Prospect Watch: Top 10 Players Age 20 or Younger

When one looks deep into the Mariner farm system, many names jump off the stat page and plant a seed of curiosity. How old is this kid? How long until he makes the big leagues? How far away are these top prospects? Many wonder who the hot shots are that will be filling the upper levels of the minor leagues over the next few years. Who are the best of the youngsters? Here is a Top 10 list of the Mariners' best young prospects, all 20 years of age or younger.

1. Felix Hernandez, RHP, Inland Empire 66ers
7-3, 3.06 ERA, 79.1 IP, 93 K, 24 BB
Hernandez, 18, is baffling California League hitters as the circuit's youngest pitcher.

2. Jose Lopez, SS/3B, Tacoma Rainiers
.280/.332/.505, 11 HR, 28 RBI, 4 SB
Prior to the recent knee injury, Lopez, 20, was steadily becoming the player the M's thought he would.

3. Adam Jones, SS, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers
.263/.328/.394, 4 HR, 33 RBI, 4 SB
Jones, 18, is more than holding his own as one of Midwest League's youngest hitters.

4. Wladimir Balentien, CF, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers
.257/.299/.466, 7 HR, 25 RBI, 8 SB
Balentien, 19, has rebounded from rough start to become one of the biggest power threats in the league.

5. Jesus Guzman, 3B, Inland Empire 66ers
.302/.410/.459, 3 HR, 20 RBI, 4 SB
Guzman, 19, skipped two levels and is showing great promise at the plate.

6. Cesar Jimenez, LHP, Inland Empire 66ers
2-5, 2.50 ERA, 39.2 IP, 34 K, 6 BB
Jimenez, 19, is consistently getting outs versus older, more experienced hitters.

7. Ivan Blanco, RHP, Aguirre Mariners (VSL/VWL)
7-0, 0.97 ERA, 74.1 IP, 103 K, 15 BB
Blanco, 20, should finally see time inside the M's system. A plus curve and great command are his two best assets.

8. Aaron Jensen, RHP, Everett Aqua Sox (2004)
No Statistics (signed late in 2003)
Jensen, 20, is armed with a plus 12-6 curve and low 90's heat. The Northwest League will be a good challenge for him.

9. Josh Womack, OF, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers
.269/.313/.404, 4 HR, 25 RBI, 9 SB
Womack, 20, combines plus speed with solid all-around skills to get solid results in a league tough on young bats.

10. Casey Craig, OF, Everett Aqua Sox
.331/.385/.458, 21 RBI, 10 SB @ Peoria in 2003
Craig, 19, has natural hitting ability, solid base running skills and plus speed. He could follow Josh Womack's footsteps in the performance department.

Notables: SS/3B Jeff Flaig, 19, LHP Paul Fagan, 19, LHP Ryan Feierabend, 18, LHP Eric O'Flaherty, 19, LHP Brandon Perry, 19, 2B/SS Oswaldo Navarro, 19.


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