There was quite a bit of buzz around Gohara coming into 2013, a season that he entered as a 16-year-old. A lot of that buzz is because of the fact that he doesn't really physically resemble many other kids at 16. Signed out of Brazil (reportedly for $880,000), a country not rich in baseball history, Gohara impressed everyone who saw him last fall in instructs as he showed command of three potential plus pitches, running his fastball up to 93 - 94 from his large left-handed frame while repeating his delivery well and showing surprising athleticism.
His debut season was abbreviated as the Mariners understandably were very cautious with him when he experienced shoulder discomfort and he was shut down early in the Appalachian League year. But in the six starts that he was able to make, Gohara again showed promise with those three pitches and again ran his fastball up to 94. He struck out 11.2-per-nine, walked only 3.7-per-nine and allowed only two extra base hits (one double. one home run) in his 22 innings of work. He's far from a finished product, but the talent is immense, and he likely would've ranked much higher on this list if he'd stayed healthy all year.9. Aaron Barbosa - Pulaski Mariners: .356/.455/.416, .408 wOBA, 19-22 SB, 15.4% BB%, 11.4% SO%
On the opposite end of the buzz spectrum from Gohara is where you would find Barbosa. Undersized (5-foot-10, 157 pounds) and from a Colonial Athletic Association school (Northeastern University), Barbosa went undrafted, signing with Seattle in late July following his junior year and a strong showing in the Cape Cod League. He broke the school record for career steals (69) in his three seasons with Northeastern and continued to show that ability with Pulaski, ranking 2nd in the league in steals despite playing less than half a season.
But the real place where Barbosa impressed was at the plate. The lefty swinging outfielder paced all Appy League hitters (1+ AB/game) by hitting .356 and also led with a .455 on base percentage. He did that while walking more than he struck out and playing strong defensively in both center and left field for Pulaski. Impressive production from an undrafted free agent, and enough to land Barbosa on our list of best debuts.8. Jack Reinheimer - Everett AquaSox: .269/.359/.325, .333 wOBA, 18-23 SB, 11.0% BB%, 17.5% K%
A defense-first shortstop taken in the 2013 draft, Reinheimer has a lot in common with another player in the M's organization, Chris Taylor. Both are shortstops, both plus defenders, both 5th round picks and both debuted with Everett. Both showed excellent plate discipline and speed and baserunning on top of that defense during their time in the Northwest League. And if Reinheimer can continue to follow in Taylor's footsteps, the M's got themselves another steal.
Jack's right-handed bat got off to a slow start as he adjusted to wood bats and more advanced pitching and he went without an extra base hit through his first 17 games. But he clubbed nine extra base hits over the season's final 50 games as he became more comfortable. He hit .271/.368/.346 vs. right-handed pitchers and his 18 steals were tied for 6th while his 32 walks were tied for 10th in the Northwest League. Reinheimer came up with a number of clutch hits and clutch defensive plays for the AquaSox in a strong first season and he is definitely another shortstop to watch in the system.7. Tyler Wright - Everett AquaSox: 2-0, 1.99 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 3.26 FIP, 3.39 SIERA, 42.9% GB
Wright didn't pitch a lot in college for Arkansas, but he pitched well when he did, going 20 1/3 scoreless innings as a senior before being selected by Seattle in the 26th round. Debuting in the Northwest League for Seattle, he was a key member for the AquaSox out of the bullpen, throwing in 19 games and posting a SO/9 of 11.1 with a 29.1% K% -- marks good for 7th and 8th best, respectively, in the league. The 22-year-old left-hander commanded well, kept the ball down in the zone and managed to get himself out of trouble despite a rather high 5.1 BB/9.
The 6-foot-2 lefty's best pitch is probably his breaking ball, but he's in the low-90s with his fastball, too, and does a good job against right-handed hitters. The M's like to work their relievers in longer outings at the lower levels and Wright showed he could handle that this season. Look for him to work on refining his command in order to improve his stock, but this first season was a good one for Tyler.6. Chantz Mack - Peoria Mariners/Everett AquaSox/Jackson Generals: .280/.366/.398, .366 wOBA, 6-10 SB, 11.0% BB%, 25.1% K%
Mack was the Hurricanes' captain as a senior and the M's picked him in the 29th round in June after he led Miami in a number of stats. He started off in the Rookie Arizona League but moved on pretty quickly after hitting very well early. Mack played some at Double-A -- and was actually the first position player from the 2013 draft to do so -- but he saw the bulk of his action in Short Season Everett. Not a power hitter despite a very solid frame, he homered in two of Everett's last four games for his only two long balls of the season.
Mack's strikeout numbers were high, but he posted a very strong walk rate and nearly had an 8.0% XBH%, too. Chantz -- who bats and throws left-handed -- saw time at all three outfield spots and he can handle center, although at times he's been known to take bad routes. A little more movement on the bases, some cleaning up on the strikeouts and staying consistent with his gap hitting could make Mack an interesting option as a versatile outfielder down the road.5. Tyler Smith - Pulaski Mariners: .320/.394/.460, .387 wOBA, 7.7% BB%, 13.7% K%
Smith was picked in the 8th round by Seattle but he didn't debut until after his Oregon State squad was eliminated from the College World Series. But those two weeks that he missed in Pulaski's season didn't hold him back much, as the 6-foot shortstop hit .320/.394/.460 and was named the Player of the Year for the Appalachian League. He played very good at short defensively and his excellent, aggressive baserunning stole some wins for the M's over the course of the year.
His bat wasn't great in college as he hit primary leadoff or second in the order, but he was Pulaski's primary No. 3 hitter, and he produced there, posting his best numbers from the three spot with an .891 OPS. The right-handed hitter hit .336/.400/.461 against right-handed pitching and posted an .817 OPS with 2 outs and runners in scoring position. Solid contact numbers, a 9.0% XBH rate and strong defense and speed from the shortstop position to go along with a definite 'gamer' profile make Smith one to watch in '14 and beyond.4. Eddie Campbell - Pulaski Mariners: 3-3, 3.72 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 2.50 FIP, 2.60 SIERA, 53.8% GB
Campbell wasn't one of Pulaski's higher-profile arms when the season began, but the 15th rounder out of Virginia Tech really stood out for the M's, especially after breaking into the starting rotation. The left-hander's 12.3 SO/9 ranked 1st among pitchers with 40 or more innings in the league and he reached double-digit K's in two starts, ringing up a career-high 12 in his final start. He also went five or more innings and allowed two or fewer earned runs in five of his outings on the season, proving to be more than just a strikeout arm. Campbell's groundout/flyout ratio was a very impressive 1.92 and he held hitters to a .212 average overall, interestingly limiting righties to just a .200/.292/.313 clip in 172 plate appearances.
Campbell, standing 6-foot even, has a nice fastball in the low-90s, but it is his big Zito-esque curve that really feeds his success. It makes his fastball look a few ticks faster and it's two-tier break leads to some pretty funny looking swings. Campbell may profile best in the bullpen long term, but he showed a lot of pitchability this season with the ability to work through a lineup multiple times.3. Emilio Pagan - Pulaski Mariners/Everett AquaSox: 1-1, 12 SV, 1.03 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, 1.83 FIP, 2.03 SIERA, 44.4% GB
Pagan was Seattle's 10th round pick out of Belmont Abbey, where he was a two-way player and one of the best hitters on the team, but he entered the M's system as a closer for Pulaski and pitched great in that role. 12.0 SO/9 came from his fastball that reaches 93 and a very good slider that has good tilt paired with good command. That command saw Pagan walk only six of the 105 batters he faced in his debut season
The right-handed Pagan is a plus athlete who played a lot of third base, but the Mariners really liked his arm and his style from his time serving as his team's closer and that is where he stepped in to the system for Pulaski. He made strides with his breaking ball and really caught some people's attention with his ability to shut down games this year.2. D.J. Peterson - Everett AquaSox/Clinton LumberKings: .303/.365/.553, .411 wOBA, 8.7% BB%, 18.3% K%
The 12th overall pick in the draft, some people questioned whether or not Peterson's power was real before the draft, but he led the NWL in HR while he was there (6) and ranked 2nd in the MWL in HR while he was there (7), hitting 13 overall to lead all 2013 draftees. D.J. also picked up 12 more extra base hits and drew 20 walks in his 54 game debut season -- a season that was cut short when he took a fastball to his face, breaking his jaw in late August to end his year. That injury cost him the opportunity to play in the AFL, but 2013 was still an unequivocal success for Peterson.
He played every game in the field but one as a third baseman and showed some tools there, but he also made nine errors and a handful of other mistakes that seem to lend more credence to the perception that he'll have to move off of the hot corner defensively soon. Regardless if he ends up moving to first base or to a corner outfield spot, the bat in general, and the power specifically, truly appears to be something special.1. Abraham Almonte - Jackson Generals/Tacoma Rainiers/Seattle Mariners: .300/.394/.482, .382 wOBA, 13.0% BB%, 18.2% K%
The only player on this list that didn't have his first pro season in 2013 makes the top of our best debut list. Acquired by Seattle from New York for reliever Shawn Kelley, Almonte started the year in Double-A for the M's but quickly made his way to Tacoma where he would be a catalyst at the top of the Rainiers' lineup. Almonte reached career bests in a number of categories this season, including in XBH (44), HR (15), RBI (6*) and BB (67) and he did it all while hitting .300, playing solid defense and stealing 26 bases.
His success led to a pre-September call-up and Abraham has already made it into Seattle's starting lineup six times, and during that time he's shown flashes of abilities that could make him a very interesting player on the Mariners' roster next season. With speed and a bat with some pop in it, Almonte's youth and defense are certainly on his side for a Seattle team that has had the worst outfield in the major leagues this year. His standout debut could well be just the introduction to Almonte as a key piece for the Mariners.
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