Tool Time: The System's Best Tools

Last winter Felix Hernandez dominated the pitcher's tools, owning the best fastball and curveball in the organization. Which arm will take over as the system's best flamethrower? Who's the M's best defensive catching prospect?


BEST FASTBALL

Yorman Bazardo

Bazardo has the potential to sit in the low-to-mid 90s with his fastball and has been known to reach the 97 and 98-mph marks.

Fellow righthanders Stephen Kahn and Renee Cortez, both relievers, sit in the 91-95 range with their four-seam fastballs. Cortez hit as high as 98 last summer, prompting the club to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft.
BEST CURVEBALL

Stephen Kahn

Kahn's curveball breaks sharply and compliments his fastball as well and his aggressive approach.

Rich Dorman's breaking stuff was inconsistent last season as he battled through injury, but his curveball is better than average. Lefthander Bobby Livingston took his curveball to the next level in 2005, giving him a second pitch to count on.
BEST SLIDER

Clint Nageotte

Nageotte's slider has been among the best in the minors since his days in the Midwest League and remains his most effective weapon.

When the 25-year-old is healthy, his two-seamer sets up the system's best pitch, a sharp slider with a late break.

A healthy Jesse Foppert possesses a better-than average-slider with plus potential.
BEST CHANGEUP

Bobby Livingston

Livingston's bread and butter is his plus change. With added velocity and the aforementioned improvement of his curveball, his change becomes even more dangerous.

Cesar Jimenez places second with a potential plus offering while two more lefties, Thomas Oldham and Justin Thomas crack the radar.
BEST CONTROL

Bobby Livingston

Livingston's control slipped not a bit in 2005, a season he split between Double-A San Antonio and Triple-A Tacoma.

The 23-year-old has walked 114 batters in 613 career professional innings.

Thomas Oldham and Robert Rorbaugh have displayed impeccable control at times.
BEST HITTER FOR AVERAGE

Chris Snelling

Snelling is still, by far, the most skilled hitter in the system. The lefty hitter has plus skills across the board and it has allowed him to sustain his power potential.

Jeff Clement has the skills to hit in the .280s at the big-league level, which suggests that he'll likely post a .300+ average at a few stops in the minors.
BEST HITTER FOR POWER

Jeff Clement

Clement's package of plate skills, plus bat speed and a compact swing should allow him to approach the 30-homer mark as a major leaguer.

Wladimir Balentien has the most raw power in the system, but has gaping holes in his swing and his approach that may curb his development.

Matt Tuiasosopo has the necessary tools to develop plus power in his right-handed bat.
BEST STRIKE-ZONE DISCIPLINE

Chris Snelling

Snelling would fit right in with the moneyball strategy in the Oakland organization, watching pitches cross the plate 1/2 inch off the corner and confidently stepping back out of the batter's box as the umpire calls a ball.

Jeff Clement rarely swings at a pitch he can't handle. Let's rephrase that: Clement never swings at a pitch outside the zone.
FASTEST BASERUNNER

Sebastien Boucher

Boucher swiped 26 bases in 29 attempts and legged out five triples and 28 doubles in his first year in pro ball.

T.J. Bohn may be the system's best base stealer, while Jamal Strong, when healthy, is still a major asset on the bases.
BEST ATHLETE

Adam Jones

Jones' transition to a second premium defensive position is a sign that his athleticism is second to none in the organization.

Combining solid speed with plus agility and strong throwing arm, Jones maximizes his physical tools.

Matt Tuiasosopo and Michael Saunders may take home the gold in future years, but T.J. Bohn is the closest talent athletically to Jones.
BEST DEFENSIVE CATCHER

Rob Johnson

Johnson's strong 2005 season pushed the Montana native passed incumbent glove man, Rene Rivera.

Rivera is still solid and, like Johnson, getting better defensively every year.

Justin Ruchti is a favorite reciever among many pitchers in the system.
BEST DEFENSIVE INFIELDER

Asdrubal Cabrera

Cabrera's plus range, great hands and dapper footwork make him a future gold glover in the middle of the infield.

Oswaldo Navarro is a sure-handed second baseman in the mold of a Neifi Perez. Great hands and solid range highlight Navarro's skills.
BEST DEFENSIVE OUTFIELDER

T.J. Bohn

Bohn's defensive prowess is led by his better-than-average range in center field. Bohn is adept in his routes and gets the best jumps in the system.

Only Sebatsien Boucher rivals Bohn in any matter. Boucher's range in center is a major asset, though his arm suggests that left field is a better fit.
BEST INFIELD ARM

Ronald Prettyman

Prettyman is the best defensive third baseman in the system and his arm is as accurate as it is strong.

Matt Tuiasosopo has a strong arm, though its accuracy levels need improvement.
BEST OUTFIELD ARM

T.J. Bohn and Shin-soo Choo

Both Bohn and Choo display plus throwing arms with great accuracy. Choo continuously gunned down baserunners trying to stretch singles into doubles from his new perch in left field.

Bohn has a right fielder's arm and while he doesn't rack up the assists, he constantly holds runners to the long single. Running on either arm isn't smart as both have big-league cannons.

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