Here at SeattleClubhouse, our primary goal is to give our readers exclusive, in-depth information on Seattle Mariners players from the Foreign Rookie Leagues all the way to the Major Leagues. Looking beyond just the numbers and typical website resources and using input from our own respected baseball contacts to help develop our own unique ranking, we are aiming to give the readers rundowns on the names in the Seattle organization that are worth tracking for 2014, and maybe even pinning future MLB hopes on. Our personal taste plays into the determination of where the prospects land on the list; a combination of potential ceiling, likelihood of reaching that ceiling, the most probable outcome for the player and their proximity to cracking the 25-man roster all factor in heavily.
Each player covered in these posts is presented with a headshot (when available), their 2013 position, current actual age, handedness, listed height and weight as well as the last level which they played at in 2013. Discussion/updates, etc., to these lists and prospects will be posted in the subscriber section of the Forums. Please respect the confidential nature of the subscriber posts.
This is the fifth set of five of the best prospects in the organization for the Seattle Mariners. The first four sets, covering prospects number 50 through 31, can be found at the following links:
Following below, we close out the first half of our Top-50 with prospects number 30 through 26 in the Annual SeattleClubhouse Top-50 Countdown. Enjoy!
"You like the size, the body, the arm and the way he works at the plate," Mariners' minor league Field Coordinator Jack Howell said to me, "but he still is a work in progress. He's improved in his jumps, his routes and other things in the outfield, but he's got more to go in the way that he plays the game overall." That includes hitting his cutoff man and knowing which base to throw to, something that I heard he struggled with with Pulaski this year. But despite the rawness in the outfield, the low average and the high strikeout totals this year, there is a lot of praise for the bat with Martinez. "He's a big strong hitter with a lot of obvious power in the swing, just needs to shorten it up a bit" one scout told me. And he backed that up as he had the 3rd best ISO (.234) and was 9th in the Appy in extra base hits, getting named as the 13th best prospect in the league following the year by Baseball America, even with his struggles.
Martinez has great size but still has a lot of projection left in the body. While he projects as a right fielder, he has good athleticism at present and looks like he could remain a solid outfield defender even as the body matures. He gets easy power and good backspin when he extends on the ball and can cover the outside corner with authority at times. He had troubles with offspeed pitches this year but adapted a bit to how he was being worked as the season went on. He has average running speed on the bases and in the outfield and shows a strong arm, too. Martinez could likely use another year in instructs, likely being bumped up to Everett when summer rolls around in 2014. He listens well and has put what he's learned to work so far. 2014 could see Martinez take a big step forward for the M's.
Pimentel ranked 33rd in our Top-50 a year ago and even though he repeated a level without dominating it, he is starting to mature physically and the tools are starting to show up in game action more often. He got hurt in June and wasn't back in game action until August, and after a quick rehab stop in the AZL, the M's promoted Guillermo to High-A High Desert, and that is where his season was really salvaged. In just 15 games there, Pimentel pounded out eight extra base hits, including four home runs, bringing his season total to 10 in only 76 games. Howell sees some similarities in the way Pimentel is progressing: "He's at that same point that a few of our top guys when I was with Arizona were a while back; he's starting to realize that he needs to focus more, play harder and really, legitimately work to control the zone. He reminds me a lot of Carlos Gonzalez and Gerardo Parra -- those guys got to High-A and a light just kind of went on. I see that happening with Guillermo, too. And I think he can still turn out to be that same kind of player."
For all of the "it could click" talk, the left-handed hitting outfielder set career bests in extra base hits and walks in 2013 and he is still just 21. Pimentel has easy plus power, maybe even plus-plus, when he's swinging right. The ball explodes off of his bat and carries well into the gaps because of great strength in his wrists. He's just an average defender in left field now and he doesn't figure to pick up anything there as his body continues to mature. The entire key to Pimentel's future really lies in his ability to recognize and lay off of pitches out of the zone. That could be said for a number of prospects throughout baseball, obviously, but Pimentel still does possess tools -- namely his power -- that make him worthy of landing on this list and being followed closely. Look for him to be back in High Desert to open 2014.
Timmy was No. 28 in our rankings here a year ago, and his assignment to Clinton was an aggressive one for such a young player, but the Mariners are big on his baseball IQ and the way he approaches the game. Howell really liked what he saw as the season went on with Lopes and he grew as a player and grew in his trust of the staff. "He's still going to grow and mature," Howell said, "but he had a hard time making some of the adjustments to his swing [that staff suggested] early in the year." One California area scout who saw Lopes frequently in high school said, "He doesn't wow you with tools, but he plays the game right and he gets a lot out of what he's got." Lopes led the AZL in hits and triples in his debut season and that progress he showed during 2013's second half bodes well for his future as a hitter.
The right-handed hitting second baseman has a gap-to-gap approach and a level swing that stays in the hitting zone through his swing path, producing lots of line drives and leading to great contact rates (just a 12.2% strikeout rate through his first two seasons). And while his walk rate dipped quite a bit in the challenging Midwest League, Lopes does control plate appearances with good plate discipline. As he gets stronger he'll get challenged less and earn more walks. Lopes has a thicker lower half, one of the things that necessitated his move off of shortstop, but he is a good athlete with solid lateral movement, good feet and a solid throwing arm making him an ideal defender at second base. He'll likely return to Clinton to open 2014 but we could see him move up to High-A early in the season as he continues to get a grasp of himself as a player.
"Clearly it took Anthony a little bit of time to get settled in and get 100% healthy in 2013," Jackson's Chris Harris told me. The veteran minor league broadcaster continued, "Fernandez doesn't have overpowering stuff so on days where he doesn't have his best stuff he doesn't have the pure talent to get away with it. But when he locates his pitches well, his games last about two hours." Indeed, the lefty was hurt by the long ball in 2013 more than he had been at any other time in his stateside career, surrendering a career high 13 homers (1.0 HR/9) and a 9.7% XBH rate as Double-A hitters were able to punish any mistakes he made. That was likely due to his command being more shaky than usual throughout the year.
Fernandez works 89-91 with his fastball and has a plus changeup and those two pitches are his primary weapons of attack against both right-handers and left-handers. His breaking pitches aren't above average and that has led to lefties having a lot of success against him in the upper minors, hitting .284/.346/.448 last season and batting .268 overall in Double-A against him. Added to the 40-man roster last offseason and having 35 starts in Double-A under his belt, Seattle will push Fernandez to Triple-A to open 2014 where the left-hander will need to continue to improve his command and secondary offerings, as he'll be challenged by better hitters.
He's shown a bit more extra base power (7.6% XBH rate in 2012-2013) the past two seasons, including a willingness to hit the ball the other way with some authority, where his swing allows him to hit the ball hard on a line from line-to-line. He guesses a lot at the plate and chases breaking balls down and away and fastballs up far too regularly to ever hit for average, although sometimes he manages to get the bat on the ball on those pitches and steal a few hits, too. Carlos is streaky, too, and he was very hot to start the 2013 season for Tacoma, hitting .307/.359/.488 after 43 games before tailing off during his multiple up and downs between Seattle and Tacoma. He put up 29 multi-hit contests out of his 100 minor league games and hit .304/.337/.468 off of left-handed pitching.
Triunfel continues to have one of the strongest throwing arms in the system and he's improved his focus and footwork on defense, too, but there are still inconsistencies in his defensive game that are preventing him from being a serious candidate for a starting job anywhere. Running hasn't been a part of his game since his broken leg that cost him most of the 2009 season and his body has thickened up since that time, too. Triunfel does have gap power but his plate discipline is just plain not good. He figures to be back at Triple-A Tacoma to open 2014, but as part of the 40-man roster, he could see big league time again in 2014 if any Mariners' infielders spend time on the disabled list -- the type of role that should keep him in baseball for quite a while.
That concludes our look at prospects number 30 through 26 and the first half of our Top-50. Check back next Monday as we break into the top half of the Top-50 in our annual countdown of the best prospects in the Seattle Mariners' system.
Looking for more Mariners news, articles and player interviews? Want to keep up with which prospects are hot and cold for the M's? "Like" SeattleClubhouse on Facebook and follow SeattleClubhouse site Editor Rick Randall on Twitter at @randallball.