Tag Archives: Draft

Stephen Pryor Moves up the Prospect Ladder, Mauricio Robles Moves Down


The Mariners have decided to demote pitcher Mauricio Robles from AAA Tacoma to AA Jackson and promote relief pitcher Stephen Pryor from Jackson to Tacoma.

Robles was acquired in the Jarrod Washburn trade along with Lucas French. It was a savy trade by the Mariners, and extremely terrible acquision for the Detroit Tigers. Washburn posted a 2.64 ERA and 3.7 WAR in 133 innings for the Mariners in 2009 despite striking out just 5.3 batters per 9 innings. In 8 starts for the Tigers, Washburn struck out even less batters, walked more, and had an ERA of 7.33. After the year was over, Washburn was out of baseball.

Luke French made 24 appearances (20 starts) for the Mariners after the trade, throwing 125.2 innings. Those were not good innings either, with a 75 ERA + and 5.37 ERA with 4.3 strikeouts per 9 innings. He showed promise in 2010 in Tacoma (AAA) in 17 starts with an ERA under 3, with less than 2 walks per 9 innings. But just like he struggled in the Majors, his 2011 AAA numbers were awful, with just a 1.33 K/BB and a 1.765 WHIP. He was granted free agency after the season ended and is now in the Twins organization.

This leaves Robles as the only one left from the trade. This is why when the 23 year old had 5 awful starts (6 appearances) in Tacoma, it was so disappointing for the organization. In 21 innings, he had a WHIP of over 2, more walks (more than 1 an inning) than strikeouts, and more runs than innings pitched. Robles was rated as high as the 6th best Mariner prospect in 2010.

Stephen Pryor is on the fast track to be in the Mariners bullpen, especially once you consider that he has been clocked at 100 MPH. Pryor was originally drafted in the 42nd round by the Texas Rangers. Instead of signing, he went to Cleveland State Community College and then Tennessee Tech. The Mariners then drafted him in the 5th round in 2010. He started the year in Jackson (AA), and has appeared in 11 games, posting a 1.14 FIP, 13.50 K/9IP, and 2.81 BB/9IP.

The Mariners also released Eddy Martinez-Esteve from Jackson. He hadn’t played at all for this year, and played in 15 games for Jackson last year.

Mariners Play Angels, Release minor leaguer and other Spring Training Notes


On Wednesday, the Mariners played the Angels, the only meeting between the two teams in spring training. The Mariners won the game 6-4.

Against Jered Weaver: Chone Figgins struck out looking on a high outside fastball (he showed bunt on first two strikes). Dustin Ackley whiffed big on a pitch in his first at-bat and he eventually hit a soft fly-ball. Kyle Seager had the fastball blown by him and then chased low breaking ball to strikeout, but made an awesome diving catch on a line drive. Mike Carp had a nice throw from left field, but it is apparent that he doesn’t move well at that position. He also had a bad day at the plate. Jesus Montero had a ground-ball up the middle for a luck hit (his lack of speed and baserunning skills showed when they weren’t able to wave him home on Brendan Ryan’s hit). Michael Saunders roped a line drive single off a hanging breaking ball (it was opposite day for Saunders as he looked bad defensively but good offensively other than an ugly strikeout), and Brendan Ryan got a soft hit the other way on an outside breaking ball. Luis Rodriquez looked over-matched in most of his at-bat but end up hitting a medium fly-ball in a 6 pitch at-bat (he had a nice play on a hard line drive at first base, but made an extremely poor throw with the pitcher covering). Weaver certainly wasn’t sharp and didn’t have his best stuff or location. Overall he threw 35 pitches and gave up no runs on 3 hits, no walks, and 2 strikeouts.

Here is Saunders’ line drive hit:

Against Jordan Walden: Chone Figgins had a decent length at-bat, but grounded softly for a lucky infield single. It doesn’t appear he is running all that well. Ackley grounded out, while Seagar struck out again (he looked absolutely overwhelmed in his two at-bats). Montero had a 5 pitch fly out to right.

Blake Beavan: In the first inning, Beavan got 2 swinging strikes on the outside to Bobby Abreu for a strikeout, but the first two batters made hard contact. In the next 3 innings, he got a strike out swinging (Jorge Cantu) and one looking on a long at-bat (Iannetta). He got 3 ground-balls (1 soft, 1 hard), 3 fly-balls (1 was down the line just missing a double), and two hard line drives. He also gave up a walk (to Bobby Abreu). Overall, Beavan threw 61 pitches in 4 innings.

To give you an idea of Beavan’s locations, here is an at-bat of him against Chris Iannetta (that ended in a ground out)

Charlie Furbush had nice swing and miss stuff and was throwing hard but was wild and not placing the ball where it was called. Jeff Marquez was hanging a very unimpressive breaking ball and had problems putting away hitters with no swing and miss stuff (although he did strikeout Iannetta on a breaking pitch out of the zone). He did get a couple weak ground-balls though. Mauricio Robles had some problems with location (with a walk), but was throwing hard and had swing and miss stuff striking out Andrew Romine. Scott Patterson, with his weird delivery and all, pitched the 9th. It appeared that the big right hander was locating the ball well, even though he is not throwing hard at all. He gave up 3 really weak hits and then got a ball that should have ended the game on the double play but Brad Miller made an awful throw. Stefan Romero had a ground-ball single, a strikeout swinging, and a steal (Trayvon Robinson had a similar line, showing off his speed). He looks very small, and one would probably want him to get a little bigger before becoming a MLB player (and he had some problems with the breaking ball). John Jaso had a long walk, and Darren Ford had a soft line drive hit on a 3-2 pitch out of the zone. Mike Wilson also walked. Brad Miller grounded out twice, and I was taken aback at how much I didn’t like his swing (he also had problems laying off the breaking ball). Vinnie Catricala hit a fly-ball and a home run but is still struggling with the breaking ball (as most young hitters do).

Other Mariners Notes: The Mariners have released catcher Angel Salome. Salome had made it known that he didn’t want to catch anymore and had problems with his weight. Salome was picked in the 5th round by the Brewers in 2004, and spent 2004-2010 in the Brewers system (getting just 3 MLB at-bats). In AAA (PCL) Salome hit .288/.338/.420, pretty unimpressive. In April of 2011, the Mariners signed Salome and assigned him to Arizona Rookie Ball. After a brief stint there, he also played for High Desert A + for 5 games. In all, he tore the cover off the ball, with an OPS of over 1.000, but it was in less than 100 at-bats and he was much older than most of his opponents (not to mention he walked below average and struck out more than average). Overall in his minor league career, he has a .364 OBP and .847 OPS. He is slow (24 speed according to Baseball Cube), and not patient (34), but has good hitting tools (76 contact, 78 batting, 66 power).

Former Mariner 1st round pick (2007) Matt Mangini is in camp with the Tampa Bay Rays and started at 3rd base on Tuesday, getting 2 hits. Mangini was drafted after 2 years at NC State and another at Oklahoma State, and he had a .925 OPS in his college career. He has spent his whole minor league career so far in the Mariners organization, with a .765 OPS in that time. He also played in 11 games for the big league club in 2010. Mangini’s highest rated tool is his generic batting tool at 64 according to Baseball Cube. Defensively, at third base, he is an under average fielder. He has also tried his hand at first, but that has been pretty unsuccessful as well, and even more so when you consider how poor his offensive statistics are compared to other first baseman.

Lucas Giolito, considered the best high school player in the draft (certainly the best pitcher, some might argue Byron Buxton is better), has sprained his elbow and will mis 6-10 weeks. Speculation is, because of the new CBA that restricts draft spending (especially for lower draft picks), that he will instead go to UCLA. Giolito has been known to hit 100 MPH.

Vargas, Seager and Other Spring Training Notes


The Mariners played their 3rd Cactus League game on Sunday, their first not against the A’s. They won 5-4 against the Padres, another team that is projected to be pretty lowly in 2012. The Mariners continue to have a bad K/BB ratio on offense, striking out 8 times and walking 3 times on Sunday. In 2011, the Mariners walked 2.69 times per game and struck out 7.9 times per game. By comparison, the A’s struck out 6.75 times per game and walked 3.13 times per game. We have seen a similar ratio so far in Spring Training for the Mariners, but it is early. The Padres struck out just once and walked 3 times on Sunday.

Jason Vargas 89-90 MPH on his FB (a little harder than he usually throws), with a high of a 62- 71 nasty factor (but usually much lower), curveball at 86 nasty factor at 74 MPH. His cutter was about 88 MPH and not very impressive. He was perfect in 4 innings, throwing 50 pitches, and getting just 1 strikeout. He got 5 ground-outs and 3 fly-outs. Brandon League threw a scoreless inning, giving up a line drive hit on a 97 MPH Sinker to Yonder Alonzo (League also had a wild pitch). Charlie Furbush pitched the 6th, and got 3 ground-balls (1 for a hit) and 1 fly-ball. He was throwing 93-94 MPH on his fastball, faster than normal, but he also was throwing just one inning instead of several. Forrest Snow pitched the 7th and got a strikeout and ground-ball double play. Snow had a 94-96 MPH fastball with an 82 MPH change-up that he got a strikeout on. Jeff Marquez, with his 91-93 MPH sinker, pitched in the 8th and he gave up just one hit and no runs. Jarrett Grube showed why the pitching win statistic is worthless, by getting a win even though he gave up 4 runs, 3 earned off 3 hits and 1 walk. Grube was throwing 94-95 MPH with a slider and change-up. Two of the hits came off of change-ups, while the other came off a fastball. His fastball was for a strike or some kind of contact 12 times and a ball 6 times. He end up getting 3 ground-balls, 2 line drives (1 was soft), along with a strikeout and fly-ball.

The fielding problems for Nick Franklin and Vinnie Catricala continued, with Franklin making 2 errors (one throwing and one fielding), and Catricala making a throwing error. Chone Figgins had a 4 pitch strike-out on a slider, but he also walked. Kyle Seager homered off 95 MPH pitch, and end up having 3 hits on the game. Jesus Montero had a line drive double off a 91 MPH after flying out twice (once in foul territory). John Jaso hit two more ground-balls but did walk. Mike Carp hit two ground-balls (the harder one was an out while the stronger one was a hit) and struck out while playing first base. Luis Antonio Jimenez continues to look extremely unimpressive, striking out swinging in an ugly 3 pitch at-bat as did Gulliermo Quiroz. Franklin’s hit was a ground-ball, and Alex Liddi flied out almost to the warning track. Johermyn Chavez’s game winning hit (a double that got to the wall) came off a pretty mediocre fastball in the middle of the plate (he popped out in foul territory the first at-bat against Andrew Cashner who pitch f/x insisted was throwing 103 MPH, while Fangraphs says he threw an average of about 96 MPH in 2011).


Other Mariner Notes: Sunday was also physical day for minor league camp.Also, George Sherrill should appear in the game against the Padres on Monday, which would be his first appearance. He has been limited and at times shut down thanks to an elbow issue.

On Friday night, I was at a high school baseball game in North Texas and saw  former Mariner Mark Mclemore:

Mclemore spent 4 seasons in Seattle, including the 2001 amazing 116 win season. He put up a 6.4 WAR in that time, with a .360 OBP and .357 SLG. He stole 92 bases and was caught stealing 36 times. What was Mclemore doing at a high school game? Watching his son Darien play at Southlake Carroll.

Darien is relatively small, but was good defensively, with a nice arm. Offensively, he had a nice swing with some pop, but I don’t think he projects to have much power. He is currently committed to the University of Texas at Arlington, but may still sign if drafted high enough. Here is some video (you can also read my full scouting report on Mclemore and his team here):

Playing the A’s, Montero, and Other Spring Training Notes


Jesus Montero had problems playing catcher, with a drop of an easy pop-fly and some problems blocking balls. He eventually left the game after he was hit hard by a couple foul balls in the face. He was walking around after the game and it appears he is okay. Blake Beaven’s only K came on a breaking ball looking from Kurt Suzuki on a long at-bat. He also gave up an easy steal from Josh Reddick, base runners were only 6 for 9, a below average percentage, stealing in 2011. He did make a nice fielding play though. He got 8 grounders and only one pop-fly, walking one and striking out one. Oliver Perez got 2 grounders, 1 line drive, and 1 fly-ball in his inning.

Kyle Seager made a nice defensive play only to botch the throw, was ruled a base hit. Munenori Kawasaki went 0-3 with 2 strike-outs seeing no balls and only 7 pitches total. Michael Saunders, Carlos Peguero (he also struck out swinging on all 3 pitches in his first at-bat and had two 1 pitch at-bats. Peguero has huge problems with contact, striking out 63 times in 45 Dominican Winter League games).  Luis Rodriquez, Jesus Montero, and Johermyn Chavez all had homers. The run environment is very friendly, meaning you shouldn’t put too much stock in hitter success or pitcher failure. Luis Antonio Jimenez grounded out on 1 pitch in his only at-bat.

The Mariners struck-out 8 times and walked just once (Casper Wells), while their pitching struck-out 5 and walked 2. While they won by 3 runs, they stranded just 4 runners, while the Athletics stranded 16. This could mean several things, but the general sabermetric view is that the Mariners were extremely fortunate.

Other Mariners Notes: For those who didn’t know (or care), I also write for other websites, and at FantasyCPR.com we are currently working on team previews for all 30 MLB teams. Here is my short preview on the Mariners.

The Rangers, according to Matt Eddy of Baseball America, have released former 31 first round pick Matt Leeds. I mention this because Matt Leeds has a heck of a bat. At College of Charleston, Leeds had an OPS of 1104. In 44 games at Arizona Rookie League, Leeds had a line of .275/.394/.466 in 2011. He strikes out a lot, with a contact rating of just 28, but has decent patience, rated at 61 (as he walked 13.8% in the minors in 2011). Leeds power, rated at 87, is what is impressive. He had an amazing .333 ISO in college.

Taylore Cherry out of Butler in Ohio:

From Fangraphs: “The right-hander is huge. He is 6-foot-9 and 260-pounds. As you would expect with that frame, his size could scare off some teams, but he is currently projected to be selected in the first round due to a 92-94 MPH fastball with good sink and a potentially plus changeup with good fade. Cherry also throws a curveball, though no scouting report that I read actually likes the overall potential for that pitch.” He is committed to North Carolina, and Perfect Game has his fastball listed as 91 MPH on average and 94 at max. He is listed as the 10th best right handed pitching prospect for the 2012 draft by ESPN, with an ability to throw strikes and they like his change-up (even more than Fangraphs). Personally, I actually prefer the monster size pitcher like Cherry, as long as he is able to avoid back problems. I am not a huge fan of his arm slot, as it appears to be pretty low (and it makes me question whether he will be able to add velocity in the future), but his delivery is nice and easy, so it avoids stress on his large frame (it is because of his large body that he is able to have this delivery). It doesn’t appear he moves off the mound real well, so defense could be a problem. In just watching video, it appears that his breaking ball is pretty poor, but you would hope that would be something that can develop in the minors. Here is one of several videos of Cherry on YouTube:

Duke pitcher Marcus Stroman struck out 17 of the 23 batters he faced on Friday night. He hit 94 MPH on his final pitch. Mark Appel reportedly was throwing 96-98 MPH with good breaking stuff, but ended up giving up 7 runs and 2 homers. Both homers were off Aaron Judge of Fresno State. Last year, Judge had a .902 OPS with a good walk rate and pretty high strikeout rate. His batting tool is ranking at 93 with 76 speed and 63 power.

Guti injured, Intrasquad ends, and Other Spring Training Notes


The Mariners played their final intrasquad game on Wednesday. Chone Figgins played CF for Franklin Gutierrez, and had a hit in 3 at-bats. Vinnie Catricala had 2 hits and a walk, as Trayvon Robinson also had a walk but 3 strike-outs, and Carlos Peguero struck out 3 times as well. Brendan Ryan looked healthy, playing a nice shortstop and getting a hit. John Jaso played 1st base, as Adam Moore caught. Dustin Ackley had the only error in the game, with a throwing error. Mauricio Robles struck out all 3 batters he faced, and James Paxton struck out 2 in one inning. Danny Hultzen gave up 2 hits, but struck out two, and Charlie Furbush struck out a batter and didn’t give up any hits or walks. Munenori Kawasaki got a hit in his only at-bat, and Taijuan Walker threw a nice inning.

Other Mariners Notes:   Franklin Gutierrez has a partial tear in his pectoral muscle, and will be out for at least a month. This more than likely means that he won’t be available for the beginning of the season. Not that Gutierrez is a great player or anything, but it leaves the Mariners with an extremely silly CF situation. Ichiro Suzuki can no longer even play right field competently, Darren Ford has basically no big league hitting experience, and Michael Saunders is one of the worst (actually the worst over the past couple years) hitters in the MLB. This leaves Casper Wells, who can play an average to slightly above average center field (according to runs saved and his minor league range factor) and has hit pretty well in 131 games in the Majors with a 119 OPS + with an offensive winning percentage of .573. His numbers in AAA aren’t all that impressive (just barely better than his MLB numbers), and he has a .325 BABIP in the majors, so he is probably due for some regression. Wells profiles as a guy with monster power, and was an absolute beast with the bat in college. It is also worth noting that Johnny Damon is still available at a 5 million dollar price tag (which, as I have argued previously, Damon is easily worth this). The Mariners could use a 5 outfield rotation of Ichiro, Wells, Carp, Damon, and Saunders until Gutierrez gets back. Saunders could be used as a defensive replacement in late innings for Damon, and then optioned (he still has one left) when Guti comes back. Carp and Smoak can split at first, with Montero/Jaso/Olivo splitting at catcher and Montero/Damon splitting at DH. I wish I had this information when I wrote about Jaso yesterday, but Fangraphs has released a statistic that measures how well catchers block pitches. Miguel Olivo is the worst since 2008, and Adam Moore is also extremely low rated. Jaso is also in the negative, but is ranked slightly better than Moore and Olivo. Jesus Montero is slightly positive, but it is a really small sample size. According to Mike Fast’s (who now works for the Astros) groundbreaking study last year, Olivo is also slightly negative at framing pitches, Moore is even worse, and Jaso is worse than him. So the Mariners have 3 (4 if you count Moore, but he isn’t going to make the MLB team) bad defensive catchers. Olivo recently said about Montero, “He needs to get better at receiving and blocking, and communicate more with the pitchers. It takes time, though. I had the same problems. … That’s the thing he needs to go through now. Maybe a couple years, one year and he’ll be ready to do it”. Statistics say Olivo still doesn’t have it down. One option could be to just play Montero at catcher (enhancing his bat value), since they are all bad catchers anyway, find a way to get rid of Olivo, and use Damon as the DH. The point is, there are options.

A couple of days ago, Larry Stone had a great article on all the players from different countries in the Mariners’ camp. Here is his list:

“Germany (RHP Daniel Thieben), South Africa (RHP Dylan Unsworth and RHP Dylan De Meyer), Netherlands (OF Kalian Sams, LHP Scott Ronnenbergh, RHP Lars Huijer — but no longer, tragically, Greg Halman, murdered during the offseason), El Salvador (LHP Kevin Quintanilla, RHP Danny Cruz), Nicaragua (RHP Erasmo Ramirez, RHP Hector Hidalgo, RHP Jose Validiva), Colombia (RHP Ivan Julio, RHP Jose Torres, IF Diego Mina), Brazil (IF Pedro Okuda, RHP Thyago Viera, IF Felipe Burin), Aruba (IF Reginald Lampe), Curacao (OF Raysheron Michel, IF Gianfranco Wawoe) and U.S. Virgin Islands (OF Jabari Blash, RHP Richard White, by way of Germany).

(There are also players from Taiwan, South Korea, Cuba, Canada, Mexico and Panama)”

Some players on the list that intrigue me: Dylan Unsworth has a control rating of 98! In 111 innings in Rookie Ball, the 19 year old has walked just 11 batters, or .89 per 9 innings! Even though he has given up a ton of hits in that time, he gets a lot of ground-balls, so it gives you hope that he can live with all the contact he gives up. His K-rate isn’t bad for a starter at 7.28 K/9IP (just a 26 K-rating though). His BABIPs have been huge so far, so we will have to see whether its bad luck, bad fielding, or the ball is just getting hit hard. Felipe Burin dominated the Venezulan Summer League for a couple years, and was 2nd in the league in OPS in 2011 (3rd in OBP) and was brought to the Arizona rookie league, where he didn’t slug much, but got on base. Reginald Lampe is a similar story, he isn’t quite as good, but is on the same path.

Here is a good article breaking down the schedule of the Jackson Generals, the AA affiliate of the Mariners. The Generals went 68-72 in 2011. Vincent Catricala was their best hitter, and should start the year on either the MLB or AAA team.

The Mariners have set their rotation for the first four games of the Cactus League season. Blake Beaven will start the Cactus League opener versus the Oakland Athletics on Friday. Hector Noesi will start Saturday, Jason Vargas will start Sunday, and Hisashi Iwakuma will start Monday. Just as a reminder of the importance of the wins and losses of Cactus League games, the Royals had the best record in the league, while the Diamondbacks were last. However, it is important in the sense that you want to see how pitchers are throwing, player preparation, and to figure out the bottom few spots of the roster.

Here is a good interview in Fangraphs with Tom McNamara, the scouting director of the Seattle Mariners, talking about the draft.

Kyle Hansen of St. Johns:

Michigan State wasn’t even close on the fastball, which can reach 95 MPH. The breaking ball he threw occasionally could be for strikes and he got swings and misses on it. It was loopy for a good speed differential. However, he didn’t have great control of it. His overall control rating is just 56 according to Baseball Cube, and he has walked 3.51 batters per 9 innings in his first two years at St. Johns. His biggest problem came when he was a freshman, when he gave up 15 homers, or 1.47 HR/9IP (just a 46 rating against power, his worst of the 4 Baseball Cube ratings). As a sophomore, he basically pitched the same (at least that is what his WHIP says), he just eliminated the homers (he just gave up 2 or .17 HR/9IP). If they are eliminated for good, then you have a really good pitcher, with a 82 K-Rating and 87 Efficiency Rating. Hansen was drafted in the 40th round out of high school, but will be a high draft pick in 2012.

Potential number 1 pick Lucas Giolito hit 100 MPH on Tuesday, when he struck out 8, walked none, and gave up no hits in 6.1 innings.

The 2nd Intrasquad game, Catchers, and Other Mariners Spring Training Notes


The Mariners played their 2nd intrasquad game on Sunday, here are some highlights (a full summary can be read here):

Franklin Gutierrez (who went 3 for 3) hit a lead-off homer off Felix Hernandez on a fastball that Felix admitted he left up (even though he meant for it to be inside). King Felix recovered by striking out Brendan Ryan (0-2, striking out both times) and getting Mike Carp (0-2 with a walk) and Jesus Montero (0-2 with a walk, and threw Miguel Olivo, who went 1 for 2, out trying to steal. Olivo runs okay for a catcher at 69 Baseball Cube speed) to fly out (with 14 pitches and 10 strikes, 71.4% strikes). Kevin Millwood got Chone Figgins (1 for 2 with a walk, and scored twice. It is a very small sample, two intrasquad games, but Figgins seems to be playing well.) and Ichiro (1 for 2) to fly-out, while Justin Smoak (2 for 3) to ground-out.

Other notables from the intrasquad game included Blake Beaven getting tattooed, giving up 5 hits and a walk in 1.1 innings.  Josh Kinney was also knocked around, with 4 hits and 3 earned run while getting just 1 out. Alex Liddi, Nick Franklin, Carlos Peguero, and Carlos Truinfel all made errors. Scott Patterson gave up a homer to Vinnie Catricala, who also had a hard line drive double. Hector Noesi gave up 2 hits and a walk, leading to a run. Brendan Ryan, on the same day he began throwing harder again, fouled a ball off his foot and had to leave the game (Luis Jimenez finished the at-bat by striking out on the next pitch, Jimenez also struck out again later). Ryan is listed as day to day as it doesn’t appear to be serious. Phillipe Valiquette led the game in strikeouts as he struck out 3 batters, while giving up 2 hits. Yoervis Medina, Jeff Marquez, Brandon League, and Mauricio Robles all struck out two batters. Along with Millwood, Sean Henn had a 3 up 3 down inning.

The Next Intrasquad game is on Tuesday, with another one on Wednesday.

Other Mariners Notes: Continuing our series of looking at the players in the Minor League Camp currently, we will move to the players listed as catchers.

Steven Baron:


Baron was drafted in the first round in 2009 out of high school, where you can see this video of him:

As you can see, he was drafted as a very good defensive catcher with some pop. The bat has been extremely disappointing so far in the minors, with a batting average of .207 and an OPS under .600.

Jack Marder


Marder was at the University of Oregon before he was drafted in the 16th round in 2011. Frankly, he was horrible offensively there, with an OPS under .700. He played in 18 games in the Mariners A + affiliate after signing.

John Hicks


Hicks was drafted in the 4th round in 2011 out of the University of Virginia where he batted .316/.361/.489. He isn’t going to walk, but he will make contact to get hits, and sometimes hard hits. His line in 38 games in Clinton A-ball was similar, just smaller.

Marcus Littlewood


Littlewood is a middle infielder, and shouldn’t be listed under catchers (for some reason Larry Stone had him listed as such). A combination of patience and power that high gives me high expectations for Littlewood, but he has make contact, and he struggles to do that at times (struck out 27 percent of the time in 2011). If he can bounce back from a pretty rough 1st year in professional ball, the former 2nd round pick could be a nice asset up the middle in the future.

Tyler Marlette

Tough to know what to make of the 5th round draft pick in 2011, as he has played in just 12 games, but as you can see, the Mariners need some offensive catchers in their organization and have to hope Marlette delivers for them.

The draft prospect of the day is Nate Koneski, a senior from Holy Cross. As always, I have some video for you:

I was rather impressed with Koneski throwing against Texas A&M, and he, for the most part, stayed with Michael Wacha (but didn’t get any help from his fielders). He got ahead 0-2 to Tyler Naquin, the draft prospect of A&M, and then walked him (he got a hard ground-ball to shortstop from Naquin the second time and struck out Naquin the third time). He seemed to get some benefit from a pretty big strike zone, and there was a question of whether he had a quality put away pitch. He was knocked around in the first (and had a lot of base-runners in the game) , but then struck out 3 in a row. Brandon Wood is the batter in the video and he struck him out twice. His breaking ball was in the dirt and it seems he would require a decent catcher. His slider has good plate to plate movement, and owned a good change up as well. He wasn’t aggressive at the strike zone at all, and preferred instead to throw breaking balls nowhere near batters. This led to occasional control problems, and he had 6 wild pitches last year. He struck out 9 in the game, and he struck out 10.77 per 9 innings in 2011. His statistics are really weird, as in 2010 he had a 3.74 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, but he had just a 5.96 K/9IP. In 2011, he had an excellent strikeout rate, but gave up a batting average against of .315 and had an ERA of 6.66. We will have to see how he does for the rest of the year, but Koneski, who has 81 control (for all the craziness I saw, he has only walked 2.67 batters per 9 innings) and a 77 K-Rating according to Baseball Cube, is a guy I like and may be a late round guy to watch (he had a great Cape Cod Summer League season).


Official Report Day is Here and Other Spring Training Notes


Friday is officially report day for all players, and 60 out of 66 players had already reported by Thursday.

Other Mariners Notes: George Sherrill had a MRI on his arm, and it showed no damage. He is the only pitcher to not have thrown yet.

The Rays have signed former Mariners’ catcher Chris Gimenez. He was originally rumored to be headed to the Pirates, but the mystery team struck again. The Rays have one of the weirder catching situations in the big leagues as they traded away Jaso to the Mariners, and lost Shoppach to Free Agency. The top 2 catchers for the Rays are Jose Lobaton and Jose Molina. Gimenez signed a minor league contract with an invite to spring training.

The AL West saw two pitchers signed from Japan. The Rangers made the big splash spending over 100 million dollars (when you include the posting fee) for Yu Darvish, while the Mariners spent a grand total of 1.5 million dollars guaranteed (4.9 million dollars possible) for Hisashi Iwakuma. In the last 6 seasons in Japan, Yu Darvish was the best pitcher with a 34.6 WAR, while Iwakuma was the 6th best with a 19.2 WAR (thanks to @Yonoda on Twitter for this information) As you can see, at least in that period, Darvish is worth less than twice the amount Iwakuma is worth, and yet the Rangers will pay at least 20 times the amount the Mariners will pay for Iwakuma (again including the posting fee). One has to factor in the poor year Iwakuma had in 2011 (and even the scary loss in velocity), but it definitely seems like the Mariners have gotten the better deal. I point this out even though I think Yu Darvish is going to be awesome in the MLB and I believe the 2011 rookie of the year award will go to either him or Matt Moore. Clay Davenport projects that Iwakuma will post a 4.10 ERA and 2.5 WAR with 117 strikeouts, and he is extremely conservative with the Mariners, picking them to be last in the AL West (for what its worth, my projection has him with just 77 strikeouts but a better ERA at 3.86 with a 1.29 WHIP).


Reminder that Friday is opening day for most Division 1 college baseball teams (many of the smaller universities have been playing for a few weeks now). None of the games are on major network television (or Fox Sports or ESPN affiliates to my knowledge) but most universities will allow you to stream games off their websites. For instance the University of Florida allows you to do this, as their opener is at 4 Pacific time. Not only does Florida house potential top 5 overall draft pick Mike Zunino (who has been linked to the Mariners), but they also possess 7 pre-season All Americans according to Baseball America. By my count, the Mariners drafted (and signed) 39 players out of college in 2011. I particularly like Mike McGee, who they drafted out of Florida State as a CF (even though he also pitched) where he had a 1.065 OPS. McGee had a .293/.356/.455 line in Class A in 2011 (the Clinton LumberJacks, the Class A affiliate of the Mariners, averaged just a .667 OPS, and McGee would have been an above average hitter on every team in that league).

Yesterday I posted on Byron Buxton, a probable top 5 overall pick out of high school. Today, again using Baseball America’s prospect videos we will look at Jesse Winker. Winker is projected by Baseball America to go 50th overall in the draft, and already has a brother in the Dodgers organization. He was a really nice high school pitcher, so you know he has an arm. However, he reportedly is not a good runner (the body hints at that), and is projected to be a left-fielder or 1st baseman. This makes his hitting extremely important.

Notice that even on low pitches (in the game situations), the ball jumps off his bat and goes up instead of being pounded into the ground. This is because of his upper cut style swing. This is great for low pitches but not necessarily good for high pitches, of which we didn’t see any. We didn’t see anything on his eye or patience either. It does look like he has legitimate power though, but the Mariners will only be able to take him in the second round if he drops, as he looks to be gone 10 picks before the Mariners 2nd pick.

Should Olivo really be the starting catcher?


Jon Morosi reports , as many have before him, that the Mariners believe that Miguel Olivo is their starting catcher. Montero will also get a look at catcher, but aren’t we forgetting someone? Yes, John Jaso. The 28 year old catcher has 203 MLB games under his belt, owning a 99 OPS + and .340 OBP. According to Runs Created, he is a slightly better than average offensive player, which is pretty impressive for a catcher.

Miguel Olivo on the other hand, is not a good offensive catcher, with 20 walks and 140 strikeouts in 2011. His Neutralized OBP (with BABIP set at .300) was just .280, and his OPS + was just 79 (83 in his career). Depending on whether you use Olivo’s career stats or his 2011 stats, Olivo is worth anywhere from 19 to 8 runs less a season (140 games) than Jaso. Put another way, Olivo has a career .384 Offensive Winning Percentage, while Jaso has a .462. Olivo defenders will point out that Olivo is the better catcher. Well, when you look at Olivo’s defense over the last 3 years, you see that Olivo has a -.8 D-WAR over 1350 Plate Appearances. Jaso has a -.8 D-WAR over his 687 career Plate Appearances. So yes Olivo is the better defensive catcher, but he has not good, and is only worth 4 more runs over 687 Plate Appearances, or 3 runs over 500 Plate Appearances, which is what you would expect from a season of play. This still means that Jaso is worth at the very least 5 more runs than Olivo over a season. There is a significant difference in runners caught stealing, as Jaso has caught just 19 percent of runners, while Olivo has caught 34% of runners. Even with this, it still seems that Jaso’s bat makes up for Olivo’s glove.


Other Mariners Notes: Morosi also reports that the team is also taking a look at Mike Carp at first base. If he can play the position, he may be a good alternative to Smoak as the season goes along (assuming no other 1B/DH type on the Spring Training Roster sticks).

Kevin Goldstein released his top 101 prospects in the middle of last night. Jesus Montero was 7th overall, Taijuan Walker was 14th, Danny Hultzen was 35th, and James Paxton was 59th. The Mariners had 4 on last year’s list, but they were 4 different players than this years’ (Ackley, Pineda, Franklin, and Pimentel). Goldstein did say that Nick Franklin would have made the list if it was 125 players long. He believes that Walker has #1 potential, but still has work to do.

Keith Law also released his top 20 prospects that will have an impact in 2012. Jesus Montero was on the list, but he said he doesn’t see Hultzen having enough innings pitched in 2012 to qualify (which makes sense since Hultzen has no professional innings pitched).

According to OPS +, the Mariners were the 4th best road offensive team, but the 27th best offensive home team. So it seems Safeco Field really hurt the Mariners’ offense (hat-tip to High Heat Stats).


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