Our recently completed Annual Top-50 Prospect Countdown that covered the 50 best prospects in the Seattle Mariners organization was a list that was trimmed considerably to get to that number of 50 players. We try to keep in mind the organizational depth chart, realistic ceiling, realistic floor, age as related to level, experience, etc. -- but that doesn't mean that the ranking is perfect. It isn't always an easy call on who to include and who to leave out, especially towards the end of the list. This is a look at some of the names who were the latest cuts from that list. The same self-imposed rules on age and Rookie Status apply here that apply to the Top-50 list. A number of the names here could jump onto the next list that we complete, some of them could even sneak into the top half if 2016 is a standout season. So here are some "bonus names", if you will, sorted alphabetically by last name in two lists -- pitchers first, position players second.
Matt Anderson – RHP, 24: An undrafted signee back in 2012, Anderson appears finally settled into a bullpen role, which I've thought was right for him all along, and I had that role in mind when he ranked 34th on our Top-50 prior to last year. He has a good fastball that can work at 94 and sometimes touch higher in relief, has both a 12-6 curve and a slider that have shown varying levels of effectiveness and also a "show me" changeup. 67 strikeouts in 71 innings in 2015 in his first year as a full-time reliever is a nice sign for the sturdily built right-hander.
Aaron Brooks – RHP, 23: Brooks is a big right-hander who has a Jeff Nelson-esque delivery that has fallen off a bit the past two seasons (with some time lost to injuries) after being a strikeout machine at the lower levels. A local product that was signed out of Edmonds CC in 2012, Brooks ran a 54.4% ground ball rate in 2015 and has shown very good control so far in his minor league career.
Juan De Paula – RHP, 18: De Paula was a July 2nd arm the M's signed in 2014 who debuted this past year. Tall and thin, he commands well and has good feel for his breaking ball, commanding that pitch and his fastball well. He struck out 68 in 77 2/3 and walked just 15 in his first year of pro action, and while that 1.74 BB/9 number was bested by 47 qualified pitchers in the DSL's free-swinging atmosphere, the club is confident that his command will translate moving forward.
Ryne Inman – RHP, 19: Inman was a high school draftee by the M's, but he has a great frame that has already filled in quite well (6-foot-5, 215 lbs), has solid, consistent mechanics and gets into the low-90s with his fastball that has some good armside run. He allowed the fewest H/9 (5.7) of any pitcher with at least 30 innings in the AZL in 2015, and that number actually falls to 4.1 H/9 if you take out his one disastrous outing on the season. Should see Everett as a starter in 2016.
Kody Kerski – RHP, 23: A four-year starter in college, Kerski saw a big velocity jump his final year at Sacred Heart, getting up to 95 with the fastball at times. That velocity has carried into the pros with him as he's worked exclusively in relief, and while his breaking balls only flash average, Kerski struck out 108 and walked just 32 in 99 2/3 innings in two seasons in the system as a reliever, where his mentality and fire on the mound work well, too.
Cody Martin – RHP, 26: Martin was in camp battling for a big league bullpen job, but the 2011 7th round pick out of Gonzaga -- where he was the closer -- had been a starter in the minors up until last year when he finally reached the majors with Atlanta. Just sent down to minor league camp on Friday, he figures to bring his fastball-curve-cutter combo to the Rainiers' rotation to open the 2016 season.
Cody Mobley – RHP, 19: A good athlete with a projectable frame, Mobley may have the best curveball in the system, as Baseball America showed him having in their Top-10 capsule ($). He also sits in the low-90s with his fastball and repeats his delivery well thanks in part to good athleticism. The club's 8th round pick in 2015, Mobley figures to get a shot at starting in 2016 when he could see Everett, but he may wind up in the bullpen long term.
Ramon Morla – RHP, 26: A converted third baseman who owns some big raw power and a .769 MiLB OPS as a hitter, Morla has been in the organization since 2006, but he has pitched just 17 1/3 innings since the club moved his elite arm speed to the mound. He’s shown high-90s (96-99) ability with his fastball that also has good run, and he punched out nine in his five innings of work at High-A last season, but he’s still a work in progress as a pitcher and is coming off of surgery.
Jochi Ogando – RHP, 22: Ogando is a big right-hander from the Dominican who looks a lot physically like former M's starter Michael Pineda. He has a big fastball like Pineda, too, working in the mid-90s in relief, but he's had an awful lot of trouble with command, walking 156 in his 243 2/3 minor league innings to date. If he can refine his command and get his slow 12-6 curve over for strikes, too, Ogando could eventually turn into a middle relief option.
Jordan Pries – RHP, 26: Pries struggled in 2015 after a breakout 2014 in the system that garnered him recognition as the system's co-Minor League Pitcher of the Year, but the right-handed starter out of Stanford still does have a repertoire that could serve a purpose in the big leagues, working right around 90 with his fastball and showing a changeup and slider that are average, all with solid command. he doesn't look like a long-term rotation answer for the M's down the road, but he could definitely see some big league time.
Adrian Sampson – RHP, 24: Picked up from Pittsburgh last year, who selected him in the 5th round of the 2012 Draft, Sampson made seven starts for the Rainiers, six of which weren't very good. But the sinker-slider righty came into 2015 with a strong minor league track record and he has three solid-average pitches, touching 94 with his fastball that moves well when down. Figures to be in Tacoma's rotation but could fill in with a spot start or long relief work in the big leagues.
Joey Strain – RHP, 22: Drafted in the 22nd round last June, Strain followed through on his college profile by being very aggressive in the zone and getting strikeouts without many walks while also giving up a lot of hits, posting an 8-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio but allowing 36 hits in 29 1/3 innings. The 6-foot-1 right-hander works from high release point and gets good downward plane on his fastball. Figures to see Everett in relief in 2016.
Dylan Unsworth – RHP, 23: Unsworth has shown elite control, plus command and enough stuff to make him a quality minor league starter and quality performer on the national stage (WBC) for several seasons now. He was in our Top-50 countdown in the past, and even though his body hasn't bulked up much as he's grown, he has solid stuff and an understanding of pitching and setting hitters up. His fastball is usually upper-80s, though, which typically isn't enough for right-handed pitchers.
Aaron Barbosa – OF, 23: Barbosa stole 52 bases and put up a .702 OPS in 2014, but in 2015, playing at the same two levels in almost the exact same number of plate appearances, his numbers fell off pretty much across the board. A 2.1% extra base hit rate in 1,152 career minor league PA isn't going to get it done, but Barbosa controls the strike zone, draws walks and plays strong defense in center field while being a plus runner with good instincts on the bases.
Jordan Cowan – IF, 20: Another 2013 Draftee (37th round), Cowan owns just a .317 SLG in more than 700 MiLB PA to date, but he is a good, versatile infield fielder that patiently works the strike zone, can draw a walk and run a little bit. Still very young and waiting for his body to mature, Cowan is a smart player that works hard and has tools that he could grow into. He, too, is coming off of a strong showing in the ABL (.292/.336/.396).
Augustus (Gus) Craig – OF, 22: Craig, who played at Columbia like M's Top-50 prospect Dario Pizzano, had a solid showing in the AZL as a rookie, slashing .322/.364/.405, stealing 11 bases and playing strong right field defense. Like Pizzano, he knows how to hit, isn't perplexed by the breaking ball and is strong. Unlike Pizzano, he's at least average defensively in a corner and on the bases. We'll see how the bat plays as he advances, but lots to like out of the 30th rounder at first blush.
Ricky Eusebio – OF, 22: Eusebio is a true plus defender in center with good range and great instincts, plus speed on the bases and a contact-oriented approach at the plate. He didn't hit much in college and slugged just .316 in his debut in the AZL, but he's very athletic and has enough bat speed that you could envision offensive improvement. May just end up as a fourth outfielder if everything breaks right, and that will take improvements in approach and power, but there are some tools here.
Brock Hebert – IF, 24: Hebert had a down 2014 and an injury-shortened 2015 (51 games), but he did bounce back with a .735 OBP and again posted a walk rate above 10.0% while showing speed and defensive versatility -- that includes playing shortstop -- across three levels. He has 1,001 pro plate appearances under his belt now and doesn't look like a future starter in the middle infield in the big leagues, but he could turn into a valuable utility guy with his defensive chops, speed and gamer attitude.
Guillermo Heredia – OF, 25: Signed by the Mariners out of Cuba at the beginning of spring, Heredia comes with the reputation of being a plus defensive outfielder with the instincts and range necessary to stick in center and a strong enough arm to hold down right. He has had success with the bat in the past, but has seen that part of his game tail off in his most recent season in Cuba. He defected last January and hasn’t played competitively for a while, but he figures to open the year in the upper minors for the M’s and could end up being a big league contributor this year if he can shake off the rust.
Dalton Kelly – 1B, 21: The left-handed hitter was Seattle’s 38th round pick in the 2015 Draft out of UC Santa Barbara and hit just .219 in the AZL, but he walked at an 18.7% rate and is a very smooth defender around the bag at first base, reminding one former staffer of Wally Joyner defensively. Coaches raved about his defense and his work ethic, and he has the type of baseball IQ that could possibly translate into big growth as a player under pro coaching.
Ian Miller – OF, 24: Miller stole 50 bases and played more than 1,000 innings in centerfield in High-A and Double-A for the M's in 2015, slashing .267/.319/.330 in an organization-high 555 plate appearances. he also was caught stealing 18 times and saw his walk rate dip for the second straight season. Speed on the bases and in the field are his only real plus tool, but Seattle's 14th round selection in the 2013 Draft could become a fourth outfielder type in time if he continues to grow as he moves up.
Kyle Petty – 1B, 24: Petty, a Division II All American at California University of Pennsylvania, was Seattle’s 23rd round pick in 2013. An All-Star for Everett in 2014, he made it to High-A Bakersfield in 2015 and held his own there, but he exploded in the Australian Baseball League this winter, hitting .317/.384/.582 with a league best 14 HR and 44 RBI. He played multiple positions and pitched all four years in college and has played 13 games at catcher as a pro and even started in the outfield 25 times for the Blaze, but the 6-foot-5 right-hander is primarily a first baseman now.
Ryan Uhl – 1B, 22: Big (6-foot-6, 230 lbs) right-handed hitter hit one homer as a junior and then 29 as a senior for Indiana University of Pennsylvania, leading Division II and breaking University of Virginia assistant coach Kevin McMullan’s career record at the school before being Seattle’s 7th round pick in the 2015 Draft. Walked in more than 10% of his PA for Everett in his debut and ranked 3rd on the team in RBI (35), 6th in total bases (79). He has plus raw power.
Carlos Vargas – IF, 17: Vargas still hasn't debuted as a pro, but when he does so in the Dominican in 2016, he will be one of the more intriguing prospects in Seattle's system. A big (6-foot-3) shortstop with a plus arm and solid hitting tools across the board, Vargas figures to come stateside once he turns 18. That could also be when he sees a position switch -- to either an infield or outfield corner -- but his bat has potential to be a potent weapon that can carry in a corner.
Gianfranco Wawoe – IF, 21: Owning probably the best name in the system (with apologies to Arby Fields), Wawoe has some solid tools on both sides of the ball, too. Wawoe had a monster campaign in 2013 in the VSL and has performed solidly the past two seasons stateside, getting a taste of Double-A last season. He has the ability to handle shortstop but his skills seem better fit at second base. At the plate, Gianfranco has shown strong contact skills and he picked up 13 extra base hits over the season's final 43 games (8.0% XBH), which was an encouraging sign.
There are 25 more names on top of the 50 we covered in our Annual Top-50 reports. There were actually 97 total names on my "possible" list back when this process started in September, but these pieces cover most of the talent to watch in Seattle's system when the 2016 minor league season kicks off next week. I hope you enjoyed all of the 2016 Top-50 related content, and I hope you are looking forward to the 2017 list as I am.
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