This will be a short one - just going to cover third base. Some of these guys could end up at first, or DH, or in the outfield, but for now they seem to be at the hot corner.
Third Base, Or I Have a Serious Crush On Patrick Kivlehan
So maybe I should start with Vinnie Catricala - he's closest to the Majors. Or with one of the Martinez-es. But the guy I am most drawn to, the guy whose box score I inevitably check first, is Patrick Kivlehan. Why, you ask? I'll tell you.
Patrick Kivlehan is barely a baseball player. Major league teams spend copious amounts of money on young kids from the Caribbean who have played baseball as a lifestyle (sometimes to the exclusion of all else) since they were old enough to hold up a glove. And they fail. Often. Patrick Kivlehan is a football player. He spent 4 years, arguably the most important 4 year of his life, development-wise, playing NCAA division1 football. He is strong. He is fast. He is an athlete in the purest sense of the word. And when his NCAA football eligibility ran out, he decided to go play baseball. So off he goes to the Rutgers baseball team. He hasn't played in 4 years. And what does he do? He wins the Big East triple crown. He just blows every other hitter in the conference out of the water. No one has ever wont he Big East triple crown before. Kivlehan basically walked off the street and into the record books.
So, with all of 51 games under his belt after a 4 year hiatus, he goes into the draft and the Mariners select him. He signed pretty quickly and got assigned to Everett. And no one is going to confuse the Northwest League with the American League (unless they just ignore every word before "League"). At Everett, he struggled early. He struck out. A lot. He didn't really stop striking out, either, finishing the season with around 30% of PAs ending in a slow walk to the dugout. What he did stop doing was struggling. After posting a 675 OPS in June, his first month, he spiked to 961 in july and kept it up with a 901 in August. He tied for the league lead in homers. He led the league in slugging. He was second in OPS, even with his terrible June. And he got hit by a lot of pitches (after you've deliberately placed yourself in front many 240 pound men moving at tremendous speeds, a little baseball probably doesn't seem very scary).
This didn't turn out short. I'm still on PK. He strikes out. Too much. He has no pitch recognition training, because he hasn't been playing baseball. But he's got phenomenal athletic skills (did I mention that the Northwest League Slugging Leader also stole 14 bases in 15 tries?) and real power, and the ability to drive pitches when he finds them. Some will say he was maybe a bit old for his level, or that once he starts seeing advanced breaking stuff he'll never be able to adjust. And they might be right. But he may just be one of those freaks of nature that pick things up that others just can't. I for one am jacked to find out.
There are more third baseman. They will not get the same attention that I paid to PK. Vinnie Catricala can hit. Or at least he could. He'll get another season in Tacoma to try and find his swing, because Seager is pretty much the only guy in the Ms lineup who has a stranglehold on his position. Francisco Martinez is young, and he was highly thought of. And he's fast. But he took a big step back in his second time through AA. Mario Martinez has improved pretty much every season, but he hasn't taken that leap yet. I have to assume he'll get to Jackson next ear and we'll see if his power plays outside of Adelanto. My money is on No. Steven Proscia has been interesting at High Desert and bad at Jackson. He's another guy that needs to get away from California and play somewhere where talent can actually be evaluated.
I'll finish up by saying - the Mariners are doing themselves a great disservice by continuing with their relationship with High Desert. You simply cannot evaluate your players when they play in that environment, and there's a good possibility it messes with players' approaches as well. And, the MLB team plays in the polar opposite situation. Train your people for the job they will have, and they'll perform better. C'mon, Ms. It's just stupid.