With the off-season in full swing and the Mariners having already added one major piece—while subtracting another—it's clear there are moves to be made. And now, after surveying the free agent market, a choice has to be made on whether or not they would be better off dealing from the farm. Should they choose to do so, we now know how upset we should be about the young talent they're sending away.
Yes, Baseball America today revealed its annual list of its Seattle Mariners Top 10 Prospects. Without further ado, here's the ranking:
- Alex Jackson, OF
- D.J. Peterson, 3B
- Ketel Marte, SS
- Patrick Kivlehan, 3B/1B
- Austin Wilson, OF
- Edwin Diaz, RHP
- Gabby Guerrero, OF
- Luiz Gohara, LHP
- Ryan Yarbrough, LHP
- Carson Smith, RHP
Jackson has the highest ceiling among high school hitters the Mariners have drafted since they picked Alex Rodriguez No. 1 overall in 1993. By keeping Jackson away from catcher’s gear, the Mariners will be able to move him up the ladder as his bat dictates instead of waiting for his defense to catch up. Jackson should be ready to head to low Class A Clinton in 2015. Long-term, if he develops as expected, he projects as a three-hole hitter who provides batting average, on-base ability and power.
I wouldn't expect to see Jackson anytime soon, even though he is expected to move fast. "Fast" is still likely a minimum of three years away, but when people talk about the Mariners' window being the next 2-3 years, Jackson—you hope—is the type of player who pries that window back open.
Moving on from there, you have D.J. Peterson, the player most likely to help the Mariners sometime soon. Despite a good-not-great stint at Double-A Jackson, Baseball America is still a fan of the future first baseman—and says he could be ready by the middle of 2015. Based on media speculation, if he is ready this year, the organization will likely be more than willing to give him a shot.
Then, at the third slot, is a name some might find a little jarring. That spot might be a little high for a glove-first shortstop, but it's important to remember Ketel Marte is still but 21-years-old, having finished his age-20 campaign with 19 games in Tacoma—where he will likely start and play all of next season.
After Marte is another interesting name, one we've talked about around these parts, that being Patrick Kivlehan. Kivlehan had a big 2014 as he made his way up to Jackson, and it stands to reason he'll start 2015 in Tacoma. If the Mariners need to add some position player punch midway through 2015, it stands to reason that Kivlehan—with Peterson—could be an option. I asked Baseball America's Ben Badler on Twitter what he thought of the 25-year-old, here's his quick note:
@colinokeefe @MikeFerrinSXM Intriguing guy. Split camp on him here internally, and among evaluators with other clubs.— Ben Badler (@BenBadler) November 19, 2014
To round out the top five, we have name that can't be forgotten: Austin Wilson. The 2013 second round pick out of Stanford missed a chunks of time in 2014 due to injury, more than a month with a strained Achilles tendon and then the instructional league because of minor elbow surgery, per BA. But when he played, he played well, posting a 153 wRC+ in lo-A Clinton last year. It'll be interesting to see where he starts 2015. With high-A moving from High Desert to Bakersfield, it may be most likely he starts there as it's now a more reasonable environment in which to evaluate talent, plus the organization will likely want Wilson to find his footing after the up-and down 2014.
Still, if Wilson can log some quality time in Double-A in 2015—and put up the type of numbers we've seen from him early in his minor league career—that'd be a huge step forward. The ceiling is still very high, as Baseball America says "if he puts it all together, he will be an impact outfielder."
I encourage you to go read the rest of the full piece. It doesn't actually cost anything, as you just have to register and then it's free. And the full report has lots of good insight. Also, while this report is seen as the standard for top prospect lists, be sure to keep an eye out for a report
Overall, it's going to be interesting to see where the organization as a whole ends up. The Mariners have moved a lot of their premium talent from the farm to the majors lately and, as a result, the system is more depleted than it has been in years past. So as the Mariners weigh options in adding talent to the roster as they make a push towards World Series contention, it's going to lead to some tough decisions on whether or not they can truly afford to dip into what's still a recovering system if they want to build the sustained year-over-year winning they've long planned on.