’17 40-Man Preview Extravaganza

Jay Yencich · November 13, 2017 at 7:30 am · Filed Under Mariners, Minor Leagues 

Well, it’s that time of the year again. If you sense less enthusiastic intonations in my pixels this time around, you’re not wrong. As exciting… debatably exciting, as previous incarnations of the 40-man preview were, this year we find our cupboards more barren and the reasons are two-fold. One, as I’ve noted previously with some sneering, is that there has been some eagerness on our general manager’s part to send off risks for modest ceilings. Had we projected forward from the same time in 2016, then as 2017 40-man offseason additions, we likely would have been thinking about Tyler O’Neill and Zack Littell as prep draftees from ’13 and Luiz Gohara as an international signing as headliners. Heck, we could’ve even talked up the finer points of Pablo Lopez. Joke’s on us, it seems. The second reason is that our ’14 draft was not a major one for college selections (or any selections, really). The Rays will probably add Ryan Yarbrough and the Giants might add Tyler Herb, but we already have Altavilla on the roster and the rest have not much distinguished themselves. As exhaustive as I used to be in projecting guys who even had a ghost of a chance, I don’t think many losses from this group would come back to haunt us (rimshot).

I am duty-bound to report back on my findings, although I feel as if the acquisitions of Mike Marjama and David Freitas mean that we can safely overlook the coterie of catcher in the high minors, to say nothing of the fact that a lot of those fringe candidates are technically minor league free agents at the moment. The deadline we’re looking at for all additions would be Nov. 20th at 5 pm PT / 8 pm ET. Credit to Baseball America for providing that information as Major League Baseball’s own website doesn’t often bother anymore.

Omissions will include Jordan Cowan (faded after good start to end up sub-.700 in OPS), Adonis de la Cruz (reliever, walks, SSS), Anjul Hernandez (has some Ks, is youngish, great googly moogly walks and hits), and Chris Mariscal (older and exposed in double-A stint). Those I’ve mentioned in the past that haven’t really done much to make their cases since, I’ll also skip. Wow, sub-1500 words? I’m losing my edge.

CF Ian Miller, L/R, 6’0”, 170 lbs, 2/21/92, 14th round 2013
(AA) 83 G, 384 PA, 63 R, 112 H, 18 2B, 3 3B, 4 HR, 29 RBI, 30 SB, 4 CS, 69/28 K/BB, .326/.382/.430
(AAA) 41 G, 177 PA, 22 R, 45 H, 4 2B, 2 3B, 8 HR, 6 RBI, 13 SB, CS, 33/5 K/BB, .268/.297/.315
Pros: Elite speed, breakout in double-A, name Spoonerizes to “Man Iiller”
Cons: Fourth-outfielder skillset, meh in Tacoma, shorter window

When we talk about Ian Miller, I’m reminded of the surrounding discussions about Ji-man Choi several years ago, another prospect who had a competent skillset but was ostensibly blocked at the major league level and had more touted prospects on his heels. The same is true in this case. Whether we pursue additional outfielders in the offseason or no, Haniger, Gamel, and Heredia have put their names in there as semi-firm commitments, or at least cost-effective ones. Added to that, our probable “centerfielder of the future” in Braden Bishop is just one step behind. The cool thing for Miller is that centerfielders who can sub in as pinch-runners are in greater demand than OBP-heavy first basemen. That almost certainly guarantees him some sort of major league career, we just don’t know whether it will end up being with us or elsewhere. All this being said, the fact that the M’s DFA’d Jacob Hanneman and lost him to the Cubs (from whence he came) frees up a spot on the depth chart that Miller probably should have filled in September anyway.

OF Chuck Taylor, S/L, 5’11”, 200 lbs, 9/21/93, Rule 5 2016
(AA) 122 G, 545 PA, 74 R, 129 H, 25 2B, 3 3B, 9 HR, 58 RBI, 10 SB, 2 CS, 90/66 K/BB, .274/.369/.397
Pros: Built-in marketing, good on-base skills, the first half
Cons: Not a big base-stealing threat despite speed, the second half

A summation of Chuck Taylor’s season might easily be provided by what he did with a hundred+ at-bats in May versus June. In May, he hit .417/.492/.519 with a 16/14 K/BB. In June, .183/.243/.375 with a 24/8 K/BB. Which version is the real version? It’s a good question because in two months did he have a 1.000+ OPS and in two, below .650. The narrative that emerged during the first half where, even with an awful start to June, he hit .313/.407/.464 overall, was that as a former high school football player, he was finally, finally coming into his own as a hitter. Faith in that narrative would later disappear along with myriad other good things we would have liked to have had but we not permitted due to reasons obscure. Whatever the reasons, changed approach in the bad months or what have you, the streakiness does not inspire confidence.

CF Luis Liberato, L/L, 6’1”, 175 lbs, 12/18/1995, Dominican Republic 2012
(A) 57 G, 223 PA, 34 R, 44 H, 5 2B, 9 3B, 6 HR, 22 RBI, 5 SB, 4 CS, 51/23 K/BB, .230/.309/.445
(A+) 68 G, 283 PA, 41 R, 66 H, 11 2B, 5 3B, 8 HR, 22 RBI, 7 SB, 4 CS, 80/21 K/BB, .257/.314/.432
Pros: Good defense, young at each level he’s played, triples!
Cons: “Best offensive season” is a low bar, runs like a dope

Were I inclined to damn with faint praise, I could point out that Liberato is the most successful of our big dollar Latin American outfielder signings. The trouble is, over the years we’ve made myriad excuses for his not performing —including some fairly reasonable ones like DL time— and you can only repeat the same lines for so many years before it becomes tiresome for all parties involved. I’m a never-say-never type in player development, but here are some good reasons why he wouldn’t be selected in the Rule 5: Even though the speed leads to triples, his stolen base efficiency sucks and none of his defensive tools are good enough to make him a game-changer as a fourth/fifth outfielder.

C/3B/1B Joe DeCarlo, R/R, 6’0”, 205 lbs, 9/13/93, 2nd round 2012
(A+) 96 G, 381 PA, 45 R, 78 H, 14 2B, 2 3B, 13 HR, 46 RBI, SB, 2 CS, 99/42 K/BB, .240/.346/.415
Pros: Always has had good secondary average, would hit well enough for a backstop
Cons: Contact is a challenge, raw behind plate, platoon split, many catchers on 40-man

Having drawn the lotto ticket of a taxi squad (active twice a week) catcher, the Mariners decided to send DeCarlo to the Arizona Fall League, which makes about as much sense as anything. DeCarlo was that fun Mac pick of “second round, grab an iffy shortstop!” back in the day, but as with the Littlewood decision, has ultimately turned backstop to take some pressure off an erratic bat by transferring said pressure to his defense, I guess. Whatever the case, he lost forty-five points of average when facing right-handers, and even if the power wasn’t sapped too much, the profile of a RH-hitting backstop convert doesn’t have too broad an appeal.

LHP Michael Suarez, 6’2, 180 lbs, 3/21/1995, Venezuela 2013
(A-) 7-2, 13 G, 5 GS, 4.87 ERA in 57.1 IP, 68 H (4 HR), 57/19 K/BB, 3 HB, 6 WP
Pros: Good K-rate, left-handed and alive, landed in the NWL top ten for Ks
Cons: Shifted to relief, limited stateside sample, oh my goodness those hits

I didn’t have much to go on with Suarez at the start of the season and I don’t have much more now. He represents a trend in our Latin American signings of going after guys after the usual 16/17 July 2nd window and instead going for late bloomers, seeing as how he was about eighteen when he inked and didn’t turn up in the states until late 2016. Lacking scouting data, let’s talk numbers! Dude walks southpaws every other inning. He also had the same walk rate in twenty starting innings, while he had 39/9 K/BB in 37.1 relief innings. Among oddities, .300+ average against in both roles, but twice as many grounders as a starter? I don’t get it, but I’d suggest the late season demotion was for the sake of tinkering. In another year, I don’t even mention him.

LHP Spencer Herrmann, 6’4”, 235 lbs, 8/6/1993, 36th round 2014

(A+) 4-6, 36 G (13 GS), 3.53 ERA in 104.2 IP, 104.2 IP, 103 H (10 HR), 103/29 K/BB, 6 HB, 6 WP
Pros: Pretty tough on LHB, can go multiple innings
Cons: Not much of a weapon against RHB, secondary averages against LHB are middling

Ordinarily, I might admire Herrmann as a 36th rounder from a small college who, against the odds, has worked his way up the ladder, but that would be about it. The only reason I can really justify putting a thumb on the scale in this case is that DiPoto saw fit to employ Rzepczynski, so who knows? Herrmann could have the makings of a LOOGY. He had a .226 average allowed against lefty bats and seemed to take to relieving, when he stopped allowing home runs entirely. Two things that give me pause are that, even though we’re comparing 37.0 IP vs. LHB to 67.2 against RHB, you have five dingers allowed in both cases and near fifteen walks, which means that lefties don’t need to hit him in order to do damage.


8 Responses to “’17 40-Man Preview Extravaganza”

  1. Vortex on November 13th, 2017 6:04 pm

    Not much to be excited about.

  2. Westside guy on November 13th, 2017 6:53 pm

    Wow, this was fairly depressing… although I do appreciate your taking the time to write it, Jay.

    One a side note – are any of the players in the sidebar “future 40” still playing? 😀

  3. Westside guy on November 13th, 2017 6:56 pm

    To answer my own question…

    Yes! Brandon Morrow! And Doug Fister!

    And possibly Michael Saunders.

  4. Jay Yencich on November 13th, 2017 7:20 pm

    I would have removed the “Future Forty” from the sidebar ages ago, along with tidying up the sidebar links, but I was never given administrative access. I intend to pour one out on the ten-year anniversary of the Future Forty being updated, however.

  5. bookbook on November 13th, 2017 7:27 pm

    The good news: in any upcoming expansion draft, the Mariners wouldn’t have to worry about losing anything of value.

    The bad news? Huh. I guess there isn’t any bad news.

  6. Edward Baker on November 16th, 2017 11:41 pm

    The bad news. Of course there´s bad news. The bad news is identical to the good news, and that´s very bad news indeed.

  7. Jay Yencich on November 17th, 2017 10:11 am

    I don’t know if anyone’s still paying attention to this one but it’s close enough to the deadline and we are now [n+1] days since Jerry traded something that wasn’t nailed down.

    MLB Pipeline, the prospect wing of the official site, has been insinuating that individuals like Anthony Jimenez and Greifer Andrade would be eligible for the Rule 5 as well. Usually, I would expect the official sites to have better information than me, but I’m not so certain in this instance, so allow me to explain what kind of process I go through when I’m pulling up names here.

    My typical procedure is to take the most recent version of the media guide I have available and painstakingly go over the minor league entries with an eye out for specific ages and signing dates in tandem. With international prospects, while they often sign on July 2nd of a year (2013 in Jimenez’ and Andrade’s cases), the big July signings rarely play in the same year that they sign. Oftentimes, they have school or other things that they’re working on, and the understanding is that they are signing a contract that officially begins the following season. Media guides are great resources to look at for this because every so often, there’s a signing that’s so high-profile that they want to get the individual into the system immediately and invite them to fall camps in Peoria, at which point, their contract becomes valid for that year.

    Neither Jimenez nor Andrade have the usual markers in their bios that indicate that they traveled to Peoria to participate in team activities the same year that they were signed. For that reason, I didn’t include them in the rulings above. If I had, Jimenez would be a potential add on the grounds that he has a plus run tool and can play all three outfield positions capably. However, the drafting team would also have to factor for Jimenez’ spending most of the second half of the season on the DL and the fact that he’s never played above the Midwest League. Those two factors probably make the risk involved negate the reward, particularly when more capable outfielders are going to be available. As for Andrade, he doesn’t do any one thing well enough to fit the profile of a Rule 5 selection and has even less higher-level experience, so I don’t see him being at risk either.

  8. Jay Yencich on November 20th, 2017 7:36 pm

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