). The Mariners added Vinnie Catricala, Antony Fernandez, Bobby LaFromboise, Brandon Maurer, and Julio Morban to the 40 man roster. Perhaps more noteworthy, Chone Figgins and Scott Cousins were DFA’d to make room for the above players.
Chone Figgins still has/had 1 year and 8 million dollars left on the original deal that the Mariners signed him to before the 2010 season. Just days ago, General Manager Jack Zduriencik, who made the signing, admitted that it was a “mistake”. Figgins high OBP and speed skills that he displayed with the Angels did not translate into success with the Seattle Mariners. There is no need to look at the statistics. They were bad. There is no reason to go back over the different story lines, whether the fact that he was given an extended look at lead-off in 2012 and failed miserably, or the fact that he made it clear he no longer wanted to play with the Mariners after the end of the season. One could write a whole post on what went wrong with Figgins, but I am not going to do that. It is in the past now, and the Mariners wisely opened up a roster spot (but will still have to pay him the 8 million dollars).
Scott Cousins never played for the Mariners. He was claimed by Seattle after being designated for assignment by the Blue Jays, whom he also never played for. There is a chance that he goes through unclaimed and is out-righted to Tacoma. He may or may not accept an assignment there. If not, he is a free agent, like Figgins will be.
Vinnie Catricala rose through the Mariners system in 2011 after a very good season (since I already wrote statistically heavy season reviews on these guys, I am not going to use many statistics here) but really struggled in 2012. He struggled with breaking balls, and his inconsistencies (and just being plain bad at times) on defense showed that he was nowhere close to helping the Mariners and that he has no real position. Some team might have taken him in the Rule 5 (if taken in the Rule 5, he would have had to stay on the 25 man roster for the entire roster or sent back to Seattle) on the bat alone, but I don’t think he would have been very successful. In the Arizona Fall League, he had a rough first half followed by a good 2nd half. Perhaps later on, we will take a look at what some of the Pitch F/X data said about his stint.
Anthony Fernandez had some success in the extremely hitter friendly High Desert, followed by quite a bit of success in AA Jackson. The left-handed starter has okay stuff, but showed some good pitch-ability and efficiency. He doesn’t strikeout a lot of hitters but he is still just 22 (will turn 23 in the middle of the 2013 season) and while he is probably still a couple years away from establishing himself or even getting a legitimate shot in the big leagues (especially as a starter), lefties that can pitch and occasionally throw a fastball over 90 MPH always get their shot.
Bobby Lafromboise established himself in both AAA Tacoma and the AFL in 2012 by being an effective lefty out of the bullpen. His delivery most likely makes him a LOOGY (something the Mariners have), though it has been much publicized that he has done a good job of getting righties out in the minors as well. I imagine that he will get a legitimate shot to compete for Lucas Luetge (I think it is a toss up as far as to who is better) to make the team out of spring training, but that is really the only chance he has of making the roster in 2013 (other than a Oliver Perez or Charlie Furbush, two guys with injury histories, injury). He is already 26 and probably easily DFA’able if needed to be (though it would be unlikely he wouldn’t get claimed).
Brandon Maurer was another prospect that had a big 2012, as the 22 RHP had a big year in AA. Once a 23rd round pick, Maurer’s stuff matched his numbers, so much that some (including the Mariners reportedly) have included him in the same breath of James Paxton, Taijuan Walker, and Danny Hultzen. He is another example of why we shouldn’t take High Desert numbers too seriously as he was awful there in 2011. The key for him in 2013 will be staying healthy, as he had never come close to throwing 100 innings before 2012 (and he was shut down towards the end of the year for precautionary reasons). I just can’t see him pitching in the big leagues in 2013, but he could be a mid-rotation starter before it is all said and done.
Julio Morban is the only player that has not played in AA on the list, and a lot of that has to do with injuries. He played 80 games in 2011 then 82 games in 2012. The 20 year old left-handed outfielder seems to be playing less and less center-field. He may have to move to the corner permanently to protect himself from injuries. Predictably, he struggled in the pitcher friendly Midwest League and hit well in the California League. He is still very far from the Majors.
Just for fun, here is my rough rankings of those 5 players (ranked by how much impact I think they will have in the Majors. I will also have my 40 man ranking redone in December):
1. Brandon Maurer
2. Anthony Fernandez
3. Bobby Lafromboise
4. Julio Morban
5. Vinnie Catricala
Some interesting guys that weren’t protected (thanks to Matthew Carruth and Rick Randall for a few of the names):
Part of the Ichiro trade, he has bounced around and not gotten his shot in the Majors yet. Extremely effective against righties, but Stephen Pryor and Carter Capps have that road blocked right now. There is just not a lot of room for him, even though he is probably an effective big league reliever.
Had a great year for Tacoma. He is another lefty with below average stuff but good he can get lefties out with his delivery and command (that sounds really familiar). Almost a coin flip between him and Lafromboise really.
Interesting as a pitchability guy, either a 5th starter or long man/low leverage reliever long term.
Sort of interesting 1st base prospect. Doesn’t hit for much power, but has decent peripherals. Already 25 but has had success in AA. AAA Tacoma will be his home in 2012.
Interesting athlete that hasn’t put it together at the plate yet.
A former 4th round pick, the 24 year old (won’t turn 25 until the end of year)hasn’t reached AA yet. Tick. Tick. Tick.
Age 25, right-handed reliever, really really struggled in Tacoma in 2012. Move along.
My rough rankings of these 7 players:
1. Rich Poythress
2. Brian Moran
3. Andrew Carraway
4. Danny Farquhar
5. Denny Almonte
6. James Jones
7. Steven Hensley
I think only Moran or Farquhar are really likely to be drafted in the Rule 5 as they are the only ones that could help a big league team enough to keep on a roster all year (at least right now).