M's 2006 Top 20 Prospects: 16-20

Let the countdown begin. For starters, we have two outfielders, an infielder and two starting pitchers.

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No. 20 - Robert Rohrbaugh, LHP
DOB: 12.28.83
Ht/Wt: 6-2/200
Bats/Throws: L/L
Acquired: Selected by Seattle in 7th round of 2005 draft
Signed By: M's scout Ken Madeja

2005: Rohrbaugh spent '05 at Clemson where he compiled a 12-8 record, including an 8-2 mark in his final season, and then reported to short season Everett for his first pro duty.

Strengths: Rohrbaugh's best attributes are his ability to attack the strike zone and not stray from his gameplan, even when things aren't going his way. With plus command, the left-hander creates tough at-bats for his opposition, rarely issuing walks and constantly winning the battle of a high-pitch confrontation – many ending in the strikeout. He also displayed the type of maturity that often breeds big-league leadership and long careers. Rohrbaugh can also induce a decent rate of ground ball outs.

Weaknesses: Rohrbaugh's weaknesses lie in his arsenal, where his stuff is about average. The southpaw is dependent on hitters chasing his pitch. When his command is off, even slightly, his fastball becomes more than hittable and his off-speed pitches aren't dominant enough for him to survive deep into games. Further experience in the pro game combined with the expertise of the organization's coaching staff can erase the majority of Rohrbaugh's shortcomings.
2005 Everett SS 14 12 3.84 68.0 68 7 18 71 1.49

Tools: Scouting Profile

Fastball: 50+
Rohrbaugh's fastball sat in the high 80s after signing and starting his pro career with Everett in the Northwest League. He often hit the low 90s while at Clemson, and figures to consistently pitch in the 87-91 range.

Curve Ball: 50
The bite on Rohrbaugh's curve isn't what makes it an effective breaking ball. It's the command of the offering that allows the lefty to get outs with the pitch. More consistency in his release point and arm speed will allow for an even higher level of success. Rohrbaugh puts a tight spin on his curve creating late-breaking action.

Slider: 40
Yet another left-hander with an improving slider, Rohrbaugh may be one of few in the system with the ability to work on pitches during games. As he moves through the system, his slider will become more important against left-handers. It's not a pitch Rohrbaugh relies on at the present time.

Changeup: 50
One scout called Rohrbaugh's off-speed stuff "better than average" and described his change as a "dandy at times." If more consistency is achieved, Rohrbaugh's ability to keep right-handed hitters at bay could affect his overall success more than any other aspect of his game. He can dominate in the lower minors with his fastball-changeup combo.

Control/Command: 60
Rohrbaugh walked just 18 batters in 68 innings with Everett, displaying the ability to throw strikes each time out. The challenge will come when he faces tougher competition in the high minors, i.e., experienced bats with the tools to make him pay for mistakes and the patience to make him throw even more strikes.

Delivery/Mechanics: 50
Using his experience with the college coaches, Rohrbaugh's delivery is conducive to maximizing velocity and command while using the lower body to create the power behind his pitches. Nothing more than a few minor adjustments will be necessary as he moves through the system.

Future: Rohrbaugh is likely to begin his first full season as a professional in the hitter-friendly California League as a member of the Inland Empire 66ers rotation. Rohrbaugh's average stuff and plus intangibles suggest he could follow the career path of a Kirk Reuter or Brian Anderson as a No. 4 or 5 starter.

2006 Projection: 160 IP, 175 H, 4.45 ERA, .285 BAA, 120 SO, 48 BB

MLB ETA: 2008

MLB COMP: Jarrod Washburn (SEA), Scott Schoeneweiss (TOR)
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No. 19 - Luis Valbuena, 2B
DOB: 11.30.85
Ht/Wt: 5-10/183
Bats/Throws: L/R
Acquired: Signed as non-drafted free agent in 2002
Signed By: M's scout Emilio Carrasquel

2005: Valbuena spent all of 2004 with Aguirre of the Venezuelan Summer League, leading the club in batting average and was named the circuit's MVP. Last season, he spent the second half with the Everett Aqua Sox.

Strengths: Valbuena's quick hands and strong wrists allow him to get out in front and under fastballs that the average teenage bat is unable to reach. His power potential exceeds the norm for a prototypical second baseman, though his pure numbers in 2005 are skewed by the friendly confines of Everett Memorial Stadium, known to be kind to the left-handed hitter. Facing far more experienced pitching in the Northwest League, Valbuena showed the plate skills that should allow him to succeed offensively in the upper levels. Valbuena possesses a strong throwing arm, capable of getting outs from behind the second base bag.

Weaknesses: Defensively, many scouts see Valbuena as an average defender – at best - due to his average feet and a thick lower half that may hinder his ability to make the pivot as he matures physically. He also lacks the range to play second and the M's want him to try and trim down in an attempt to solve the issue.

2005 Everett SS 287 10 12 36 14 31 37 .261 .333 .443

Tools: Scouting Profile

Hitting for Average: 50
Valbuena gets the bat through the zone just fine, but struggles with the hard stuff in on his hands. He covered the outer half at a satisfactory level for a 19-year-old and can make a pitcher pay for leaving fastballs over the middle of the plate, or hanging a breaking ball. Better plate coverage will come with experience and allow him to hold off the strikeout bug. He will take the occasional walk and has very little problem with being overly anxious.

Hitting for Power: 50
After leading the league in homers and RBI this past season, Valbuena's numbers look as gaudy as any teenage middle infielder's can look. He was greatly aided by the short porch in his home park, but he does possess a quick bat and natural loft to his swing. With continued improvement in pitch recognition, the Venezuelan should be able to develop power that grades out better than average for a second-sacker.

Glove: 40
Valbuena is a sure-handed fielder who knows the position at second base, but has issues getting to balls wide of first. He moves better laterally on balls up the middle but still has problems completing the play at times. He stands in on double plays well but is an average defender that may need to switch positions in the future.

Arm: 60
Using a sturdy trunk to anchor his throws, Valbuena has a strong arm, one that could fit in left field, which is where he may need to play if he wishes to continue his baseball career past Double-A ball.

Speed: 50
Valbuena isn't going to swipe many bags, but won't clog up the base paths, either. He came to the M's as an aggressive base runner who became timid after being gunned down trying to steal a few times. He does a good job taking the extra base, however, and shouldn't have any long-term problems making the right decisions between the bags.

Future: Valbuena is probably going to make the switch to the outfield at some point, but the Mariners will send him to Wisconsin to play second base where he will remain until he proves he can't handle the position in the long run. At best, Valbuena is likely a utility player, capable of playing second and third base, as well as some outfield. His bat could be a plus off the bench if he continues to develop at his current pace.

2006 Projection: .260/.325/.415, 7 HR, 50 RBI

MLB ETA: 2010

MLB COMP: Marlon Anderson (WAS), Luis Lopez (CIN)
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No. 18 - Ryan Feierabend, LHP
DOB: 08.22.85
Ht/Wt: 6-4/200
Bats/Throws: L/L
Acquired: Selected by Seattle in 3rd round of 2003 draft
Signed By: M's scout Ken Madeja

2005: Feierabend ranked 39th in last year's rankings and made one of the biggest jumps up the charts this season. He spent all of 2005 in Inland Empire.

Strengths: Pitching in the California League where the average bat was more than two years his senior, Feierabend held his own, particularly in the second half where he vaulted himself to the league's No. 2 spot in ERA. The southpaw has progressed each year as a pro, displaying the ability to learn from his coaches and put lessons to work on the mound. Feierabend has solid command of his fastball and a strong understanding of what he needs to do each time out, which gives him a chance to win every start and continue to develop.

Weaknesses: Feierabend is without a plus pitch, offering an assortment of average off-speed pitches that all require improvement, though his curve ball showed life this past season. The 20-year-old still has minor kinks in his delivery that may be hindering his ability to get the most out of every pitch. A more consistent arm slot and release point is necessary for Feierabend's curve, slider and change. Without getting the most from his secondary offerings, the left-hander may struggle in the upper levels of the minors.

2005 Inland A+ 29 29 3.88 150.2 186 16 51 122 1.06

Tools: Scouting Profile

Fastball: 50
With his size (6-4, 200), Feierabend could continue to add velocity as he matures physically and becomes more sound mechanically. Last summer the left-hander sat in the 86-90 mph range, up a few notches from his first two seasons as a pro.

Curve Ball: 50
The curve was his most improved pitch in 2005, giving him a quality offering to lean on outside of his fastball. Feierabend gained confidence in the pitch, often going to it to try to put away hitters.

Slider: 40
Feierabend has been working to improve his slider, particularly in an effort to neutralize the left-handed hitter. Better command of the pitch is necessary, but until he gets a solid feel for it, it'll remain an average pitch, at best.

Changeup: 40
Feierabend's change is a work-in-progress, but has improved dramatically since his first day in the organization. The ultimate definition of a "feel pitch", the changeup is built through repetition, which bodes well for the future of Feierabend's change-of-pace pitch, in which he already possesses the fortitude.

Control/Command: 55
This may be the most critical portion of Feierabend's development. As another in a long line of southpaws with an average fastball and less-than dominant stuff, the ability to consistently hit spots and dictate tempo make for a tough customer every fifth day.

Delivery/Mechanics: 50
As with all young pitchers, Feierabend continues to polish his mechanics and tinker with better arm slots and making adjustments in his delivery. However, there aren't any major flaws in his motions.

Future: Feierabend may start the season in Double-A San Antonio's starting rotation. There is a chance he repeats Inland Empire to avoid the jump in competition for the 20-year-old. This would give the southpaw a chance to further hone his skills before making the leap to the Texas League. On the upside, Feierabend has the makings of a No. 4 starter, possibly a No. 3. Falling short of his ceiling, he fits the bill of a decent arm at the back end of a rotation.

2006 Projection: 175 IP, 185 H, 4.25 ERA, .290 BAA, 135 SO, 60 BB

MLB ETA: 2008

MLB COMP: Mike Maroth (DET), Mark Redman (KC)
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No. 17 - Sebastien Boucher, OF
DOB: 10.19.81
Ht/Wt: 6-0/190
Bats/Throws: L/R
Acquired: Selected by Seattle in 7th round of 2004 draft
Signed By: M's scout Mark Leavitt

2005: Boucher was drafted in June of 2004 but signed just early enough the following fall to get to the instructional leagues on time after running into some visa issues between his homeland of Canada and the United States. He split the 2005 season with Wisconsin and Inland Empire.

Strengths: Boucher is an experienced player in all facets, from hitting to his outfield defense and strong base running skills. He gets the most of his 180-pound frame, turning in some impressive slugging performances. His makeup is what convinced the Mariners that he was the right pick in '04, specifically his work ethic and gamesmanship. Boucher plays within himself but knows how to utilize his speed and quickness.

Weaknesses: The 24-year-old could use more patience at the plate, drawing more walks and getting deeper into counts on a regular basis. His value is at the top of the order and if he's to have an impact any higher than the Cal League, he'll need to put his on-base skills into high gear as he hits the upper tier of the minors where he'll face competition of the same age and experience.

2005 Wisconsin A 178 14 2 31 11 26 34 .326 .411 .461
2005 Inland A+ 213 14 2 21 15 36 49 .352 .451 .474

Tools: Scouting Profile

Hitting for Average: 55
Though his strikeout numbers weren't awful last season, he could do a better job making consistent contact. His stroke induces a lot of sharp ground balls and line drives, but he also can get pop-up happy when he's trying to pull the ball too much. More patience and a focused attempt at spraying the ball to all fields is necessary as Boucher progresses.

Hitting for Power: 40
Though he only managed four home runs in just over 450 plate appearances in '05, Boucher did smack 28 doubles and five triples as he split the year between Wisconsin and Inland Empire. As a table setter, the left-handed hitter is better off aiming his development toward getting on base and scoring runs. But he has the speed and enough pop to hit an adequate numbers of extra-base hits to remain a regular in the minors.

Glove: 55
Using his speed and instincts, Boucher was solid in center at both stops, and seemed just as comfortable in left. His range is average in center but could be a plus in left with more experience.

Arm: 45
With a subpar throwing arm for a center fielder, Boucher fits left field a bit better, where his arm is about average. He is accurate and intelligent with his throws.

Speed: 60
Boucher isn't a speed burner the way Jamal Strong was in the 90s, but he's a smart base stealer, swiping 26 bases in 29 attempts. He needs to be a little bit more aggressive to put his speed to the best use possible, but is an asset when he reaches.

Future: Boucher will likely begin the 2006 season in Double-A San Antonio where he will get the chance to earn the starting job in left field and at lead off for the Missions. The Bethune-Cookman product is probably a future fourth outfielder, if his skills are maxed out.

2006 Projection: .270/.335/.410, 3 HR, 40 RBI, 20 SB

MLB ETA: 2008

MLB COMP: Julio Lugo (TB), Willie Harris (CWS)
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No. 16 - T.J. Bohn, OF
DOB: 01.17.80
Ht/Wt: 6-4/220
Bats/Throws: R/R
Acquired: Selected by Seattle in 30th round of 2002 draft
Signed By: M's scout Mark Lummus

2005: Bohn split last season between Double-A San Antonio and Triple-A Tacoma and was an all-star in the Texas League. He ranked No. 27 last year.

Strengths: Bohn is a tremendous athlete with size (6-4, 220) and speed (31 steals in '05) to go with top drawer instincts defensively, and a great throwing arm. Former Tacoma manager Dan Rohn raved about his dedication and work ethic just hours after he arrived in Tacoma last summer. Bohn rarely makes a mental mistake.

Weaknesses: Bohn is already 26 and has just 81 at-bats in Triple-A. He should hit for more power than he has but his career-high of 13 last season could be a sign that he has some pop in his bat. He often is fooled on good breaking balls and can be overpowered by fastballs on the inner half of the plate.

2005 S. Antonio AA 438 30 12 57 27 35 96 .308 .365 .468
2005 Tacoma AAA 81 3 1 7 4 2 23 .321 .360 .395

Tools: Scouting Profile

Hitting for Average: 40
At this stage in his development, Bohn is what he is at the plate. He has holes in his approach and in his swing and isn't likely to dramatically improve much in either area. It's difficult to imagine that he could hit better than .250 in the show with problems areas such as plate coverage. At times he has shown the tendency to be too patient.

Hitting for Power: 50
This is the one area in which he may be hitting his peak as power is often the final tool to fully develop - Bohn posted a .468 slugging mark in San Antonio before the promotion. Pitchers are still able to get in on him, tying up his power and inducing weak grounders, pop-ups or the strikeout. Bohn needs to work on extending his arms to get more power into his game. This will require refinement in pitch recognition and plate coverage.

Glove: 65
Bohn is a plus defender in center where his speed and natural instincts allow for good jumps. He consistently takes the best routes on fly balls and minimizes errors.

Arm: 70
Adding to his defensive abilities is a fantastic throwing arm, indicative of a right fielder's. Bohn makes the smart throw and generally avoids the overthrow, hitting the cut-off man when necessary. But when the Minnesota native lights the fuse on a throw to third base or the plate, few in the organization can match the accuracy and power behind the laser beam.

Speed: 60
Bohn is one of the best baserunners in the entire organization, possibly ranking third behind only Willie Bloomquist and Ichiro. He combines speed with an understanding of when to take a risk and when to play it safe. Bohn is adept at reading pitchers, as his success rate in the stolen base category (35 of 44) will show. Eight of those thefts came with Tacoma, including a 4-for-4 showing the posteason.

Future: Bohn will head back to Triple-A Tacoma to man center field, at least until Adam Jones arrives. He has a chance to see some time in the majors this season, should the need for another reserve outfielder present itself. Bohn's future is as a backup outfielder.

2006 Projection: .255/.317/.421, 9 HR, 52 RBI, 18 SB

MLB ETA: 2006

MLB COMP: Jayson Werth (LAD), Jason Dubois (CLE)
InsideThePark.com's Top 20 Prospects are based on the player's long-term value to the Seattle Mariners organization.

All players that have not exceeded 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched at the big-league level are eligible. Service time is not considered.

The Scouting Scale grades are based on a combination of the payers' current and potential future skills.

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