M's Prospect Positional Rankings: First Base

Like the catcher position, the first base spot is a shallow group without a blue-chipper in the bunch. Last June's draft may have produced a few decent options but none have poked their head out from the ground. <br><br> Maybe this is why the M's have been so adamant about adding a free-agent first sacker.



 
Brandon Green

Opening Day Age: 23
Born: Adair, OK
Height/Weight: 6-0/200
Bats/Throws: B/R
2004 Teams: Everett

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

   

2004: .272, 7 HR, 55 RBI at Everett

Breakdown:
Green was drafted in June after hitting .395 as the Wichita State Shocker third baseman and three-hole hitter for two straight seasons. A former SS, Green added bulk and some bat speed and equaled his college home run output in a third of the at-bats. Now playing 1B more than anything, Green could project out to a legit 1B bat if he continues to make similar progress in the coming season.

Handling 1B was a simple transition for Green, who played 2B and 3B for the Aqua Sox as well. The switch-hitter has equal power from both sides of the plate and runs pretty well for a corner infielder.

2005 Projection:
Green could start 2005 in Wisconsin but it is more than possible for him to begin the year in the California League with the 66ers, depending on what fellow 1B prospects show in spring training.


 
Bryan LaHair

Opening Day Age: 22
Born: Worcester, MA
Height/Weight: 6-5/215
Bats/Throws: L/R
2004 Teams: Everett, Wisconsin

2004 Positional Ranking: NR
2005 Positional Ranking: 2

   

2004: .440, HR, 7 RBI at Everett; .279, 5 HR, 28 RBI at Wisconsin

Breakdown:
LaHair started out fast in 2004 as an Aqua Sox slugger and continued the hot streak after being promoted to Wisconsin after just 25 at-bats. His torrid hitting tailored off some but the 6-5 LaHair made an impression.

As is with many young power hitters, LaHair needs to cut down his swing a bit to curb the strikeout totals that equaled 66 in only 280 plate appearances last season.

2005 Projection:
LaHair will probably battle Green for 1B and DH duties at Inland Empire. It will be interesting to see how his power swing translates in a hitter's league where the ball carries much better.


 
John Lindsey

Opening Day Age: 28
Born: Hattiesburg, MS
Height/Weight: 6-3/225
Bats/Throws: R/R
2004 Teams: San Antonio

2004 Positional Ranking: NR
2005 Positional Ranking: 3

   

2004: .282, 19 HR, 72 RBI at San Antonio

Breakdown:
Lindsey continues to have a solid minor-league career and is in the category of a Bucky Jacobsen when it comes to how much impact he could have down the road.

More of a DH than an everyday 1B, Lindsey doesn't project as a major leaguer, but neither did Jacobsen until now.

2005 Projection:
Lindsey is a candidate for the 1B and DH spot in Triple-A Tacoma. Since A.J. Zapp left for Cincinnati and Jacobsen is likely to have a spot on the big club, both spots are wide open.


 
Marshall Hubbard

Opening Day Age: 22
Born: Wilmington, NC
Height/Weight: 6-2/215
Bats/Throws: L/R
2004 Teams: Peoria, Everett

2004 Positional Ranking: NR
2005 Positional Ranking: 4

   

2004: .280, 2 HR, 25 RBI at Peoria, Everett

Breakdown:
Hubbard came straight off the campus at the University of North Carolina and never got things going as a first-year pro. After hitting 17 home runs in his final season as a Tar Heel, Hubbard struggled with the wood-bat syndrome and had just two with the Aqua Sox.

If Hubbard can make the transition from the aluminum stick, he could turn out to be the system's best 1B prospect. Defensively, Hubbard handles himself a lot like former Mariners first-sacker Tino Martinez.

2005 Projection:
Another candidate for both the Wisconsin and Inland Empire's opening at 1B, Hubbard has the most natural 1B skills of all of the involved possibilities. The 22-year-old could see time as an outfielder as well, a position he has experience playing.


 
Matt Hagen

Opening Day Age: 25
Born: Watsonville, CA
Height/Weight: 6-4/215
Bats/Throws: R/R
2004 Teams: Inland Empire

2004 Positional Ranking: No. 3 3B
2005 Positional Ranking: 5

   

2004: .231, 9 HR, 47 RBI at Inland Empire

Breakdown:
Making the permanent switch to first base didn't seem to help Hagen at the plate as expected. The soon-to-be 25-year-old is probably a step away from dropping completely off the charts with the Mariners and may just be hanging on by avery thin thread.

With the glove, Hagen has taken nicely to first base but his bat must come around. After hitting .289 at Everett in his first pro season, Hagen has hot .220 and now .231 with a combined 222 strikeouts.

2005 Projection:
Hagen needs to squeak through the winter without being released before worrying about where he might play in 2005. If March rolls in and Hagen is still around, look for a California League repeat or a start in San Antonio, more to clear room on the 66ers roster than a promotion of sorts.


Others:
  • Luis Soto, 20, Peoria
  • Jeremy Dutton, 24, Wisconsin

  • Up Next: Friday, December 3- Third base

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