2005 M's Prospect Report: Overview, History , etc.

InsidethePark.com's Jason A. Churchill finishes off Prospect Watch 2005 with a recap of past year's top prospects, an overview of the system, and a projected 2007 Seattle Mariners roster.




Seattle Mariners 2005 Prospect Overview

The Mariners entered the 2004 season with a 25-man roster with an average age of 30, including six key players that were over the age of 35 and two that celebrated their 40th birthdays before the conclusion of the 2003 season.

Though the thought was more than a year too late, the M's gave way to the idea of taking one last shot with the veteran-laden club. Needless to say, the aging group failed miserably.

In baseball, there is always hope for the future and with the Mariners, as it is with most other clubs, the future lies within the farm system.

Unfortunately, the M's lack the league-ready help that would fit naturally into the landscape of the 2005 version of the Seattle Mariners.

Organizationally, the strength of the farm lies on the pitcher's mound, as it has for the last half-dozen years. With half of the top 50 being pitchers, the farm is stocked with solid, if unspectacular, starting pitching with several solid relief prospects as well.

Headlined by Felix Hernandez and a slew of solid left-handers, the M's shouldn't be shopping for pitching for too much longer. Hernandez, 18, and fellow right-handers Clint Nageotte, Cha Seung Baek and Jason Snyder, along with left-handers Travis Blackley, Bobby Livingston and Thomas Oldham, provide the Mariners with much-needed depth on the mound.

Hernandez is the quintessential "future ace" and his potential to become a true No. 1 starter peaks the joy of M's fans who long for the days of the dominant Mariners starting pitcher.

Those who miss Randy Johnson and sink into depression when thinking of the recent setbacks of previous savior Ryan Anderson, don't fret. King Felix is on his way.

At the plate, the M's are without a top-drawer power hitter within three years of the big leagues, but all is not lost. Outfielders Jeremy Reed, 23, and Shin-soo Choo, 22, give the club speed, defense and solid mix of plate skills to use at the top of the lineup.

The system is not without a few solid power prospects, though the two with the highest ceiling have yet to prove their talents in the upper levels of the minor leagues.

Wladimir Balentien and Matt Tuiasosopo have big power potential. Balentien, 20, has contact issues to improve upon but has 30 home run power and should continue to develop his plate skills as he pushes his way through system.

Tuiasosopo was the club's top pick, a 3rd rounder, in last June's draft. The former two-sport standout in high school outplayed his Arizona Rookie League compadres after hitting four home runs in 89 plate appearances in Peoria.

His stay in the Northwest League was a success, looking past his final .248 batting average. He continued to display advanced physical tools and power to all fields. Tuiasosopo is a potential blue-chipper that just needs experience to polish his natural skills.

The M's farm system isn't laced with the purebred top prospects that lead a franchise back to the top of the league, but there is great depth on the mound and an improving stock of position players in the lower minors.

The front office will likely continue to address the weaknesses through the draft by making quality decisions on talent, and through the trades of veteran major leaguers for quality prospects.



Projected 2007 25-man Roster

Starting Lineup

1B- Richie Sexson
2B- Jose Lopez
3B- Adrian Beltre
SS- Adam Jones
CA- Miguel Olivo
DH- Chris Snelling
OF- Ichiro Suzuki
OF- Jeremy Reed
OF- Shin-soo Choo


Rotation

RHS- Felix Hernandez
RHS- Joel Pineiro
RHS- Gil Meche
LHS- Travis Blackley
LHS- Thomas Oldham/Bobby Livingston/Bobby Madritsch


Bullpen

RHR- Clint Nageotte
RHR- J.J. Putz
LHR- George Sherrill
LHR- Cesar Jimenez
RHR- Rich Dorman


Closer

RHC- Rafael Soriano


Prospect History

2004 Top 10 Prospects

1. Clint Nageotte, RHP
2. Jose Lopez, SS
3. Travis Blackley, LHP
4. Rett Johnson, RHP
5. Shin-soo Choo, OF
6. Chris Snelling, OF
7. Felix Hernandez, RHP
8. Cha Seung Baek, RHP
9. Justin Leone, 3B
10. Ryan Ketchner, LHP



Previous No. 1 Prospects

2004- Clint Nageotte, RHP
2003- Chris Snelling, OF
2002*- Ryan Anderson, LHP
2001*- Ryan Anderson, LHP
2000*- Ryan Anderson, LHP
1999*- Ryan Anderson, LHP
1998*- Ryan Anderson, LHP
1997*- Jose Cruz, jr., OF
1996*- Jose Cruz, jr., OF
1995*- Alex Rodriguez, SS

*Prospect Rankings of 1995-2002 by Baseball America



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




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