February 17, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on  

Hooray for the Future Forty! I’d love to announce a new Big Board, but there’s nothing doing on that front. But once we get those minor league assignments… oh just you wait and see. Muwahahahahaha.

Sorry, got carried away there.

Oh, and a special hello to Lonnie from a.s.b.s-m!

February 17, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on  

The first Future Forty of 2004 has been unveiled and is now available for your viewing pleasure. Our rankings of the organization’s 40 best prospects will be updated at the beginning of the month throughout the season. This list is determined through a combination of statistical analysis, personal scouting evaluations, second-hand scouting reports from well respected and trusted sources, discussions with individuals in the Mariners player development office, and major league officials from other teams. Prospect lists have become something of a fad, and there are lots of places you can turn to who will offer you their version of the Mariners farm system. I hope that the amount of work I put into this provides you with a reliable source of information that you can count on to be both accurate and informative. While the Future Forty itself is relatively short, the information used in compiling the list is substantial in depth, and questions about the list are always welcome.

Baseball America will be releasing their top 10 on their website on Friday, and it looks quite a bit different from what you see here. I won’t spoil the list, but they have Felix Hernandez ranked number one, which I simply cannot justify at this point. Rather than simply leaving the differences to be explained by the one sentence comment, below are in-depth looks at what I feel are the Mariners 10 best prospects.

1. Clint Nageotte, Right-Handed Pitcher

Strengths: Mid-90’s velocity, tremendous slider, ability to miss bats, success at each level

Weaknesses: Lack of a change-up, questionable willingness to learn, suspect mechanics

Potential: With an improved change-up and command, could be an all-star in the rotation

Downside: Move to bullpen a real possibility if he doesn’t improve areas of need

Positive Comparison: C.C. Sabathia

Realistic Comparison: Kelvim Escobar

Negative Comparison: Steve Karsay

2. Chris Snelling, Outfielder

Strengths: Quick bat, good contact ability, solid gap power, natural hitter

Weaknesses: Repeatedly injured, limited range after knee surgery, average speed

Potential: If he can find the time to develop, has the skills of a batting champion

Downside: Without improved plate discipline or power spike, best suited for backup role

Positive Comparison: Tony Gwynn

Realistic Comparison: Rusty Greer

Negative Comparison: David Dellucci

3. Jose Lopez, Shortstop

Strengths: Surprising power, contact ability, success at high levels despite youth

Weaknesses: Not in great shape, poor plate discipline, defense is slipping

Potential: Has the skills to be a power-hitting middle infielder in his prime

Downside: Move to third base could really harm value, low OBP could kill him there

Positive Comparison: Miguel Tejada

Realistic Comparison: Tony Batista

Negative Comparison: Antonio Perez

4. Travis Blackley, Left-Handed Pitcher

Strengths: Change-up is an outpitch, curve has good potential, sets up hitters well

Weaknesses: Command of off-speed stuff needs improvement, high pitch counts

Potential: Solid #3 starter if he can cut down on pitches per batter

Downside: Fairly safe bet as far as pitching prospects go, but could always get hurt

Positive Comparison: Barry Zito

Realistic Comparison: Erik Hanson

Negative Comparison: Bruce Chen

5. Rett Johnson, Right-Handed Pitcher

Strengths: Keeps ball down, mixes pitches well, three solid pitches, improving command

Weaknesses: No strikeout pitch, average velocity, no dominating performances yet

Potential: Combination sinker and slider could make him solid ground ball machine

Downside: If he continues to allow contact at current rates, could be wildly inconsistent

Positive Comparison: Derek Lowe

Realistic Comparison: John Thomson

Negative Comparison: Matt Wagner

6. Shin-Soo Choo, Outfielder

Strengths: Solid across-the-board skills, patient hitter, organization likes him

Weaknesses: Poor defensive outfielder, lays off too many hittable pitches, slowing down

Potential: If power blossoms, could be a .300/.400/.500 corner outfielder.

Downside: Pitchers continue to take advantage of patience, never gets out of Double-A

Positive Comparison: Bobby Abreu

Realistic Comparison: Eric Byrnes

Negative Comparison: Chin-Feng Chen

7. Felix Hernandez, Right-Handed Pitcher

Strengths: Upper-90’s velocity, strikeout curveball, solid command for someone his age

Weaknesses: No third pitch yet, no experience against real competition

Potential: With his two plus pitches and command, could be an ace of any rotation

Downside: All teenage pitchers are huge risks; Ryan Anderson, anyone?

Positive Comparison: Bartolo Colon, before he ate David Wells

Realistic Comparison: Too soon to say. Need to see more.

Negative Comparison: Brien Taylor

8. Bobby Madritsch, Left-Handed Pitcher

Strengths: Mid-90’s velocity, improved as season wore on, misses bats, ultra-competitive

Weaknesses: Inconsistent mechanics, mediocre offspeed stuff, average command

Potential: If he harnesses breaking ball, could be a #3 starter who destroys lefties.

Downside: Could get pigeon-holed as lefty-specialist, become a one out pitcher.

Positive Comparison: Randy Wolf

Realistic Comparison: Odalis Perez

Negative Comparison: Ron Villone

9. Cha Seung Baek, Right-Handed Pitcher

Strengths: Three average pitches, solid command, sets up hitters, throws strikes

Weaknesses: Below average velocity, lost years of development due to injuries

Potential: If stuff ever comes back and command stays, could be solid #4 starter

Downside: With his injury history, he’s nearly impossible to count on for innings

Positive Comparison: Brian Lawrence

Realistic Comparison: Steve Ontiveros

Negative Comparison: Roger Salkeld

10. Justin Leone, Third Baseman

Strengths: Terrific defensive player, patient hitter, solid power, decent athlete

Weaknesses: Not getting any younger, no experience above Double-A

Potential: If given 500 at-bats, could be league average player for next three years

Downside: Age will always be held against him, might not get a fair shot

Positive Comparison: Bill Mueller

Realistic Comparison: Joe Randa

Negative Comparison: Mike Lamb