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State of the Farm: 7/12/16

A look at how the second-tier prospects are performing this year

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Last week, we took a look at's top ten prospects in the system and how they've performed so far this season. To summarize briefly, things are going well and we should all be very content with the job Dipoto and Co. have done so far. Is the farm system much deeper than it was a few months ago? No, but unless you want the Mariners to start shipping off Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager and Robinson Cano and so on, a dramatic turnaround in just a few months isn't realistic.

What could really help the overall strength of the farm would be the development of the second tier prospects, guys who were either far too young (international signees) or too raw to gain serious notice in the rankings in previous years. If guys like Brayan Hernandez, Chris Torres, and Gareth Morgan can start piecing things together in a big way, suddenly, you have yourself a prettier farm.

This week on State of the Farm, we're going to be discussing the No. 11-20 prospects (which, once again, goes by's list) and how they're fairing in 2016. Like I mentioned last week, these rankings don't include players who were added via the 2016 MLB Draft or international free agency period.

Ready? Good. Great. Let's do this:

11. Dylan Thompson – RHP – Low-A Everett AquaSox

Thompson is listed as active on Everett's roster, but he's yet to make any sort of appearance with the team in 2016. Thompson impressed in rookie ball in '15, posting a 3.29 FIP over 26.2 IP. I was really looking forward to seeing how he performed against better competition in Everett. Hopefully we get to see him at some point this year.

12. Ryan Yarbrough – LHP – Double-A Jackson Generals

Yarbrough has quietly been the ace of the Generals' staff all season long, posting a 3.16 FIP over 91.1 IP in 2016. I wasn't sold on his ability to last in the rotation, but the stuff has been better and the command sharper compared to 2015; his slider and changeup could be real weapons moving forward. If being a starter doesn't work out, I could easily see him taking a role similar to that of Mike Montgomery's.

I wouldn't be surprised to see Yarbrough in Tacoma sooner rather than later.

Trending: Just the same. Similar to Andrew Moore, I have trouble bumping up a guy with a limited ceiling, but Yarbrough has steadily held his ground as one of the best pitching prospects in the system. His improvement after making the jump to Jackson is impressive.

13. Brayan Hernandez – OF – Rookie League DSL Mariners

Hernandez has been a very streaky hitter for the DSL Mariners so far this year; he had a red-hot start, cooled off dramatically, and has since picked it back up. There's nothing wrong with an 18-year-old slashing .274/.320/.479 in the Dominican Summer League, however, and I can't wait to see him potentially come over to the states next year. We're not very deep into the 2016 season for Hernandez, but he's improved in several areas compared to last year. The K% is way down and the numbers are up in just about every offensive category. His ISO has just about doubled, as well, going from .103 in 2015 to .205 so far this year.

Trending: Up ever so slightly. Hernandez has the potential to be such an exciting player. I expect him to get a small jump in the rankings if he comes over next year.

14. Christopher Torres – SS – Rookie League AZL Mariners

The 18-year-old Torres is in his first year playing in the states and through his first 58 at-bats, he's slashed .241/.313/.310 with a 81 wRC+. Despite his glove-first standing as a prospect, I expect the bat to be just fine moving forward, especially from the left side. The right-handed swing needs a lot of work.

Trending: Just the same. I'm a big fan of Torres and his potential, but he'll need a strong showing in the Arizona League to vault onto the cusp of the top ten.

15. Luis Liberato – OF – Class-A Clinton LumberKings

Liberato had a brutal start to the year, but he's picked things up in a big way recently. Since June, the 20-year-old has hit .333/.420/.475 with a 167 wRC+ in 120 at-bats. His blend of speed, power, and patience at the plate makes Liberato an intriguing guy, and watching him bounce back after a rough, short stint with Clinton last year has been encouraging.

Trending: If he sustains his current run of success, he'll be getting a small bump in the prospect rankings in the future. When he's locked, just an all-around fun player to watch.

16. Gareth Morgan – OF – AZL Mariners

Morgan's numbers so far in 2016 have been better, but it's tough to get excited about a 20-year-old player in their third year of rookie ball who is putting up good, but not great stats (104 wRC+). The K% is also still astronomically high at 41.3%, which is right about on pace with the larger samples we have of Morgan in the past. When he does hit the ball, he hits it hard and far, but the contact skills need to improve before he can take the next step.

Trending: Down. His raw power will always be intriguing and should keep him on lists for another couple years, but unless he starts raking relatively soon, expect him to slide down into the 20-30 range.

17. Tony Zych – RHP – Seattle Mariners

Zych spent twelve innings unleashing a hard fastball and Satan's Frisbee at hitters in Seattle this year before a shoulder injury landed him on the 60-Day DL (because 2016 is not, in fact the year of the relief pitcher in Seattle). Zych was pegged by a few people as a potential breakout reliever this year, so the setback has been a major bummer for everyone.


18. Zach Lee – RHP – Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers

Lee's career with the Mariners is young, but so far the results haven't been great. His failure to develop a true out-pitch has severely limited his effectiveness and his command has been mediocre at best in four starts with the Rainiers. His perceived ceiling has been steadily dropping over the last couple years, a trend that doesn't seem to be stopping anytime soon. The good news: the 5.41 FIP should get better in the future.

Trending: Down. If he's still on a top-30 list next year, he'll be hanging on by a thread. I was honestly pretty surprised to see him this high on the list when he came over.

19. Patrick Kivlehan – UTIL – Tacoma Rainiers

Kivlehan has been a joy to watch since returning to the Mariners, taking over as one of the more productive bats in the Rainiers' lineup. In 109 at-bats, he's slashed .313/.339/.524 with a 125 wRC+. He has a flat swing that generates plenty of hard line drives when he connects and his ability to play bearable defense at several positions makes him attractive as a prospect. That being said, he is striking out at his highest rate (27.5%) since 2012 while walking significantly less than ever before. Mix that in with a .408 BABIP, and there are reasons to have your doubts about Kivlehan's ability to sustain his sudden offensive success.

Trending: Just the same. Can't imagine moving him up any higher, and he certainly hasn't done anything to fall any lower. Could easily argue he should jump Lee and Morgan, though.

20. Nick Wells – LHP – Clinton LumberKings

Command has been a big issue for Wells in his first year of full-season baseball. The lefty acquired in the Mark Lowe trade has issued 30 walks in 62.2 IP and has been hit fairly hard (4.76 FIP). There have been times this year where his command is working and in those instances he's looked dominant. His projectable frame and young age should buy him plenty of time to figure things out in the next couple years.

Trending: Just the same, but only because of the lack of depth in the farm. There aren't a whole lot of candidates who could vault over him at the moment. Also, a side note: you can never count out a kid who came from a school called Battlefield High.