10. Ryan Ketchner, LHP, 21, 6-1/190
2003 Team: Inland Empire - High-A
14-7, 3.45 ERA, 156.2IP, 159K, 33BB, 2 Shutouts
Outlook/2004: Ketchner clawed his way into the Inland rotation during 2003 and never looked back. The southpaw proved to be worthy of ace status with the 66ers, going deep into games on a regular basis. He posted two complete-game shutouts. Ketchner was born 75% deaf and wears a hearing aid to assist in communication on the field. The former 10th round draft choice in 2000 doesn't see his deafness as a hindrance and his performance backs that up. With an average fastball at 86 to 89 MPH and a great assortment of off-speed pitches including a plus change-up and a plus curve ball, Ketchner's mound presence, command and overall maturity are his strengths. Watch for the lefty to begin 2004 in the rotation at Double-A San Antonio.
MLB ETA: 2006
MLB Clone: Mark Redman, Kirk Reuter
9. Justin Leone, 3B, 27, 6-1/197
2003 Teams: San Antonio-AA
.288 AVG/.405 OBP/.541 SLG 21HR, 92RBI, 38 2B, 7 3B, 92BB
Outlook/2004: Leone regained his prospect status of a few years back with a stellar 2003 season. The M's 13th round pick in the 1999 draft struggled through his first few years with strikeouts and troubles defensively. Neither area was problems for the Texas League MVP this past season. Leone is primed and ready for a shot at the big club, and may get that chance next spring. The strengths of Leone include plate discipline, patience and plus power. The 27-year-old should see time in Seattle in 2004 as well as Triple-A Tacoma.
MLB ETA: 2004
MLB Clone: Shea Hillenbrand, Mike Lowell
8. Cha Seung Baek, RHP, 23, 6-4/224
2003 Teams: Inland Empire - High-A, San Antonio-AA
8-4, 3.13 ERA, 112IP, 96K, 26BB
Outlook/2004: Baek's 2003 season can be looked upon as a pleasant surprise. Coming off of an arm injury and surgery, Baek stormed onto the scene at Inland Empire and showed immediately that he was ready for bigger things. His promotion to Double-A San Antonio seemed to only help the 23-year-old right-hander, as he continued his success. Baek throws three quality pitches, led by a 90 to 94 MPH fastball and a solid slider. The fastball has room to add velocity as his arm re-gains strength and endurance and could end up in the 93-96 range. Look for Baek to remain in Double-A and be the ace of the Missions staff to start 2004.
MLB ETA: 2005
MLB Clone: Adam Eaton, Brad Penny
7. Felix Hernandez, RHP, 17, 6-2/211
2003 Teams: Everett-SS-A, Wisconsin-A
7-2, 2.22 ERA, 69IP, 91K, 27BB
Outlook/2004: Hernandez was the biggest surprise of the year among the M's minor leaguers, and did it all with flair. Following his complete domination of the short-season Northwest League, the kid made two starts at Wisconsin and continued his electric 2003 season. The M's will be cautious with the youngster and monitor his pitch counts, taking no chances as Hernandez develops both physically and mechanically on the mound. Hernandez relies on a mid-90's fastball coupled with the occasional slider and change-up.
Expect Hernandez to begin his 2004 season in Wisconsin of the Midwest League with an eye on a mid-season promotion to High-A Inland Empire.
MLB ETA: 2008
MLB Clone: Bartolo Colon, Javier Vazquez
6. Chris Snelling, OF, 22, 5-11/189
2003 Teams: San Antonio-AA, Tacoma-AAA
.316/.359/.457, 6HR, 35RBI
Outlook/2004: Snelling simply needs to stay healthy and he will probably find himself on the 25-man roster full-time. A polished hitter, Snelling has the offensive stroke to hit .300 in the big-leagues and could get a shot to do so in 2004. The Australian possesses average tools across the board with the exception of his ability to get hits. His power potential tops out in the 10-14 range, but his plate skills are solid and he doesn't strike out much.
MLB ETA: 2004
MLB Clone: Sean Burroughs, BJ Surhoff
M's Top Prospect List: 6-10
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