20. Greg Jacobs, OF, 26, 5-9/187 2003 Teams: Inland Empire - High-A, San Antonio-AA
.345 AVG/.404 OBP/.526 SLG 10HR, 78RBI, 42 2B
Outlook/2004: Likely to start the 2004 season at Triple-A Tacoma, Jacobs is one of the MLB-ready prospects that could see time in the big leagues in 2004. Much of the requirements for a big-league promotion next season will weigh heavily on offensive production and Jacobs had plenty of that in 2003, winning the California League batting title before the call-up to San Antonio, where he also hit over .300. The left-handed stroke of Jacobs is designed for line-drive gap power and his homerun ceiling is probably in the 12-15 range. Look for Jacobs in Tacoma in April.
MLB ETA: 2004 (September)
MLB Clone: Scott Hatteberg, Trot Nixon
19. Rene Rivera, C, 20, 5-10/200
2003 Teams: Wisconsin-A
.275/.344/.388 9HR, 54RBI, 19 2B
Outlook/2004: Drafted for his advanced defensive prowess and offensive potential, Rivera has not disappointed and is progressing nicely in both areas. The battle for catching duties at Double-A San Antonio and High-A Inland Empire will be fierce and competitive as well as crowded with the likes of Cesar Quintero and Luis Oliveros also in the mix. The return of former first round draft pick Ryan Christianson from injury adds yet another candidate. The Mariner lack of catching depth might be a thing of the past if Christianson returns healthy and Rivera continues his progress. Assuming all are healthy in the spring, expect Rivera to begin his season at Inland Empire, where his strong right-handed bat will thrive in the California weather.
MLB ETA: 2007
MLB Clone: Jason Kendall, Paul Loduca
18. Michael Garciaparra, 20, 6-1/170
2003 Team: Wisconsin-A
.243/314/.289 2HR, 38RBI, 14SB, 12 2B
Outlook/2004: After struggling for the better part of two seasons, Garciaparra began reminding scouts why he was a top pick and the younger, more athletic brother of Boston Red Sox All-Star shortstop Nomar Garciaparra. Through the month of July, Garciaparra sported a batting average that only Mario Mendoza and Bob Uecker could relate to, hitting under .200. Then something clicked. He started making consistent contact, cutting down on his strikeouts, hitting more line drives, and started looking confident at the plate. Wisconsin manager Daren Brown slid Garciaparra up to the No. 2 slot in the order and the vibrant shortstop took off from there, hitting .289 in that spot. Like his older brother, his power should develop as he matures physically but don't expect the 25-homer power that Nomar has. Defensively, Garciaparra has all the necessary skills to play shortstop long term, including the string arm, range, and footwork. He has so many athletic skills that he could play second base, third base, left field and even center field without extra training. Watch for Garciaparra starting at shortstop for the Inland Empire in 2004.
MLB ETA: 2006
MLB Clone: Alex S. Gonzalez, Barry Larkin
17. Glenn Bott, 22, 6-0/180
2003 Team: Inland Empire - High-A
7-7, 3.16 ERA, 142.1 IP, 143K, 38BB
Outlook/2004: Bott is one of several solid left-handers in the minors for the M's and is a lot like fellow prospects Craig Anderson and Ryan Ketchner. Without a devastating fastball, Bott uses his plus change-up and curve to set hitters up. With a heater between 85 and 88 MPH, the southpaw isn't going to overpower anyone so he fools them instead with the off-speed stuff. Bott began the year in Inland as a reliever, as did Ketchner, and was tossed into the rotation when Cha Seung Baek returned from injury and earned a promotion to Double-A San Antonio. After that point Bott stayed in the starting five for the balance of the season and into the playoffs, where he was a major piece of a championship rotation. Watch for Bott to start 2004 at Double-A San Antonio.
MLB ETA: 2005 (September)
MLB Clone: Sterling Hitchcock, Tom Glavine
16. Hunter Brown, 3B, 24, 6-2/200
2003 Team: Inland Empire - High-A
.248/.353/.436 15HR, 68RBI, 34 2B, 3 3B
Outlook/2004: Brown represents one of the more polished hitters in the M's system as far as approach and technique goes. His patience at the plate usually results in him getting a better pitch to hit but hasn't begun resulting in high walk totals. The more he turns his pitch into damaging doubles and homeruns, the more pitchers will be weary of his power. Hitting .248 in a hitter's league isn't much to speak of, but his .353 on-base percentage shows his willingness to wait for the right pitch. His strikeout totals aren't alarming and should allow for Brown to start 2004 at Double-A San Antonio in the Texas League, where the starting pitching is a full step above the California League.
MLB ETA: 2005
MLB Clone: Bill Mueller, Aaron Boone
M's Top Prospect List: 16 - 20
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