Jason Parks at Baseball Prospectus has just released his new top 50 prospect list. Let's take a look at any Mariners on the list.
Park gave an explanation to his qualifications for the list before he began, saying the following:
Prospects currently playing at the major-league level were not eligible for this list. I also didn’t follow standard guidelines for rookie eligibility; rather, if a prospect has logged significant playing time at the highest level—be it the commonly recognized 50 innings for a pitcher, 130 at-bats for a hitter, or just under those magic plateaus—I made a judgment call as to whether or not his inclusion would add to the product. This list is about prospects, not major-league players masquerading as prospects because they fall just short of such recognized classifications.
#9: Taijuan Walker
Parks touts Walker's fastball as a plus plus pitch, but offers the following concerns as rationale for his 2014 projected arrival.
The 20-year-old owns an electric plus-plus fastball, a cutter he can throw in the low 90s (I’ve seen it up to 93 mph), and a sharp vertical curveball, but the command can come and go, the changeup is a below average offering, and the curveball, despite the depth, is very inconsistent. The statistical results are there, but more minor league seasoning is required of the future frontline starter before he is ready to assume that reality.
Prospect Trajectory: Holding steady; while it is conceivable that the promotion of his peers above him on this list will allow Walker to move up a few spots next offseason, he is unlikely to leap into the top five and eclipse Bradley as the top arm in the minors.
After that, there is nothing. With Zunino and Franklin up, the Mariners prospect rankings are naturally going to look thinner. Zunino and Franklin would get mentions on most lists, but I like Parks' rationale here. Those guys have more or less graduated, considering the clear path of opportunity awarded to both of them. Hultzen gets an honorable mention, but has surely slipped due to his injury concerns this season. Brad Miller isn't on the list, but would surely be in other top 50 lists if they were written today.
It's a big of a surprise to read a top 50 list and only see Walker left, but that's the reality the team is faced with now. Two have graduated, and one is excelling while the other has a lot of work left. The future is now.