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2013 Fantasy Baseball Prospects Recap: Seattle Mariners

Taijuan Walker
Taijuan Walker

Jul 14, 2013; Flushing , NY, USA; USA pitcher Taijuan Walker throws a pitch during the second inning of the 2013 All Star Futures Game at Citi Field. Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

We go up the Pacific Coast and check out the Seattle Mariners’ farm system for those owners in Fantasy Baseball Dynasty/Keeper Leagues. The Mariners are loaded in the farm system, especially at pitching. However, this year alone, we’ve seen infielders Mike ZuninoNick Franklin, and Brad Miller get a chance to gain valuable experience at the big league level. It was supposed to be Franklin and Dustin Ackley being the Mariners’ double-play combo of the future. Ackley is now getting at bats at center field. What’s the old adage in baseball again? As long as your team is strong up the middle, defensively (and offensively, of course), you have a shot at winning more often than not. Looks like the Mariners might be giving us a glimpse of their future now, but clearly, the anchor of this franchise lies in their future starting rotation.

Before we move on, here’s a quick recap of the other teams that we have reviewed so far:

[Disclaimer: The players listed are based on the research I undertook entering the 2013 season. Players that were worth monitoring all season long are based on the paradigm that I used to rank my 2012 prospects’ list with an emphasis on being called up sooner rather than later and the impact each player might make in terms of fantasy baseball. However, unlike in years past, I actually selected a few, dark horse, low-level prospects with high potential that were still years away from coming close to making an impact to their big league clubs. Players that are currently with their Major League Baseball team will not be reviewed in this series].

Danny Hultzen–SP–2013 (ETA)

2013 Outlook: Needs to work on control; good mid-rotation starter; low-90s fastball with movement; good changeup and slider; arguably the best left-handed pitching prospect in all of baseball.

Player

Class

IP

W

L

ERA

WHIP

K/9

BB/9

H/9

HR/9

Danny Hultzen

AAA

28.7

4

1

2.20

0.91

9.7

2.2

6.0

0.3

Hultzen didn’t get the standard treatment that most prospects get when they start their pro career. No, Hultzen was thrown to the wolves and began his pro career in Double-A baseball in 2012. He survived, for the most part, and was on the fast track to getting a shot with the big league club. Unfortunately, a shoulder injury derailed him from achieving his ultimate goal in early July and it looks like he will be sidelined for the rest of the 2013 season. Owners should definitely take advantage of his plummeting stock as this is a prime opportunity to pick up one of the best pitching prospects in the game right now. He may not have a high ceiling, but he has a good feel for pitching and that should only help him in the next level. Grab him while he’s available because once he’s healthy, his price will go up again.

Taijuan Walker–SP–2014

2013 Outlook: Only 20, arguably best right-handed pitching prospect in baseball; intimidating pitcher with high velocity; needs to bulk up; work on command; frontline starter

Player

Class

IP

W

L

ERA

WHIP

K/9

BB/9

H/9

HR/9

Taijuan Walker

AA

84.0

4

7

2.46

1.05

10.3

3.2

6.2

0.6

 

AAA

46.3

3

3

4.27

1.42

9.5

4.1

8.7

1.0

Don’t be fooled by the win-loss record, Walker dominated Double-A ball this season and was awarded the Southern League’s Best Breaking Pitch. Well-deserved seeing how he posted a K/9 of 10.3. He was promoted in late June to Triple-A and although the strikeouts are still there, the control issues have been magnified with more seasoned hitters at this current level. Hultzen also struggled in Triple-A last season before he established great numbers in 2013. Many Mariners’ fans are demanding that the Mariners call up Walker, but he obviously needs more polish to his game. Walker is currently owned in 31% of CBS Fantasy Baseball Leagues. The real question is, of that 31%, how many are Dynasty/Keeper leagues? If you’re lucky enough to have Walker stuck in waivers, do not hesitate to pick him up. But it’s safe to assume that Walker is locked up in most long-term baseball leagues. The only way to get him at this juncture would be in a trade.

James Paxton–SP–2013

2013 Outlook: Big lefty with good strikeout potential; command and changeup needs improving; Fastball can reach upper 90s; issues with control. If he falters as a starter, he can definitely be a reliever.

Player

Class

IP

W

L

ERA

WHIP

K/9

BB/9

H/9

HR/9

James Paxton

AAA

131.0

7

10

4.26

1.50

9.3

4.6

8.1

0.4

Control continues to be a problem for Paxton, but he sure knows how to strike hitters out. It’s disappointing to see that Paxton is not close to being called up to the Mariners as he might need more time to develop as a pitcher in the minors. If he can drastically cut back on the walks, we might be talking about a dominant pitcher. The only good thing that comes out of Paxton’s struggles is that he may be available if you’re looking to pick up a young pitcher.

Victor Sanchez–SP–2016

2013 Outlook: Only 18 years-old, but all ready receiving Bartolo Colon comparisons (listed at 6-0, 255 lbs.); Potential to have three, above-average pitches; Needs to work on command.

Player

Class

IP

W

L

ERA

WHIP

K/9

BB/9

H/9

HR/9

Victor Sanchez

A

101.3

6

5

2.75

1.04

6.1

1.3

8.0

0.4

Sanchez has had an impressive campaign so far this season. Yes, the strikeouts are not there, but that BB/9 of 1.3 is the stuff that fantasy leaguers dream of. And he’s only 18! A lot of prospects his age can’t even find the strike zone if you gave them directions and a GPS system. This “kid” not only knows how to pitch, but already has a no-hitter under his belt. Now, we still need to see how he does in the higher classes, but keep an eye on Victor Sanchez, especially if he can find a way to raise that strikeout rate.

Stefen Romero–2B–2014

2013 Outlook: Good hitter with some pop

Player

Class

PA

HR

RBI

2B

BB

SO

AVG

OBP

SLG

Stefen Romero

AAA

373

7

62

23

23

73

.281

.330

.433

Romero has proven to be a good contact hitter, judging by his .281 batting average and BABIP of .335. The approach at the plate isn’t as refined as one would hope from a 24 year-old prospect. His on-base percentage is a bit low, but a .763 OPS is pretty adequate for a second baseman. And as predicted in the preseason, he does have some pop with seven dingers and 23 doubles, as well as a flair for the dramatics. The downside to Romero is that the Mariners all ready have a second baseman on their squad in Franklin, but that’s the beauty about Romero: he’s very versatile. He’s listed at second here, but he’s played third base, and other publications have him listed as an outfielder. So he’s not the next Ryne Sandberg, but he could be a poor man’s Ben Zobrist if he can qualify at different positions.

Tyler Pike–SP–2016

2013 Outlook: Only 19, but left-hander is all ready armed with low-90s fastball; Can develop 3 plus pitches.

Player

Class

IP

W

L

ERA

WHIP

K/9

BB/9

H/9

HR/9

Tyler Pike

A

107.3

7

4

2.35

1.17

7.4

4.6

6.0

0.4

If you missed out on any of the other, heralded Mariners’ starting pitchers, you still have a chance at snatching up Tyler Pike. Walks are way too high and his K/9 has seen a considerable drop, but Pike has proven to be a good starter in his short, pro career and he was even named an All-Star for the Midwest League this year.

As mentioned before, the Mariners are loaded with talent in their farm system. And with another losing season on the horizon, they have a chance to restock with even more prospects.

MISSING THE CUT

  • Gabriel Guerrero–OF–2016: Yes, this is Vladimir Guerrero’s nephew. In terms of facial features, he looks a lot like his famous uncle. He also has his uncle’s free-swinging approach at the plate. For heaven’s sake, he even has his uncle’s arm as he was voted to have the Best Outfield Arm by the coaches and managers of  the Midwest League. Gabriel is far from being a finished product at only 19 years of age, but he has immense potential. Definitely worth monitoring.

BRINGING THE HORIZON

  • D.J. Peterson–3B–2016: The Mariners’ first round pick in this year’s draft, Peterson has absolutely crushed the ball in both of his stops in his first year of pro baseball. If you’re looking for a long-term candidate at third base, Peterson might be your guy.

Up next, we will switch leagues and begin checking out the National League West.

Scouting Reports courtesy of mlb.combaseballprospectus.com, and baseballamerica.com

Stats courtesy of Baseball Prospectus and are good through August 19, 2013.

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