BA Remembers Names of Ten Mariners Prospects

Jay Yencich · January 22, 2016 at 9:58 am · Filed Under Mariners, Minor Leagues 

Whether it’s diminishing returns on the player development front or merely that the PhD student lifestyle clamors for the lion’s share of my attention, I’ve found myself more tuned out from the minor league goings-on in recent years than I was while blogging about it on a semi-regular basis. The initial enthusiasm of following an organization focused on developing its own players took several heavy hits during the Zduriencik era, as we found many individuals, Ackley and Zunino among them, go from “the hope for the future” to “recurrent sources of frustration.” As one might expect, being excited about player development generally and being a fan of a team that looked to be unambiguously bad at it are not compatible viewpoints, and so my attentions scurried off elsewhere.

And yet, with recent sports losses in the rearview and the promise of new organizational philosophies at play, baseball has a way of dragging me back into the discussion like the often-spurned but lovelorn devotee that I am. Friends, let us talk about baseball. Let us talk about baseball and player development in the context of the fact that Baseball America released their Top Ten Mariners Prospects today. You want that I should copy and paste so you don’t have to click? Fine.

1. Alex Jackson, of
2. Edwin Diaz, rhp
3. Drew Jackson, ss
4. Tyler O’Neill, of
5. Nick Neidert, rhp
6. Luiz Gohara, lhp
7. Braden Bishop, of
8. Andrew Moore, rhp
9. Boog Powell, of
10. D.J. Peterson, 1b/3b

If I might be honest while, at the same time, flippant, prospect lists have been previously released in this offseason and I have shared them with friends, captioning the links with “hey kids, wanna see a dead body?” It’s a dick move on my part (perhaps less blunt than others), so allow me to qualify that by saying that such remarks tend to reflect more on the nature of prospect lists than anything else. Young players like Taijuan Walker, James Paxton, and Ketel Marte have “graduated” to a big league level where it is no longer the business of prospect-watchers to think about them regularly (also Kivlehan might’ve ranked pretty high *shakes fist*). They represent some of the few successes of the past season as the recent season was, mysteriously, one in which a great deal of young players struggled.

When things like this happen en masse, concerns arise as to how systemic they are and we start to question methods and the like, methods which have been blissfully supplanted by regime change. In short, we know that the minor leaguers performed poorly, but without knowing why, we can’t answer how easily it might be fixed and don’t know what to do with the data we have. Adding to that, recency bias means we’ve been sitting with these lackluster performances since September. Dudes are probably working on things that we don’t even know about yet, but without some way of quantifying that, we are stuck with the overcast “bleh.” It’s not all storm clouds and inclement weather, as we acquired some good pieces at the trade deadline and during the recent draft. However, when you look at the system at large, the stocks of individual players, for however you regard their ceilings, are widely at lows.

What this leaves one with is what you could generally characterize as a “bad system prospect list.” It’s a who’s-who of guys with intriguing physical abilities who have yet to perform, dotted with a smattering of recent draftees who performed well in a sample size too small to make adequate sense of. Anyone who has payed attention to minor league happenings in the long term can name one or two players who had intriguing debuts in the NWL and went on to do nothing particularly special thereafter. Factors such as Drew Jackson’s pure athleticism and the alleged change he made to his contact lenses might bolster what hope you have for him being the SS of the future (or SS that gets moved to CF of the future), yet you can recognize that you need more data to go off of in order to move forward. I rather liked our ’15 draft from a depth standpoint and building up pitching reserves, but it remains to be seen how many of those HS pitchers are going to survive the transition to pro ball.

Elsewhere, as I said, it’s the guys with velocity or power, some prior tool of significance that helped to get them on the radar in the first place. Comparing this year’s list to last year’s, Alex Jackson retains top billing, but you can’t exactly say that he proved himself worthy of the distinction. Kivlehan, Gabby Guerrero, and Carson Smith are all trade casualties (Guerrero missed Arizona’s Top Ten, Kivlehan is likely for Texas’ top ten), Marte graduated, and Austin Wilson’s second half wasn’t quite enough to redeem a rather dismal first half. Diaz isn’t moving up from #6 to #2 with a bullet so much as he’s rising thanks to attrition. Peterson plummeted despite not having a great deal of competition elsewhere. Tyler O’Neill really helped himself out, but we’re also talking about a prospect who has struck out in the neighborhood of 30% of the time.

The good news? Darkest before dawn? Only place to go is up? Any number of cliches and platitudes in a similar vein? Yeah, and it all feels true in this case. We still have some of the same draft people involved while most of the development pieces are new, but in a way, that seems to be saying that the drafts the Mariners had weren’t inherently bad so much as there were things that weren’t coming through in the development process. To retain McNamara, at least for the time being, demonstrates some level of confidence in what he’s done and the belief that the new team can help recover the lost value these prospects had. For all of the past year’s shortcomings, Alex Jackson and O’Neill still have elite power, Edwin Diaz still has a high-end FB/slider combo, Gohara has solid velocity for a lefty, Powell can take a pitch, and Bishop can play a mean CF. The question is where the Mariners go from there so that these fellows don’t slot themselves in as role players and little else.


12 Responses to “BA Remembers Names of Ten Mariners Prospects”

  1. Rengaw on January 22nd, 2016 10:50 am

    Identifying future major league baseball players is such a crap shoot. Unlike professional football and basketball, where talent evaluators get it right more often than not, baseball has an astonishing attrition rate in players making The Show.
    We, the Mariners, have a slew of young hopefuls in the lower minors who appear a stretch to even succeed in Tacoma. I don’t think this is a unique situation unto the Mariners……it’s baseball, the game of mostly failure.
    You have a player like Jesus Montero who just was on fire at Tacoma that transitioned into a hitter waving at breaking balls in the dirt in Seattle. Lloyd McClenden’s explanation was that the best pitcher Montero faced in Tacoma was close to the worst one on a major league staff.
    It appears a talented player who makes it onto a major league roster has to have the ability to make timely adjustments. With the Mariners trying to unify a hitting philosophy throughout their system, they are attempting to limit the adjustments needed to be made. And, maybe in the future, without trying to swing for the fences with their draft picks, the M’s will seek players who more easily mesh with the culture and philosophy they have in place.

  2. Westside guy on January 22nd, 2016 11:40 am

    During the previous regime’s reign, I used to console myself with aphorisms like “at least Jack Z knows how to draft well – we’ll end up with a good farm system, if nothing else”. Ha!

    I am rather disheartened that DJ Petersen sits at 10th in a bad farm system… but I guess that amounts to dwelling on the failings of the past. Hopefully our new GM will be able to improve the state of the system over the next few years (something I am pretty sure I was saying back in 2009 as well), and the fresh blood he’s brought in will mean the org will figure out how player development is actually supposed to work.

    After such a negative comment, I feel I should make it clear that I have hope for the future! And, if we’re lucky, the talent currently at the major league level will defy any expected age-related decline until the new regime’s process has been able to right the ship.

    In any case – thank you for sharing, Jay!

  3. Jay Yencich on January 22nd, 2016 12:20 pm

    “Patrick (Sandpoint, idaho): Can you tell us where Patrick Kivlehan would have ranked and since you saw him more, what you believe his prognosis is for his MLB future in Texas?

    J.J. Cooper: He won’t crack the Rangers Top 10 but he likely would have be in the 8-12 range in the Mariners’ system. More and more he looks like a usable bench bat at the big league level with a chance to provide versatility since he can play a multitude of positions.”

    Well, there you go.

  4. Hutch on January 22nd, 2016 2:08 pm

    I also find it interesting that McNamara stuck around while most of the rest of the organization got the axe. Prospects are a dismal science, but a system-wide under-performance like the Mariners saw in 2015 is kind of hard to excuse. I can’t really recall anything comparable happening to another organization in my short prospect-watching career, but maybe I just haven’t been paying attention to the Angels or Phillies farm systems the last few years.

    I wish Baker were still around to write another tabloidy tell-all piece featuring disaffected player development folks – seems like something was terminally wrong with the organization. Was the scout who publicly embarrassed one of the organization’s prospects as a bad apple or indicative of the type of person Z liked to employ?

  5. Jay Yencich on January 22nd, 2016 2:47 pm

    We are referring to Jesus Montero perhaps being dubbed The Emperor of Ice Cream, correct?

  6. MrZDevotee on January 22nd, 2016 9:47 pm

    Can’t the “new-and-improved” Jesus Montero re-qualify for prospect status? He’s a completely new player now. Honest.

  7. maqman on January 23rd, 2016 3:07 am

    The crew at Everett may well produce a winner or two, there was some talent and positive results out of them. It will be interesting to see what emphasis guides our next amateur draft. I’m guessing athletic types that can C the Z, contact hitters and control pitchers.

  8. Jay Yencich on January 23rd, 2016 8:26 am

    I’d expect a college emphasis in the next draft. They have talked about it.

  9. Coug1990 on January 23rd, 2016 9:25 am

    I wonder how much change in drafting philosophy the Mariners will have under this new regime. Just because the scouting director is the same, I am guessing that McNamara will target an entirely different type of player with Dipoto in charge.

  10. heyoka on January 25th, 2016 2:02 pm

    I prefer athletes that excel in other sports, such as golf, bowling, or pinball.
    I like switch pitchers who change which arm they’re going to throw with based on who’s coming to the plate.
    As an overall strategy, I’m thinking the ideal baseball player likes fast women and cigars. But I don’t need to tell Dipoto that.

  11. Jay Yencich on January 26th, 2016 11:05 am

    Don’t forget that you can’t sign a player with an ugly girlfriend because that means he has low self-esteem.

  12. Sowulo on January 26th, 2016 11:39 pm


    I am ambidextrous. In addition to baseball and basketball, I played major league fast pitch softball, was a 4-handicap golfer and professional bowler. I also won tournaments in ping-pong and horseshoes. Oh, and I have a beautiful wife who is 20 years younger than I.

    Jerry *waves hands* I’m over here……

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