SeattleClubhouse Top-50: 25-21

SeattleClubhouse gives you an inside look at the Top-50 prospects in the Mariners organization as it stands here at the end of the 2011 season. Rankings complete with some scouting notes, a few quotes and player info. Here now is our sixth set of five prospects as we start the top half of our 50.

Here at SeattleClubhouse, our primary goal is to get information on Mariners players to the fans that want the knowledge. Looking beyond the numbers and using input from scouts and other baseball personnel and putting that together with my own input, I am going to give you a brief rundown on quite a few names in the Seattle organization that are worth tracking. Keep in mind that while the top five or seven players are fairly secure in their rankings, the rest of these players' positions in the rankings will be very fluid going forward.

Part six of our 10-part series of initial rankings of the 50 best prospects in the Seattle Mariners organization is below. Click the numbers to see Prospects No. 50-46, 45-41, 40-36, 35-31 and 30-26.

25. Dan Cortes 24-years-old, relief pitcher, Triple-A Tacoma
Cortes had a nice September audition in 2010 for Seattle, throwing five innings over four games and flashing his high 90s fastball with more command than he had shown in recent memory. But he was terribly wild early in Spring Training and pretty much lost a shot at a big league job our of camp because of it.

The command didn't exactly come back to him in Triple-A Tacoma as he walked 6.69 batters per nine in 39 innings down therein two stints, but his arm is still tantalizing enough that he got two more shots with the M's during the season, also. While he was with Seattle, the most obvious changes from the prior season were the drop in his fastball velocity (regularly 94-96 instead of 96-98) and the preference of the 12/6 curveball over the slider. He still threw both pitches, but the slider--which he has commanded better over his career but which doesn't have a ton of break--was used very infrequently. Add to that the fact that Cortes often bounced the curveball. He threw 57% strikes, but his balls out of the zone were often way out of the zone. Cortes certainly has stuff that he can get big league hitters out with when his command and control are right, but those days have been few and far between of late. He will have another shot at a bullpen job next spring, but if his control fails him again it will be back to Tacoma.

24. Steven Proscia 21-years-old, third baseman, High-A High Desert
Proscia was the Mariners seventh round pick this past June and the third player the M's grabbed from Virginia in the draft. He was typically the Cavaliers' cleanup hitter and he showed some good power with High Desert in his 44 games there this season...with one all-too-familiar asterisk.

Proscia hit 12 home runs and 11 doubles in those 44 games--with five homers coming in his last seven games of the season--but he hit 11 of those long balls at home in Adelanto, which as we all know is one of the friendliest hitter-friendly places in all of baseball. Add to that stat the fact that Proscia coerced just 4 bases on balls in 192 plate appearances while striking out 33 times and his .303/.319/.568 debut isn't as great as it looks on first glance. That said, he has a good approach at the plate, uses the whole field (though most of his power is to the left of center) and does have average or slightly above average power, has soft hands and a strong accurate arm at third base. He played about one-third of his games at first base for the Mavs. He was murder on left-handers, posting a .400/.429/.783 slash in 60 plate appearances against them, and maybe he's only a platoon bat in the long run. But with just 44 games of pro ball under his belt, Proscia also might turn into a legit corner player if his bat develops. He could return to High Desert in 2012 or make the jump to Double-A with a good spring.

23. Jabari Blash 22-years-old, outfielder, Short Season Everett
Blash signed with the Mariners after being picked by the club in the eighth round of the 2010 draft--the third time in four years he had been drafted. A native of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Blash played a lot of basketball growing up and really just started playing the game of baseball full-time as a high school junior, but he is a tall (6-foot-4), wiry strong (195 pounds), athletic outfielder that really blossomed in 2011 with Everett in the Northwest League.

After playing well in his debut in 2010 in Pulaski (.266/.367/.477 in 32 games), he started this year in Clinton, and while he was getting on base at a .401 clip, he was struggling with his approach there before being demoted to Everett after 42 games. The season ended with Blash a Northwest League All-Star as he put up a league best .574 slugging percentage while slugging 11 home runs and stealing 10 bases for the AquaSox. He also drew 66 walks while striking out 108 times on the season as a whole in 99 games. As those stats suggest, Blash has a lot of tools, but the right-hander is raw. A lot of his patience and plate discipline have actually been tied to him being too selective at the plate, to the point that he was getting himself into holes (think Michael Saunders). Jabari acknowledged this in an interview just before his demotion to Everett, but he still fell into that habit while playing for the AquaSox at times. But he has plus power, plus speed once he's underway and a good throwing arm for a corner. He likely won't hit .280 or higher, but the rest of his game can make him a valuable piece for the organization and a potential future big league starter. 2012 should see him back in the Midwest League with a better approach and likely a few more lb's on his frame.

22. Martin Peguero 17-years-old, shortstop, Arizona Rookie League Mariners
Peguero (known to M's fans as Esteilon when he signed) came to the states in his first season with the organization and played under the watchful eyes of Mariners staffers in the Arizona League this season. At just 17 years of age he was very young for the league, but his bat--which is easily his best tool and very advanced for someone so young--was up for the challenge.

The young right-handed hitting Peguero played shortstop and hit leadoff most of the time for the team, and he showed great bat speed and good speed on the bases--better than expected, really, as he tallied 17 infield hits to go along with 17 steals--while hitting a very respectable .279/.309/.382. His bat speed is generated from his very strong, quick wrists. He has a nice level swing-path and makes solid contact while hitting a lot of line drives gap to gap. He only drew six walks, but he also only struck out 22 times, which gives some weight to the thought when he was drafted that he already had a very good feel for the strike zone. I got to watch him quite a bit in Spring Training, and his arm strength is at least average, but his footwork was forgettable and his throws get away from him frequently. He probably isn't a shortstop long-term, but he's going to have to play (or grow) himself off that position as the M's aren't going to force him off. But while he grows and matures, the bat will determine where he best fits on the diamond. While he is still a long ways away from being on the big league radar, he could see Pulaski or even Everett in 2012.

21. Erasmo Ramirez 21-years-old, starting pitcher, Triple-A Tacoma
Ramirez burst onto the prospect scene back in 2009 when he won the Triple Crown in the Venezuelan League and was named the Mariners minor league pitcher of the year (11-1, 0.51 ERA, 0.67 WHIP, 16:1 SO:BB ratio). Back then he was primarily in the 90-92 range with his fastball but he was working hitters over with a plus changeup.

The changeup is still there, but now his fastball is routinely 92-94 and his slider--which is pretty short but which offers a good change of pace--is getting better. Ramirez's command is also getting better and starting to catch up with his control. He's never walked a lot of hitters (1.3 BB/9 for his minor league career), but now he is throwing more quality strikes. It all starts with his fastball, and Ramirez is building a lot of confidence in that pitch. Although he had a 5.10 ERA in seven Triple-A starts, he had three starts where he was simply lights out, highlighted by his zero walk/11 strikeout performance over 8 1/3 against Iowa on August 14th. He needs to keep the ball down and rely on getting ground balls to help himself out. That said, the fastball-changeup combo are already good enough that he could realistically challenge for a rotation spot next spring. More likely he'll end up back in Tacoma, but at just 21-years-old, he is certainly an arm that could figure into the future for Seattle.

That's it for prospects 25-21. Things start to get more interesting next week as we crack the Top-20, so be sure to check back on Friday as we reveal the next five players in our countdown to the top prospects in the Mariners system.

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