Well, FoxSports.com has finally hit a Mariners prospect in their top 100, this time at number 58
, but the name may surprise you.
58. Clint Nageotte, RHP, Mariners, Age: 23
Nageotte, a fifth-rounder in 1999, led the minors in strikeouts in 2002 (214), mostly because of his devastating slider. This past season at pitcher-friendly AA-San Antonio, he was once again impressive, striking out 157 and walking 67 in 154 innings. Scouts think his lack of a plus changeup might prevent him from thriving as a starter at the highest level, but so far Nageotte has done just fine. ETA: Late 2004.
This ranking is curious, it makes one wonder when or if Blackley or Lopez will show up if Nageotte is usually considered to be the better prospect.
This ranking, well, it shows the flaws inherent in large prospect rankings covered by a group that doesn't really focus on prospects. I should have mentioned this before, and the USS Mariner covered part of this problem
not too long ago. The larger media groups aren't going to pay attention to things like "oh well, they were having him work on his fastball location and changeup, so that must be why the strikeout totals are off" because they don't have to and most of these rankings are good enough for your average baseball fan. Long rant short: trust the guys who really know.
In unrelated notes, V-Day is tomorrow, and if you're single, or have a dark sense of humor, or both, like me, then check this good stuff out
. The guy who puts that up is another Seattle-ite, so help a local guy out. Some of you may be offended, but some of you shouldn't take things so seriously. I was considering using the last one, personally.
Sorry for the lack of updates, there hasn't been much news lately. The Mariners did sign a pitcher, Jason Mackintosh, and he's currently slated for Wisconsin. I can't find much information on that yet, but near as I can figure he's post-college and was originally drafted by the Cubs in the 36th round of the 1999 draft. If I find anything else, I'll do a formal transaction update, but he's basically roster filler, I would suppose.
In the meantime, I have the SECA for the new aquisitions, with above-average players underlined.
Name Age Pos. Levels AB RC
Jacobsen, Buck 28 1B AA 447 .396
Gonzalez, Wiki 30 C AAA 149 .295
Bocachica, Hir 28 UT AAA 322 .280
#Falcon, Omar 21 C A, A- 143 .266
#Balfe, Ryan 28 C/IF AAA, AA, A+ 371 .264
#Gonzalez, Juan 22 SS A 453 .263
*Faison, Vince 23 OF AA 392 .217
*Hoffpauir, Jo 27 UT AA 356 .177
Boone, Matt 24 3B R, A 231 .156
Reyes, Ivan 22 IF R, A 91 .154
You'll be able to see Bocachica and Jacobsen as non-roster invitees to spring training (pitchers and catchers report a week from now!).
For a guy who hit below-Mendoza, particularly a catcher, Falcon has an impressive SECA. Interesting project player.
Other than that, there isn't a whole lot to note. I'll probably go over the second basemen in the system soon, but I'm not too sure how as not all the SS will stay where they are. We'll see...
Well, the "big news" in the Mariner world today is the signing of LHP Terry Mullholland and OF Eric Owens
to minor league contracts, with invites to spring training.
These would be somewhat crazy, but since they're minor league deals, I'm not terribly bothered by it. Owens doesn't seem like a bad signing, could be a decent player off the bench and he seems to be better in the second half (though his playing time there has not been as consistant). As for Mulholland, well, my editor over at ITP let me get away with referring to him as the perennial deadline deal throw-in, so if he doesn't pan out, at least he has that going for him.
Signed OF Hiram Bocachica, IF Chen Yung-Chi, Cs Kent Dixon and Tim Dierkes and LHP Mike Myers. Placed LHP Justin Blood on the voluntarily retired list.
Hmm, the loss of Blood is sort of disappointing, he was one of the more promising LHR in the system, but it's not a big loss. The M's are pretty deep in LHP, and are getting deeper.
As for Dixon, he is YET ANOTHER Australian signing out of the Wanneroo Giants baseball club in western Australia . Previously, the M's have only signed from Victoria and New South Wales, that I know of, so it's good to see them expanding their horizons. Dixon is eighteen, seems to have good power for a catcher, hits for average, and apparently, has a very impressive throwing arm. A large portion of this information was taken from his player profile
at the WA site. Nice signing.
There's also a new press release on fellow Australian signing Dean Zorn
, who I reported on earlier. Check it. Some new things we know about him is his dilligence in switch-hitting and how he plays middle infield. Also, I found out that Thorne's contract may be the largest for any Australian signing yet.
Strengths and Weaknesses, part 1
As I stated in the post below, the outfield is a difficult position to judge in the M's minor league system, due to the fact that a lot of players are either young or old but few lend themselves towards any certainties. When I was planning on doing my big offensive review, figuring out what players had both above-average SECA and above-average RC/27. For reference, the list went like this:
Pat Borders (C)
Jamal Strong (C)
Leone, Justin (3B)
Lindsey, John (DH)
*Zapp, A.J. (1B)
Brown, Hunter (3B)
*Jacobs, Greg (OF)
*Choo, Shin Soo (OF)
*Delucchi, Dustin (OF)
Hagan, Matt (3B)
Bohn, T.J. (OF)
*Womack, Josh (OF)
Colton, Chirs (OF)
Blakely, Eric (IF)
*Metheny, Brent (IF)
Balentien, Wladimir (OF)
*Craig, Casey (OF)
#Wilson, Michael (OF)
Soto, Luis (1B)
Schweiger, Brian (C)
And of course once you use the principle I used before to weed out certain age groups from each level, you're left with Choo, Womack, Balentien, and Craig. Choo's the only one among those who has had a full season anywhere, so as you can tell, once you start weeding out players based off of age and performance (which is even harder to grade since the M's lean towards the tools end of the spectrum), you end up with very little, and often, just a few players who haven't even had sufficient time to prove themselves. College level players become non-factors, slow-developers get left behind, and no one pays attention to the kid coming in from the Dominican or Venezuela who happens to be a year older than the rest of his competition.
Instead, I'm going to write about where the strengths are, the likelihood that they are utilized, and a brief history going into what's happening there. I'm starting with first base.
The Mariners have not drafted many pure first basemen in recent memory, and the one with the most potential, John Mayberry, did not sign. As a result, for the majority of the cases, first basemen were merely players that didn't have any other position. Of the "true" first basemen in the system last year, only Jon Nelson was originally drafted by the M's (Andy Barkett, who was in Tacoma, was drafted by the Rangers, I think, and A.J. Zapp was the Braves first round pick in '98, I think). John Castellano, former 66ers baseman, was catcher displaced by the presence of Oliveros and Collins, and his platoon-mate for part of the season, Jason van Meetren, was an OF without a place. The trend conitnued in Everett, with the generally unimpressive Bryan Lahair, a former OF who lacked power and had one of the worst averages for a regular on the team. Luis Soto, the primary 1B in Peoria, was again, a former catcher. To me, this seems like a misuse of what otherwise should be a power position. Those players who did show power there were Nelson and Zapp, and both of them have serious issues so far as striking out, particularly Nelson, who couldn't seem to take walks either. Zapp will probably be in Tacoma this year and one can only hope he improves, since he's still fairly young, but it seems to say something when the best 1B in your system tend to be from minor league FA signings (Barkett, who is now gone, Zapp, Balet, and now Jacobsen). When you're moving catchers to fill in a power position, well then that's a pretty good warning sign as well. As for the future of the 1B position, well, it's entirely possible this trend will continue, except the players will probably come from 3B instead of C or the OF. Dobbs may see some time at 1B to get his bat in the lineup while he recovers, Leone could theoretically play 1B as well, but both would be wasted there. Matt Hagen may be a candidate to move to 1B if he struggles defensively, but he still has trouble making consistant contact. Overall, one shouldn't need to worry about 1B in a system since they aren't often injury risks and remain somewhat consistant in the majors, but with Olerud retiring next year, it becomes more of a concern (of course, most have already pencilled in Spezio as the 2005 1B, and this prediction is well within reason). Having an additional hard-hitting 1B in the wings wouldn't hurt the future DH situation either.
I would consider 1B to be one of the weaknesses of the system. The M's have gotten lucky in minor league FA, but after a certain point, players like that just become placeholders.
I'm not sure when I'll expand on this again, so if all else fails, this will be a part one similar to History of the World, part one
. I hope to get to the other positions, but I'm trying to keep my schedule
And a brief follow-up on the Grammy awards... I'm glad the Foo Fighters won for Rock, they were definately my choice there. As for Alternative... well, not as pleased. I like the White Stripes, but compared to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, who are somewhat similar stylistically, I would go with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs every time. I would have been fine if Radiohead won, I'm a great fan of Radiohead, and Sigur Ros would have been decent because I have some familiarity with them and listen to some similar bands and thoroughly enjoy that sort of thing (though it's highly unlikely that any of those bands ever make it to the Grammys), but anything with the White Stripes leads me to compare them to the only other similar band in the category, and I just prefer the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. And they already get bonus points so far as I'm concerned for having a damned good female vocalist.
Wait a second...
You think you know a guy, and then...
Besides his salary, which is not guaranteed, Villone can make up to $1 million in performance bonuses. He will join the Mariners when pitches and catchers report to spring training Feb. 20.
Mariner nation can breathe a collective sigh of relief.
On Deck has their positional rankings up for this year. Each infield position (including catcher) has 25 spots spots each, with the exception of the third base which, for some reason, has 40. The OF has 100 spots total, RHS gets 180 spots, LHS gets 85, RP has 25. All told, there a 530 spots, so there's a possibility for some new faces on the list compared to the 500.
10. Ryan Christianson, Mariners
24. Jeff Flaig, Mariners
31. Jesus Guzman, Mariners
36. Justin Leone, Mariners
8. Jose Lopez, Mariners
21. Adam Jones, Mariners
13. Chris Snelling, Mariners
28. Shin-Soo Choo, Mariners
34. Wladimir Balentien, Mariners
96. Jamal Strong, Mariners
14. Clint Nageotte, Mariners
22. Felix Hernandez, Mariners
64. Rett Johnson, Mariners
65. Cha Seung Baek, Mariners
16. Travis Blackley, Mariners
34. Ryan Anderson, Mariners
59. Miguel Martinez, Mariners
61. Ryan Feierabend, Mariners
75. Ryan Ketchner, Mariners
81. Bobby Madritsch, Mariners
18. Emiliano Fruto, Mariners
Mariners comprised 21 of the 530. The list is identical to the top 500's list, save the addition of Jamal Strong to the outfield.
*The most glaring error of this is to label Miguel Martinez as a starter. In 41 career games, Martinez has made six starts, three in each year of his professional career. But he's also collected two saves in each pro year. The trends don't lead me to believe that Martinez will do anything more than spot start on rare occasions. He has the potential to be become one of the more devastating LHR in the majors.
*Balentien is listed ahead of more established prospects such as Chin-feng Chen and Nick Swisher in the outfield rankings, and this is after only an Arizona League season. Next year will give us more of an idea as to whether this ranking is justified; I hope that Balentien starts out in a full season league (though the MWL wouldn't be kind to him, not like it's good for any hitter).
*One noticable aspect of the rankings is that from Balentien to Strong, there are no OF prospects, and from Baek on, there are no more RHS prospects. Womack would have been the next Mariner OF to appear, based off of On Deck's own rankings, Heaverlo would have been the next RHS. Considering Heaverlo's injuries and his less than stellar recovery season, one could make arguments for Dorman or Perez to be placed higher than Heaverlo, so far as ability to contribute goes. That aside, beyond the four major RHS, the M's are a little thin in that area. Recent drafts haven't helped to remedy this, though considering that players like Soriano, Meche, and Pineiro are in the majors now, it doesn't strike me as anything to worry about. I expect that after a tour of the AZL, or possibly the NWL, that Ivan Blanco could get some attention on a RHS list. Similarly, Casey Craig seems most likely to hit the OF list, should he remain in the OF. The OF is a trickier area with the M's system because at times it seems like a great strength, but many of the players are either quite young or old by prospect standards. I expect it to grow into one of the stronger areas of the system in another year or so.
*LHP is going to be one of the biggest strengths of the system in years to come. In that context, Villone's signing isn't that bad, because it's only for one year and the only prospect on this list which that could hurt is Madritsch, and aside from that, Sherrill seems like he could make a stronger impact. Blackley will be in the rotation. Ketchner will probably be used as a middle reliever of sorts who can spot start on occasion, he is a very versatile pitcher which is a tremendous strength for him. Right now, it's too early to say anything about Feierabend or what rehab holds for Anderson.
The overall SECA formula is supposed to account for NET stolen bases. Which makes sense, and I had been wondering about it for a while. This means I have to recalculate everything, though the dirty work is still mostly done (the work for the AZL league numbers has been saved, in other words). The numbers will be updated, all will probably be lower than before, though some rankings may switch around, always interesting.
This may delay the overall offensive review somewhat, and I'm probably going to watch parts of the Grammy Awards, primarily for Best Rock Album and Best Alternative Album (though most of the choices for that one are fine).
In major league related news, the M's have not yet finalized their contract with Ron Villone. I would like to see this trend continue.