SeattleClubhouse Top-50: 30-26

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. Here are numbers 30 through 26 for your consumption.

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.

This is the fifth set of five of the best prospects in the organization for the Seattle Mariners. The first four sets, covering prospects number 50 through 31, can be found at the following links:

Following below, we close out the first half of our Top-50 with prospects number 30 through 26 in the Annual SeattleClubhouse Top-50 Countdown. Enjoy!

30. Wilton Martinez - OF, 20, 6-foot-4, 195 lbs, R/R, Pulaski

168 25 6 1 1 13 14 29 .170 .262 .245 .507 36
271 61 9 1 10 37 20 36 .251 .321 .420 .741 102
218 42 9 1 12 33 12 65 .209 .261 .443 .704 89
657 128 24 3 23 83 46 130 .217 .286 .384 .670 227
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Generated 12/29/2013.

A somewhat low key signing by the Mariners in May of 2011 out of the Dominican, Martinez was generating a lot of buzz last year during fall instructs for Seattle and in his first season of stateside affiliated ball for Pulaski in 2013, the big right-handed slugger showed why. After increasing his OPS by nearly 50% in his second season in the Dominican Summer League in 2012, he improved his game even more under M's instruction in Virginia. Despite hitting just .209 for Pulaski and striking out at almost a 30% rate, he led the Appalachian League in home runs with 12 as a 19-year-old and tore up left-handed pitching to the tune of a .322/.379/.661 mark in 66 plate appearances. But he's still incredibly raw and just scratching the surface on what it's believed that he'll be able to do with his tools, despite the fact that he signed for 1/10th the amount that the M's got fellow outfielder Jose Leal for. He's obviously come along a lot quicker than Leal, but there is still a lot that Wilton has to refine in his game.

"You like the size, the body, the arm and the way he works at the plate," Mariners' minor league Field Coordinator Jack Howell said to me, "but he still is a work in progress. He's improved in his jumps, his routes and other things in the outfield, but he's got more to go in the way that he plays the game overall." That includes hitting his cutoff man and knowing which base to throw to, something that I heard he struggled with with Pulaski this year. But despite the rawness in the outfield, the low average and the high strikeout totals this year, there is a lot of praise for the bat with Martinez. "He's a big strong hitter with a lot of obvious power in the swing, just needs to shorten it up a bit" one scout told me. And he backed that up as he had the 3rd best ISO (.234) and was 9th in the Appy in extra base hits, getting named as the 13th best prospect in the league following the year by Baseball America, even with his struggles.

Martinez has great size but still has a lot of projection left in the body. While he projects as a right fielder, he has good athleticism at present and looks like he could remain a solid outfield defender even as the body matures. He gets easy power and good backspin when he extends on the ball and can cover the outside corner with authority at times. He had troubles with offspeed pitches this year but adapted a bit to how he was being worked as the season went on. He has average running speed on the bases and in the outfield and shows a strong arm, too. Martinez could likely use another year in instructs, likely being bumped up to Everett when summer rolls around in 2014. He listens well and has put what he's learned to work so far. 2014 could see Martinez take a big step forward for the M's.

29. Guillermo Pimentel - OF, 21, 6-foot-1, 206 lbs, L/L, High Desert

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Generated 12/29/2013.

While Pimentel still hasn't had the break out year that many expected of him when he was a big bonus international signing for Seattle back in 2009, the left-handed hitting outfielder has progressed decently and spent a few weeks in High-A before the end of 2013, still more than a month before his 21st birthday. One of the best hitters available on the international market back in 2009, Seattle signed him for $2 million and immediately brought him to the U.S. to play in 2010 in the AZL. Always a free swinger, Guillermo won the "C the Z" award for the minor league side of spring training for the M's in 2013 then went out and drew nine walks in his first seven games for the LumberKings, really raising some eyebrows from those watching the box scores. He would only draw two walks in the next 16 games, however, and again posted a strikeout rate north of 30% while repeating in Low-A Clinton.

Pimentel ranked 33rd in our Top-50 a year ago and even though he repeated a level without dominating it, he is starting to mature physically and the tools are starting to show up in game action more often. He got hurt in June and wasn't back in game action until August, and after a quick rehab stop in the AZL, the M's promoted Guillermo to High-A High Desert, and that is where his season was really salvaged. In just 15 games there, Pimentel pounded out eight extra base hits, including four home runs, bringing his season total to 10 in only 76 games. Howell sees some similarities in the way Pimentel is progressing: "He's at that same point that a few of our top guys when I was with Arizona were a while back; he's starting to realize that he needs to focus more, play harder and really, legitimately work to control the zone. He reminds me a lot of Carlos Gonzalez and Gerardo Parra -- those guys got to High-A and a light just kind of went on. I see that happening with Guillermo, too. And I think he can still turn out to be that same kind of player."

For all of the "it could click" talk, the left-handed hitting outfielder set career bests in extra base hits and walks in 2013 and he is still just 21. Pimentel has easy plus power, maybe even plus-plus, when he's swinging right. The ball explodes off of his bat and carries well into the gaps because of great strength in his wrists. He's just an average defender in left field now and he doesn't figure to pick up anything there as his body continues to mature. The entire key to Pimentel's future really lies in his ability to recognize and lay off of pitches out of the zone. That could be said for a number of prospects throughout baseball, obviously, but Pimentel still does possess tools -- namely his power -- that make him worthy of landing on this list and being followed closely. Look for him to be back in High Desert to open 2014.

28. Timmy Lopes - 2B, 19, 5-foot-11, 180 lbs, R/R, Clinton

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Generated 12/29/2013.

Lopes, a 6th round pick by Seattle in 2012, shook off a disastrous start to the 2013 season and ended with a strong second half, hitting .315/.354/.436 in 42 games after the break as a 19-year-old playing in the High-A Midwest League. Even though his OPS wasn't quite at 95% of the Midwest League average for the year, it would appear that Timmy's bat has already surpassed that of his brother Christian -- nearly 20 months his senior and a 7th round pick by Toronto in 2011 -- who also played in the league in 2013. He picked up 12 of his 19 extra base hits over the season's final 36 games while also improving his walk and strikeout rates dramatically.

Timmy was No. 28 in our rankings here a year ago, and his assignment to Clinton was an aggressive one for such a young player, but the Mariners are big on his baseball IQ and the way he approaches the game. Howell really liked what he saw as the season went on with Lopes and he grew as a player and grew in his trust of the staff. "He's still going to grow and mature," Howell said, "but he had a hard time making some of the adjustments to his swing [that staff suggested] early in the year." One California area scout who saw Lopes frequently in high school said, "He doesn't wow you with tools, but he plays the game right and he gets a lot out of what he's got." Lopes led the AZL in hits and triples in his debut season and that progress he showed during 2013's second half bodes well for his future as a hitter.

The right-handed hitting second baseman has a gap-to-gap approach and a level swing that stays in the hitting zone through his swing path, producing lots of line drives and leading to great contact rates (just a 12.2% strikeout rate through his first two seasons). And while his walk rate dipped quite a bit in the challenging Midwest League, Lopes does control plate appearances with good plate discipline. As he gets stronger he'll get challenged less and earn more walks. Lopes has a thicker lower half, one of the things that necessitated his move off of shortstop, but he is a good athlete with solid lateral movement, good feet and a solid throwing arm making him an ideal defender at second base. He'll likely return to Clinton to open 2014 but we could see him move up to High-A early in the season as he continues to get a grasp of himself as a player.

27. Anthony Fernandez - LHP, 23, 6-foot-4, 210 lbs, L/L, Jackson

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Generated 12/29/2013.

Fernandez bounced back from a spring training injury to again post quiet but strong numbers in Double-A Jackson in 2013. After a rough beginning to the year while rounding back into shape from a spring training injury, the left-hander turned in nine quality starts in 17 outings and posted a 3.66 ERA in 13 second half starts, ending the season tied for second in the organization in wins among minor leaguers with nine wins. He worked 6-plus innings in seven of his final nine outings of the year and posted better strikeout numbers while showing better command as the season went on, too. I had Fernandez as Seattle's No. 22 prospect a year ago, and while he's been passed up by some of the younger arms in the system, he still has good upside.

"Clearly it took Anthony a little bit of time to get settled in and get 100% healthy in 2013," Jackson's Chris Harris told me. The veteran minor league broadcaster continued, "Fernandez doesn't have overpowering stuff so on days where he doesn't have his best stuff he doesn't have the pure talent to get away with it. But when he locates his pitches well, his games last about two hours." Indeed, the lefty was hurt by the long ball in 2013 more than he had been at any other time in his stateside career, surrendering a career high 13 homers (1.0 HR/9) and a 9.7% XBH rate as Double-A hitters were able to punish any mistakes he made. That was likely due to his command being more shaky than usual throughout the year.

Fernandez works 89-91 with his fastball and has a plus changeup and those two pitches are his primary weapons of attack against both right-handers and left-handers. His breaking pitches aren't above average and that has led to lefties having a lot of success against him in the upper minors, hitting .284/.346/.448 last season and batting .268 overall in Double-A against him. Added to the 40-man roster last offseason and having 35 starts in Double-A under his belt, Seattle will push Fernandez to Triple-A to open 2014 where the left-hander will need to continue to improve his command and secondary offerings, as he'll be challenged by better hitters.

26. Carlos Triunfel - SS, 23, 5-foot-11, 205 lbs, R/R, Seattle

402 110 18 4 0 39 17 55 .296 .333 .367 .700 136
479 125 20 4 8 49 30 52 .287 .336 .406 .742 177
44 10 2 0 0 8 1 4 .238 .273 .286 .558 12
498 121 12 1 7 42 13 54 .257 .286 .332 .618 156
550 142 28 3 6 45 27 88 .281 .332 .383 .715 194
543 129 31 2 10 62 23 89 .260 .308 .391 .699 194
413 108 22 3 5 31 17 76 .282 .328 .394 .723 151
2929 745 133 17 36 276 128 418 .276 .319 .377 .696 1020
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 12/29/2013.

Triunfel -- who has seen his prospect status drop from elite to nearly non-existent over the last five years -- will be 24 before Opening Day and has 71 uninspiring Major League plate appearances under his belt (.167/.188/.212), but he still shows some of the tools and abilities that has had him on the radar since he was 17. He has more than 2,000 plate appearances in the upper minors now, so it seems safe to say that we've seen the type of player that he can be and that not much figures to change. Triunfel has drawn walks at just a 3.9% rate in Triple-A, and while his strikeout rate is a manageable 17.0% at the level, his propensity to give away at bats by chasing bad pitches isn't improving much. That said, there are still tools that play for him.

He's shown a bit more extra base power (7.6% XBH rate in 2012-2013) the past two seasons, including a willingness to hit the ball the other way with some authority, where his swing allows him to hit the ball hard on a line from line-to-line. He guesses a lot at the plate and chases breaking balls down and away and fastballs up far too regularly to ever hit for average, although sometimes he manages to get the bat on the ball on those pitches and steal a few hits, too. Carlos is streaky, too, and he was very hot to start the 2013 season for Tacoma, hitting .307/.359/.488 after 43 games before tailing off during his multiple up and downs between Seattle and Tacoma. He put up 29 multi-hit contests out of his 100 minor league games and hit .304/.337/.468 off of left-handed pitching.

Triunfel continues to have one of the strongest throwing arms in the system and he's improved his focus and footwork on defense, too, but there are still inconsistencies in his defensive game that are preventing him from being a serious candidate for a starting job anywhere. Running hasn't been a part of his game since his broken leg that cost him most of the 2009 season and his body has thickened up since that time, too. Triunfel does have gap power but his plate discipline is just plain not good. He figures to be back at Triple-A Tacoma to open 2014, but as part of the 40-man roster, he could see big league time again in 2014 if any Mariners' infielders spend time on the disabled list -- the type of role that should keep him in baseball for quite a while.

. . . . . . . . . . .

That concludes our look at prospects number 30 through 26 and the first half of our Top-50. Check back next Monday as we break into the top half of the Top-50 in our annual countdown of the best prospects in the Seattle Mariners' system.

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