The recently completed 3rd annual Top-50 countdown here at SeattleClubhouse gave in-depth scouting and statistical analysis for the 50 players who we chose as the 50 best in the Seattle Mariners' organization. But that list of 50 was trimmed down from a much larger list, and this post delves into two dozen players (alphabetically) who were given strong consideration for the list.
A quick look Short of each player is 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-2014 Top-50 list.
Adalfi Almonte: OF, 17
Signed last April by the M's Supervisor of Dominican Republic Scouting & Operations, Eddy Toledo, Almonte had a decent overall debut season playing for the M's Dominican Summer team, posting an 8.8% XBH rate, .780 OPS and a 17.3% BB rate. What really stands out, however, are his splits; he hit just .169/.307/.290 against right-handed pitching, but the right-handed hitter torched lefties to the tune of .339/.500/.548, walking (20) more times than he struck out (18). He also hit .296/.398/.577 over the final 19 games of the season, launching all four of his homers during that span. He won't turn 18 for another two months and could remain down at the M's new facilities for 2014 as they work with him on getting stronger and learning English while refining his baseball skills.
Matt Anderson: RHP, 22
Anderson was signed as an undrafted free agent off of the California Summer Collegiate juggernaut Palm Springs Power's roster in August of 2012. He was the team MVP as a third baseman his first year of college at Chaffey College, but he transitioned to pitcher and got his fastball up to 95 the summer after his first year at Long Beach State, drawing the attention of the Mariners. In 32 games in the organization he has already climbed to High-A, where he made 10 starts for the Mavericks last season. Anderson is still refining his game as a pitcher, but he has a big arm and has shown an ability to also get ground balls with decent control and steady strikeout numbers. He could get a look for the Double-A rotation out of camp, but even if he starts back at High Desert he is still worth tracking for 2014.
Greifer Andrade: 3B, 17:
The Mariners landed Andrade -- ranked 21st on Baseball America's list and 20th on MLB.com's list of the top International talent in 2013 -- as the July 2nd period kicked off last year for reportedly just over $1 million. He didn't get in to any game action for the Mariners, though, and as he just turned 17 last month, he is still certainly a ways away from being a big leaguer. But there are tools and a loud bat in him already, with scouts liking his attacking nature, bat speed and hand-eye coordination. He also has a strong arm, and the Mariners immediately moved him out of center field and list him as a third baseman. A native of Neuva Bolivia, he'll likley stay home and debut in Venezuela in 2014.
Aaron Barbosa: OF, 21
Undersized and undrafted, Barbosa signed with Seattle out of the Cape Cod League and impressed with his bat, plate discipline, speed and defense for Pulaski, posting some of the strongest numbers in the whole organization in many of those categories. From a college (Northeastern University) not known on the grand scale as a baseball hotbed, Barbosa led the Appy League in hitting (.356) during his time with the club and also led in OBP (.455). His season was strong enough that I placed him on the list of Best Debuts for 2013 in the organization. He could face a real challenge as he moves up the ladder, but Barbosa is the type of player that can stick around an organization and make some moves for a long time.
Kristian Brito: 1B, 19
The M's 11th round selection in 2012, Brito has a huge body and huge power at a very young age, but that and the fact that he is a product of Puerto Rico also makes him extremely raw. He led the Appalachian League in homers at home in 2013 (7) and hit 10 overall, but he also has 17 walks and 108 strikeouts on his ledger in his 340 career minor league plate appearances. The raw power may be a 70 grade, but his approach and pitch recognition are really lacking at this point. He'll still be just 19 for the entire 2014 season, and while he's likely to repeat at the Rookie or Short Season level, he still has a lot of time to develop the other facets of his hitting and allow that power -- that ranks among the best in the organization -- to play.
Aaron Brooks: RHP, 21
Brooks is a local kid, born in Mountlake Terrace and signed out of Edmonds CC as Seattle's 26th round pick in 2012. A big right-hander -- standing 6-foot-6 -- that has solid velocity and gets a lot of ground balls out of his low arm slot, Brooks has posted a nearly 52% rate over his first 38 games out of the pen as a pro. He's a tough matchup from that arm angle, and right-handers hit just .119/.232/.169 off of him in 2013 and he has struck out 30.8% of the righties he's faced in all. Brooks will likely be challenged with an assignment to Clinton this coming year, and the conditions there should fit his overall game as a power, ground ball reliever very well.
Yordi Calderon: 3B/OF, 20
Calderon checked in near the end of our Top-50 following the 2011 season, but he struggled badly in 2012 in repeating in Venezuela and converting to more time in the outfield. That led him back to a third season with the M's in Venezuela, and this time he got it right. The powerful right-handed hitter hit .343/.448/.590 before earning a trip to the states, finishing up his year with 12 games in Arizona and one with Pulaski. All told his 19-year-old season yielded a .314/.425/.538 slash and he posted a 13.8% walk rate and lowered his strikeout rate to 18.3%. Look for him to stay in Pulaski in 2014, where his tools could really start to take off.
Eddie Campbell: LHP, 22
Campbell debuted for Pulaski last year, relatively close to where he played in college (Virginia Tech), and impressed as a mid-round pick that flashed plus stuff at times. His 12.3 strikeouts-per-nine were 1st in the Appy among pitchers with 40-plus innings and he had a career-high 12 in his last start. He keeps hitters off balance with a big two tier curveball that speeds up his fastball enough to form a pretty solid mix. Campbell also put up a very strong groundball percentage (53.8%) and impressed those I spoke to with his pitchability. He may end up in the pen, but the profile looks like it could play either way for now.
Phillips Castillo: OF, 20
Castillo came in at No. 23 on our Top-50 a season ago and 17th the year before that, but after a down year in 2012 in Pulaski, he really hit the skids in Everett this past season. The right-handed hitting outfield managed just a .183/.256/.320 slash in Short Season ball as a 19-year-old, striking out in 28.9% of his plate appearances. That said, the raw power was still very apparent as he tied for the club lead in home runs (6) and was second in doubles (12). He also made the finals of the NWL Home Run Derby before the All-Star game, hitting a couple of moon shots. His plate discipline and pitch recognition haven't taken that step yet, but he remains a prospect as he's still young and has a ton of power in the bat. Look for him to repeat in Everett following extended spring training.
David Colvin: RHP, 25
A 27th round pick out of Pomona-Pitzer College in 2011 by Seattle, Colvin has quietly put together a strong track record so far for the M's, putting a 2.67 ERA and 8.8 SO/9 on his ledger to date. Those numbers were even better in 2013 as he posted the fourth best ERA in the California League at 2.34 (and fourth best FIP at 2.54) and a very strong 9.7 SO/9. His 4.77 strikeout-to-walk ratio was the eighth best figure in the league as well, and Colvin also only allowed two home runs in the hitter friendly league. Colvin also got a stint with Team Israel in the WBC before 2013. He's struck out 152 and allowed 151 hits in his 155 1/3 pro innings to date and has also put up a strong 45.4% ground ball percentage while pounding the lower half of the strike zone.
Gabe Franca: IF, 20
A slight infielder with a discerning eye at the plate, Franca only hit .213 last year and has hit just .236 in his two seasons of Rookie ball for the M's, but he's also drawn 64 walks (and only struck out 66), posting a strong 15.3% walk rate. Franca is a talented defender with quick actions, good range and a strong enough arm to handle all three infield spots. He's also shown plus speed and a great idea of situations on the basepaths. If the bat can come around for the former 22nd rounder, Franca could start to factor into the future plans of the Mariners.
Brock Hebert: IF, 22
The speedy Hebert is a former 14th round pick who played a lot of shortstop for High Desert and Clinton this past season, and he played it quite well. "That guy Hebert, he just makes all the plays on the infield," a scout told me after watching a few series in Clinton. During his final year at Southeastern Louisiana his coach, Jay Artigues, told Baseball America, "He has an aura about him that makes everybody around him better as well." Seattle sent him to the Australian Baseball League this winter and he continued to run well and play solid defense in that league as well, ending the season on a nice run with the bat. Still just 22, Hebert could get back to the Mavs in 2014 where a little more pop in his bat could make him move.
Cam Hobson: LHP, 24
Hobson was an 11th round choice for Seattle back in 2011 and the command lefty made it all the way up to Double-A to close out 2013. But without overpowering stuff (fastball usually around 87-89) the results haven't always been pretty. His three pitch mix improved a bit in 2013 as he upped is strikeout rate, but the walk rate jumped to a career worst 3.2-per-nine, which is teetering on the edge of where he can still be effective in my book. He has a little Kenny Rogers in his arm action and did much better holding lefties down in 2013 meaning that he could fall back on a bullpen spot if needed, but the M's still like him as a starter.
David Holman: RHP, 23
The son of former M's starter Brian Holman, who was famously (at least to long-time Mariners' fans) just one out away from a perfect game back in 1990, undrafted free agent signee David has already miraculously overcome many obstacles in his life, so heading into his fourth season in Seattle's system suddenly looking like a sleeper prospect candidate shouldn't be surprising. The 23-year-old right-hander had his most extensive and most impressive season in 2013 in Low-A Clinton, posting a 3.25 ERA in 110 2/3 innings. He made just seven starts in his 38 appearances but pitched to a 2.68 ERA and also put up a 1.03 WHIP in those games. He started in the ABL this offseason and continued to show promise. He'll be given shot as a starter in High Desert in 2014.
Stephen Landazuri: RHP, 22
I mentioned Landazuri in this post last year and the right-hander had a decent season that again made him brush the fringes of the Top-50 this time around. After battling tendinitis in 2012, the 21-year-old Landazuri nearly doubled his career innings while making 26 starts and striking out a batter per inning, pitching in offense-heavy High Desert for most of the year. The former 22nd round pick can get his fastball up to 93 and has a great frame. If he can stay healthy again in 2014 it could be a year where he makes a name for himself and finally cracks the Top-50.
Trevor Miller: RHP, 22
Miller also got up to Double-A Jackson in 2013, making eight starts for the Generals. A former 40th round pick, Miller embodies the 'bulldog' tag. "Trevor was a big time competitor. He wanted the ball every game and refused to give it to you when you wanted to take him out," his community college coach, Reed Peters, told me. There was a lot more contact in his Jackson starts and his walk rate took a jump in 2013, but Miller has pitched pretty well to date and has some stuff and good size. He's a candidate for a rotation spot in Jackson again in 2014.
Carlos Misell: RHP, 21
Misell got a bit of a delayed start to his pro career after a positive test for performance enhancing drugs put him out for 50 games before he even signed his first contract, but after Seattle got him into camp if was clear that he had a talented right arm. He has a fastball that got up to 95 and a changeup that "embarrassed some of the best hitters in the league" at 83-85 with Pulaski. Although he only appeared in 5 games in 2013, Misell heads into 2014 with a lot of interest. His winter wasn't all that great (5.60 ERA, 13 BB, 11 SO in 17 2/3 in Venezuela), but the 21-year-old impressed in instructs and has a big arm.
Gabriel Noriega: SS, 23
Signed way back in 2008, Noriega may be the best defender in the entire M's organization, with plus range, sound feet and hands, a quick release and a strong, accurate throwing arm. Noriega is a good enough defender that he starts in Venezuela in winter ball over established major leaguers. But he's still not drawing walks or hitting for anything resembling even average power for a middle infielder. His strikeout rate went down for the fourth straight season in 2013 as he spent a full year in Double-A Jackson, but his walk rate also dipped to a personal low of 3.5%. The glove is his ticket without question, but the bat has to be more than just something he can hold in his hands for him to ever make it to the show. Consistent contact and improved plate discipline are needed.
Emilio Pagan: RHP, 22
Pagan, Seattle's 10th round selection in 2013, was a two-way player in college and his athleticism is one of the things that help him succeed on the mound. With a good fastball and curve, Pagan started his career with 22 1/3 scoreless innings and struck out 35 in 26 1/3 innings overall at two stops. He was the lone reliever named to the Appalachian League All-Star team and allowed only nine hits in his 15 games at that level. Definitely a pitcher now, Pagan played third base at Belmont Abbey when he wasn't pitching and was one of the club's better hitters. He should see Clinton at some point in 2014.
Chance Ruffin: RHP, 25
Mariners fans have seen a fair amount of Ruffin -- who missed out on this year's Top-50 because he was in DFA limbo when his spot came up -- and while he's pitched decently at times, he hasn't progressed much at all over the last three seasons. I had him ranked 39th on the pre-2012 list even after his disaster of a showing in Triple-A Tacoma. He's struggled with putting guys away the last two years and that has led to nibbling and a higher walk rate. His fastball still has some zip and life on it and the slider can be a decent pitch, but Ruffin needs to get a better third pitch if he has plans to improve against lefties, who have torched him for a .333/.396/.688 slash in the majors and a .275/.338/.466 mark in the minors.
Justin Seager: 1B/3B, 21
Kyle's younger brother instantly was a fan favorite in Everett, and while his numbers don't blow you away, he has a lot of the same traits and mannerisms as a hitter that his big league brother shows. The M's had him play some third base after D.J. Peterson moved up, with Justin starting 19 of his last 22 games at the hot corner. Take away the rough July for Seager (.204 AVG, 24 strikeouts) and he hit .318/.344/.409 for the AquaSox. If he can do that on a regular basis and handle third even part time then his future has a chance to be a little brighter than your typical 12th rounder if the baseball acumen that runs in the family helps push his game some.
Dylan Unsworth: RHP, 21
Through 51 games (50 starts) in his minor league career, Unsworth has walked just 1.1 batters-per-nine. He walked only one in 50 1/3 innings in his debut for the AZL M's back in 2010 as a 17-year-old and walked just two in 72 innings this past year for Clinton. He's a control pitcher for sure, being voted as having the best control in the Midwest League in 2013. Outside of boasting impressive fastball command, he's also shown to have an understanding of when and where to locate with all of his pitches to set hitters up. Succeeding to that extent in the Midwest League shows that he is doing more than just commanding his fastball. Unsworth is just over 6-foot, but there is a possibility that he could add strength to his frame and add a few ticks to his fastball still, and that would do wonders for his future.
Gianfranco Wawoe: IF/OF, 19
He already wins the award for best name in the system, but the 2013 season brought attention to Wawoe for more than just that. In his third season in the VSL for the M's, the switch-hitting shortstop started playing in the outfield and at second base, but he also started hitting. A lot. After tallying just 12 extra base hits and no home runs in his first two years in pro ball, Wawoe counted six long balls among his 29 extra base hits in the 2013 campaign, besting his career slugging percentage by more than .200 points on his way to a .328/.415/.512 slash. He also stole 21 bases and walked (33) more times than he struck out (25) in his 284 trips to the plate. Wawoe was in fall instructs for Seattle and will definitely be on a stateside team in 2014, likely Pulaski.
Mickey Wiswall: 1B, 25
After ranking 3rd in the organization in home runs (21) and 4th in RBI (98) in 2012 and coming in at No. 47 on last year's Top-50, Wiswall lost the entire 2013 season to injury. The lefty-swinging outfielder/first baseman posted solid numbers home and away and hit for a high average despite a high strikeout rate and low walk total, something that is a part of his profile since signing as the club's 7th rounder in 2010. Now 25 and without an at-bat in Double-A, Wiswall is certainly off the radar a bit. And as an average at best defender regardless of position his bat will have to carry him, but if he can shake off the rust from missing a year and get back to being the type of hitter he was in the second half of 2012 for the Mavs he could still be interesting.
Some more names to track include first basemen Steven Proscia and Leurys Vargas, outfielders Ian Miller, Alfredo Morales, Kevin Rivers, Ronald Rosario and Corey Simpson, right-handers Grady Wood, Jochi Ogando, Jordan Pries and Matt Vedo and lefty Jordan Shipers.
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