M's Prospect Positional Rankings: Outfielders

Continuing the positional prospect rankings, the outfielders represent one of the few strengths in the Mariners organization. <br><br> The top two are on the brink of the big leagues and headline a solid group.


 
Jeremy Reed

Opening Day Age: 23
Born: LaVerne, CA
Height/Weight: 6-0/185
Bats/Throws: L/L
2004 Teams: Charlotte, Tacoma, Seattle

2004 Positional Ranking: N/A
2005 Positional Ranking: 1

   

2004: .275, 8 HR, 37 RBI, 12 SB at Charlotte; .305, 5 HR, 36 RBI, 13 SB at Tacoma; .397, 5 RBI, 3 SB at Seattle

Breakdown:
Reed began the season as one of the best pure hitters in the minor leagues and after a semi-slow start in Charlotte, turned it up a notch immediately following the trade to the Mariners organization. Even with a strong second half in Tacoma, the most impressive line from Reed came in September when he torched major league pitching and hit nearly .400 in his three weeks in the show.

Reed's strengths are his speed, plate discipline and solid glove and the M's might deem all too necessary for their needs and start him in center field on opening day. Defensively, the 23-year-old has the skills to play an adequate game in the middle of the Safeco outfield but could be a gold glover in left.

2005 Projection:
Nothing more for Reed to learn in Triple-A and the M's seem set on having him somewhere in the outfield for 2005. The Long Beach State product could bat in the second spot behind Ichiro and set up a pretty solid lineup behind him.


 
Shin-soo Choo

Opening Day Age: 22
Born: Pusan, Korea
Height/Weight: 5-11/185
Bats/Throws: L/L
2004 Teams: San Antonio

2004 Positional Ranking: 1
2005 Positional Ranking: 2

   

2004: .315, 15 HR, 84 RBI, 40 SB at San Antonio

Breakdown:
Choo did everything asked of him this past season; added some power, polished his base running skills, cut down on his strikeouts, added points to his on-base percentage and established himself as one of the better players in Double-A in 2004. The next step for the Korean-born 22-year-old is to conquer Triple-A in the same manner and cement his path to the big leagues.

Choo could solidify himself as a true five-tool player if he makes similar progress in the power department as last season. Going from seven home runs to nine home runs and then to 15 is a pretty solid trend and a jump into the low-20's could set fire to Choo's stock at this time next year.

2005 Projection:
Choo is a sure-thing to be the starting right fielder for Tacoma in April and could see some at-bats with the big club should the need arise. Choo is on track to force the M's to make an outfield decision next winter.


 
Wladimir Balentien

Opening Day Age: 20
Born: Willemstad, CC
Height/Weight: 6-1/175
Bats/Throws: R/R
2004 Teams: Wisconsin, Inland Empire

2004 Positional Ranking: 5
2005 Positional Ranking: 3

   

2004: .279, 17 HR, 51 RBI, 11 SB at Wisconsin, Inland Empire

Breakdown:
The Aruban-born Balentien made quite an impression in 2003 when he shattered the Arizona Rookie League record for home runs with 16. His eye-opening power continued, on a lesser scale, in 2004 and the 20-year-old also showed decent defensive skills and the ability to steal a base, here and there. Balentien has solid all-around skills that could be turned into a fine outfield prospect, though his talents are still very raw and he has work to do in many areas.

Better plate discipline and improved on-base numbers go hand-in-hand and improvements in both areas in 2005 could catapult Balentien to the top of his position within the organization next season.

2005 Projection:
Natural progression would put Balentien in the 66ers outfield to start the year. A better league to hit in could help Balentien's primary numbers take a giant leap forward. Better pitching may not allow that.


 
Chris Snelling

Opening Day Age: 23
Born: North Miami, FL
Height/Weight: 5-10/175
Bats/Throws: L/L
2004 Teams: Peoria

2004 Positional Ranking: 2
2005 Positional Ranking: 4

   

2004: .313, 9 RBI at Peoria

Breakdown:
Yet another lost season for the kid from Australia. After a broken wrist bone and subsequent surgery pushed him out of spring training, Snelling's recovery was slowed by a setback that cut his rehab in Peoria short after just 10 games played.

When healthy, Snelling is a lot like fellow outfield prospect Jeremy Reed in that he makes a lot of solid contact and rarely strike out. Lacking the athleticism of Reed, Snelling impresses mostly with true grit and pure effort.

2005 Projection:
Here comes that phrase again. If healthy, Snelling starts the year as the Rainiers left fielder but could see a lot of early time in the DH spot to lend extra time for his wrist to heal. His spring is as crucial to his future as any Mariners prospect.


 
Casey Craig

Opening Day Age: 20
Born: San Diego, CA
Height/Weight: 5-10/190
Bats/Throws: L/R
2004 Teams: Everett

2004 Positional Ranking: NR
2005 Positional Ranking: 5

   

2004: .265, 5 HR, 30 RBI, 17 SB at Everett

Breakdown:
Craig's 2004 campaign was almost the exact opposite of his first season in pro ball that saw him hit .331 with just one long ball. Craig smacked five home runs this past season and while his average dipped more than 60 points, he still displayed solid plate skills, taking 45 walks in just 251 plate appearances.

Defensively, Craig's average speed and decent arm remind many of Snelling and although he won't be winning any gold gloves anytime soon, his defense is more than adequate.

2005 Projection:
Craig is likely set to start his 2005 season at Wisconsin, battling the weather and the pitcher's ball parks. Watch for a jump in power for Craig and for the early comparison's to all-star Brian Giles to start earning some credibility.


 
Jamal Strong

Opening Day Age: 26
Born: Altadena, CA
Height/Weight: 5-10/180
Bats/Throws: R/R
2004 Teams: Tacoma

2004 Positional Ranking: 4
2005 Positional Ranking: 6

   

2004: .324, 3 HR, 24 RBI, 19 SB at Tacoma

Breakdown:
Strong joined the M*A*S*H unit last season with a bad knee that ultimately forced season-ending surgery in August. Another fine season at the plate and on the bases was in the works for the Nebraska product when the knee acted up for the third time during the year. The injury probably cost Strong a September call-up.

Strong has added some bulk over the past two winters and it seems to have given the 26-year-old some added pop in his bat to compliment his top-drawer speed. The career-best three home runs doesn't sound like much but he was challenging his career-high in both slugging percentage and on-base percentage when his season came to an end.

2005 Projection:
Strong will join a star-studded Tacoma Rainiers outfield with Choo and Snelling and probably hit in front of both of them. A healthy 2005 will probably be Strong's last in the M's organization.


 
T.J. Bohn

Opening Day Age: 25
Born: St. Louis Park, MN
Height/Weight: 6-4/205
Bats/Throws: R/R
2004 Teams: Inland Empire, San Antonio

2004 Positional Ranking: NR
2005 Positional Ranking: 7

   

2004: .283, 7 HR, 37 RBI at Inland Empire; .264, 7 HR, 29 RBI at San Antonio

Breakdown:
Bohn backed up a strong first half in the California League with a solid showing in Double-A with the Missions. The strength for Bohn has always been his ability to reach base and his combined .374 on-base percentage is proof of his plate skills.

Bohn is a solid defender with a great throwing arm and skills to play either corner spot in the outfield. Adding a little bit more pop in 2005 would vastly improve his prospect status.

2005 Projection:
Bohn is slated to begin his 2005 season in Double-A San Antonio and is likely to be the starting right fielder on opening day.


 
Jon Nelson

Opening Day Age: 25
Born: Orem, UT
Height/Weight: 6-5/215
Bats/Throws: R/R
2004 Teams: Inland Empire

2004 Positional Ranking: No. 2 1B
2005 Positional Ranking: 8

   

2004: .303, 19 HR, 95 RBI, 26 SB at Inland Empire

Breakdown:
Nelson's improved season 2004 over his output in 2003 is a tough one to figure out. After putting up decent numbers with Wisconsin a year ago, Nelson padded his batting average by 39 points, while raising his on-base percentage 56 points and his slugging percentage 65. If Nelson can cut his strikeouts to a more respectable level and learn to take a walk, the M's could have a solid offensive prospect on their hands.

Defensively, Nelson made the switch from first base to left field and has made the transition nicely. His 6-5, 215-pound frame handles the outfield just fine thanks to superb athleticism and better-than-average speed. That same speed produced more stolen bases and triples from a player of his physical stature than you'd expect.

2005 Projection:
Nelson is a natural fit in left field for Double-A San Antonio. A repeat performance for the 25-year-old could land him in Tacoma by year's end.


 
Josh Womack

Opening Day Age: 21
Born: San Diego, CA
Height/Weight: 6-1/185
Bats/Throws: L/L
2004 Teams: Wisconsin

2004 Positional Ranking: NR
2005 Positional Ranking: 9

   

2004: .260, 5 HR, 39 RBI, 24 SB at Wisconsin

Breakdown:
If there were a magic marker that could leave off one set of numbers for Womack, his 2004 season would have been a pretty solid success. As is, his 126-34 strikeouts-to-walks ratio is a red flag for the 20-year-old San Diego native.

Womack possesses solid speed, a strong glove in the outfield and pretty good plate skills, with the glaring exception of pitch selection.

If Womack can close that gap between strikeouts and walks, his stock will rise. Defensively and with his plus speed, Womack has a lot of attractive skills and his power should continue to improve as he matures physically.

2005 Projection:
Womack is a candidate to start in the outfield for the Inland Empire 66ers. A crowded outfield could produce healthy competition, boding well for the organization if Womack comes out ahead.


 
Greg Jacobs

Opening Day Age: 28
Born: Orange, CA
Height/Weight: 5-10/190
Bats/Throws: L/L
2004 Teams: San Antonio, Tacoma

2004 Positional Ranking: 3
2005 Positional Ranking: 10

   

2004: .310, 5 HR, 31 RBI at San Antonio; .320, 9 HR, 30 RBI at Tacoma

Breakdown:
Jacobs has hit over .300 at every stop since signing with the M's prior to the 2003 season. The lefty-hitting outfielder improved his power in Triple-A Tacoma, despite inconsistent playing time due to a crowded roster and a mid-season suspension.

Jacobs could be a candidate for the Rule V draft if s team wants to take a chance that he can play a position defensively. He does possess a great throwing arm but lacks range and natural instincts in left or right field.

2005 Projection:
The 28-year-old could be the odd-man out in Tacoma if Snelling is healthy enough to play the field. A LF/DH platoon could be in Jacobs immediate future.

Others:
  • Brent Johnson, 22, Everett
  • Chris Colton, 22, Wisconsin
  • Gary Harris, 25, Inland Empire
  • Carlos Arroyo, 23, Inland Empire
  • B.J. Garbe, 24, San Antonio
  • Jermaine Brock, 19, Peoria



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