M's 2005 Top 50 Prospects: 41-50

InsideThePark.com is in the spirit of giving and without further adieu, let us introduce the first installment of the Mariners' 2005 Top 50 Prospects. <i>Don't miss out on this FREE preview of numbers 41-50!</i>




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InsideThePark Prospect No. 50
Chris Colton OF
Opening Day Age: 22
Height/Weight: 6-1/195
Bats/Throws: R/R
Acquired: Mariners 15th round pick in 2001 Draft

Year

Team

AVG.

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

K

OBP

SLG

2004

Wisconsin

.232

12

63

63

15

40

99

.302

.398



Strengths:
Colton's versatility and athleticism are his best attributes, both offensively and defensively. Using his plus speed to turn doubles into triples and to run down liners hit into the gap is the way Colton leaves his mark on a baseball game. The Middle Georgia College product doesn't grade out high enough in any one area to dominate with any single aspect of his game but if he puts it all together good things can happen.

Weaknesses:
Lacking the power bat that best fits a right field prospect, Colton is best suited to play left field but has the ability to play some center as well. Possessing gap power isn't a bad thing to have but the 22-year-old needs to improve his ability to hit the ball to right field and take advantage of the gaps on the other side of the diamond.



Tools: Scout's Profiling Scale

Hitting for Average: 35
Colton has a bit of an issue making enough contact for a player who doesn't hit for a lot of power and will probably never hit .300 at any level. Evening out his strikeouts-to-walks ratio would greatly enhance his overall value as an offensive player.

Hitting for Power: 45
Colton doesn't frighten pitchers with his power stroke but could develop better-than-average power as he continues to mature. More contact and better plate discipline would aid in this area.

Speed: 65
Speed can be a large part of Colton's game but he must use it correctly. He isn't going to steal 40 bases and cover a spacious outfield by himself but he is capable taking advantage of mistakes and gaining the extra base.

Glove: 55
Being a sure-handed fielder is something Colton thrives to be and continues to improve upon. As he moves through the system he will see more consistent time at one position and should become a solid fielder overall.

Arm: 60
Hand-in-hand with his ability to play all three outfield spots, Colton's throwing arm is solid but unspectacular. As is the case with many minor leaguers, accuracy is lacking while raw arm strength is not a major issue.



Future:
Colton is likely to earn a starting spot in the outfield with the Inland Empire 66ers for 2005. His future as a prospect relies heavily on his ability to blend all of his athletic skills into being a good baseball player. To avoid fading out at the Double-A level, Colton must improve his plate discipline and grasp one of the outfield spots and make it his own.



MLB Clone: Adrian Brown, Marquis Grissom

MLB ETA: September 2007





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InsideThePark Prospect No. 49
Mumba Rivera RHP
Opening Day Age: 24
Height/Weight: 6-5/205
Bats/Throws: R/R
Acquired: Mariners 21st round pick in 2004 Draft

Year

Team

G

GS

W-L

IP

Hits

BB

K

Sv

ERA

WHIP

2004

Everett

18

5

4-7

59.0

44

25

48

0

3.36

1.17



Strengths:
Experience usually doesn't translate from college to the professional ranks but Rivera seems to be able to use his days at Bethune-Cookman College to his advantage more than most college draftees. The stuff the 24-year-old brings to the table is solid and his fastball-slider combo is tough duo for hitters to deal with in the late innings. Rivera stepped right in and after a few rough outings, adapted and looked as comfortable as any reliever in the Northwest League.

Weaknesses:
Slight command issues with the slider can hurt Rivera as he catches too much of the strike zone. Perhaps a change in the type of slider he uses can help keep the ball down and off the plate. The lack of a third pitch hinders Rivera's ability to start regularly and is best suited to serve in relief.



Tools: Scout's Profiling Scale

Fastball: 65
Rivera throws a two-seam heater and a four-seamer, topping out in the 91-94 MPH range. The two-seamer rides in on right-handed hitters and sets up his breaking pitch and change. Possibly his best attribute is that he will use his fastball to set up his secondary pitches instead falling into the trap of throwing the slider too much.

Slider: 55
An improving pitch for the former Bethune-Cookman College star, keeping it away from right-handers and throwing it down and in to a left-hander. Rivera can use it as an out pitch and as a set up option.

Change Up: 50
A work-in-progress, Rivera's change can be the pitch that gets him to the big leagues. With his live arm action and natural arm slot, Rivera should have no problem developing a decent change of pace pitch.

Command: 55
Rivera brought his solid arsenal to Everett and surprised with satisfactory command, as his 25 walks would suggest, but there is still room for improvement. Being capable of throwing the fastball or the slider for strikes is a plus that every pitcher has, and Rivera carries this into his second pro season.

Delivery: 55
In relief, a pitcher's delivery can be slightly less than perfect but Rivera's seems to have very little to complain about. Smoothing out his transition from leg kick to release could aid in velocity and arm action.



Future:
Rivera could move fast through the ranks if he develops an effective third pitch. Capable of starting or relieving, the 6-5, 205-pounder packs a lot of quiet but positive attitude that energizes a clubhouse.



MLB Clone: Ramon Ortiz, Miguel Batista

MLB ETA: 2007





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InsideThePark Prospect No. 48
Jon Huber RHP
Opening Day Age: 23
Height/Weight: 6-2/195
Bats/Throws: R/R
Acquired: Traded from San Diego to Seattle on July 31, 2004

Year

Team

G

GS

W-L

IP

Hits

BB

K

Sv

ERA

WHIP

2004

Lake Elsinore

20

20

8-6

107.0

107

44

100

0

3.70

1.41

2004

Inland Empire

7

5

4-1

32.1

42

14

38

0

6.12

1.73



Strengths:
Huber's biggest strength is between his ears. A cerebral pitcher with decent stuff, Huber's M.O. is to outsmart hitters and try to keep his pitch counts to a minimum.

Weaknesses:
Not blessed with a clear-cut out pitch, Huber struggles , somewhat, putting hitters away after two strikes. Better command and an alternate pitch to the fastball and curveball would serve the right-hander well.



Tools: Scout's Profiling Scale

Fastball: 50
Huber's fastball is a better weapon than it probably should be and projects as a major league average pitch, but only if the right-hander can improve his location.

Curve: 55
Huber's best weapon is his overhand curveball and is a pitch that can be easy to overuse. Again, better command and location would raise its level of effectiveness.

Change Up: 50
Huber's most underused pitch could remove the workload from the curveball with improved command. Changing speeds effectively is Huber's ticket past Double-A baseball.

Command: 45
Struggling with command of less than a full arsenal spells inconsistency and that is exactly what Huber has experienced in his career.

Delivery: 55
A solid, fluid delivery allows Huber to disguise the breaking ball and avoid arm injuries caused by extra stress to the shoulder and elbow.



Future:
Huber must improve his command and establish himself as a seven-inning starter to see the major leagues. Getting behind in the count or losing hitters after two strikes isn't going to land the pitcher in a major league rotation.



MLB Clone: Rick Helling, Dave Burba

MLB ETA: 2007





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InsideThePark Prospect No. 47
Mark Lowe RHP
Opening Day Age: 21
Height/Weight: 6-4/185
Bats/Throws: R/R
Acquired: Mariners 5th round pick in 2004 Draft

Year

Team

G

GS

W-L

IP

Hits

BB

K

Sv

ERA

WHIP

2004

Everett

18

3

1-2

38.1

42

14

38

7

4.93

1.47



Strengths:
Lowe's versatility, among other aspects of his game, reminds many of the 21-year-old's namesake, Derek Lowe. Whether it be as a starter, a middle reliever or as a closer in the ninth, the M's 5th-round pick has the stuff and the durability to be successful in each role.

Weaknesses:
Experience is often an issue with young pitchers but for Lowe "big game" experience is more what is lacking. Having pitched at the smallish Texas-Arlington in college, every step of the way is crucial for Lowe's development.



Tools: Scout's Profiling Scale

Fastball: 60
The right-hander starts out with his sinking fastball and in tandem with a running four-seamer, is a solid setup to the off-speed stuff that follows. With improved command, Lowe could be the owner of one of the better fastball combinations in the farm system.

Curve: 40
Still a work in progress, Lowe's curve ball is basically a variation of the slider and isn't used as much when Lowe works in relief.

Slider: 55
Probably Lowe's best pitch when it is at its best. When set up correctly with a sinking fastball or curve, Lowe's slider is a great out pitch for the closer prospect.

Change Up: 40
Lowe doesn't throw the change much but if it develops into a usable option, Lowe could convert into a starter where his pitches would then be best used.

Command: 55
Lowe has pretty sharp control as evidenced by his 14 walks in 38.1 innings with the Aqua Sox. Attacking the strike zone consistently, Lowe is able to stay ahead and takes risks with his out pitches but does not stray from solid in the control department.

Delivery: 55
At 6-4, Lowe uses the natural leverage to get a downward angle on his hard stuff and with a rangy delivery can hide the pitch until the action actually takes place.



Future:
Lowe's future is probably in the bullpen but he could slide in the rotation at some point during his progress through the system. Lowe should start the 2005 season with Wisconsin but don't expect him to stay long.



MLB Clone: Derek Lowe, John Lackey

MLB ETA: September 2007





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InsideThePark Prospect No. 46
Brandon Moorhead RHP
Opening Day Age: 25
Height/Weight: 6-2/220
Bats/Throws: R/R
Acquired: Signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2003

Year

Team

G

GS

W-L

IP

Hits

BB

K

Sv

ERA

WHIP

2004

Wisconsin

25

25

9-10

145.2

142

50

163

0

3.27

1.32



Strengths:
Moorhead came in off the street after signing as a non-drafted free agent from the University of Georgia. His first season was spent as a closer in the Northwest League where he saved 13 games. This past season Moorhead displayed his strength as a starting pitcher; the strikeout. Moorhead puts hitters away when he gets ahead.

Weaknesses:
The right-hander isn't blessed with great stuff and uses a hard-nosed approach to out-duel hitters. Moorhead has yet to be challenged against more polished and talented hitting and while his 2004 season was fantastic in the stat books, he was facing hitters 2-3 years younger.



Tools: Scout's Profiling Scale

Fastball: 60
Sitting in the 88-91 MPH range, Moorhead doesn't blow hitters away but his heater is wildly effective when ahead in the count. Establishing the fastball early in the count gives him the opportunity to use more breaking pitches.

Curve: 45
Not Moorhead's best pitch, his curve goes unused quite a bit at times. Needs more work to become anything more than a usable pitch.

Slider: 55
If Moorhead mixed in more curveballs here and there, his slider would become more effective. As is, the slider is his strikeout pitch that is complimented well in a two-pitch combo.

Change Up: 45
Like most pitchers with so little pro experience, most of Moorhead's pitches need some work. The change up is probably the most crucial pitch for him to improve due to his decent fastball and slider. Three average-or-better pitches can get a pitcher into the big leagues if…

Command: 40
… his command is better-than-average. Moorhead has work to do here as well but there is no reason why the right-hander can't clean up the 50 walks and 12 wild pitches.

Delivery: 50
There is nothing detrimental in Moorhead's delivery that might hinder development or raise the risk of an arm injury.



Future:
Moorhead's team-record 163 strikeouts for Wisconsin would have been much more impressive in the California League where the hitters are more advanced, but it is still a big number in just 145.2 innings. Another bright spot is that he allowed just five home runs over his 25 starts. Moorhead will get a shot at the Cal League in 2005, where repeated numbers would likely earn him a promotion at mid-season.



MLB Clone: Bob Wickman, Matt Herges

MLB ETA: September 2007





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InsideThePark Prospect No. 45
Jared Thomas LHP
Opening Day Age: 24
Height/Weight: 6-3/230
Bats/Throws: L/L
Acquired: Mariners 11th round pick in 2002 Draft

Year

Team

G

GS

W-L

IP

Hits

BB

K

Sv

ERA

WHIP

2004

San Antonio

33

0

5-3

59.2

57

38

64

1

3.62

1.59



Strengths:
Thomas has a bulldog mentality and that bodes very well for a relief pitcher that sees action in tight games for a living. A solid arsenal helps Thomas compete in every at-bat and gives him an advantage when he starts an inning with a lead-off out.

Weaknesses:
The left-hander's only major weakness is his knack for wildness. The 38 walks is a red flag for a situational reliever and could be the 24-year-old's downfall. Hitters sit on the fastball when the breaking pitches aren't hitting their spots and Thomas loses confidence when the bases on balls pile up.



Tools: Scout's Profiling Scale

Fastball: 60
Touching 93 MPH and sitting in the 88-91 range, Thomas has a solid set up pitch to begin his attack. Better control of his fastball would allow more room for error with the slider. Also in his arsenal is a cutter that tails away from right-handers and into lefties, forcing ground balls and pop ups early in the count.

Slider: 55
Thomas has a solid slider that, when thrown with command, is a plus pitch. When the former 11th-rounder falls behind in the count he tends to go primarily with the fastball to avoid allowing a walk. Thomas' cut fastball has slowly replaced his curve ball which tumbled to the plate far too often.

Change Up: 45
The change up is perhaps the pitch with the most potential for Thomas as he continues to develop the third option that he can go to with confidence. Not much to it right now but the left-hander.

Command: 55
If Thomas cleans up the "ball fours", his future is very bright. His aggressive nature is perfect for a major league bullpen and a strong season in 2005. Without improved control, Thomas remains a fringe relief prospect with potential.

Delivery: 50
Unlike some lefties, Thomas has a fluid motion with a high three-quarters release. A smooth leg kick and stride provide the power in the heater and his arm action is decent enough to avoid tipping pitches by grip.



Future:
Thomas has a chance to be a solid major league reliever-if the command issue is stricken from the record. His approach to pitching is ideal for the M's organization and his competitive drive puts him right there with fellow southpaw Travis Blackley.



MLB Clone: Ron Villone, Dennys Reyes

MLB ETA: September 2006





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InsideThePark Prospect No. 44
Aaron Taylor RHP
Opening Day Age: 27
Height/Weight: 6-7/240
Bats/Throws: R/R
Acquired: M's Rule 5 selection, 1999

Year

Team

G

GS

W-L

IP

Hits

BB

K

Sv

ERA

WHIP

2004

Inland Empire

1

1

0-1

1.1

2

1

2

0

13.50

2.25

2004

San Antonio

30

0

3-1

37.1

27

14

37

0

2.89

1.10

2004

Seattle

5

0

0-0

3.2

5

3

4

0

9.82

1.83



Strengths:
Taylor's best attribute is easily his resolve. After nearly retiring five seasons ago, Taylor turned it up an octave and rolled into the 2003 season looking to jump into the big leagues. After pitching well for the third straight season he got a taste of the major leagues but didn't fare as well as both he and the club would have liked. Heading into 2004, Taylor was recovering from rotator cuff surgery and started the season late, delaying his return to the big leagues. Taylor slowly regained strength in his throwing arm and was re-called in September. It seems that whatever happens, he handles it and perseveres.

Weaknesses:
Taylor's weaknesses rarely show up in the minors as evidenced by three straight seasons with a sub-3.00 ERA. Once he reaches the majors (20 G, 21 IP) his command disappears and he has yet to really find a comfort zone.



Tools: Scout's Profiling Scale

Fastball: 70
Typically, Taylor tops out in the 96-MPH range and works off of the heat in every at-bat. Post-surgery, the right-hander was somewhat limited to the 90-93 range with the fastball and seems to have learned to locate his no. 1 in the process.

Slider: 55
Taylor's breaking ball is a slurve of sorts and baffles minor leaguers with regularity. Command is occasionally an issue with it but usually when he needs it, the slider is there for him.

Change Up: 40
Taylor's change up needs work but has gotten better over the past two seasons and could become a more important pitch for the 27-year-old. His hard stuff will always be his bread and butter but the change up is the ultimate equalizer.

Command: 55
Surprisingly, Taylor's control isn't a problem, even after the shoulder injury. Being able to throw his breaking pitches for strikes could land him in the M's bullpen permanently.

Delivery: 50
Like most big, tall pitchers, Taylor has a simple delivery without much action. The arm angle is over the top and the release is similar to that of Detroit Tigers closer Troy Percival.



Future:
Barring any setbacks with the shoulder, Taylor will likely start the 2005 season in Triple-A Tacoma with an eye on the Mariners' bullpen. The 6-7 flame-thrower is likely to be the first to get the call should the club need an arm.



MLB Clone: Troy Percival, Terry Adams

MLB ETA: 2005





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InsideThePark Prospect No. 43
Brandon Green 1B
Opening Day Age: 23
Height/Weight: 6-0/210
Bats/Throws: B/R
Acquired: Mariners 21st round pick in 2004 Draft

Year

Team

AVG.

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

K

OBP

SLG

2004

Everett

.272

7

55

37

9

26

55

.333

.428



Strengths:
Green is a former shortstop at Wichita State University and as the Oklahoma native matured physically, he kept much of his athletic ability and speed which yield a versatile defender with some pop in his bat. Green is a solid defensive first baseman as he learns the position and shouldn't have issues becoming a gold glove type defender.

Weaknesses:
It remains to be seen if Green has the necessary power to be a legit bat at either corner of the infield. As a switch-hitter, Green displays more power from the left side and better consistency from his natural right side. Without great plate skills, Green needs the pop in his bat to boom in 2005. Lacking one top tool, Green has work to do to move through the system.



Tools: Scout's Profiling Scale

Hitting for Average: 40
Green's 55 strikeouts in 315 plate appearances is a decent number for a power hitter but since he has yet to prove his power is legitimate, he'll need to make more contact and attempt to hit more line drives as part of his daily attack.

Hitting for Power: 50
The former Shockers star has 20-25 home run power from the left side and might benefit from becoming a full-time left-handed hitter. With the right adjustments to the wood bat, Green could surprise in 2005.

Speed: 50
Green isn't going to leave a blur on the scout's eye but his speed is a bit sneaky. The utility-man will steal the occasional base and stretch a few singles into doubles.

Glove: 60
Having played on the left side of the infield for so long, the hot shots and smashes he faced make first base seem like a snoozer. Green is quickly learning to dig out throws in the dirt and make the necessary throws on the other side of the diamond.

Arm: 60
Green has a solid arm and as he learns to use it from his first base position. Before long, you can watch Green take a cut-off throw and gun down a runner at the plate from the edge of the outfield grass.



Future:
Green's first full season as a pro will likely take place in the Midwest League where hitters have a tough time before the all-star break due to torturous weather. Put Green on the power watch from day one.



MLB Clone: Doug Mientkiewicz, Herbert Perry

MLB ETA:2007





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InsideThePark Prospect No. 42
Matt Thornton LHP
Opening Day Age: 28
Height/Weight: 6-6/220
Bats/Throws: L/L
Acquired: Mariners 1st round pick in 1998 Draft

Year

Team

G

GS

W-L

IP

Hits

BB

K

Sv

ERA

WHIP

2004

Tacoma

16

15

7-5

83.0

85

63

74

0

5.20

1.78

2004

Seattle

19

1

1-2

32.2

30

25

30

0

4.13

1.68



Strengths:
Thornton has top-of-the-rotation stuff , highlighted by a plus heater and a solid slider. A flame-throwing left-hander is rare enough but one who can start or relieve is another rarity altogether.

Weaknesses:
Thornton has had issues staying on the field and the past two seasons that he has pitched have revealed a massive control issue. When you walk 88 batters in 115.2 innings and throw 12 wild pitches in the same span, command really isn't your forte. Seemingly with the injuries in his rear-view mirror, Thornton must corral his arsenal.



Tools: Scout's Profiling Scale

Fastball: 70
Touching 95 MPH on the radar gun is nothing new to Thornton and he has little difficulty getting there after seven season as a pro. When the southpaw is right the heater sits in the 92-94 range, paints the corners and sets up the breaking stuff.

Slider: 60
Thornton's slider is the prototypical left-handed style breaking pitch that sweeps across the plate away from lefty hitters and can be used to backdoor a right-hander.

Change Up: 45
Thornton abandoned the change at times over the past few years when the Michigan native's control went south and he tried a more simplified approach. If Thornton wants to start again he will need to improve his feel for the change up.

Command: 20
Thornton's control problems aren't new and aren't a result of the injuries but it's tough to believe he can't improve on such a wild 2004 season. If he reached the level of possessing slightly below-average control, he could have a future in the bullpen.

Delivery: 50
Thornton has one of the simpler deliveries for a southpaw but has a stiff approach as he nears his release point. It's possible that a much more relaxed but explosive delivery where Thornton adds a more flexible bend at the waist as he starts his stride to the plate could aid in his attempts to harness his electric array of pitches.



Future:
With improved control and a healthy left arm, Thornton heads to spring training with a chance to win a job in the Mariners bullpen. Short of such, Thornton heads to Triple-A Tacoma where he could pitch in a number of roles.



MLB Clone: Jason Christianson, Jeremy Affeldt

MLB ETA: 2005





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InsideThePark Prospect No. 41
Brent Johnson OF
Opening Day Age: 22
Height/Weight: 6-2/190
Bats/Throws: R/R
Acquired: Mariners 14th round pick in 2004 Draft

Year

Team

AVG.

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

K

OBP

SLG

2004

Everett

.296

1

29

51

12

33

27

.396

.365



Strengths:
Johnson is one of the best athletes in the system and displays his skills one every play. Capable of playing center field as well as the hot corner without embarrassing himself in the least, Johnson parlays his athleticism into solid skills in the field and on the bases.

Weaknesses:
Johnson may lack the power that makes a marginal prospect an intriguing talent but the jury is still out on Johnson as a hitter. In his first full season next summer, Johnson will have the opportunity to put his adjustments to the test with the wood bat. More power could lie ahead- or not.



Tools: Scout's Profiling Scale

Hitting for Average: 55
Johnson makes good, solid contact and is patient at the plate. The 23-year-old knows how to work a count and take a walk as well as avoid the strikeout, whiffing just 27 times in 281 plate appearances.

Hitting for Power: 35
Not much pop to speak of in year one, but the 6-2, 190-pound Johnson could develop some pop with more at-bats.

Speed: 60
Johnson runs well and can steal a base here and there. Most of the UNLV product's speed is used in the field as he chases down fly balls.

Glove: 55
Defensively, the former Rebel has a versatile glove that could land him anywhere in the outfield, third base or even second base. Good instincts allow Johnson to play well anywhere he is asked.

Arm: 55
Johnson doesn't have the prototypical cannon that clubs look for in a catcher, third baseman or right fielder but it's plenty strong for any other position.



Future:
Johnson, like most college draftees, has a short time-span to make something of his baseball career. Likely to begin the 2005 season with the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, Johnson could see time all over the field in order to find enough at-bats to aid in his development.



MLB Clone: Bubba Trammell, Casey Blake

MLB ETA: 2007





Jason A. Churchill can be reached via e-mail at JasonAChurchill@InsidethePark.com



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