2011 Player Development: Kyle Seager

Seager's bat showed signs of big potential for M's

In this series, SeattleClubhouse takes a look at prospects that made big improvements in 2011 for the Mariners. Today we are talking about the fast-moving hitter--the "other" North Carolina draftee--Kyle Seager.

Kyle Seager has played baseball with Dustin Ackley for much of his life. The two played against each other in AAU games back when they were 11-years-old, they played against one another in high school and even together on a summer travel team during their high school years. They, of course, were then teammates at North Carolina where they roomed together as Freshmen.

When asked about his long time friend, Seager told the Kevin Calabro Show, "I think we're pretty similar," in an interview shortly after being called up in July. And while the two are certainly different players, they can both hit.

Mariners General Manager Jack Zduriencik called Seager, "a line-drive hitter who sprays the ball all over the place," and added "He's a mature kid who understands the strike zone and has hit everywhere he's been."

That may be a bit of an understatement. Seager made it to the big leagues with just over 1,000 minor league at bats under his belt, but in that time he amassed a .328/.401/.474 mark with 358 hits (in 269 games), 81 doubles, 6 triples and 22 home runs. He led the minor leagues in hits (192) and runs scored (126) in 2010 while smacking 40 doubles. Any question of the "High Desert effect" was quickly erased this season when Kyle hit .312/.381/.459 with 25 doubles in 66 games for Double-A Jackson before being promoted to Tacoma in late June. And in his two stints with the Rainiers Seager hit .387 with 13 extra base hits in just 24 games.

While much was made about his move to third base in Tacoma, Seager has actually seen 50 games of action at the hot corner in the minor leagues and he played the position in college for the Tar Heels as a Junior. And while he may not be the prototypical big league third baseman in the Mike Schmidt mold, Kyle showed during a torrid August stretch that he can hit plenty to hold down the position.

After struggling to start his big league career, Seager had a monster stretch in nine games in late August to raise his average from .182 to .308 by going 18 for 36 with eight extra base hits while playing everyday at third. And although he ended his season in a 12 for 59 slump, the young left-hander still managed to bang out seven extra base hits over those final 18 games and was hitting on a 40 double pace over his 53 games played in the major leagues and actually tallied 46 doubles combined between his minor and major league stats.

His modus operandi consists of him hitting line drives all over the park, evidenced by a big 27.7% line drive rate and a spray chart that shows 17 hits to right, 19 to center and 11 to left. While he certainly won't be a power hitter, Seager can drive the ball with authority, even to the deepest part of the park. He didn't hit lefties particularly well in his limited exposure as a big leaguer (.229 with no extra base hits in 43 plate appearances), but he actually managed an impressive five walks in those few trips to the plate. And although Safeco Field ate him up a bit (.188/.256/.263), he also played a majority of his games at home while he wasn't going well (coincidence or not, we shall see).

I figure that Kyle should be able to produce around a .280/.350/.430 clip while he is in his prime for the Mariners. For an organization desperate for offense, that would be a huge asset. But while Seager's bat led the way for him in his ascent through the minor leagues, his defense may hold the key for him long-term. If he shows that he can handle not only third base (where his arm isn't a plus) but also second and shortstop (where his range isn't ideal) in the major leagues, Kyle Seager should be able to stick around a long time in this game.

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