M's Top Prospect List: 21 - 30

Every passing season causes prospect lists to change. Some highly touted players underperform. Other low draft picks shine and open eyes with their play on the field. This week, InsidethePark.com's minor league editor Jason A. Churchill will break down the up-to-date list of the Mariners' top 30 prospects, taking the 2003 season into account. First things first, prospects 21-30.

30. Craig Anderson, LHP, 23, 6-3/185
2003 Team: Tacoma-AAA
13-11, 3.56 ERA, 4CG, 67K, 46BB, 28G

Outlook/2004: Anderson is the Rodney Dangerfield of the Mariners farm system. He doesn't throw 95 MPH, have an electric delivery, or release a knee-buckling 12-6 curveball that baffles hitters every fifth day of a baseball season. He's very similar to fellow Aussie Chris Snelling in that respect. They both possess many skills but don't have a single plus tool that scouts drool over. So why is Craig Anderson thought of as a solid prospect? He has many intangibles that can't be measured. Maturity, intelligence, emotional command, and most of all, a lot of determination and grit. Anderson hits 85 to 88 on his fastball and mixes in a plus change-up, and a curve-ball with great command of all three. His fastball has gained velocity each year since 2001 and could top out in the 89-90 range when all is said and done, but Anderson won't be trying to overpower anyone anytime soon. Armed with the ability to simply get hitters out, he doesn't need to. Just ask Jamie Moyer.
MLB ETA: 2004 (September)
MLB Clone: Billy Traber, Jamie Moyer


29. Oswaldo Navarro, 2B/SS, 19, 5-11/163
2003 Team - Everett-Short-A
.258 AVG/.302 OBP/.318 SLG, 23RBI, 16SB

Outlook/2004: Navarro is probably going to make a switch to second base at some point but played well at shortstop in Everett in 2003. Considering the lack of depth in the organization at second base, Navarro will likely move up more rapidly there than in the six-hole, where the M's seem fairly deep. Navarro has great speed and quickness and is learning to use both to his advantage while at the plate. Wisconsin of the Midwest League will welcome the switch-hitter's speed and defense in their lineup in 2004.
MLB ETA: 2007
MLB Clone: Luis Rivas, Tony Womack


28. Emiliano Fruto, RHP, 19, 6-3/225
2003 Team: Inland Empire - High-A
7-8, 3.78 ERA, 83K, 38BB

Outlook/2004: Fruto is well advanced considering his age (19) and has shown maturity in tight game situations that scouts love to see. His tall but strongly built frame allows for his 89-92 MPH fastball to gain momentum as he builds arm strength from year to year. Used primarily as a reliever in 2003, Fruto has started 29 games in his career and projects as a starter in the future. He spent all of 2003 at Inland and made one relief appearance in triple-A Tacoma going four scoreless innings. Fruto could repeat his time in the Cal League in 2004 and jump to double-A San Antonio late in the year.
MLB ETA: 2006 (September)
MLB Clone: Miguel Batista, Ramiro Mendoza


27. Cesar Quintero, C, 21, 6-1/200
2003 Teams: Peoria-R, Inland - High-A
.322/.375/.436 1HR, 17RBI, 6 2B

Outlook/2004: 2003 saw Quintero hit well over .300 in Peoria and then see some time with the Inland Empire in September. He lacks power but with catchers the run production and power come later than most other positions. Quintero is part of a catching threesome that will fill the catching duties of San Antonio, Inland and Wisconsin. It's also possible that Quintero could share catching responsibilities with either Rene Rivera or Luis Oliveros at either of the two higher levels in double-A San Antonio or Advanced-A Inland. Worst-case scenario is that he begins 2004 as Wisconsin's starting catcher.
MLB ETA: 2007
MLB Clone: Benito Santiago, Mike Barrett


26. Wladimir Balentien, OF, 19, 6-1/204
2003 Team: Peoria-R
.283/.363/.658 16HR, 52RBI, 12 2B, 5 3B

Outlook/2004: Balentien is already being touted as the best power prospect in the system after a single year in the organization. Normally that would simply be a shot at the Mariners seeming inability to draft or sign young hitters, but Balentien earned that respect with a great 2003. Hitting 16 homeruns and driving in 52 in a short rookie league is nice enough from the first year right-handed hitter. When you add in 12 doubles and five triples to go with solid defense at the raw age of 19, your talking top of the line production. Expect Balentien to begin his 2004 campaign in Wisconsin of the Midwest League, or possibly the more hitter-friendly California League with the defending champion Inland Empire 66ers.
MLB ETA: 2007
MLB Clone: Carlos Lee, Brian Jordan


25. Troy Cate, LHP, 23, 6-1/193
2003 Teams: Inland Empire - High-A, Tacoma-AAA
9-11, 4.03 ERA, 165.1IP, 159K, 39BB

Outlook/2004: Cate has the stuff to pitch at Triple-A full time in 2004 and could see Tacoma to begin the year. His 86-89 MPH fastball and plus slurve are enough to get him through five innings. It's beyond that where he ran into some issues last season. His change-up needs work and his confidence needs scattering for him to compete at the Triple-A level. At times in 2003 Cate made it known that he believed he should have been at Double-A to start the year. The distraction was mainly stowed upon himself as he struggled at times. The southpaw was able to overcome the issue and pitch well down the stretch and be a major cog in the 66ers title run. Expect Cate to join fellow Inland southpaws Ryan Ketchner and Glenn Bott in Double-A San Antonio to start 2004.
MLB ETA: 2005 (September)
MLB Clone: Mark Buehrle, Mike Hampton


24. Greg Dobbs, 3B, 25, 6-1/205
2003 Team: San Antonio-AA (injured)
(2002) .365/.425/.542, 5HR, 15RBI, 27GMS

Outlook/2004: Dobbs is right there with the M's top third base prospect, Justin Leone, but is better defensively than Leone. It was Dobbs' season ending injury in April that opened the door for Leone to win the job and then the Texas League MVP. Dobbs will get his chance and could play some first base as well just to keep his bat in the lineup. Armed with 20-plus homer power and a solid approach at the plate that minimizes strikeouts, Dobbs should start the year in San Antonio once again with an open opportunity to progress as the year goes. The battle at the corners for both Tacoma and San Antonio could both involve Dobbs. MLB ETA: 2004 (September)
MLB Clone: Tino Martinez, Corey Koskie


23. Bobby Madritsch, LHP, 27, 6-2/220
2003 Team: San Antonio-AA
13-7, 3.65 ERA, 158.2IP, 154K, 67BB, 2CG

Outlook/2004: Madritsch was an Independent League signing last Fall and had a fantastic season. Used in the starting role in 2003, Madritsch will get a shot at making the big club in Spring Training as one of two left-handed relievers. Using a 91-95 MPH fastball and a hard slider, Madritsch's pitch arsenal seems perfect for relief work. At worst Madritsch will spend the start of 2004 in Triple-A Tacoma.
MLB ETA: 2004
MLB Clone: Allan Embree, Mark Remlinger


22. Jamal Strong, OF, 25, 5-11/182
2003 Teams: Peoria-R, Tacoma-AAA
.311/.398/.373 2HR, 23RBI, 28SB

Outlook/2004: Following an early spring shoulder injury, Strong came back with a vengeance and was the one of few bright spots offensively for Triple-A Tacoma in 2003. Speed is his best asset as evidenced by his 28 steals in limited action and ability to steal 50-plus bases in a full year. Strong, a right-handed hitter, will be a candidate for a bench spot on the M's roster when Spring Training begins in February. An experienced outfielder, Strong would likely play both center and left in the majors to use his speed in the great green pastures of SAFECO Field.
MLB ETA: 2004
MLB Clone: Juan Pierre, Dave Roberts


21. Bobby Livingston, LHP, 216, 6-3/190
2003 Team: Wisconsin-A
15-7, 2.73 ERA, 178IP, 105K, 28BB

Outlook/2004: Livingston had a solid, consistent season in 2003 while pitching in the spacious, pitcher-friendly Midwest League. The M's 4th-round draft pick in 2001 has been everything you could ask for. Livingston's control is what catches the eye statistically, with just 42 walks in 258 innings pitched in his minor league career. His strikeouts dropped from almost nine per nine innings pitched to five per nine innings pitched, but that isn't much of a concern with a 20-year-old in his second season in pro ball. Armed with a fastball clocked between 87 and 90MPH and a solid breaking ball and change-up, Livingston sets up hitters for contact as much as for a strikeout. Look for Livingston to test the warmer waters of the California League to start 2004.
MLB ETA: 2006
MLB Clone: Jarrod Washburn, Brian Anderson

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