Mariner Minors
Saturday, March 06, 2004
The Everett Herald put together a pretty good human interest type story on 3B Justin Leone, which is a bit more baseball-related than the one the Olympian put up. Apparently, back in college, Leone was a shortstop, which would explain why he did so well his brief time at the position last year. There's also some commentary from the coaches and Travis Blackley on his offensive and defensive abilities. Good stuff.

In the interest of picking up on some of the other articles around the nation, this article seems to indicate that the Seattle media had a pretty harsh opinion of Aurilia (hey, none of them even mentioned the incident in question). I've been reading the major area newspapers every day for a while, and I don't think it was as bad as this paper says it was. I remember such things being mentioned offhand, but not focused on. It's strange, you read an article or two about how all the players seem to be connecting and getting along well and then something like this comes up.

Friday, March 05, 2004
We have our first box score of the (official) cactus league season. Unfortunately, Sherrill got beat up pretty badly, though from what I heard on the radio it sounded like the first ball looped into CF over the 2B, Mickey Lopez, should've been caught. Maybe that was just me.

As long as I'm here, I've been meaning to give some credit to a recent piece done by Rick over at Mariner Bullpen which raises some interesting questions; should a player's hall of fame chances be hindered due to incompetant management? Granted, there are zounds of Quadruple-A players out there just under the radar, but I'd like to think that some part of Edgar's Triple-A batting titles in Calgary (or wherever) should go as some sort of credit to the caliber of player he is and what he should have been able to do in the majors, had he gotten there earlier.

What? New prospect list?

Over at The Sports Network, they've decided to get together a Mariners prospect list. This one is, essentially, the same as most of them, except for the order. It's a long one, but as per usual, I will post the entire article only to take it apart later.


Seattle Mariners Minor League Prospects
by Nick Colangelo, Minor League Baseball Staff Writer

The Sports Network

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - After spending the last two seasons in the Dodgers' farm system as director of player development, Bill Bavasi is once again a GM in the AL West. Bavasi, general manager from 1994-99 in Anaheim, helped build the team that went on to win the World Series in 2002. Bavasi replaces Pat Gillick, who stepped down in September after four seasons with Seattle. The Mariners return a solid core of veterans this season, despite losing key veterans in Mike Cameron, who signed with the Mets, and Kazuhiro Sazaki, who returned to Japan to be closer to his family. Ichiro Suzuki, Brett Boone and Edgar Martinez are all back, as well as Freddy Garcia and Jamie Moyer. Randy Winn will replace Cameron in centerfield, while Eddie Guardado is penciled as the closer. The Mariners' minor league system is loaded with pitching. Hurlers Clint Nageotte and Rett Johnson both could see action in the big leagues this season. Outfielders Jamal Strong and Chris Snelling also could see the majors before the end of the season for Seattle, which may be heading toward a youth movement in the near future. Solid pitching could allow the Mariners to shake things up in the west with the new- look Angels and defending champion Oakland.

1. Clint Nageotte, RHP. Nageotte is one of the top 10 prospects in all of baseball after leading the Double-A Texas league in strike outs last season. A fifth-round pick in the 1999 draft, Nageotte has been dominating since his pro career began. His slider, which he throws at 85-87 mph, breaks late and hard and has been compared to the slider of Angels reliever Francisco Rodriguez. His fastball is in the low-90's, occasionally topping out at 95 mph. The 6-3, 200 pound Nageotte has averaged 10 wins, 157 innings pitched and 186 strikeouts per season during his minor league career. Nageotte's strikeout-to-walk ratio over his four seasons is 617-213 and his minor league winning percentage is .614. The Mariners would like Nageotte as a starter in their rotation in the future, however, he may see action much sooner if he is needed in the bullpen. Nageotte was scheduled to be the closer in the Olympic qualifying tournament for Team USA, but elbow tendinitis kept him from participating. He will probably start the season in Triple-A Tacoma.

2. Travis Blackley, LHP. The 21 year-old native of Australia had a breakout season in 2003, going 17-3 in 27 starts for Double-A San Antonio. His 17 wins, tied for the minor league lead, paired with a 2.61 ERA, earned Blackley 'Pitcher of the Year' honors in the Texas League. The 6-3, 190 pound lefty has good command of four pitches, including a plus changeup and a solid curveball, and a decent slider which can be refined. His fastball ranges from 88-92 mph, and has a natural cut that makes it difficult on hitters. Adding more weight to his frame will increase the velocity on his fastball. Blackley has struck- out 386 batters in 361 innings pitched during his pro career, while compiling a 28-13 record. Blackley will compete for a roster spot in spring training, but most likely start the season in Triple-A Tacoma. Many in the Mariners organization are continually comparing him to Jamie Moyer.

3. Chris Snelling, OF. Another Aussie farmhand in the Seattle system, Snelling has had a very productive, but injury-plagued career. Snelling remains the best hitter for average in the system and should enter the season 100 percent healthy. His minor league numbers are impressive, although at-bats have been limited due to injuries. Snelling has a career average of .319, which includes 76 doubles, 22 triples and 33 home runs. He split time in 2003 between Double- A (47 games - .333 average) and Triple-A (18 games - .269 average). At 5-10, 165 pounds, the lefty makes up for his light frame with great hand-eye coordination, quick hands, and extremely aggressive play. Seattle would like Snelling to get more at-bats in Triple-A Tacoma this season and possibly be the future DH to replace Edgar Martinez.

4. Jose Lopez, SS/2B. Only 20, Lopez has a huge upside once his skills become a little more polished. His instincts may be his greatest asset. A career .283 hitter in 3 minor league seasons, Lopez needs to gain a little bat speed in order to become a more consistent hitter. He rarely strikes out since he has great ability to put the ball in play and has above average strength. When he learns to draw deeper counts, his on-base percentage should increase as well. This will come with experience and more at-bats. Lopez did show signs of what the future may hold by hitting 35 doubles and 13 home runs in Double-A last season, at only 19 years-old. He also possesses above average speed and is a very smart base runner. In the field, Lopez is agile and has good hands, and his arm is very strong, maybe the strongest in the Mariners system. His ability to play SS, 2B, and 3B may speed up his move to the majors. He will likely play this season in Triple-A Tacoma.

5. Felix Hernandez, RHP. Signed in 2002, the 6-3, 170 pound 17 year-old throws hard. Real hard. He hits 97 mph on the gun regularly, and could reach triple digits in the near future as he matures. His curveball is just as valuable as his fastball, and is thought to be the best in the system. He is also adding a promising changeup to his arsenal. Hernandez has savvy and mound presence that rivals pitchers already in the majors. In 2003, he was kept on a limited pitch count by the Mariners, and went 7-2 in the Northwest League with a 2.29 ERA. He struck out 73 and walked 24 in 55.0 innings pitched. He was moved up at the end of the season to Class A Midwest League, and had a 1.93 ERA in 2 starts and struck out 18, while walking only 3. The upside on Hernandez is tremendous, which is why the Mariners will keep a close watch, and not overwork him. Many people in the Mariners organization feel Hernandez is the best prospect in their system, and may be the best pitcher ever to come out of their system if his arm stays healthy. He may need just two years more in the minors before he is ready. He'll likely start at low Class A Wisconsin, and move up quickly to Class A Inland Empire.

6. Rett Johnson, RHP. Johnson has consistently put wins together since he was drafted in the 8th round in 2000. His minor league record is 40-20, and he was 5-2 at Triple-A Tacoma and 6-2 at Double-A San Antonio last season. His career strikeout-to-walk ratio is 504-187. Like Clint Nageotte, Johnson also has a tremendous hard slider, along with a 91-93 mph heavy sinker. He also developed his changeup more in 2003, and had success with it. Johnson may initially start his big league career in the bullpen with the Mariners, but his solid pitching has turned him into a possible future starter. At 6-2, 211 pounds, the righty has drawn comparisons to former Mariner reliever Jeff Nelson. Johnson will return to Triple-A Tacoma if he is left off the Mariners roster this Spring.

7. Shin-Soo Choo, OF. Shin-Soo Choo had a down year at the plate in 2003 compared to previous performances, but he still managed to hit .283 with 18 doubles, 13 triples and 9 homers. Choo was an All-Star in his first two minor league seasons and will likely return to form this season. He can hit the ball to any part of the field, and he also has plus speed and is a solid base runner. At 21, Choo also has untapped power , according to the Mariners, and could go deep more as he gets older. Defensively, he has above average abilities and his arm is the best among the outfielders in the system (Choo was originally a pitcher with a 95 mph fastball.) He should be ready in two years, but may have to move around the outfield with Ichiro patrolling right.

8. Jamal Strong, OF. Strong gets from home to first in 3.9 seconds. He won two stolen-base titles in his first three seasons, along with 217 stolen bases and 284 runs scored. He likes to draw walks and get on base any way he can to utilize his speed. Strong hit .305 in 56 games with Tacoma last season after recovering from a dislocated left shoulder. He possesses great range in centerfield with a decent arm. Strong should challenge for a roster spot this season and could be on the big league roster sooner rather than later. He would be a sure big-league regular if he increases his power at the plate. With the departure of Mike Cameron in center, the opportunity is there for Strong.

9. Adam Jones, SS. Jones played in 31 games last season in the Arizona and Northwest leagues, hitting .303. He's tall for a shortstop at 6-2 and extremely athletic. He has a cannon for an arm and was clocked at 96 mph off the mound in high school. Jones could potentially be converted to a pitcher down the road like current Mariner Rafael Soriano. He's a switch-hitter and tends to over-swing, but he is still very raw in the batters box. Jones was a supplemental first round pick by the Mariners in 2003. He'll refine his skills for sometime in the minors, but look for Jones to be a premier prospect down the road. He will begin the season in low Class-A Everett.

10. Cha Seung Baek, RHP. Baek made a strong return in 2003 after recovering from Tommy John surgery all of 2002. He has excellent command and a feel for pitching. Baek has good size at 6-4 and he consistently mixes a sinking fastball, curve, slider and changeup. The slider and fastball both reach the low 90s. He had 96 strikeouts and only 26 walks in 112 innings in 2003, going 8-4 for San Antonio (AA). Baek must continue to stay healthy and bounce back from the elbow problems to have a shot at cracking the staring rotation in the coming years. He will start the year at Double-A San Antonio.


As is the case with a lot of prospect rankings by new groups that don't focus on them, this has some problems with it.

Quick Notes:
*Nageotte's fastball is more mid-90s than low 90s from what I hear. And yes, it is true, Team USA wanted to use him to close. It's a label a lot of Mariners pitchers get stuck with for a while. Remember when they were thinking of making Pineiro the closer?
*Apparently, no one told them about the injury Snelling's hamate. While this isn't by any means a serious injury, this needs to be taken into account. The injury was no real fault of his, but it seems to bring questions up as to whether or not he'll ever be fully healthy for a long stretch of time. I'm hoping that his talking with Buhner and others will rub off on him in a positive way, but if I were listing top prospects in the Mariners club, Snelling wouldn't be in the top five right now.
*Lopez is listed again as being a possible 2B or 3B candidate, but I still think that he belongs at shortstop until someone forces him out. He doesn't have the best arm for the position either; I think that distinction still belongs to Ruben Castillo or possibly Adam Jones. Still, I'm surprised that they mentioned his bat speed, I suppose that this isn't as off as I anticipated (though I disagree with the rankings themselves).
*Again, not entirely certain that Hernandez' curve is the best in the organization. I think Blackley's curve is better at this point and Aaron Jensen (who has yet to make his minor league debut) may have a superior curve as well. Also, Felix is headed for Cal league, I've mentioned that before.
*I hear a lot of mixed reviews on Strong's range. Some say he's above-average, others say he's going to end up in a corner OF position and just can't hit hard enough to make it there.
*Jones isn't listed as a switch-hitter, only right. There could be something I've missed along the way here, as there's been some confusion as to whether 3B Jesus Guzman is a switch-hitter or not as well (Mariners minor league pages seem to say yes to Guzman and no to Jones).

In the latest Down on the Farm article, John Sickels covers a question on LHP Ryan Ketchner...


F.W. asks: What is your opinion on Ryan Ketchner's stock as a rising pitcher in the Mariners' farm system. He has won three MVP awards, including last September when he led the Inland Empire 66ers to a California League (Class A) championship. Ryan is a ball control pitcher who does not walk many batters. His style reminds me of Jamie Moyer and Greg Maddux. I believe he's a sleeper and will surprise a lot of naysayers. How far do you think he'll get?

Ketchner is the exact opposite of Holdzkom: a composed lefty with a mediocre fastball rather than an emotional power right-hander.

Ketchner was drafted in the 10th round in 2000, from high school in Lantana, Florida. He isn't physically imposing at 6-1, 190, and his fastball is mediocre at 86 mph. But he has a good curveball and changeup, and has shown excellent command and control at the A-ball level. He posted a 3.45 ERA in the California League last year, with a 159/33 K/BB ratio in 157 innings. His career marks are a 3.18 ERA in 351 innings, with a 368/93 K/BB ratio. He should get a shot in Double-A in 2004, and that will go a long way towards determining his exact status as a prospect. Scouts like his command and composure, but worry that his fastball won't be good enough for him to thrive at higher levels.

Ketchner is partially deaf, having about 40 percent of normal hearing. He's learned to adjust on the field, and it is seldom an issue in game play, though it makes for an interesting human interest story.

I agree with you that he's a sleeper. My guess is that he'll pitch well in Double-A, but that Triple-A will be a sterner test.


The fastball speed is usually a concern with pitchers. Another pitcher who suffers from being categorized as such within the system is Craig Anderson, although his control has taken an absolute flogging the past two seasons (4.25 K/BB first three years, about 1.46 since).

Just for the hell of it, let's follow up on my original Blackley/Maddux comparison chart and throw Ketchner and C .Anderson in as a comparison.


Craig Anderson (Minor League Totals)
Five Years, 123 GS, 3.17 ERA, 755 IP, 714 H, 202 BB, 552 K

Travis Blackley (Minor League Totals)
Three Years, 61 GS, 3.07 ERA, 361 IP, 287 H, 135 BB, 285 K

Ryan Ketchner (Minor League Totals)
Four Years, 92 G, 3.20 ERA, 349 IP, 277 H, 93 BB, 368 K

Greg Maddux (Minor League Totals)
Four Years, 69 GS, 2.88 ERA, 488 IP, 432 H, 150 BB, 309 K


The comparisons we can draw here are going to be a lot more difficult for one major reason; out of 92 minor league appearances, Ketchner has only had 41 starts. He's been used in whatever role they've felt like giving him for his entire career and it wasn't until last year that he got a more regular chance to start. He's your prototypical fungible pitcher, and for that reason I'd question whether or not he owuld see regular time in a pitching rotation if and when he makes the majors. For this reason, I'm going to have to omit the previous endurance calculation and you're going to have to take some of the numbers with a grain of salt (albeit, a small one, considering Ketchner doesn't have the velocity to overpower hitters in brief relief appearances).



1. Maddux (2.88)
2. Blackley (3.07)
3. Anderson (3.17)
4. Ketchner (3.20)

1. Ketchner (about 3.96)
2. Anderson (about 2.73)
3. Blackley (about 2.11)
4. Maddux (about 2.06)

1. Ketchner (about .794)
2. Blackley (about .795)
3. Maddux (about .885)
4. Anderson (about .946)

1. Ketchner (about 1.06)
2. Blackley (about 1.17)
3. Maddux (about 1.19)
4. Anderson (about 1.21)


What does that means for Ketchner? I would say, for one, that his Double-A stint may have more effect than Sickels would seem to indicate. Anderson first started struggling in San Antonio, whereas you could argue that Blackley has his "breakout" season there. Comparing the two seasons, we find that while Blackley's walks went up (very slightly) and his strikeouts went down (substantially), his hit and homerun totals went down a bit. Anderson's hit totals went up, and that, added to the change in K/BB, has degraded his performance and lowered his rank on many prospect listings. Put the numbers for Ketchner thus far up to the numbers for Anderson up until his San Antonio run and you find that Ketchner's allowed 10% less hits over his career. Again, take it with a grain of salt because of his considerable relief appearances, but I would consider Ketchner more likely to break out in San Antonio than to break down. He has displayed above-average control of all his pitches, despite below average velocity (for reference, Ketchner has about 1 MPH more velocity than Anderson, so think Moyer here), and that could be his eventual ticket to the majors. I don't know, right now, if Ketchner is going to be quite the prospect Blackley is now, but I think that he will adapt and will make the majors. We'll know better once this season is over.

Thursday, March 04, 2004
A bit late, the first part of the transcript with T-Rats announcer Chris Mehring is now up. This has the usual Rivera, Garciaparra, Felix type questions one can expect. I asked the expected question on Bohn, got a better response than I did in the BA chat.

There's no other prospect news to speak of at the moment, but have fun with that.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004
The March 3rd edition of Ask BA has some questions on how they define the quality of a starting pitcher over there...

In the 2004 Prospect Handbook, we break down the stuff attributed
to the different slots in a rotation:

No. 1: two plus pitches, one average pitch, plus-plus command
No. 2: two plus pitches, one average pitch, average command
No. 3: one plus pitch, two average pitches, average command
Nos. 4-5: average velocity, consistent breaking ball,
decent changeup, command of two pitches

I'd leave a little wiggle room with those classifications, and there's
some gut feel involved, but they're pretty good guidelines and
they're defined in terms of a contender. What role could a pitcher
play on a championship-caliber team?

Looking through the major leagues, I came up with 15 pitchers who
have established themselves as No. 1 starters (assuming they're
healthy). I'll list them alphabetically: Kevin Brown, Roger Clemens
(his stuff is still that good), Bartolo Colon, Roy Halladay, Tim
Hudson, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Matt Morris, Mark Mulder,
Mike Mussina, Roy Oswalt, Mark Prior, Curt Schilling, Jason Schmidt
and Javier Vazquez. Josh Beckett and Johan Santana definitely have
the stuff but haven't established the portfolio yet.

I don't include Kerry Wood because his command is just average,
or Barry Zito because neither his second pitch nor his command
measure up. That doesn't mean they're not stars. They just don't
fit the classic definition of a No. 1.

Of the prospects in their list, thirteen are listed as having number one potential, one of which is the Mariners own RHP Felix Hernandez. By potential, they mean that they have the raw stuff to do it, but need more consistancy and better command (as whole) to fulfill that potential. Callis states that if even a third of the pitchers listed become true number ones, that would be a lot. Nageotte currently comes in as a number two starter, and would have projected to a number one if they believed that he would have better than average command.

One of the things that came to mind when I was looking at the was the presence of Greinke on this list and his comparisons to "vintage Maddux" to borrow a term from the same column. Let's take a look at the stats so far...

Zack Greinke (Minor League Totals)
Two Years, 29 G, 2.10 ERA, 150 IP, 127 H, 21 BB, 121 K

Greg Maddux (Minor League Totals)
Four Years, 71 G, 2.88 ERA, 488 IP, 432 H, 150 BB, 309 K

The comparison is harder to analyze because of Greinke's limitted service time. From this sample, Grienke has an advantage in ERA and K/BB (by a considerable margin). They are roughly equal in hits allowed per inning. Maddux showed greater endurance in IP (in this instance, I compare the second full season for both pitchers, Maddux had 186 IP and Greinke comes in at 140 IP).

Of course this led to me thinking of some other comparisons, you know, ones that may be a bit closer to home. Of course, maybe I should throw in another "vintage" pitcher too.. Oh, let's just say...

Travis Blackley (Minor League Totals)
Three Years, 61 GS, 3.07 ERA, 361 IP, 287 H, 135 BB, 285 K

Tom Glavine (Minor League Totals)
Four Years, 84 GS, 3.23 ERA, 535 IP, 454 H, 239 BB, 425 K

Zack Greinke (Minor League Totals)
Two Years, 28 GS, 2.10 ERA, 150 IP, 127 H, 21 BB, 121 K

Greg Maddux (Minor League Totals)
Four Years, 69 GS, 2.88 ERA, 488 IP, 432 H, 150 BB, 309 K

Out of this revised group, let's review each category.


1. Greinke (2.10)
2. Maddux (2.88)
3. Blackley (3.07)
4. Glavine (3.23)


1. Greinke (about 5.76)
2. Blackley (about 2.11)
3. Maddux (about 2.06)
4. Glavine (about 1.78)

Edurance (IP/GS)

1. Maddux (7.07 IP/GS)
2. Glavine (6.37 IP/GS)
3. Blackley (5.92 IP/GS)
4. Greinke (5.36 IP/GS)


1. Blackley (.795 H/IP)
2. Greinke (.847 H/IP)
3. Glavine (.849 H/IP)
4. Maddux (.885 H/IP)


1. Greinke (0.99)
2. Blackley (1.17)
3. Maddux (1.19)
4. Glavine (1.30)

The endurance projections get a little bit skewed since each made one relief appearance, except Maddux, who made two. Not to mention the fact that the handling of pitchers in the mionr leagues is most likely different now as compared to when Maddux and Glavine were coming up.

Am I trying to make a claim for Blackley's status as a number one? Not necessarily, but I believe that he has the potential to be a number one with a little bit more, maybe a few less walks here and there. Greinke is definately something else, I'd like to see what he'll do this year, but the numbers have indicated that Blackley is fully capable of running with the rest of these guys. If Travis strings together another season of a similar or greater caliber to his San Antonio campaign, his stock will definately rise again on these lists. Again, I'm not saying that Blackley is a sure thing on this one, but I think that he is continuing to improve and he could (keyword) get there. At the very least, he could be a star, if not a classic number one.

What started off as an hour-long chat turned into a three-hour marathon, half an hour of which was an all out free-for-all. When the dust had cleared, James knew what it took to be a broadcaster, Ian had asked the infamous nicknames question, and I could barely see from being so tired. Now the story can be told.

At least, the second half of the story. The only way I can seem to describe a chat of epic length is in epic terms. Joe had to leave after the first hour and I ended up forgoing dinner to transcribe the next two. This part represents what I had typed up. Some of the questions have longer responses because when someone asked for elaboration, I just went back and added it to the original answer. I'll put up a link to the first part of the transcript once Joe finishes uploading/editting it, or whatever he's doing.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004
Chat with Timber Rattlers announcer Chris Mehring will be up in about a half hour. He'll be staying for about an hour. Turns out that I will be able to make it to the chat, so I may see you there.

Other news I haven't gotten to yet: Soriano and Bloomquist are now under contract, all playerso n the current 40-man are now signed. BA's transaction update lists Mulholland as the only signing and I'll skip over that. Jenkins has signed a three-year deal in Milwaukee, making it unlikely that the M's can/will trade for him.

There's a piece on the projected strength of the Rainiers team over at ITP now, along with some projections as to how the positions will fill out. I'm trying to figure out whether I'll be able to make it there for the season opener; Jason, on the other hand, is planning on practically living in the stadium in the coming months.

Recommended prospect reading so far tonight is a piece in the Times primarily on the Taiwanese end of Mariners scouting. Personally, I knew nothing about the scouting or setup over there, but apparently they've set up clinics and coaching exchanges with Taiwan. Kind of similar to how the M's have a scout who works as a pitching coach for the NSWIS in Australia. The Taiwanese minister of sport apparently said that the team would not have qualified for the Olympics without the help of the Mariners. I'd say that odds are good that, for that reason, we will see more Taiwanese players coming to the M's in coming years.

In the Herald, I've found a piece on former first-round pick Matt Thornton, who has been getting a great deal of press of late in his recovery. I'll admit here freely that when candidates were coming up for second lefty, I was regularly saying that Thornton stood no chance, reflecting on his awful AFL showing in the offseason. I guess I didn't expect him to come back so quickly, but now that he is, I'd definately say it's a pleasant surprise. Of course, this article indicates that Thornton will continue as a starter, just in case they want to mix it up in the rotation and throw in a power lefty to counter Moyer's style. That would make me wonder what they're planning on doing with Madritsch, who is also a candidate to start. This does, however, keep my campaign for Sherrill in fairly safe ground (even if he isn't getting as much press).

Monday, March 01, 2004
ITP is having another chat tomorrow night at 6pm, this time with Wisconsin Timber Rattlers announcer Chris Mehring, who I think is the only one I haven't heard at some point. I don't know that I will be able to make it since I have some things to do late afternoon, but stop by if you want to ask about Rivera or Garciaparra or Nelson or Livingston or any number of other players, past, present, and coming up.

Again, you don't need to be a member of InsideThePark to visit the chat, so don't feel as if you're merely busting into something unannounced.

I've also finally added a number of links to the side, including a relatively new one, Edgar is God. As a guy who also has some knowledge of the Japanese language, I'm wondering why he's seemed to name his poster ID/e-mail with references to a fairy tale.

Following up on the earlier Jones article, the Mariners site has put up their own article on him, continuing a long-standing tradition of them getting article inspiration from local newspapers. Not that they all don't seem to run similar articles all around the same time. Good thing we have the News Tribune.

Of course, this one goes into more depth than the one in the Herald did, so I recommend reading it.

As can be expected with spring training getting into full swing, more articles on the minor leaguers are popping up...

The Everett Herald has an article on Buhner acting as a mentor to SS Adam Jones. Not a great deal of detail, but a good article nonetheless. Jones is trying to absorb as much as he can from the veterans and to me that's always a good sign. Similarly, the Times had an article on Buhner's inmfluence on Snelling.

Subscribers can access BA's AL West Notebook. For those that don't subscribe, you aren't missing much. There's a piece on Dobbs recovery that suggest they were thinking of having him play winter ball; other than that it says that the action will be in Tacoma and the presence of LHP Ron Villone may allow LHP Bobby Madritsch to continue starting, in Tacoma.

Those familiar with the PI blog will have already found the article on former M's farmhand RHP Aquilino Lopez, who might become the Jay's closer this season. The M's gave up on an otherwise effective pitcher in Lopez when they discovered he was five years older than listed. The Jays then picked him up in the rule V and he's been pitching with them since. I was pulling for Lopez to get a spot in the bullpen before and after his true age was known, and in my opinion, we lost something in him. As an avid prospect watcher, I'm disappointed by management's seeming inability to utilize minor league talent. I was pulling for Podsednik too and look where he got (not that anyone else really expected that either).

The recommended reading for today from the night's papers is this article on Leone. It gives a better insight into how he has operated mechanically as a player and why thigns seemed to click for him only recently (along with his tendency to get hot at the right time, like the Texas League playoffs last season).

Also in the Tribune is a story on a speed/stamina test they perform on each player in spring training. Bloomquist held the record, which was apparently broken by some minor leaguers last season, set again by Bloomquist, and then immediately broken by last year's top pick SS Adam Jones.

Sunday, February 29, 2004
Scott over at On Deck put up a list of the prospects who could make an impact on the amjors this year, and the second part of the AL is now up.


Seattle: If the Mariners had their druthers, they wouldn't want to see any of their prospects play in the majors until September. The M's are attempting to set up their roster so that they won't be held captive by prospect production. Will their plan succeed? The odds are against it.

If Seattle is going to turn to prospects this season, it will most likely will be from the pitching side of things. The Mariners should have a nice group of arms to choose from at Triple-A. RHP Clint Nageotte, LHP Travis Blackley, RHP Rett Johnson, and RHP Cha Baek should all be ready for the call. Nageotte and Johnson are somewhat similar since both rely on low-90s gas and tough sliders to embarrass hitters. Nageotte's slider is one of the filthiest in the game today while Johnson's sinker chews up righties. There are questions about Nageotte and Johnson being long-term starters in the bigs because they lack a true change of pace pitch. For this very reason, the M's may call on either of them to pitch in relief in 2004. Blackley reminds me of Denny Neagle. He's a finesse southpaw who can make right-handers look silly with his change. Baek has fought his way back from "Tommy John" surgery and he looks to be a potential #3/4 starter in the bigs. His career path is very similar to that of Mets RHP Jae Seo.

LHP Bobby Madritsch, LHP George Sherrill, LHP Matt Thornton, and RHP Aaron Taylor all project to be relievers in the majors. Madritsch and Sherrill are former Independent Leaguers who are on the verge of becoming quality left-handed relievers in the bigs. Madritsch is a power lefty who could end being the next Alan Embree. He can be nasty. Sherrill uses a plus slider to neutralize both righties and lefties. Thornton and Taylor are fighting injuries, but each has a chance to be effective relievers in the majors. The Mariners' future pen looks pretty darn good if the above group handles the jump.

The Mariners won't turn to prospect position players unless injuries force their hand. SS Jose Lopez and OF Chris Snelling have the best chance to become starters for the Mariners. Lopez is a smooth player with terrific hands and feet. He doesn't have big-time range at short, but he will make most plays. Offensively, Lopez looks to be similar to Edgardo Alfonzo. He's not going to be a big-time home run hitter, but he should be a strong contact-hitter with gap power. Snelling will once again miss the start of a season with an injury. What else is new? But before you bury Snelling, keep in mind that he's still just 22-years-old. Snelling projects to be a #2 hitter with Darin Erstad-like skills.

3B Justin Leone, CF Jamal Strong, and 3B Greg Dobbs could also see some time in Seattle this season. Leone is coming off a career year at Double-A and he projects to be a reserve infielder in the majors. Strong's calling card is his speed, but there are questions about his ability to hit big league pitching. He looks to be a reserve outfielder. Dobbs missed most of the 2003 season due to a torn Achillies' tendon. Dobbs is known for his left-handed hitting prowess but he lacks a defensive position. He could be a left-handed Greg Colbrunn.


I'm not too sure of some of the statements made by this article.

*Johnson's change-up is improving mroe than it is developing, I would say.
*Thornton, despite coming back form injury, has been getting a great deal of press lately and is supposedly healthy.
*Leone would get called up before Lopez would, in my opinion, simply because of roster setup. He could play any infield position with some ease, but they might not use him to play SS.
*Dobbs is generally seen as being 3B. There were times when he would patrol the OF or even see time at 1B, but recent statements from the coaches indicate that they want to give him a full season at 3B.

A closer look at the minor league system of the Seattle Mariners baseball club.

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2006 Minor League Splits
2006 Organization Stats
2006 Runs Created and SECA
2005 M's Minor League Review

Top Prospect Lists:'s Mariners System Review
InsideThePark's 41-50 Mariners Prospects
Baseball America's Top 10 Mariners Prospects
John Sickels' Top 20 Mariners Prospects
Diamond Futures' Top 10 Mariners Prospects
Rotoworld's Top 10 Mariners Prospects
Sportsblurb's Top 10 Mariners Prospects
Creative Sports' Top 10 Mariners Prospects

Charts and Data:
2004 Minor League Hitting Review
2004 Minor League Pitching Review

Around the Minors:

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ProspectInsider Blog
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Global Baseball Blog
Sportspot Minor League Forum
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2003 Prospect Lists:
Rotoworld Top 100 Prospects
Rotoworld Top 10 Mariners Prospects
The Minors First Top 100 Prospects
Inside The Park's 21-30 Mariners Prospects
On Deck Baseball's Mariners Prospect Rankings
On Deck Baseball's Future 500
On Deck Baseball's Future 500 (AL Only)
Wait Til Next Year's Top 50 Prospects
Wait Til Next Year's 51-90 Prospects
The Sports Network's Top 10 Mariners Prospects
Creative Sports' Top 10 Mariners Prospects
CBS Sportsline's Top AL West Prospects's Top 10 Mariners Prospects's Top 50 Prospects
Seattle PI's Top 15 Mariners Prospects
2003 Runs Created (Current system players)
2003 Runs Created (New acquisitions)
2003 Secondary Avg. (Current system players)
2003 Secondary Avg. (New acquisitions)
2003 WHIP Charts (Current system players)
2003 WHIP Charts (New acquisitions)
2003 K/BB Charts (Current system players)
2003 K/BB Charts (New acquisitions)

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