Baseball America Top 10 List Is Out

Dave · January 27, 2012 at 8:45 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Our friends over at Baseball America released their list of the Top 10 Mariners prospects today, as ranked by USSM alum Conor Glassey. The scouting reports are only available for subscribers (or, for those who purchase the 2012 Prospect Handbook, which contains scouting reports on the Top 30 prospects for each organization), but the list itself is free. Here’s Conor’s take on the top guys coming up through the farm system:

1. Jesus Montero, c
2. Taijuan Walker, rhp
3. Danny Hultzen, lhp
4. James Paxton, lhp
5. Nick Franklin, 2b/ss
6. Francisco Martinez, 3b
7. Chance Ruffin, rhp
8. Tom Wilhelmsen, rhp
9. Vinnie Catricala, 3b/1b/of
10. Phillips Castillo, of

The top five names shouldn’t be any surprise, though some people may switch up the order depending on their risk tolerance. For instance, I’d probably take Danny Hultzen ahead of Taijuan Walker, as I’m less of an upside guy and more a present value guy when it comes to prospects. But, as everyone knows, the M’s have three premium pitching prospects on the way, and Montero and Franklin give them as good of a top 5 as anyone in the game.

There’s a pretty big drop-off between #5 and #6, but it’s nice to see Conor say some positive things about Francisco Martinez. I didn’t love the Doug Fister trade when it happened and it hasn’t grown on me since, but if Martinez can figure out how to translate his tools into performance, that could go a long way to helping make it a better deal for the franchise. I’m generally skeptical of tools guys with lousy plate discipline, but Martinez is young, so there’s some hope there. I do find the separation between his ranking and Carlos Triunfel’s a little odd, given that they’re pretty similar in a lot of ways and only seven months apart in age, but Martinez doesn’t have the “disappointing former big hype guy” label attached to him as Triunfel does. Still, this feels a bit high to me for Martinez – I’m glad BA is optimistic about his future, but I’m not sold yet.

That Ruffin and Wilhelmsen show up at 7/8 on the list tells you the size of the drop-off after Franklin. Both project as potentially good relievers, but they’re relievers. You never really want to have a relief prospect in your top 10, much less two of them.

In the write-up on Carticala, he talks about his potential move to left field, since he’s not really a third baseman and the team already has Justin Smoak at first base. Indeed, that seems to be the direction the organization is going, as they listed Catricala as an outfielder on the press release announcing his invitation to big league camp. It’s the best spot for him, both in terms of his defensive abilities and the organization’s depth chart. If Casper Wells doesn’t impress this year, there’s a roster spot waiting for Catricala to grab, and he could potentially play himself into the mix for a starting role in 2013 if Carp shows that he’s not the answer. At third base, the defense is a real issue, so they’ll just let him settle in as an outfielder and go from there. I know some people have brought him up as an option for that right-handed 3B upgrade I’ve been talking about, but you don’t really want to have him in a job share just yet, so he’s best off as Tacoma’s regular left fielder in 2012.

At the bottom of the list, Castillo represents one of the young bonus babies that the team has signed lately. They’ve invested a lot of money in power hitting teenagers from Latin America, and Castillo is probably the best of the bunch. He’s nowhere close to the Majors, but there’s some thump in his bat, and if he develops into what his physical skills suggest are possible, he could be an intriguing option in 3-4 years.

The M’s system is definitely in good shape, and probably ranks as one of the five or so best in the game right now, though part of that is that they swapped not-a-prospect Pineda for prospect Montero, so there’s a bit of artificial inflation from moving talent off the big league roster. Still, the M’s can stack up their young pitching next to anyone in the game, and there are enough interesting bats on the way that the farm isn’t too lopsided overall.

If you have questions about the rankings, Conor told me he’ll monitor the comments section here and swing by to answer what he can. If you’re a BA subscriber, he’s also doing a live chat over there at noon, or you can ping him on Twitter. Also, I’m sure Jay will be around to chip in his thoughts as well, so consider this a good place for all your prospect related discussions.


81 Responses to “Baseball America Top 10 List Is Out”

  1. ConorGlassey on January 27th, 2012 9:16 pm

    Hey guys – thanks for all the kind words. I’m going to try and answer all these questions one-by-one, since the internet just ate a long “answer all of ’em” response I just wrote up. Please do consider buying the Prospect Handbook – there are detailed scouting reports for the M’s top 30 prospects, as well as reports for every other team’s top 30 prospects, and some other goodies too. Well worth the money! If you’re in a fantasy league, it’ll give you a leg up on your competition, but even if you’re not, it’s just cool to be informed on the next wave of talent headed to the show. Here goes. . .

  2. ConorGlassey on January 27th, 2012 9:17 pm

    Question: is Triunfel anything anymore?

    I think his future is as a utility player. Defense looked better at SS last year, but bat has a lot of questions.

  3. ConorGlassey on January 27th, 2012 9:22 pm

    Most of the lists I’ve seen have Pimentel anywhere from 5 to 10, with the relievers lower. I’m curious as to the reasons he was left off the list.

    First off, the system is strong. Secondly, we try to balance upside and risk. He has good upside, but lots of risk and people I spoke to about the list preferred Castillo when comparing the two.

  4. ConorGlassey on January 27th, 2012 9:23 pm

    I don’t think Noesi is eligible as prospect anymore, but if he was eligible, where would he fall on this list?

    Probably 6th or 7th.

  5. ConorGlassey on January 27th, 2012 9:24 pm

    How much big league service does it take to push someone off the prospect list. Wilhelmsen and Ruffin both played on the “big club” last year.
    Starting in March Montero will be in the majors so when do they fall off the list?

    For hitters, it’s 130 AB. For pitchers, it’s either 50 IP or 30 appearances in relief (what we call the Daniel Bard rule).

  6. ConorGlassey on January 27th, 2012 9:25 pm

    Do the Mariners have a higher number of elite-but-very-raw-power prospects than most teams? It seems like Liddi, Peguero, Montero, Pimentel, Poythress, Castillo, and Jabari Blash all have tons of raw power (not all with necessarily usable power). Even Halman would have been in this group.

    Or do all orgs have lots of guys with plus-plus power who can’t use it?

    Montero doesn’t belong in that group. And, yes, it’s a fairly common skillset.

  7. ConorGlassey on January 27th, 2012 9:26 pm

    Was Trayvon Robinson ineligible? If that’s the case, where would he have been on the list if he were eligible? (Or alternatively, if he’s eligible, why was he left off it?)

    143 AB. Not eligible. Would have probably been in the 7-11 range.

  8. ConorGlassey on January 27th, 2012 9:28 pm

    The only thing I don’t understand about his 2015 lineup is Trayvon in center field. To me, he looked utterly lost out there last season.

    Don’t put too much stock in those lineups. We have to do them, but I don’t think they really serve much purpose. The real answer is that the M’s 2015 CF probably isn’t in the organization yet. But I have to use what’s there.

  9. ConorGlassey on January 27th, 2012 9:31 pm

    Can we officially say Dennis Raben and Rich Poythress are superfluous?

    Raben didn’t make the list and I’d be surprised if he ever did. Poythress made the list though.

  10. ConorGlassey on January 27th, 2012 9:32 pm

    The other exciting part is we have a high draft pick coming this year #3, any thoughts who this might be?

    Yes, and they’ll likely rank highly on next year’s list because it’s a great draft (my main coverage at BA is draft coverage, BTW). My best guess right now at the guy the M’s will take would be Georgia HS outfielder Byron Buxton or Arizona State shortstop Deven Marrero. Visit for more info on those guys.

  11. ConorGlassey on January 27th, 2012 9:34 pm

    Where does this put us in relation to our divisional competition?

    Texas has the best system in baseball (scary, huh?), but the Mariners would be 2nd. . . even still ahead of Oakland after their trades and way ahead of the Angels (and the Astros, if you want to start keeping tabs on them).

  12. ConorGlassey on January 27th, 2012 9:35 pm

    I’m surprised Conor ranks Catricala so high, last season he really questioned every non-bat ability he had. That bat can cover a multitude of sins it seems.

    Not a question, but just pointing this out to note that I’ve read people say I ranked Catricala too high and too low. Can’t win with you guys. . . haha!

  13. ConorGlassey on January 27th, 2012 9:37 pm

    Everyone had Littlewood in their top 10?s last year. He obviously struggled last year but how far has he dropped on current lists? Would you guys say he still has a good chance at making the majors? Or is everyone pretty much writing him off already?

    I like Marcus a lot, but it’s tough enough for a HS kid to make it even if he’s been catching his whole life. To switch makes it that much tougher, so I had to move him down some — especially after looking overmatched at times at the plate last year.

  14. ConorGlassey on January 27th, 2012 9:38 pm

    Would anyone be able to tell me where Pineda of last year would’ve ranked on this list? So, how would the 2010 Pineda (minus the MLB numbers) compare to the 2011 views of the top 10 and especially compared to the top 3 pitchers?

    Well, Montero is a Top 10 prospect. Probably in the 5-8 range. Pineda wasn’t thought of quite that highly. So I’d say 2nd, ahead of Walker. Walker has a little more upside, but also more risk.

  15. ConorGlassey on January 27th, 2012 9:39 pm

    Would it be head and shoulders above Walker?

    No, it would be close.

  16. ConorGlassey on January 27th, 2012 9:41 pm

    Well the list is fine with me, with only one exception: how is Ruffin ahead of Catricala? Not being an ass, just asking.

    They’re close. Catricala has a little more upside, but Ruffin has lower risk, since he’s already been in the big leagues and will likely be there to start 2012.

  17. Westside guy on January 27th, 2012 11:01 pm

    Thanks, Dave, Conor, Jay, and everyone else who shared their thoughts. It’s great to be able to pick the minds of you guys who know so much about who’ll be coming in the next few years – thanks for all the time and hard work!

  18. the tourist on January 28th, 2012 9:32 am

    We are so spoiled here. Thank you so much, Conor, Jay, and Dave. The content on this site of marvelous.

  19. spankystout on January 28th, 2012 10:26 am

    Thanks for the work guys. And thank you Conor for the list, and response. Also, I now agree with you on Catricala’s spot.

  20. bat guano on January 28th, 2012 12:19 pm

    Many thanks to Dave for the post and Conor both for putting the list together and responding to the questions. For M’s fans, right now the prospects are pretty much what it’s all about.

  21. Westside guy on January 28th, 2012 1:41 pm

    Hey, speaking of once-hyped prospects – Tui just signed a minor-league deal with the Mets.

  22. groundzero55 on January 28th, 2012 10:19 pm

    Hey, speaking of once-hyped prospects – Tui just signed a minor-league deal with the Mets.

    He’ll probably pull a Morse and hit 31 dingers for them.

  23. Johnny Slick on January 29th, 2012 1:02 am

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  24. GLS on January 29th, 2012 3:23 pm

    Not sure if this has been asked already, but where would Campos fall on the Yankees’ prospect list?

  25. Typical Idiot Fan on January 29th, 2012 3:34 pm

    Not sure if this has been asked already, but where would Campos fall on the Yankees’ prospect list?

    Most Yankee lists are a mess, overrating guys like Banuelos and Bettances and probably underatting guys like Mason Williams and Bichette Jr. John Sickels put Campos sixth on his revised list with a B ranking. BA hasn’t revised the Yankee list and probably wont by this point. But I do find it humorous that Jesus Montero is the top prospect in two organizations…

  26. billbavasisucks on January 29th, 2012 7:43 pm

    Hopefully it’s not too late to ask. But what about Seager? I feel as though I barely got to digest the thought of him as a prospect or even a good one before he blew all the way to the majors last year. Based on his performance in the minors last year (hard to ignore his ML play, but still), where would he have ranked? Do you see him, Liddi, or Martinez (or Catricala) becoming our future 3b?

  27. GLS on January 30th, 2012 9:13 am

    When do the Baseball America organizational rankings come out?

  28. Madison Mariner on January 30th, 2012 11:36 am

    “When do the Baseball America organizational rankings come out?”

    Baseball America has the Top 10 prospects by organization out right now–just go to their website and you can usually find the most recent Top 10(like the Mariners), then you can find links to the index for all 30 teams. They usually finish with these by the end of January–so like any day now. 🙂

    As to their Top 100 for 2012? I’m not sure when that comes out–probably in the next few weeks or so once they’ve finished with the Top 10 by organization. 🙂

  29. Paul B on January 30th, 2012 11:56 am

    Has anyone ever examined how accurate the top 10 lists are over time?

    For example, what would be the percent of players appearing in a top 10 list who end up playing in the Majors and, say, have a positive WAR. For all teams, not just the Mariners.

    If no one has done this, might make an interesting article.

  30. GLS on January 30th, 2012 5:08 pm

    I know the Top 10 rankings are out now. I look forward to them every year. But, don’t they put out a ranking of organizations relative to one another 1-30? I’m pretty sure they do, I just can’t recall when that comes out.

  31. gtutv on January 30th, 2012 7:13 pm

    What is the take on Forrest Snow as a prospect? After a quick rise in the system (albeit one where I believe he was an emergency spot starter in Tacoma from A+ and just ended up sticking around), the club seemed to think highly enough of him to send him to the AFL. He was dominating there for a while and faded late. Is he a decent 4-5 starter prospect that’s just lost behind the Hultzen/Paxton/Walker attention or is he just a nothing/organizational filler type guy?

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