Mariners Sign Dominician Prospect

With August 30th come and gone Leury Vargas became eligible and has officially signed a contract with the Seattle Mariners. After finally turning the ripe old age of 16, yesterday, the big 6’3, 200+ lb first basemen joined the organization today.

The baby face left hander has a huge frame and a fluid swing with obvious power potential.  But he’s noticeably raw on the youtube videos and considering his age and how well he’s going to have to hit, I suspect it’s going to be a while before we ever see him stateside.

It’s always fun to get a young man in the organization who is considered to be one of the better hitters on the international market. But it’s impossible to really know what this means for the future of the organization. You know me I’ll be keeping my eye on him and we’ll watch his progress over the years. Hopefully it’ll all be positive.

Posted in 2012, International Free-Agency, Prospect Talk | Tagged | 1 Comment

Padres And Their Search For Pitching

I don’t know what goes on in General Managers heads. I’ve never been one. Don’t know what all they consider over the course of a season that is ending and not headed to the playoffs. But according to Ken Rosenthal the Padres are considering changing their off-season plan from “rebuilding” to possibly contending next year.

The Padres are 41-30 since June 10, the fourth-best record in the National League – and best in the NL West. Headley, the subject of trade discussions in July, has a .921 OPS since the All-Star break, 15th best in the NL.

This isn’t uncanny, they have a decent, not altogether bad, line-up/pitching staff and the NL West seems like a crapshoot from year to year. Considering the Giants inept offence, the Rockies pitching issues and the inconsistency of the Diamondbacks, why wouldn’t they look to take a stab at the division? It makes sense to me.

Here is what got me from Rosenthals article:

Starting pitching, then, would be the Padres’ biggest concern, particularly when so many of their young starters will be coming off injuries next season.

So they’ll be looking for pitches cool…

“…But if possible, sources say, they also would like to add a higher-impact starter – maybe even New York Yankees righty Hiroki Kuroda.

Padres general manager Josh Byrnes long has liked Kuroda, first trying to sign him out of Japan as the Arizona Diamondbacks’ GM in 2007, only to lose him to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Byrnes actually tried again last off-season, but didn’t have enough payroll flexibility to afford both Kuroda and Quentin.

Under new ownership, that could change.”

It would make sense that the Padres have the money to make additions to their roster, considering new ownership. If it works and they start winning more ball games they could even steadily increase their budget. I think of how they would nickel and dime everything in the past and that they could be headed in a positive direction. But, that doesn’t mean the age of being conservative is over.

Kuroda may, or may not, be within their grasp fiscally. According to some map, somewhere, San Diego is supposedly still in south California, similar to LA. It’s a reasonable argument to make that he, Kuroda, could consider an offer back to the West Coast. But there wasn’t many rumours between the Padres and Kuroda last year and so it’s hard to really take this as any more than conjecture, especially if after this season Kuroda is still seeking a deal worth $13-15 mil.

If not Kuroda, the Padres could end up with another veteran free agent from a group that is expected to include Ryan Dempster, Anibal Sanchez and Edwin Jackson, and possibly Dan Haren, Ervin Santana and Gavin Floyd.

Now the thing is that Josh Brynes is a smart guy. Judging on past moves he seems just as knowledgeable about guys out of NPB (Japanese professional baseball) as the rest of the league. He’s been connected to Kuroda in the past as well as So Taguchi and  Hisanori Takahashi. Not to mention it was also rumoured that while at the Dbacks helm he looked at both Yu Darvish and Hisashi Iwakuma prior to their transfer over to the states.

Iwakuma is a free-agent at the end of the year and an underrated one. I’d be really surprised if he was offered a deal from any team over $5 mil annually but I’d also be surprised if he didn’t generate a lot of interest from several different clubs.

Kuroda and Iwakuma are similar pitches in the sense of out comes. They’ll give you 5-7 innings, they’ll walk 1 – 3 batters, strike out half-a-dozen and once in awhile they’ll run into a gopher ball problem. But overall they’re quasi middle-of-the-rotation pitchers.

If I was a team looking at Kuroda and couldn’t have him, Iwakuma comes cheap and is a suitable alternative. Should be really interesting to see how the Mariners approach this off-season.

Posted in 2012, Off Season, Pure Speculation | Tagged | Leave a comment

California League Post Season All-Stars

I’m sure we will have the privilage of reading plenty of thoughts on this, but as it was just announced a few hours ago there isn’t much out there I thought I’d throw out my two cents.

First off here is the actual list:

NAME POS TEAM MLB ORG
John Hicks C High Desert SEA
C.J. Cron 1B Inland Empire LAA
Taylor Lindsey 2B Inland Empire LAA
Adam Duvall 3B San Jose SF
Billy Hamilton SS Bakersfield CIN
Leon Landry OF High Desert SEA
Kyle Parker OF Modesto COL
George Springer OF Lancaster HOU
Tommy Medica DH Lake Elsinore SD
Steven Proscia UT High Desert SEA
Matthew Andriese RHP Lake Elsinore SD
Christian Bergman RHP Modesto COL
Roenis Elias LHP High Desert SEA
Kevin Quackenbush RHP Lake Elsinore SD

—–

As you can see not a lot of surprises there as Landry is the one guy having a heck of a year. Hicks and Proscia are also named but the big one for me is Roenis Elias. He’s a guy that has continually gotten better as the season as gone on and he’s someone to really watch going forward.

Elias may yet end up an middling middle relief arm at the big league level but there is a part of me that thinks he could be a Charlie Furbush, good 8th inning arm, or maybe even a 4th starter at the major league level. Since the beginning of June he’s only had one start where he walked more than 2 batters. On top of which he’s averaging over 7 k’s per 9 innings.

It’s good all around to see Mariners names on the list. But I like seeing guys that you weren’t so sure on take steps forward. It’s exciting.

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Top 100: 75 – 51

This is the next 25 prospects on the road to the top-100, prospects 75-51. This is going to have some names on that I’m sure will you’ll most likely disagree with. I’ve considered this carefully and I’m sure that someone could likely provide a good argument for one of the following to be higher on the list.

Where they fall on the list below doesn’t negate the fact that they still present possible future value and they each still have opportunities to change the their fortune. Being rated 70 out of 100 doesn’t mean that I don’t think the individual won’t get to the big leagues.

There is a certain level of floor versus ceiling that one has to gauge when evaluating this players and it’s incredibly difficult. I don’t claim to be an expert by any means, this is all my opinion. Just take it for that.

 

 

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Posted in 2012, Prospect Listings, Prospect Talk, Top-100 | Leave a comment

Context

It’s funny to me how wrapped up fans and the media generally become after a couple of games. People get really high or they get really low. Which is funny because one of the biggest clichés that baseball players talk about is the “grind” of 162 game schedule. You can’t get too high and you can’t become frustrated or down.

We say things like you have to view the data in context or small sample size. But they’ve become just as cliché as anything that Crash Davis would make up or quote. This isn’t targeted at a specific fan base or at a specific site. It’s just something that I’ve thought a lot about recently with all the work that I’ve done preparing, racking and stacking all 100 prospects. Ultimately all of it comes from context to their season stats. James Jones is a prime example of this.

Right now Jone’s has a season wRC+ of 127, or is hitting better than 27% of the rest of the league, but a large part that is at home and it’s fuelled by a second half turn around. Context!

Denny Almonte is another one of these contextual cases. He’s increased his BB% by nearly double the previous season amount and lowered his overall K%. Those are facts. What are also facts is for the past 167 PA’s he’s struck out 55 times. That’s more than what he was striking out previously. He also hasn’t had the same power since early parts of May. Where he had hit 7 of his 11 home runs. Context!

Both guys are having OK seasons. But they’re doing it differently. We want to reward Jones more than what we want to reward Almonte. But the truth is they both have struggled greatly at times and they both have shown impressive hot streaks. Both have presumably taken steps forwards. Both are 23. One in AA doing ok and one in High-A in a hitters paradise doing what is expect. Which guy is “better”.

It’s really complicated to weigh all these things and apply a level of “context” to their hot streaks and their cold streaks. But these are things that I think about when ranking such players. This is what is important to think about when weighing out fielders such as Trayvon Robinson against Casper Wells.

I know that a lot of us really like Wells, myself included. But there is a context and a reason for why the organization wanted Robinson around. We know that Wells is an average to potentially above average outfielder. He hits in streaks and part of that is due to the amount of pitches he misses.

But Robinson is a bit of an enigma. Almost an offensive inverse of Wells. More speed than power but he does still have power, much in the way that Casper Wells has good closing speed.  The organization needs to see what he can do at the major league level and whether he’s an everyday bat or a 4th outfielder.

Last year I think there was a few of us that was rather certain he could be a major league outfielder. Now, we’re less certain. I think, though I don’t know, that the organization feels the same way. He didn’t light the world on fire down at AAA but he some really important steps forward.

He cut down on his strike outs and he’s keeping the walks. He’s not shown the same “power” as he did down in lavash hitters paradise that is Albuquerque, New Mexico but he’s  driving the ball at an uncanny and unsustainable rate. He’s also providing good defense out in left field.

Wells is unquestionably the better out field, between the two. However, it makes sense for the organization to try to see what value is there in Robinson going forward at the major league level. The Mariners are going to have to make so tough calls next season to build this club into a .500 team. If they are forced to include an outfielder (Wells, Saunders, Guti) to get whatever other piece they want/need, they need to know what they have in depth at the major league level.

It’s not popular and I would rather see Wells out there too. But this is important not just for this season but next. Say what you want about Robinson, but he’s making a convincing argument to become relevant and that may suck for Wells supporters but it’s good for the organization.

Posted in 2012, Context, Next Season, Prospect Talk, Stats, Trade Scenario | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Top 100: 100-76

Well, here we are. After a month and a half of putting this list together and it’s about as ready as it’s ever going to be. Please, again, realize that I’m not an “expert”.

This is all recreational for me and I’m sure that there are going to be plenty of disagreements, but this is my opinion. No one is saying it’s right and no one is saying it’s better than anything anyone else produces.

Down we go:

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Top 100 Count Down: It’s Coming…

Over the next week I’ll be posting my personal take of who I believe are the top-100 prospects in the Mariners organization. This is long and subjective, which will lead to people thinking I’m stupid.

That’s okay, I do a lot of stupid things and my opinions are just that… my opinions. Take them as such and understand this is less of an exact order and more of a here is a good list of individuals to watch going forward in the order that I find most appropriate.

I took it a step further than I normally do with a short profile on each and every one of the guys I have listed. Many of the comments are based upon data collected either from an internet publication (i.e. Project Prospect, Baseball America, Perfect Game, ect..), a trusted individual that follows the team as closely as I do (Rick Randall, Lonnie Mathias, Alex Carson and Conor Dowley).

This year has been a very cool and unique experience. I’ve gotten to have conversations with people like Chris Gwynn (Mariners farm director), almost a dozen scouts and three different opportunities to see the Generals. There is the added bonus of having the opportunity to watch so many other minor league farm hands through MiLB.tv.

I’m hardly as smart as I think I am. Please don’t take anything I present as much more than some wild ramblings. That’s basically what they are. But, prior to kicking it all off here are a few individuals that did not make the cut this year for various reasons.

While there is no reason too, I wanted to take a few paragraphs and highlight them. This year more than either two previous years, just seemed harder to complete. The last few years was more trying to find who was really “worth” putting on the list. This year I find myself having to justify keeping players off it.

So with that said, here are a few guys who aren’t on the list but are ones to watch and may even make the list next season.

Prospects:

Tyler Jones, 21, C, Rookie Arizona League Mariners

Jones is a great example of great UDFA finds by the organization. He’s got a lot to like about him offensive while still being rather young. No word on whether he can stick behind the plate, but he’s the former battery mate of James Jones whom the Mariners drafted back in 2009. So it’s a good bet they are familiar with the young man and his ability to be behind the plate.

Matt Anderson, 20, RHP, Rookie Arizona League Mariners

A guy that Jason Churchill wrote about several weeks ago. Good fastball, interesting slider and yet another UDFA. Time will tell if the Mariners stick with him in the rotation or keep him in the pen

Jose Leal, 17, OF, Rookie Arizona League Mariners

One from the 2011 crop of International Free-Agents with power and some various other physical tools. Power is, of course, the calling card. He’s looks to follow after those before him in the development mold of Phillips Castillo and Guillermo Pimentel.

I expect to see him in Pulaski next year. There is a chance that we may hear about him when Baseball America does their Rookie Arizona League spread. It’s usually bound to contain some juicy gossip on at least one or two Mariner internationals.

Unknown But Stats Are Interesting:

Rigoberto Garcia, 18, RHP, Pulaski Mariners

Two years ago Bob Engle compared him to Michael Pineda. Looking at his picture on MiLB he could fool you into thinking it’s a picture of Pineda four years ago. 6’5 he’s got a big frame and he’s got a decent K/BB ratio (2.3) just needs to limit his HR’s and he should see his FIP come down.

Miguel Sanchez, 20, C, Rookie Arizona League Mariners

Limited display of power with a .366 SLG. But has 14 BB’s in 86 PA’s and is running a ratio of 1:1 K/BB. Should be interesting to see him going forward.

Nate Koneski, 21, LHP, Pulaski Mariners

He’s old for the league, I get that, but good control and swing and miss stuff. It’s not surprising. He should be dominating the league but not everyone does and it just makes him interesting. So sue me… we all have a weak arch type.

Where Did He Go?

Willy Kesler,RHP, High Desert – Released

Fray Martinez, RHP, High Desert -Released

Phillippe Valiquette, LHP, Tacoma – Released

Valiquetee was released back in early April but a lot of people didn’t catch it and I being one of those didn’t even realize it until May. I went to check up on him and he wasn’t pitching. Sort of caught me by surprise.

Kesler was released back in July, which was kind of sad to me. He had a really good season last year in HD and I thought he might have earned a promotion. He came out struggling and never truly fixed what was giving him so many issues. He was old for the league but in general he was a good guy it’s too bad that he didn’t stick around.

Fray Martinez made a bunch of noise last spring with his bullpen sessions where he was routinely touching 100 mph with his fastball. Problem was he had limited command of the pitch and he couldn’t stay healthy. He has pitched an inning this year and while guys that throw gas are fun there is reason why guys like this go from organization to organization trying to stick around.

Dropping Stock Like Wall Street:

Chih-Hsien Chiang, OF, Jackson – Demoted from Triple-A to Double-A

Chiang had a terrible time in Tacoma posting a wRC+ of 42. He’s improved since his demotion to Jackson now with a wRC+ of 78.  I’ll be real surprised if he’s still with the organization come next spring. A lot of tough calls going to be coming up.

Kevin Rivers, 23, OF, Clinton – Demoted from High-A to Class-A

I like Rivers. He’s got pop, and good plate discipline. But unfortunately he swings and misses too much and he struggled against some advanced breaking balls in High-A. Time will only tell if the organization is going to give him a chance. But I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets one more opportunity to stick around.

Steve Baron, 21, C, Clinton – Ugh…

Reports I’m hearing from Clinton are that Baron’s skills as a catcher have actually taken a slight step back and despite the fact he’s made relatively moderate improvements at the plate; at this point his offensive production even with above average defense isn’t enough to carry him to Seattle.

He’s got another year or two to try and improve but it’s not looking good at this point. While you can never really play it over in your mind like this, as you always have 20/20 vision into the past, it wasn’t really hard to see it heading this way from the beginning. It’s also frustrating to see him drafted just in front of guys like Skaggs, Brothers and Richards. They are doing so well and making major league contributions while Baron is doing so poorly.

But that’s life. Can’t win them all.

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