2014 Minor League Keeper Thoughts: Seattle Mariners

Otto Greule Jr

The prospect staff at Fake Teams continues their fantasy prospect rankings and system reviews with an in-depth look at the Seattle Mariners.

The prospect staff here at Fake Teams will be taking an in-depth look at each major league organization, including our top 10 fantasy prospects, an overview of the organization's minor league system as a whole and potential opportunities for playing time in 2014. Our goal is to provide you with more information as you prepare for minor league drafts for dynasty and keeper leagues, as well as look at players that could potentially be worth watching during the spring, as they could be in line to potentially help your fantasy team. We will be reviewing two teams per week until we are through all 30 teams, and you can see the schedule of when your favorite team will be reviewed below.

System Schedule

AL East

AL Central

AL West

NL East

NL Central

NL West

Baltimore

Chicago

Houston

Atlanta
(12/5)

Chicago
(12/23)

Arizona
(1/9)

Boston

Cleveland

Los Angeles

Miami
(12/9)

Cincinnati
(12/26)

Colorado
(1/13)

New York

Detroit

Oakland

New York
(12/12)

Milwaukee
(12/30)

Los Angeles
(1/16)

Tampa Bay

Kansas City

Seattle
(Today)

Philadelphia
(12/16)

Pittsburgh
(1/2)

San Diego
(1/20)

Toronto

Minnesota

Texas
(12/2)

Washington
(12/19)

St. Louis
(1/6)

San Francisco
(1/23)

Organizational Overview
By Brian Creagh(@briancreagh)


The Seattle Mariners find themselves in an unenviable situation: Recently promoting a wave of minor league talent where no one established themselves as a true impact weapon, finishing last or second-to-last in their division for each of the past 6 seasons, and approaching a 2014 season with a lame duck General Manager making decisions. In 2013 the Mariners finished with MLB's 6th-worst record (71-91) and finished 4th in the AL West - 25 Games behind the division champion Oakland A's. Young hitters like Mike Zunino, Justin Smoak, Nick Franklin and Michael Saunders all struggled to hold their own in 2013. It is still far too early to write off any of these players, but Jack Z. & Co. can ill afford another season without developing a homegrown offensive weapon. The rotation was excellent, finishing with the 9th best xFIP (3.72) in the Majors and anchored by two Cy Young contenders Hisashi Iwakuma and Felix Hernandez. 2013 felt a bit like a lost season for Seattle; a season spent trying to compete, with the results mirroring an organization in a rebuilding effort.

Maybe the biggest obstacle facing the Seattle Mariner's organization is the status of Jack Zduriencik's role as general manager. To be clear, I like Zduriencik in a general manager's position, and I think he can find success in Seattle, but he cannot operate on a one-year contract given the current status of his ballclub. Turning Seattle into a winner isn't going to happen in one season so the decision-maker needs to be incentivized to look for success beyond 2014. Recent reports have suggested a multi-year extension is in the works for Zduriencik, and I believe either an extension or immediate release is the appropriate route.

With the news of Chuck Armstrong, Mariner's long-time President and COO, stepping down in two months, change is in the air. It will be interesting to see the moves, if any, are made when a new President is put in place; one would have to imagine Jack Zduriencik's future or lack thereof will be resolved immediately following the announcement of a new organizational President. One of those changes could be a propensity to spend big in the free agent market as Seattle is poised to be a potential home for multiple big-name free agents. They have been linked to Masahiro Tanaka, Jacoby Ellsbury, Shin-Soo Choo, Matt Garza, Corey Hart, and a plethora of bullpen arms, so it figures to be a fun offseason in the Northwest with a big splash or two along the way.

2013 was a bit of a toss-up for Seattle's farm system: not many prospects emerged as top talents, but some some quality depth was added through the draft, and the parent club was bolstered mid-season with some above-replacement level players. Nick Franklin, Brad Miller, Mike Zunino, Danny Farquhar, Yoervis Medina, and to a lesser extent, James Paxton and Taijuan Walker, were all promoted this year putting them behind only the Marlins (8), Brewers (9), and Twins (10) for number of rookies offering above replacement level production in 2013. To promote as much talent as they did, and still have some intriguing talent like Diaz, Gohara, Pike, Taylor, etc. speaks to the success Jack Z has had in building this farm system despite no emergence of a "superstar" (Tai Walker will change this last sentence in a year or two).

2013 Graduates

The following players have surpassed their rookie maximums of 130 AB, 50 IP, or 45 days of service time prior to September 1st of this year.

Brad Miller (at bats), Nick Franklin (at bats), Mike Zunino (at bats), Danny Farquhar (innings), Yoervis Medina (innings), Lucas Luetge (service time), Brandon Maurer (innings), Carter Capps (innings)

Major League Opportunities in 2014
By Brian Creagh(@briancreagh)


There are opportunities abound in the Seattle lineup heading into next season, but outside of the starting rotation I don't see many opportunities for prospects to step up and fill the role. Taijuan Walker should break camp as the #4 or 5 starter in the rotation and James Paxton has a chance as well depending on the aggressiveness of Seattle in the free agent market. I expect the Mariners to add one starter with a high likelihood of adding a second to go with King Felix, Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker. I like the idea of Garza pitching in Safeco, and I do believe the Mariners are going to make a big play for Masahiro Tanaka and the Japanese pitcher will find Seattle as an attractive landing spot.

Outside of Iwakuma and Felix Hernandez, every other player on Seattle has yet to reach free agency and is either in their pre-arb years or approaching arbitration for the first time. However, besides shortstop (Miller) and third base (Seager), there isn't a single offensive position that has a long-term solution currently in place - yes Zunino is the long-term answer, but he's not ready as of Opening Day 2014.

You'd like to see a few more regulars in place, but the upside is that this gives the Mariners a ton of flexibility, and a boatload of young, expendable assets to trade if they so choose. The Mariners have a chance to blow this thing up and re-stock the farm system in an attempt to build a consistent winner, or they could try to find a free agent piece or two and take some shortcuts. I'm inclined to go the route of rebuilding, but with Jack Z trying to turn things around in the next 10 months, my guess is they go with the latter approach.

Top 10 Fantasy Prospects
By Andrew Ball(@andrew_ball)

Our top 10 fantasy prospect rankings are based upon standard 5x5 fantasy baseball leagues, with a balancing of ceiling and present value. While we are having discussions regarding these lists as a collective group, the top 10 fantasy prospect rankings are finalized by the writer listed above. Players are no longer considered prospects once they exceed either 130 at bats, 50 innings pitched, or 45 days of service time in the Majors prior to September 1st.

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Photo Credit: Rick Scuteri - USA Today Sports

#1 Taijuan Walker (RHP)

FANTASY STATISTICS (ALL LEVELS)

W

SV

ERA

WHIP

K

10

0

3

1.18

172

SECONDARY STATISTICS

IP

HR/9

GO/AO

BB%

K%

156.1

0.63

1.07

9.5%

26.7%

OTHER INFORMATION

AGE ON 1/1/2014

B/T

ROSTER STATUS

LEVELS

21

R/R

On 40 Man Roster (3 Options Left)

AA, AAA, MLB

As an amateur, Taijuan "Sky" Walker was known more for his high-flying theatrics on the hardwood than he was for his pitching, averaging 21 points and 15 rebounds a game during his senior season at Yucaipa High School. Truthfully, he didn't do much pitching at Yucaipa, playing shortstop until his senior year. Despite his limited exposure to the mound, the Mariners liked his athleticism and potential and signed for $800,000 as a supplemental first round pick in 2010.

Given his lack of experience pitching, the safe route would have been to keep Walker in extended spring and send him to short season ball for his age-18 season. Instead, Seattle assigned him to Clinton in the Midwest League where he loudly announced his arrival on the prospect scene with a 2.89 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, and 113 strikeouts in 96.2 innings. The following season, the M's were even more aggressive, pushing him to Double-A as a 19-year-old. The results weren't quite as impressive, but he still managed a 4.69 ERA and close to a punchout per inning as the youngest pitcher in the Southern League by almost a full year. This past season, however, Walker didn't struggle at all, opening the year back in Jackson and pitching well enough to force his way to Triple-A and eventually Seattle before season's end.

Walker is arguably the top pitching prospect in the minor leagues. He combines elite size and athleticism with premium, high-end stuff. His fastball is an easy 70 pitch on the 20-80 scouting scale, humming in the 94-96 range with no problem. The secondary stuff isn't far behind either; Walker throws two breaking balls, an 89-93 mph cutter that has very late darting action and a more traditional overhand curveball. Both can miss bats in bunches, but the cutter is a real out pitch, an easy plus pitch that he leans on in tight spots while the curve is more average to above average. He also throws a changeup that's at least average, though many think it may become a weapon as he gains more feel and throws it with more regularity.

The only thing holding him back from becoming an elite starter is fringy command and consistency with the secondary pitches. Walker has struggled to limit the free passes over his career, and last year was no different with 57 walks in 141 minor league frames. But improving his command means more than just throwing more strikes - he needs to make more quality pitches to limit the hard contact that he's run into from time to time.

Although it may seem that he's been around for ages, Walker was actually the fifth youngest player to debut in the big leagues last year. Because of his age and rapid advancement, it's easy to forget that he's far from a finished project. The development time to improve the secondary pitches and command is there, and if it comes together Walker has the upside of a true top-of-the rotation arm that could form one of the best duos in baseball along with Felix Hernandez. If he falls a bit short, he still has the stuff and athleticism to become a quality number three with some big strikeout totals. He'll enter 2014 as a favorite to win a rotation spot, and my guess is that Sky Walker is among the top vote getters for Rookie of the Year.

#2 D.J. Peterson (3B)

FANTASY STATISTICS (ALL LEVELS)

AVG

R

HR

RBI

SB

0.303

36

13

47

1

SECONDARY STATISTICS

PA

OBP%

SLG%

BB%

K%

230

0.365

0.553

8.7%

18.3%

OTHER INFORMATION

AGE ON 1/1/2014

B/T

ROSTER STATUS

LEVELS

22

R/R

Not On 40-Man Roster (Protect After 2016 Season)

A-, A

Considered by many the best all-around hitter in the 2013 draft class, Peterson was selected 12th overall by the Mariners and signed to a $2.7 million bonus. After signing, Peterson made appearances in Everett and Clinton, hitting for the average and power that's expected from a top tier college bat.

Peterson looks like a hitter at the plate - relaxed, confident, and balanced while generating a ton of bat speed with a compact stroke. Pitchers attack him away because of his open stance though, at least to this point, he has shown a willingness to take the ball the opposite way. He's not an overly big guy -- listed at just 6-foot-1, 205 pounds -- but he has strength in his forearms and thighs that allows him to drive the ball. Peterson played his college ball at New Mexico, making his power somewhat difficult to judge because they play home games at an elevation higher than that of Coors Field. But he quieted some of those questions with 13 home runs in his debut. The consensus is that he's going to hit, it just remains to be seen if that's going to be a 55 hit, 55 power profile or if Peterson can reach something higher than that.

Even if it's just 55-55, that's an impact player as a major league third baseman. The problem is that you'd be hard pressed to find a lot of support that he stays at the hot corner in the long term. He's a below average runner, and his footwork and hands don't inspire much more confidence in his defense. More than likely, Peterson will make his home across the diamond at first, meaning that he's going to have to hit like a true middle of the order talent to really have value.

He has the type of offensive profile that will move quickly, and it will shock no one if Peterson spends a good chunk of the season in Double-A. In the end, I think what the M's have here is a .275, 20 home run first baseman, which will make him a more valuable commodity to his big league team than to fantasy owners.

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Photo Credit: Christian Petersen - Getty Images

#3 James Paxton (LHP)

FANTASY STATISTICS (ALL LEVELS)

W

SV

ERA

WHIP

K

11

0

4.04

1.41

152

SECONDARY STATISTICS

IP

HR/9

GO/AO

BB%

K%

169.2

0.64

1.36

8.9%

20.7%

OTHER INFORMATION

AGE ON 1/1/2014

B/T

ROSTER STATUS

LEVELS

25

L/L

On 40 Man Roster (3 Options Left)

AAA, MLB

Although he remains one of Seattle's better prospects, James Paxton's ascension to the major leagues has been anything but smooth to this point. Originally selected 37th overall by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 2009 draft, Paxton was unable to agree to terms, opting instead to return to the University of Kentucky for his senior season. Unfortunately, once Blue Jays' team president Paul Beeston publicly said that he had negotiated directly with advisor Scott Boras, the NCAA and Kentucky didn't allow him back on campus. So instead, Paxton signed with Grand Prairie of the independent American Association and re-entered the draft where Seattle called his name in the fourth round.

In 2011, Paxton had one of the most dominating seasons in the minor leagues. The Canadian southpaw split his affiliated debut between Lo-A and Double-A, posting a 2.37 ERA and striking out 33.8% of the batters he faced. Then in 2012 he spent the whole year in Jackson (3.05 ERA) and this past season he got his first taste of Triple-A and four late season starts for the M's. His number in the big leagues actually improved, but that can mostly be chalked up to small sample size.

Paxton has big velocity from the left side, working in the mid-90's and touching 98 mph on occasion. The secondary stuff isn't nearly as good, but he throws an average curve, as well as a changeup and cutter. His delivery has a lot of motion to it, leading to some inconsistency in the release point and below average command and control. Paxton has walked more than 10% of the batters that he's faced as a professional. That's a problem because his stuff simply isn't good enough to get away with a rate like that. The figure did improve in his four big league games, but he needs to carry that over to next season.

Even into 2013, many scouts pegged Paxton as a future reliever because of his issues. As the season progressed, he started to change some opinions with a better delivery and an improvement in results. 2014 will be Paxton's age-25 season, making him the oldest player on the list, a function of a young Seattle farm system. Paxton has a chance to be a quality mid-rotation starter and miss some bats, with a much higher floor than the rest of the arms on the list save Taijuan Walker. Even if he doesn't open the season with the major league squad, it won't be too far into the season until he's up to stay.

#4 Luiz Gohara (LHP)

FANTASY STATISTICS (ALL LEVELS)

W

SV

ERA

WHIP

K

1

0

4.25

1.46

27

SECONDARY STATISTICS

IP

HR/9

GO/AO

BB%

K%

21.2

0.42

2.45

9.2%

27.6%

OTHER INFORMATION

AGE ON 1/1/2014

B/T

ROSTER STATUS

LEVELS

17

L/L

Not on 40 Man Roster (Protect After 2016 Season)

Rk

Signed as an international free-agent from Brazil in 2012, Gohara began his professional career with a really strong six-start performance in 2013. Facing competition much older than himself, the southpaw struck out 27 in 21.2 innings before the M's shut him down for the season.

Gohara is one of the most projectable starters, not just in the Mariners' system, but in all of the minors. Although he's yet to turn 18, he's already a horse at 6-foot-3, 210 pounds, featuring the physical frame and broad, rugged shoulders to handle intense workloads. He also has impressive arm strength for a youngster, sitting in the low-90's and reaching higher in bursts. That velocity is expected to improve and hold as he matures, and it already plays up because of good downward angle. Usually, young, foreign signs don't have much past the fastball, but his breaking ball already flashes as a plus pitch and most feel that it will get there in time. He also toyed with a changeup, a pitch that will take him some development time without a doubt. Beyond the stuff and the size, Gohara already has an advanced feel on the mound. He shows pitchability, a quality approach, and he competed as a 16-year-old last season. He also has been said to have a strong work ethic, a good sign that he will keep his body in check as he gets older.

The risk is extreme considering that he's thrown less than 25 professional innings. That said, we're looking at the potential for a 220 inning per season lefty with two (possibly three) plus pitches and strong command. That's a GUY if there ever was one, and our other rankers had to talk me out of pushing Gohara to the number two slot on this list because of proximity and floor. But know that I thought long and hard about doing so because the Mariners may be on to something special here. The talent and poise are there for Gohara to make his full-season debut in 2014, but it appears that Seattle will take it slow and send him back to extended spring before a short season assignment.

#5 Edwin Diaz (RHP)

FANTASY STATISTICS (ALL LEVELS)

W

SV

ERA

WHIP

K

5

0

1.43

0.91

79

SECONDARY STATISTICS

IP

HR/9

GO/AO

BB%

K%

69

0.65

1.21

6.9%

30.4%

OTHER INFORMATION

AGE ON 1/1/2014

B/T

ROSTER STATUS

LEVELS

19

R/R

Not on 40 Man Roster (Protect After 2016 Season)

Rk

Diaz is a long, gangly Puerto Rican right-hander that the Mariners drafted in the third round of the 2012 draft. Based on his 2013 performance, Seattle may have found themselves a steal. Diaz made 13 starts in the Rookie-level Appalachian League, leading the circuit with a 1.43 ERA and tallying a 79-18 strikeout to walk ratio in his age-19 season.

As stated above, Diaz is a wiry 6-foot-3 out on the mound. He uses his lanky arms to create great whip, pumping fastballs in the 92-95 range with fantastic life. The heater is one of the best in the system and it projects to be a plus-plus pitch. Diaz complements the fastball with a hard, low-80's breaking ball that can be inconsistent at times, but ultimately should miss bats at the next level. He also threw a changeup every once and a while, though his top two pitches were usually enough. The change will have to be refined and used more frequently in full season ball. As some expected, near the end of the season Diaz saw a dip in velocity and a slight downtick in his stuff. To prevent that and hold up as a starter going forward, he will have to work on his conditioning and add some weight to his frame. He also will need to learn to pitch down in the zone; in the Appy League he used the high fastball a lot, a pitch that won't give him the same results against better competition. The tools are there for a high-end starter, though it's going to take some time and work for it to happen. He'll get his first taste of full-season ball this year, and a lot of eyes will be watching how he handles the increased workload.

#6 Austin Wilson (OF)

FANTASY STATISTICS (ALL LEVELS)

AVG

R

HR

RBI

SB

0.241

22

6

27

2

SECONDARY STATISTICS

PA

OBP%

SLG%

BB%

K%

226

0.319

0.414

7.5%

18.6%

OTHER INFORMATION

AGE ON 1/1/2014

B/T

ROSTER STATUS

LEVELS

21

R/R

Not On 40-Man Roster (Protect After 2016 Season)

A-


Wilson was one of the top prep players available in the 2010 draft, but a strong commitment to Stanford pushed him to the 12th round where the St. Louis Cardinals never stood a chance of signing him. Three years later, the Mariners plucked the toolsy outfielder with the 49th pick in the 2013 draft.

If you go watch Wilson play, he stands out even on a field full of professional athletes. At 6-foot-5, 240 pounds, he's a towering presence, and yet he's an above average runner that glides with ease in the outfield and on the bases. He's athletic enough to man centerfield, though he fits better in right as an above average defender with plus arm strength. Gasps and "wow" are commonly heard when he takes BP as uses his bat speed and strength to launch lasers all over the field. Really, up until game time it's seemingly unthinkable that Austin Wilson could fail in any way.

Of course, translating his power is easier said than done. His swing has a lot of moving parts and he has yet to really refine his pitch recognition. That means that Wilson is a high strikeout player and without more contact, his fantasy outlook is quite bleak. In his first taste of pro ball last year, Wilson hit .241/.319/.414 and struck out in nearly a quarter of his at bats. And scouts worry that he won't ever really figure things out at the plate, the reason that he lasted until the second round of an average draft class.

That said, Wilson has the type of upside that is worth waiting for. Not to mention, he made adjustments and got better as the season went on last year. He cut his strikeouts in each month of the season and his August line (.296/.367/.606, 5 HR) is something that he can build on entering next year. Like we've seen with a lot of the M's prospects, there is a large gap in present and future skills, but if Wilson can approach his ceiling, he could be the middle of the order dual threat the Mariners have been lacking in recent seasons.

#7 Victor Sanchez (RHP)

FANTASY STATISTICS (ALL LEVELS)

W

SV

ERA

WHIP

K

6

0

2.79

1.10

79

SECONDARY STATISTICS

IP

HR/9

GO/AO

BB%

K%

113.1

0.32

0.97

3.8%

16.9%

OTHER INFORMATION

AGE ON 1/1/2014

B/T

ROSTER STATUS

LEVELS

18

R/R

Not on 40 Man Roster (Protect After 2015 Season)

A

The Mariners signed Sanchez for $2.5 million in 2011, the largest amount the team has ever handed out to an international free agent. So far, he's made them look pretty good, performing well in short-season and full-season ball. In 2013, he made 20 starts as an 18-year-old in the Midwest League, finishing the year with a 2.78 ERA and walking just 18 hitters.

Looking at him on the rubber, Sanchez is a mammoth of a man. His teammates in Everett jokingly called him Ray Lewis, poking fun at his stocky 6-foot, 255 pound frame. Because of his size, he lacks the elite upside that Gohara and Diaz have, but he combats that with a much higher level of certainty. Sanchez uses a clean, simple delivery to pour strike after strike with all of his pitches. He pounds the bottom half of the zone and both corners of the plate with a 90-94 mph fastball. He also throws a curveball and a changeup, both average offerings that flash plus and are significantly aided by his command. For his age, he's extremely advanced and he already does a good job of sequencing his pitches to set hitters up.

The big concerns with Sanchez stem from the body. As big as he is, he's got no physical projection left whatsoever, and any additional weight may have a negative impact on his success. For now, he does a good job keeping it in check and it hasn't seemed to affect his delivery. He also lacks a plus pitch, though if he has plus command with three above-average offerings, which is a possibility, he's going to be a really good starter for Seattle. He'll garner a tough assignment to start 2014, likely heading off to the hitter-friendly California League.

#8 Gabriel Guerrero (OF)

FANTASY STATISTICS (ALL LEVELS)

AVG

R

HR

RBI

SB

0.271

60

4

50

12

SECONDARY STATISTICS

PA

OBP%

SLG%

BB%

K%

499

0.303

0.358

4.2%

22.6%

OTHER INFORMATION

AGE ON 1/1/2014

B/T

ROSTER STATUS

LEVELS

20

R/R

Not On 40-Man Roster (Protect After 2015 Season)

A

The nephew of former MVP Vladimir Guerrero, Gabriel signed with the Mariners as a 17-year old in 2011. This past season, he made his full season debut, hitting .271/.303/.358 with four home runs and 12 steals, a line that was .306/.340/.396 in the season's second half.

At the plate, he has exceptional bat speed and his swing is free and easy. The raw power is plus, possibly 70-grade, but it hasn't translated to games at all yet, and it may not if he doesn't improve his hit tool dramatically. Not unlike his uncle, Guerrero likes to swing the bat and he has the hand-eye coordination to make contact with pitches well off the plate in any direction. Problem is, he uses that as an excuse to extend the zone far too much, racking up big strikeout totals and walking infrequently. He's going to have to adjust the approach a bit to have success and he'll need to do quickly as he continues to climb the ladder.

For fantasy owners, his hitting is going to make or break Guerrero. He's not a runner and he's never going to be anything more than an outfielder, so he needs to hit for average and power to be an asset. He can do that, as he has 30+ home run upside with some batting average to boot, but it's going to be a long road to get there. Look for him to have a strong season in the California League, and move up this list next offseason.

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Photo Credit: David Kohl - USA Today Sports

#9 Tyler Marlette (C)

FANTASY STATISTICS (ALL LEVELS)

AVG

R

HR

RBI

SB

0.304

36

6

37

10

SECONDARY STATISTICS

PA

OBP%

SLG%

BB%

K%

297

0.367

0.448

8.1%

17.8%

OTHER INFORMATION

AGE ON 1/1/2014

B/T

ROSTER STATUS

LEVELS

20

R/R

Not On 40 Man Roster (Protect After 2015 Season)

A

Marlette emerged as an intriguing prospect with a stellar run on the showcase circuit in 2010 that included an MVP award at the Aflac All-America Game. Seattle took him in the fifth round, signing him for an over-slot $650,000 bonus.

An offense-minded backstop, Marlette hit .304/.367/.448 in his Low-A last season, falling right in line with the reports. He has bat speed and plenty of strength, leading some to project above average power down the line. That's if he hits enough to tap into the power of course. His approach is usually sound, though he'll find himself getting pull happy and selling out for power when he slumps and he still has to get better against secondary pitches.

Presently, his offense is well ahead of his glove. He does throw well from behind the plate, but he lacks polish in the finer points of catching. His receiving, blocking, and game calling all improved in 2013, yet all are still below average and require a good deal of work. That doesn't mean he won't get there, and in fact most scouts point to his strong makeup as a sign that he will improve his defense enough to stay behind the plate.

With Mike Zunino in Seattle, the Mariners have the luxury of taking things slowly with Marlette and trying hard to develop him into a first division catcher. He should advance to Hi-A this year, working on his defense and approach in High Desert.

#10 Tyler O'Neill (OF)

FANTASY STATISTICS (ALL LEVELS)

AVG

R

HR

RBI

SB

0.310

12

1

15

2

SECONDARY STATISTICS

PA

OBP%

SLG%

BB%

K%

116

0.405

0.450

10.3%

23.3%

OTHER INFORMATION

AGE ON 1/1/2014

B/T

ROSTER STATUS

LEVELS

18

R/R

Not On 40-Man Roster (Protect After 2017 Season)

Rk

Maybe the least well known of our top-ten, Tyler O'Neil was the M's third round pick out of a Canadian high school this past year. A catcher in high school, O'Neil was shifted to the outfield upon signing and sent to the Arizona League to finish out the year. For the AZL Mariners, he hit .310/.405/.450 in 28 games and looked like a future all-star at times.

The son of a body builder, O'Neil is already a physical specimen. He's quite strong and he adds plus bat speed and good leverage in his swing, giving him the appearance of a future middle of the order bat. Scouts think that in time he'll hit for average with legitimate over the fence power. On the showcase circuit, O'Neil squared up even the best velocity and he just looks like he wants to hit in the box, never showing fear. Defensively, he's going to need to hit. He's not overly athletic and the impact he'll have will come from his bat. On the plus side, he plays with energy and he's a gamer that should maximize his tools because of his intensity and drive.

O'Neil probably won't place in more conventional top-ten prospect lists because he's young, inexperienced, and he doesn't play an up-the-middle position or project to add any worth with his glove. That makes him a strong candidate to target in fantasy leagues, an undervalued commodity that may shoot up this list a year from now. He'll make his full season debut in 2014, possibly making this the last offseason to acquire him for nothing.

Other Interesting Prospects
By Andrew Ball (@andrew_ball)

Tyler Pike, LHP - Simply put, Pike is going to be a better pitcher for the Mariners than he is for fantasy owners. He's got a picture-perfect delivery, easy arm swing and the potential for three average or slightly better pitches. That's a quality number four starter if the command improves, but the dream is well behind the other arms in the system and he's never going to miss enough bats or post low enough rate states to truly stand out in a fantasy setting.

Danny Hultzen, LHP - The second overall pick in a draft that included Gerrit Cole, Archie Bradley, Dylan Bundy, Francisco Lindor, and Javier Baez, Hultzen misses our list because of rotator cuff and labrum surgery that will cause him to miss the entire 2014 season. When healthy, he was billed by some as the top lefty pitching prospect in the minors, though his stuff suggests a solid number three, not a frontline starter. He maintains that upside, but the injury delays his timetable and magnifies the risk considerably.

Stefan Romero, OF - Had Romero been able to stick at second base, he probably would have found his way on to the list. As an outfielder, however, the profile is much less exciting. He's got a good, clean stroke and he should hit for solid averages, but he offers little in the power and speed departments. A .275, 12 home run, 5 steal player just isn't that helpful in fantasy leagues, and it looks like that's what he'll be.

For more on the Mariners, be sure to check out SBNation's Lookout Landing. For more on the minor leagues and prospects in general, check out SBNation's Minor League Ball.

About the Authors

Jason Hunt is a contributing writer for Fake Teams, specializing in the minor leagues and prospects.
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Andrew Ball is a contributing writer for Beyond the Box Score and Fake Teams, specializing in fantasy baseball and the minor leagues.
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Brian Creagh is a contributing writer for Fake Teams, specializing in fantasy baseball and the minor leagues.
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Matt Mattingly is a contributing writer for Fake Teams, specializing in fantasy baseball and the minor leagues.
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Sources

Baseball America
Baseball Prospectus
Baseball Reference
Fangraphs
Lookout Landing
Vimeo
Youtube

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