M's 2005 Top 50 Prospects: No. 9

InsidethePark.com's Top 50 is coming full circle as we get closer to number one. Any idea who No. 9 might be? Premium Subscribers can find out now!



Welcome to Adobe GoLive 6
InsideThePark Prospect No. 9
Wladimir Balentien OF
Opening Day Age: 20
Height/Weight: 6-1/185
Bats/Throws: R/R
Acquired: Signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2000

Year

Team

AVG.

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

K

OBP

SLG

2004

Wisconsin

.277

15

46

39

10

12

77

.315

.519

2004

Inland Empire

.289

2

5

5

1

4

10

.357

.474



Strengths:
Balentien has power beyond his years and continues to improve his swing as he gains valuable experience. Advanced in physical maturation, Balentien already possesses the physical skills to pound the baseball on a daily basis.

"That guy can hit," said M's pitcher Travis Blackley. "He hits the ball pretty hard, you have to be careful with him."

"Balentien is the best power prospect the Mariners have had since Alex (Rodriguez) came up 10 years ago," said a former American League scout. "He doesn't do all the things AROD does but he does have similar power potential."

Weaknesses:
Balentien has a few holes in his swing that need to be tied up before he can gain blue-chip status. Lacking the patience of a top hitter, Balentien is more of a slugger at this stage and must make more consistent contact to keep from becoming an all-or-nothing hitter.

"His only red flag as a hitter is his ratios," added a former AL West scout. "Too many strikeouts and not enough walks. He has to become more patient. If he does, the sky is the limit."



Tools: Scout's Profiling Scale

Hitting for Average: 50
Balentien is probably never going to hit .300 on a yearly basis but has the capacity to gain a better understanding of the strike zone and should develop a decent eye at the plate. As soon as he cuts down the long swing he will immediately become a better all-around hitter.

Hitting for Power: 65
Even at 6-1 and 185 pounds, Balentien packs a wallop in that bat of his and as he matures physically and gets up over 200 pounds, should be a feared power threat. It is crucial that he develops better plate skills to polish off his approach at the plate.

Speed: 55
Balentien isn't a speed burner but will steal a bag on occasion. You won't see him legging out many infield hits but he is far from a slow base runner. Balentien has room for improvement in the area of "smart" base running, without losing aggressiveness.

Glove: 55
Balentien has a decent glove, but lacks the overall ability to run down extra-base hits and make plays that change the game. The Aruban-born outfielder will probably be a slightly above average fielder throughout his career unless he learns to take better routes on deep fly balls and puts forth maximum effort on every play.

Arm: 55
Balentien has a solid arm and on pure strength alone would grade out in the 60-65 range. Accuracy and decision making are two areas where Balentien needs to improve. Consistent playing time at one position, rather than moving around the outfield all season, could be beneficial.



Future:
Expect Balentien to resume in 2005 where he left off in 2004- with the Inland Empire 66ers. After three weeks in Athens for the Olympics, Balentien played 10 games in the California League, showing good skills at the plate. As long as defense doesn't get in the way, Balentien has a chance to reach the big leagues as a 25+ homer left fielder, despite having average tools across the board, outside of his power stroke.

"Sometimes all it takes is experience and a little extra effort to turn the corner," said a National League scout. "Balentien is that type of player. The light may flip on one day and he may scare the daylights out of some opposing pitchers."



MLB Clone: Craig Monroe, Rondell White

MLB ETA: 2007





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



Seattle Clubhouse Top Stories