Mariners Prospects: Just Outside the Top-50

Having finished our countdown of the Top-50 prospects in the Seattle Mariners organization, we now give you a look at some more names to know in the minor leagues for the M's. Either because of short track record, injury problems or uninspiring statistical showings, these players didn't make the cut for that list, but they still show enough promise to warrant being on the watch list.

We recently completed our 2nd annual Top-50 countdown here at SeattleClubhouse, covering in great detail the 50 brightest prospects in the Seattle Mariners organization prior to the 2013 season. But digging a little deeper, this is a quick alphabetical look at 25 players who were in consideration for that Top-50 but who fell short of making it on to the list for one reason or another.

Short bios of each player are included here, but look for greater detail on them throughout the year if their performance warrants a closer look as we consider them for the post-2013 list.

Matt Anderson: RHP, 21, R/R
Anderson was a minor league free agent signing by Seattle in early August. Undrafted and new to pitching (he was a catcher and third baseman in high school), he showed a mid-90s fastball in a brief look in the AZL late last season and has a great reliever's build. He pitched one season as a starter for Long Beach State after transferring there from JC. Look for him to start in Everett in 2013 and likely move up to Low-A ball quickly if his stuff and command stay true.

Taylor Ard: 1B, 22, R/R
Ard's teammate, Patrick Kivlehan, won the Northwest League MVP in 2012, but it was Taylor that actually led the league in homers (12), RBI (58), doubles (21), extra base hits (36) and total bases (147). The M's 7th round selection out of Washington State and a native of Vancouver, WA, Ard also showed a good eye and above-average contact skills for a power hitter. He'll move to A ball in 2013 and look to build on that success.

Steven Baron: C, 22, R/R
Baron should be a familiar name to most that follow the M's minor leagues as he is a former 1st round pick. Touted as an advanced defensive catcher out of high school, his bat has lagged behind in development in his four seasons as a pro for Seattle as he has just a .216/.263/.328 line to this point in 1,001 plate appearances. 2012 was his best showing in that regard as he reached career bests in a number of categories. An injury ended his 2012 and he could be in Low-A Clinton for a 4th straight season in 2013, but he still has a shot because of his defense.

Matt Brazis: RHP, 23, R/R
Seemingly an afterthought as a 28th round pick out of Boston College where injuries limited him to 65 appearances in three years, including only 16 as a senior, Brazis exploded as a pro. Sitting 90-94 with his fastball and flashing a decent slider while working both sides of the plate well, Brazis struck out three times as many hitters (51) as he allowed to reach base (17) in his 27 2/3 innings at two stops in 2012 with a microscopic 0.65 ERA and 0.58 WHIP. He should be moved up to High-A to start 2013 and definitely deserves tracking.

Yordi Calderon: 3B/OF, 18, R/R
Calderon has shown impressive extra base potential with the bat since being signed by the M's in the summer of 2010, but he has a big strikeout number and an even bigger error total at third base that have held him down. Only three of his final 26 starts last season came as a third baseman, and that experiment (following 38 errors and an .861 fielding percentage at the position) is probably done now, but the bat still has promise that could play in a corner outfield position. He'll be 19 when minor league Spring Training starts and it could be time to challenge him with a promotion, but the way he finished in the VSL last year (52 Ks and only 29 hits over his last 47 games) could hold him there.

Danny Carroll: OF, 24, R/R
Carroll ranked 41st on our post-2011 Top-50, but injuries limited him to just 25 games in 2012 and he struggled to get anything going with the bat in that short time. Danny had 62 steals, 18 home runs and 88 walks in 2011 at High Desert and while his road OPS was nearly 200 points lower during that campaign, he did hit half of those homers away from Adelanto. His combination of speed, patience, power and plus defense in center make him an interesting follow, even though 2013 will be his seventh minor league season.

Ji-Man Choi: 1B, 21, L/R
Choi was signed out of Korea as a catcher, but with some extensive back injuries, his days of donning the tools of ignorance are behind him. With catching out of the picture and after missing the entire 2011 season, more pressure was put on Choi's bat, and he responded in 2012 by hitting .298/.420/.463, posting the 5th best OBP in the Mariners organization. He had a very good off-season showing in the Australian Baseball League, posting the same .420 OBP and hitting .310 with a .531 SLG for Adelaide. He needs a full, healthy season in 2013 and that could come back at Clinton.

Mike Dowd: C, 22, R/R
Dowd is another defense-first backstop, and he played quite a bit in 2012 because of Baron's injuries, but one team official with Clinton told me that Dowd was even better at shutting down the running game than the highly-regarded Baron. With 49 out of 105 (46.7%) attempted base stealers thrown out in his two years in the pros, the stats seem to back that up. Dowd stepped up his offensive game in 2012, hitting .294/.346/.376 in a league that hit .254/.326/.379 as a whole. The bat still could use some more bite. Maybe he only has defensive backup potential at the big league level, but that is actually quite valuable.

Roenis Elias: LHP, 24, L/L
Elias is a warrior on the mound with a tough determination to always gives his maximum effort in getting the team a win. He also has pretty good stuff, including a low-90s fastball that he commands well and isn't afraid to challenge hitters with. In that vein, he did give up 19 home runs last year, but pitching in the Cal League that isn't bad. And his 3.76 ERA in that league (against a 5.40 league ERA) is an impressive number, indeed. Elias has developed a lot over the past few years -- going from an unknown to being considered the Mavs' best starter late in the season as all of his stats and his approach to pitching improved -- and he could still develop more, despite being 24 already.

Gabrial Franca: SS, 19, R/R
Very thin but athletic and with smooth movements at the plate and in the field, Franca was the M's 22nd round selection in the 2012 draft. The LA Times' Eric Sondheimer called him, "a defensive warrior that can hit," before his 2012 senior season at J.W. North HS in California, and he continued to display that type of mentality on the field as a pro while serving as Peoria's primary leadoff hitter and everyday shortstop. He has plus speed and good lateral range and the bat should come along as he fills out with age.

James Gillheeney: LHP, 25, L/L
If not for his 7.66 ERA in 10 home starts in 2012 for High Desert, Gillheeney's 148 2/3 IP and 148 strikeouts might have generated a little more noise this year. It was the third straight season of 27 or more starts, 147 or more innings and 131 or more K's for James, and the former 8th round pick out of NC State is very steady from start to start, too. His five Double-A starts to end the year -- including his 5 2/3 IP, 10 strikeout performance in his last start -- were an encouraging sign. He is 25 and mature with good command and a three pitch mix and could be useful as a swing man at the next level with a little more work.

Stephen Kohlscheen: RHP, 24, R/R
High Desert had some fantastic arms in their bullpen in 2012, and Kohlscheen teamed with Carson Smith and Tyler Burgoon to give the Mavericks three right-handers who averaged better than 11.0 SO/9, posting an 11.7 mark in 70 relief innings overall at three stops during the season. Having averaged 6.5 SO/9 in 2011 as a starter and 11.5 as a reliever, Kohlscheen's future clearly lies in the pen. He uses his height well with a straight over-the-top delivery and sits low- to mid-90s with his fastball that really jumps on hitters. Look for him to be moved to Double-A in 2013.

Jose Leal: OF, 17, R/R
Perhaps no player struggled more in 2012 (well, other than Washington Huskies football player Shaq Thompson) than Leal, a 2011 international signing out of Venezuela by Seattle. Signed along with No. 10 prospect Victor Sanchez, Leal had about as opposite of a debut from Sanchez as possible, getting just six hits in 27 games for the Peoria M's and striking out 44 times while batting .078/.193/.078. He has plus power and physicality, but is obviously incredibly raw. Look for him to repeat the AZL in 2013 and hopefully start to figure out some of the intricacies of the game.

Hersin Martinez: OF, 17, R/R
Another former international free agent signing, the Dominican-born outfielder Martinez had a decent debut season as a 17-year-old in the DSL, collecting 15 extra base hits and drawing 26 walks in 61 games. The K numbers are high (31.0%), but a lot of young foreign signings struggle with that early in their pro careers. He's a big kid at 6-foot-5 and has good bat speed to go along with his easy plus raw power. He'll likely stay in complex ball at least for 2013, but his raw tools are enough to offer future promise and warrant keeping tabs on him.

Jamodrick McGruder: IF/OF, 21, L/R
A short in stature, speedy guy that plays multiple positions and shows good plate discipline -- sounds like Chone Figgins. That name doesn't conjure up the most favorable reactions from Mariners fans, but realistically any club would be delighted to find the next Figgins in their organization. McGruder stole 30 bases (in 35 attempts) and drew more walks (39) than strikeouts (37) during his pro debut in Everett, but the 9th rounder out of Texas Tech does still need to show more life in his bat to reach the heights of MLB super-sub.

George Mieses: RHP, 21, R/R
Mieses missed a lot of time in 2012 due to injuries and hasn't exactly been great when he's been healthy enough to pitch over the past two seasons, but he has potential. Working almost exclusively as a starter to this point, he has a classic reliever's build and delivery and has a good enough fastball (low-90s, but straight) to keep hitters honest, but he needs to refine the secondary stuff to get hitters out as he advances up the minor league ladder. 2013 could find Mieses back in High Desert and it may find him working out of the bullpen for the first time.

Gabriel Noriega: SS, 22, R/R
Probably the slickest fielder in the organization and a true plus defensive shortstop, Noriega hasn't figured things out at the plate yet, showing virtually no power and questionable plate discipline. Because his glove is so good he won't need to be great with the bat, but with a career line of just .253/.297/.324, a strikeout rate of 24.1% and a 5:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in nearly 1,800 pro at bats, he needs to show he can be good enough that the bat doesn't get overpowered and knocked out of his hands.

Dan Paolini: 1B, 23, R/R
One of the hottest hitters in all of baseball in August (.361/.422/.705, 20 XBH, 11 HR, 37 RBI in 29 games), Paolini is a solid defensive position (other than first base) away from being a rising prospect. He went through high school and college as a second baseman and he's played most of his games there as a pro, too. But he lacks ideal range, hands and feet for the position. He's dabbled at first base as a pro, but as a right-handed thrower at an even 6-feet tall, that isn't a great fit either. He's getting looks in the outfield and might be able to handle some third base, too, but wherever he ends up, it figures to be his bat that pushes him. Dan could put up some big power numbers in 2013 in High Desert.

Dario Pizzano: OF, 21, L/R
Perhaps one of the only players that had a better month than Paolini, Pizzano hit .429 and slugged 14 extra base hits for the month and led all of minor league baseball in hits (42) during Pulaski's 25 games that month. A left-hander with a great eye, excellent patience, sound approach and good gap power, Pizzano told SeattlClubhouse that he's working on his throwing and defense. A very bright young man who seems to understand the game well, if he can stick in the corner outfield, his bat may move him up quickly.

Dennis Raben: 1B, 25, L/L
It really seems like Raben is injured more often than he isn't for the M's, and 2012 was no different as Dennis played in only 66 games. But with 27 extra base hits on those 66 games and 129 in his 251 game minor league career, the power is very evident. Raben is now 25, however, and having been drafted in the 2nd round by the M's in 2008, it's time for him to start showing some more polish and moving up to at least the Double-A level in 2013.

Rusty Shellhorn: LHP, 22, L/L
Shellhorn, a Washington native, was a 31st round pick by Seattle in 2012. But the 5-foot-10 left-hander pitched like a high draft pick at three stops, ending the season with 4 very good starts at Low-A Clinton. A 2.75 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and more than a strikeout an inning in 75 1/3 innings for Shellhorn in his debut, along with his personality and competitiveness that shined through in our interview, make him one to watch for the 2013 season.

Bobby Shore: RHP, 23, R/R
Like Shellhorn, Shore was a non-descript late round pick (41st) by Seattle out of Oklahoma in 2011. He pitched out of the bullpen for his first 19 pro appearances, but once he cracked Clinton's rotation last year all he did was post a 1.60 ERA, never allowing more than two earned runs, in 10 starts. The right-handed Shore now sports a 2.19 ERA and 92 strikeouts in 90 1/3 pro innings. Shore has shown very good control (2.6 BB/9) and the ability to limit the long ball (5 HR allowed), too. As a 23-year-old, 2013 will be his first chance for him to test his chops against a higher level of like-aged competition in the minors.

Nate Tenbrink: 3B, 26, R/R
Tenbrink is another former Top-50 guy for SeattleClubhouse that missed a ton of time in 2012 due to injuries. When he came back for Jackson's playoff push, his bat and leadership -- which was praised by Jack Howell -- were key for the Generals. And his presence at the infield corners helped get Francisco Martinez time in center field. The list of stateside minor leaguers in the Mariners organization to achieve .300+/.400+/.500+ seasons in 2012 were Mike Zunino, Leon Landry, Jack Marder, Stefen Romero, Dario Pizzano and Tenbrink. He's only played 111 games combined the last two seasons, however, and could really use a healthy year in 2013.

Jesus Ugueto: OF, 21, R/R
The MVP of the Venezuelan League, Ugueto is one player that I've never put my eyes on or even seen video of, but I heard good reports from one person that has and the numbers can't be ignored. His .388/.458/.554 line with 22 steals and league-high numbers in many categories was the culmination of four years of steady statistical improvement for the right-handed hitting center fielder. While it's true that hardly no prospects play four years in Venezuela before coming to the U.S. and turn out successful, I will be following his stateside debut in 2013 very closely to see what the translation to more advanced pro ball looks like.

Dylan Unsworth: RHP, 20, R/R
Unsworth is the South African native that first made noise in 2010 when he made it through better than 50 innings in the AZL allowing only one walk. After struggling a bit in 2011 in Pulaski, he led the NWL in innings (85 1/3) and had the 4th most strikeouts (67) and 6th best WHIP (1.11) in the circuit, even besting Top-10 prospect Victor Sanchez in a few categories. Having just turned 20, he needs to get a little bigger and stronger through his trunk, but he battles on the mound and never gives in. He should succeed in Clinton in 2013 as he moves up.

Matt Vedo: RHP, 23, L/R
Another arm that impressed in Everett, Vedo struck out more batters than innings thrown in 10 of his 16 outings for the AquaSox. In all he ended the year with 31 strikeouts in 20 2/3 innings but also had a lot of walks. But the Mariners sent him to Instructional ball an he actually got on the Co-Op roster down there. Everett pitching coach Rich Dorman really liked what he saw out of Vedo and the more I saw him as the season went on the more I could see him succeeding down the line.

That is a brief shot of 25 more prospects. And for some extra, extra names, these players all garnered consideration for the Top-50 as well: Kyle Hunter, Jabari Henry, Seon Gi Kim, Stephen Landazuri, Dominic Leone, Trevor Miller, Ramon Morla, Alexy Palma, Jordan Pries, and Richard Vargas.

All told, that is 85 prospects within the Mariners organization that we've covered since the end of the 2012 season. Much more coverage to come in the 2013 season that is right around the corner!

Looking for more Mariners interviews, statistical insights, prospect profiles, news and articles? Want to keep up with which prospects are hot and cold for the M's? "Like" SeattleClubhouse on Facebook and follow SeattleClubhouse's Rick Randall on Twitter at @randallball.

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