SeattleClubhouse Top-50: 45-41

Each Monday for 10 weeks, SeattleClubhouse gives you an inside look at our take on the Top-50 prospects in the Seattle Mariners organization for 2014 as things currently sit, counting down from number 50 to number 1 in groups of five. Prospect rankings are complete with scouting notes, quotes from various sources and extended player info. This 2nd entry covers prospects number 45 through 41.

Here at SeattleClubhouse, our primary goal is to give our readers exclusive, in-depth information on Seattle Mariners players from the Foreign Rookie Leagues all the way to the Major Leagues. Looking beyond just the numbers and typical website resources and using input from our own respected baseball contacts to help develop our own unique ranking, we are aiming to give the readers rundowns on the names in the Seattle organization that are worth tracking for 2014, and maybe even pinning future MLB hopes on. Our personal taste plays into the determination of where the prospects land on the list; a combination of potential ceiling, likelihood of reaching that ceiling, the most probable outcome for the player and their proximity to cracking the 25-man roster all factor in heavily.

Each player covered in these posts is presented with a headshot (when available), their 2013 position, current actual age, handedness, listed height and weight as well as the last level which they played at in 2013. Discussion/updates, etc., to these lists and prospects will be posted in the subscriber section of the Forums. Please respect the confidential nature of the subscriber posts.

The first post -- covering prospects 50 through 46, and free for all -- can be found here:

With that out of the way, let's get on to entry number two in the Annual SeattleClubhouse Top-50 Countdown.

45. Jose Valdivia - RHP, 21, 6-foot-4, 235 lbs, R/R, Everett

ERA G IP H ER BB SO WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
9.95 7 6.1 9 7 2 1 1.737 12.8 1.4 2.8 1.4 0.50
4.42 9 38.2 35 19 15 38 1.293 8.1 1.2 3.5 8.8 2.53
6.15 6 26.1 33 18 12 21 1.709 11.3 1.0 4.1 7.2 1.75
2.23 20 32.1 16 8 14 36 0.928 4.5 0.3 3.9 10.0 2.57
4.51 42 103.2 93 52 43 96 1.312 8.1 0.9 3.7 8.3 2.23
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/7/2013.

Valdivia, a big right-hander signed by Seattle out of Nicaragua back in July of 2008, has been hanging out in the low minors since his debut in 2009. He pitched a little for the AZL M's in 2009, missed the entire 2010 season after Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, spent 2011 in Pulaski and was with Everett for both 2012 and 2013. Coming into this season he'd posted less than inspiring results, bringing a career 5.55 ERA, 7.6 SO/9 and a strikeout-to-walk ratio just above 2:1 into the year. But after making six starts for Everett the year prior, before being shut down with triceps tendinitis, he pitched out of the bullpen exclusively for the AquaSox in 2013 and had his best year as a pro, earning a Northwest League All-Star berth in the process.

Command and consistency have long been issues for Valdivia, but this year he seemed to tame both of those demons to a degree. The results -- a 2.23 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 10.0 SO/9 and just 4.5 H/9 allowed -- can at least be partially attributed to a nice spike in velocity this year. "We saw some 95s out of him. And he's another guy with a great changeup," Everett manager Rob Mummau told me recently. Valdivia also has a slider that flashes plus at times and good downward movement on the fastball. The body, delivery and fastball/slider mix remind me a lot of Yoervis Medina, but while Medina is way ahead in a number of areas, Valdivia clearly has a better third pitch with his changeup.

While Valdivia has been in the system for five years, he'll still be in just his age-22 season in 2014. That said, it's coming time for the M's to challenge him a bit and see what they have in the big righty. I expect him to reach at least High-A in 2014, although an assignment to Clinton to open the year isn't out of the question. Wherever he starts out, if he can use his three pitch mix to limit hits and rack up the strikeouts like he did in 2013 with Everett, Jose should be climbing up the minor league ladder and up our rankings in 2014.

44. Dan Paolini - 1B/LF, 24, 6-foot, 190 lbs, R/R, Jackson

PAH2B3BHRRBIBBSOBAOBPSLGOPSTB
254621754262753.284.378.463.841101
47312527018734963.299.376.493.869206
52911226318737580.256.370.453.823198
125629970840172151196.279.374.471.844505
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/8/2013.
Paolini broke out a bit for the M's while posting one of the best months in all of minor league baseball in August of 2012, hitting .361/.422/.705 with 11 homers and 37 RBI in 29 games for Clinton. That helped the former 10th round pick out of Siena end his 2012 season on the rise and just outside our Top-50. While 2013 was a quieter season overall for the right-handed hitter, he actually ended the year with identical home run, RBI and runs scored numbers while drawing the second most walks in the organization (75) and striking out at a low 15.1% rate. But while the overall offensive game stayed steady for Paolini this year, his defensive move is what had my attention the most. Dan saw extensive action in left field for the first time in his pro career in 2013, and if he's going to continue his climb towards Seattle, that is a key.

As Paolini himself told us a year ago September, he'd like to get a set position to work at and focus on getting his defense up to the same level as his hitting there. While he played more first base than outfield still in 2013 with High Desert and Jackson, his work in the outfield was encouraging as he was looking more comfortable as the season wore on. A former pitcher, Dan has worked hard on his throwing mechanics and I heard good reports throughout the season that his throwing was getting better from the outfield. And on the season he handled 58 chances as a left fielder without an error -- hardly a true sign of defensive ability, as we know, but still nice to see.

Paolini's combination of great patience and plate discipline with plus raw power has led him to a 9.4% extra base hit percentage, 12.0% walk rate and just 15.6% strikeout rate in three years in the system, and if he were still playing second base and projected to stay there everyone would be hearing his name a lot more. But after he earned a promotion to Double-A Jackson his bat went ice cold, and he hit just .165/.289/.233 in 31 games down the stretch for the Generals, striking out 10 times in 31 plate appearances against lefties. Paolini hits the ball hard to all fields and showed more power up the middle and the other way in 2013 but he still has work to do. It seems likely that he'll be back in Jackson to open 2014, putting in more work in the outfield and trying to rebound from his late-2013 struggles.

43. Leon Landry - OF, 24, 5-foot-11, 185 lbs, L/R, Jackson

PAH2B3BHRRBIBBSOBAOBPSLGOPSTB
274872044382036.349.399.510.909127
55212521114413767.250.307.360.667180
487153341813761966.341.371.584.954262
460911526372671.216.262.303.565128
1773456903527192102240.281.327.430.757697
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/8/2013.
When Leon came over in a deadline deal for Brandon League in July of 2012, he looked interesting. And after absolutely tearing the California League apart in 2012, Landry ranked 18th on our Top-50 list a year ago. But his 2013 was among the most disappointing in the Seattle system as the speedy outfielder struggled to keep his average above .200 and posted the worst strikeout rate of his career while not seeing much time in center in a talented Generals' outfield. The former Dodgers' 3rd rounder out of LSU led pro ball in triples in 2012 with 18 but he rarely found the gaps or hit the ball hard to the outfield in 2013 at all and ended this year with just two three baggers. Landry did still manage to swipe 22 bases in 29 attempts -- the fifth highest number in the minors for Seattle -- but the contact just wasn't nearly as loud this year as last.

One NL scout that saw Landry extensively in 2012 said, "The bat is quick, short and compact and he hits the ball hard, but he swings at about everything." Indeed, plate discipline has been an issue for Landry throughout his career so far, and that attacking style could be one of the main factors for his falloff in 2013 while playing Double-A ball for Seattle. The jump from High-A to Double-A is said by many to be the second hardest in pro ball (behind Triple-A to the Majors) and it is often players who lack plate discipline who get exposed the most. Landry's strikeout rate didn't jump much, going from 13.6% in 2012 to 15.4% in 2013, but swinging at bad pitches and putting them in play leads to a lot of weak contact, and Landry 's 2013 season certainly fits that description.

That said, Landry is far from a lost cause. He has 70 speed, good hands and a quick, line drive swing path, and he can really play center field, too. If Leon can learn a bit more patience and work on hitting good pitches more often in 2014 -- when he'll likely return to Jackson -- he could still show enough promise to be among the top center fielders in Seattle's system and regain much of the shine that he lost this year during his struggles.

42. Jack Reinheimer - SS, 21, 6-foot, 165 lbs, R/R, Everett

PA H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
291 67 6 1 2 30 32 51 .269 .359 .325 .684 81
291 67 6 1 2 30 32 51 .269 .359 .325 .684 81
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/8/2013.
Reinheimer was Seattle's 5th round pick in this past June's draft and pegged as a glove first shortstop with limited offensive potential. And even though he out-OPS'd the NWL (.684 to .670), that profile basically held true in his debut season. The right-handed hitter had just an .056 ISO and often seemed overpowered at the plate, which led to a lot of balls hit the other way. In fact, Reinheimer -- a right-handed hitter -- put about 40% of his balls in play to the right side of second base. But despite that profile and the scouting report, he still showed signs of being a solid all-around player. "I definitely heard the same stuff about the bat," Mummau said. But the veteran scout and manager was impressed with how Jack performed at the plate and in the field for Everett, saying, "he went up and battled and consistently turned in great at bats all year. And he plays great defense at shortstop -- he really does remind [me] of [Chris] Taylor in that regard."

Taylor, of course, was Seattle's 5th round pick the previous season and he had the same profile coming out of Virginia. Taylor bucked that "glove first" tag a bit this year, though, leading the organization in a number of categories and being named Seattle's Minor League Player of the Year. Reinheimer doesn't appear to have the same upside with the bat right now, but the defensive abilities he showed in Everett seemed very comparable to Taylor's. And Jack also showed patience (11.0% BB rate) and speed (18 steals in 23 attempts) that should help him remain an everyday player in the minor leagues for a while, building up his experience and exposure in the batter's box and possibly allowing his bat to develop a bit.

Reinheimer was named as Baseball America's No. 14 prospect in the Northwest League following the season, and that report and the scouts I spoke with really like his baseball smarts and his plate discipline. He has good feet, makes very quick and clean transfers when fielding and showed a very accurate arm. He also isn't afraid to work the count and hit from behind, using a short stroke and muted stride to make good contact with a level swing path at the plate. The total package doesn't blow you away right now but a plus defensive shortstop that has the ability to get on base and handle the bat should be around for a long time. Reinheimer will likely see Clinton to open 2014.

41. Tyler Smith - SS, 22, 6-foot, 195 lbs, R/R, Pulaski

PAH2B3BHRRBIBBSOBAOBPSLGOPSTB
233641632341832.320.394.460.85492
233641632341832.320.394.460.85492
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/8/2013.
Smith, Seattle's 8th round selection out of Oregon State in June's draft, was named the Appalachian League Player of the Year after leading Pulaski to a championship in his debut pro season and ranking second in the league in hits. Serving mainly as the No. 3 hitter, Smith had 18 multi-hit games (in 52 games played) and wound up 8th in AVG and OPS for qualified Appy League hitters. The right-handed hitter also tied for third in the league in HBP (9), stole 12 bases (in 17 attempts) and didn't hit into a double play all year while showing an aggressive, hustling style of play that clearly rubbed off on his teammates. A player accustomed to hitting 1st or 2nd in the order in college, Smith showed some pop in his bat and posted a 9.0% XBH rate for Pulaski.

Athletic and quick more than fast, Smith hustled his way to a number of his steals and even stole some runs with his aggressive baserunning for Pulaski. While he profiles much more as a 1, 2, 8 or 9 hitter when all is said and done, Smith shouldered the load as the M's No. 3 hitter and hit well in pressure situations and in the playoffs. His short right-handed stroke produced line drives to all gaps and even line to line during his debut season, and while his power doesn't project to be much, he did consistently barrel balls this season. His range and arm are average, but Smith plays smart defensively and as one scout put it to me, "No situation is too big for him -- in the field or at the plate."

The lower levels of the Mariners' system are suddenly getting very flush with strong middle infielders, and Smith looks like he could be one of the better ones. Very strong contact and plate discipline numbers paired with a 9.0% XBH rate from a solid defensive shortstop with speed are definitely worth keeping an eye on. Add in that 'gamer' profile and his natural leadership abilities and Smith could be climbing up this list quickly as 2014 wears on. The coming year could start with him in Clinton, possibly splitting time between second and short.

. . . . . . . . . . .

That's a wrap for our second group of prospects in our Annual Top-50 Countdown. Check back in next Monday for five more (40-36), and stay with SeattleClubhouse to get all the latest info on the Seattle Mariners and their farm system.

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


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