2005 Year in Review: Mariners Top 10 Prospects

Before the Mariners 2006 Prospects can be ranked, rated, graded and labeled, there is business to take care of with the organization's top 10 of 2005.

1. Felix Hernandez, RHP –Graduated – with honors. Felix made strides in the areas of focus and pitching intelligence while in Triple-A Tacoma, but turned things up a few notches after getting the call-up to the big leagues in August. Ignore the AL's Rookie of the Year Voting – Hernandez is far and away the best rookie of 2005, in either league - and maybe the best in a very long time. King Felix is easily the best pitcher ever developed by the franchise. The progress Hernandez made this season is nearly immeasurable. 2005 Grade: A+

2. Jeremy Reed, CF – Graduated. Reed has spent the entire season roaming center field for the Mariners. Heading into spring training, the question marks surrounding Reed centered on his defensive abilities and not his bat. After nearly six months of the schedule, the jury is still out on Reed as a hitter. He has the plate skills to draw 70 walks and hit .300, but the 24-year-old seemed overmatched at the plate far more than expected. Write it off as a learning year for Reed and look for more consistency and a better overall offensive output in 2006. 2005 Grade: C

3. Shin-soo Choo, LF - Choo's season in Triple-A was saved by the 23-year-old's surge late in the year. The left-handed hitting outfielder struggled versus left-hand pitchers all season long until a hot streak in August got his offense rolling again. Choo proved he could handle the pitching in the PCL but didn't show the power that he had the previous season in the Texas League. The Korean outfielder's status in the organization depends largely on his extra-base abilities. 2005 Grade: C

4. Travis Blackley, LHP - Blackley's 2005 season never got under way after labrum surgery in February sidelined the southpaw for the year. Blackley's status for 2006 will not be known until spring training, but he's expected to continue his rehab aggressively during the next six months. 2005 Grade: Inc.

5. Clint Nageotte, RHP - Nageotte was left behind in Peoria when camps broke due to a strained right forearm suffered during his work in the Cactus League. After missing nearly three months, the right-hander reported to Tacoma and pitched well out of the bullpen. With a revamped body, the svelte Ohio native showed the M's he could pitch in relief. Nageotte had spells of inconsistencies, resulting in higher walk totals than that of the ideal reliever, but he was able to use his two-seam fastball and slider combo to rack up a lot of strikeouts. A successful season for Nageotte, despite missing half the year. 2005 Grade: C

6. Matt Tuiasosopo, SS - Tuiasosopo is still learning how to hit, and at 19 years of age, the Woodinville, Wash., native displayed a strong ability to think at the plate. The right-handed hitting shortstop is capable of drawing walks and isn't a strikeout machine like many teenagers with power potential. Defensively, Tuiasosopo is ready to move to the outfield and focus on his power stroke instead of working so hard on becoming an everyday shortstop – a position his physical size may not allow him to play effectively in the future. 2005 Grade: B-

7. Adam Jones, SS - Perhaps the prospect that made the most improvement over the course of the season is Jones, who turned 20 during the final full month of the year. Jones hit nearly .300 in the California League – with some power – and repeated that feat in the Texas League, where the more experienced, polished pitching didn't seem to affect the San Diego native.

At shortstop, Jones still has a lot to do to prove to anyone he can handle the spot, but he may not get the chance to do that beyond this year. The M's have him slated for the Arizona Fall League – to play center field. A position where he played just a few games during the month of August for Double-A San Antonio. Jones' physical skills – plus speed and a great throwing arm – suggest that he could develop into a top defender in center. Hit bat would serve well anywhere in the middle of the diamond. 2005 Grade: A

8. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS - Cabrera may be the M's prospect that traveled the furthest this season. The Venezuelan began the year with the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers and tore up the Midwest League at 19 years old. Cabrera then moved on to the California League, where he again hit over .300 and played his typical stellar defense. And just when his journey seemed over, the Mariners called again – this time the shortstop's services were needed in Triple-A Tacoma, where Cabrera dazzled defensively and handled himself just fine with the bat. Cabrera's plate discipline was again solid and he showed a little pop this season, possibly hinting at another jump in that area next year. 2005 Grade: A-

9. Wladimir Balentien, OF - One step forward, two steps back. Balentien led the M's farm system in home runs with 25, a solid number for a 21-year-old prospect. But the Aruban-born outfielder fanned 160 times and drew just 34 bases on balls, leading scouts to believe he may need three or four more seasons to clean up his plate discipline and strike zone judgment. Far too many swings and misses and not enough consistent contact. To remain in line for a chance at the big leagues, Balentien must display an ability to adjust. 2005 Grade: C-

10. Bobby Livingston, LHP - Livingston was the best pitcher in the Texas League when he was promoted to Triple-A Tacoma in July. After conquering Double-A, Livingston put up satisfactory numbers in the Pacific Coast League, including a 14-strikeout effort versus defending league champion Sacramento in the heat of a pennant race. Livingston's ability to adjust from league to league and start to start was encouraging for the southpaw's future. 2005 Grade: B+

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