Prospect Files: Clint Nageotte

The Mariners' top prospect appears to have a great shot at making the big-league club at some point in 2004. One thing is certain - he has all the tools to get there.

Position: RHP (starter)
Born: October, 25, 1980
Place: New Port Richey, FL
Height: 6-4
Weight: 225
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
How Acquired: Drafted in the fifth round of the 1999 draft

The 155th player chosen in the 1999 draft by the Seattle Mariners, Nageotte seems to have taken offense to not being drafted higher and has turned the animosity toward any hitter brave enough to step up in the batters box against him.

In his first pro season in 2000, the 19-year-old right-hander earned his keep, going 4-1 with a nasty 2.16 ERA for the Rookie League Peoria Mariners. His forte was the strikeout from the get-go and his 59 Ks in 50 innings did nothing to show it wasn't going to continue.

2001 saw Nageotte take another step in his progression to being the top prospect he is with a solid season at Wisconsin. His 11-8 record and 3.18 ERA weren't the most impressive numbers in the Midwest League, much known to be tougher on hitters than most leagues. It was his 187 Ks in 152.1 innings and a mere 50 walks as a 20-year-old that caught the eye of the scouts.

In 2002, the 6-foot-4 Ohio native was 9-6 with a sub-par 4.54 ERA in 29 starts for San Bernardino of the California League. He did however, lead the minor leagues in strikeouts with 214 in just a 164.2 innings pitched. His inconsistent control caused a slightly high walk total of 68, but Nageotte remained extremely tough to hit, giving up 153 hits, less than one per inning.

"Let the coronation begin", could have been the battle cry for Nageotte in 2003. This was the season he seemed to put it all together. His 11-7 record and 3.10 ERA weren't the only impressive aspects of his performance. He did boast a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 157-67 in 154 innings during 27 starts, but that wasn't the key to his season. The 22-year-old showed several signs of complete dominance as he became one of baseball's top right-handed pitching prospects, and aided the Missions to their second-straight Texas League Championship.

The most impressive stat aside from Nageotte's high strikeout totals was his magnificent homerun ratio. The flame-thrower has allowed just 26 round-trippers in 520 career innings.

Nageotte, now 23, looks to break into the majors in 2004, and will see extended time in spring training to earn a spot somewhere on the M's pitching staff. At worst, the club's No. 1 prospect will spend much of 2004 at Triple-A Tacoma before being a late-season callup.

TOOLS: Grading Scale

Fastball: 70+
Nageotte's fastball is probably his most underused pitch, but ranging from 92 to 96 MPH with movement makes it a plus pitch nonetheless.

Slider: 80
Possible the minor league's best overall pitch is Nageotte's slider. The club believes he tends to throw it a bit too often, and his late-season elbow soreness is a sign of that very thing. He can set hitters up with a fastball-slider combo or a slider-slider combo, changing speeds a bit on the breaking pitch.

Change-up: 40+
This is the pitch Nageotte continues to work on and if it ever reaches the stages of "average", it will prove a nasty alternative to the slider.

Mound Presence: 60
Nageotte's only issue seems to be a slight control problem and a simple lack of being challenged on a start-to-start basis. With each jump he's made through the minor league system, both have improved.

Intangibles: 70
Work ethic, ceiling, learning curve, and coach-ability all rate very high as his future success relies heavily on all of the above areas.

MLB ETA: 2004

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