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Seattle Mariners 2015 Top 10 Fantasy Prospects

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

Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Just like last year, 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 2015. 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. if we have already reviewed the team, a link to the post, along with the team's top prospect is noted.

System Schedule

AL East

AL Central

AL West

NL East

NL Central

NL West

Baltimore
(3/11)

Chicago
(2/11)

Houston
(Correa)

Atlanta
(Sims)

Chicago
(Bryant)

Arizona
(Bradley)

Boston
(3/14)

Cleveland
(2/14)

Los Angeles
(Heaney)

Miami
(Kolek)

Cincinnati
(Stephenson)

Colorado
(Gray)

New York
(3/18)

Detroit
(2/18)

Oakland
(1/31)

New York
(Syndergaard)

Milwaukee
(Taylor)

Los Angeles
(Pederson)

Tampa Bay
(3/21)

Kansas City
(2/21)

Seattle
(Today)

Philadelphia
(Crawford)

Pittsburgh
(Glasnow)

San Diego
(Renfroe)

Toronto
(3/25)

Minnesota
(2/25)

Texas
(1/28)

Washington
(Giolito)

St. Louis
(Piscotty)

San Francisco
(Crick)

Organizational Overview
by Jason Hunt

2014 was a much needed step forward for the Mariners, who were still in the running for a playoff spot on the last day of the season and finished with 87 wins. Prior to the season, they made the biggest splash when they signed free agent 2B Robinson Cano away from the Yankees to a 10 year, $240 million contract. They got back their investment well, as he hit .314 with 14 home runs and 10 stolen bases, along with a 6.2 bWAR.

Kyle Seager emerged from a mid-tier third baseman to a fairly easy top five option at the position, hitting 25 home runs with 96 RBI with an All-Star appearance and a gold glove. This performance (good for 5.8 bWAR) led in part to his signing a seven year, $100 million extension with the team this offseason, and makes up an excellent 1-2 punch in the lineup with Cano.

The team's most notable acquisition during the season was center fielder Austin Jackson, who came to the Pacific Northwest as a part of the trade sending David Price to the Tigers. While the cost may have been a little high in middle infielder Nick Franklin, it remains a position of depth for the organization and a better allocation of assets overall.

For 2015, the team will look to take another step forward with an appearance in the playoffs. The starting rotation is well built for a deep postseason run with Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma at the top, along with prospects Taijuan Walker and James Paxton to slot in behind former Blue Jay J.A. Happ. They have also added Nelson Cruz as the full-time DH, and don't necessarily have a position on the field where they will field a below-average player overall.

The farm system will likely slot into the middle tier across the majors, as they have a pair of high-ceiling prospects in top draft pick Alex Jackson and 3B prospect D.J. Peterson. While the rest of the system isn't necessarily full of top flight prospects like those two, there are definitely interesting names that could provide value to Seattle in a couple years on the field, or potentially as trade chips for needed upgrades during the 2015 season. The organization may be the strongest we have seen in a while from top to bottom, and is poised to compete in an increasingly difficult AL West over the next few seasons.

2014 Graduates

The following players have surpassed their rookie maximums of 130 AB, 50 IP, or 45 days of service time.

Chris Taylor (AB), Abraham Almonte (AB), Jesus Sucre (ST), James Jones (AB), Stefen Romero (AB), Roenis Elias (IP), James Paxton (IP), Dominic Leone (IP), Taijuan Walker (IP)

Major League Opportunities in 2015
by Jason Hunt

Coming into the offseason, I anticipated that they would be able to potentially make upgrades in right field, at designated hitter, and potentially at shortstop. Since then, they have signed Nelson Cruz to a four year contract, and acquired platoon outfielders Seth Smith and Justin Ruggiano to man right field, addressing both spots with only a minimal cost in terms of assets. Brad Miller remains the starter at short, but with Chris Taylor and Ketel Marte both reaching AAA last year, the team could potentially make a change should Miller struggle at the plate to start the year.

The rotation is pretty well set, although we could potentially see a fight in Spring Training between James Paxton, Roenis Elias, and Taijuan Walker. Only two of them are likely to slot in behind Hernandez, Iwakuma, and the newly-acquired J.A. Happ, and I could see Elias being the one on the outside looking in. The bullpen lines up well behind closer Fernando Rodney, but it wouldn't surprise me if the team looked at some of the relievers still unsigned around Spring Training to see if there may a discounted upgrade available.

Top 10 Fantasy Prospects
by Brian Creagh

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.

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1. Alex Jackson (OF)

Photo Credit: Otto Gruele Jr - Getty Images
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.280 11 2 16 0
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
94 0.344 0.476 9.57% 25.53%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
18 R R Rk
Roster Status: Protect after 2018 Season
ETA to Majors: 2017

The Mariners' first pick in the 2014 draft, Alex Jackson jumps directly to the top of Seattle's top prospect list. Drafted 6th overall out of Rancho Bernardo High School in San Diego, Jackson has been a hyped prospect for a few years now. He played catcher through high school, but the popular opinion is that Alex Jackson will move to a corner outfield spot as he outgrows the position and to expedite his development. At 6'2" 215 lbs. and 19 years old Jackson is built like a prototypical slugger. Power is easily his best tool and makes Jackson a Top 25 fantasy prospect in any format. There's considerable development time left with Jackson only having experience in Rookie ball, but the bat is developed to the point that he's relatively low risk for fantasy purposes. The power may not shake out to be plus-plus, but it will have value down the line.

What separates Jackson from the other power prospects is his plus hit tool. With fast hands and the natural ability to barrel pitches, Jackson projects to hit for a great average on top of 25+ HR totals. His natural feel for hitting is limited by a long swing and as a result, Jackson struggles with elite velocity. There will be plenty of time to get this corrected during his development and the pure quickness of his hands, hint at the ability to make the change. Jackson's speed grades out at fringe average so I don't expect him to contribute much on the basepaths. He fits the mold of a future 1st Round pick mixing top-shelf power and a high batting average.

Don't get confused by Jackson's occasional listing as a catcher. His future lies in the outfield and the Mariners haven't even played him an inning behind the plate to this point. Jackson has a monster arm and with his athleticism it is tempting to dream about what that might look like behind the plate, but the bat is so elite, you don't want to hold it down the minors while he learns the intricacies of the catcher position. Jackson should go Top 5 in every rookie dynasty draft, and is an easy Top 25 prospect for me.

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2. D.J. Peterson (3B)

Photo Credit: Otto Gruele Jr - Getty Images
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.297 83 31 111 7
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
547 0.360 0.552 8.23% 21.21%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
22 R R A+-AA
Roster Status: Protect after 2016 Season
ETA to Majors: 2016

Another former first round pick comes in at number 2 with corner infield prospect, D.J. Peterson. Taken out of the University of New Mexico in 2013, Peterson is about to enter his age 23 season and is knocking on the door of his first cup of coffee. Peterson split last season between Hi-A and AA and proved highly worthy of the Top 100 prospect rankings he was seeing headed into the year. He's 6'1" and 190 lbs but still generates a lot of power in his swing, evidenced by the 31 HRs hit last season. Peterson's fantasy value has done nothing but climb since signing with Seattle and he's now firmly entrenched in the Top 50 fantasy prospects.

Peterson played 3B in college and for most of his minor league career, but many scouts think his future lies on the other side of the diamond at 1B. He has a great arm and the athleticism to handle the hot corner, but the glove trails behind the rest of his tools and a switch to 1B could help get him to the big leagues sooner. Normally, we're afraid of prospects shifting to 1B because it puts so much pressure on the bat, but this late in his development and with the advanced approach Peterson displays, his value doesn't take a huge hit.

He's close enough to the major leagues now where a comment about how Safeco hurts his fantasy value is mildly appropriate. On the flip side, Logan Morrison isn't much of a roadblock for D.J. Peterson if he continues to rake and is deemed worthy of a MLB trial. The plus hit tool and the plus power make Peterson a great fantasy prospects. It will be interesting to see how the AVG shakes out. Few doubt the raw power, but scouts seem mixed on his pure hitting ability. A career .299/.362/.552 triple slash in the minors leaves it hard to doubt the optimists, but a longer sample in the upper minors will help get a clearer picture of what his fantasy ceiling could be.

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3. Austin Wilson (OF)

Photo Credit: Otto Gruele Jr - Getty Images
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.301 41 13 55 2
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
308 0.384 0.543 8.77% 21.75%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
22 R R A-Rk
Roster Status: Protect after 2016 Season
ETA to Majors: Late 2016

The first thing you'll notice about Austin Wilson is his massive presence on the baseball diamond. At 6'4" and 249 lbs, Wilson is dripping with tools and if it all comes together the final package could be special. A Stanford University product, Wilson was taken in the 2nd round of the 2013 draft and hasn't been past Low-A in his minor league career. He will be 23 heading into next year and at Hi-A will be slightly behind his age class from a development perspective. The large reason for that is Wilson's injury history, most recently an achilles tendon injury that cut into his 2014 season. Wilson played in 75 games and was showing big progress before the injury took a good chunk of his season from him.

The stereotypical "Stanford-hitter", Austin Wilson hasn't been able to fully maximize the power his enormous frame suggests is in his swing, but he was showing signs of a slight breakout before the injury. If he can recapture that form and stay healthy in 2015, Wilson could easily move up to #2 on this list next year. There's little chance he passes Alex Jackson, but I guess crazier things have happened. He's an above-average runner and has a fringe-average hit tool, so theres a lot of pressure on Wilson to make the most out of his power.

Wilson should find himself in Hi-A to start 2015 and hopefully in AA by the end of the year, setting him up for a 2016 debut. I think he's a worthwhile investment for fantasy owners because he's a power/speed guy that showed signs of breaking out prior to the injury. This could be the cheapest you ever have a chance of getting Wilson. The risk of flameout is still very high due to the injury history and the spotty power showing, but the upside easily compensates for the risk in this case.

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4. Gabby Guerrero (OF)

Photo Credit: Elsa - Getty Images
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.307 97 18 96 18
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
580 0.347 0.467 5.86% 22.59%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
20 R R A+
Roster Status: Protect after 2015 Season
ETA to Majors: 2017

The comparisons to his Uncle Vlad are scary. Gabriel Guerrero flashes the raw tools that make you think he's going to be something special and he shows the same free-swinging approach that made Vladimir so unique. The risk comes with projecting anyone to be able to become another Vladimir Guerrero. Toolsy and capable of putting up big fantasy numbers, Gabriel Guerrero has the widest range of outcomes of anyone on this list. He spent all of 2014 at Hi-A, High Desert, which is an offensive launching pad. His numbers are still impressive with a triple slash of .307/.347/.467, 18 HRs and 18 SBs.

Guerrero has an average hit tool, solid-average power, and average speed, but it's his aggressive approach to hitting that makes you wonder how it will all come together. In 131 games last year, Guerrero struck out 131 times and walked just 34. His hand-eye coordination is out of this world and covers a lot of the weaknesses his approach creates, but there's always concern that as the pitching becomes more advanced, the contact ability will not sustain. Scouts are split on Guerrero - some love him and see a spitting image of his uncle, others are concerned the bat won't play at the highest levels until he learns to navigate the strike zone.

Guerrero will play the next season at 21 years old and will face the ever-crucial AA test. Another .300+ AVG season should catapult him into Top 50 prospect status, but in the meantime he's a fringe Top 100 player. The power leaves something to be desired and the hit tool comes with questions on his approach, so even if it all clicks, the upside isn't that of Jackson or Peterson.

5. Edwin Diaz (RHP)

2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
W SV ERA WHIP K
6 0 3.34 1.19 111
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
IP HR/9 GO/AO BB% K%
116 0.40 0.96 8.70% 22.98%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
20 R R A
Roster Status: Protect after 2016 Season
ETA to Majors: 2018

Our first pitcher on the list, Edwin Diaz is a right-handed prospect drafted back in 2012 out of Puerto Rico. He'll be only 21 years old and headed to Hi-A where he hopes to build on a successful 2014 season. His record may not indicate a great year (6-8), but considering he threw a career-high 116 innings, struck out 111 batters and walked only 42, Diaz has officially turned himself from a long-term "project" to a legitimate starting pitching prospect. Standing 6'2" and 178 lbs, Diaz has grown considerably from the time he was drafted and now looks the part of a future starting pitcher.

Diaz's best pitch is his fastball, which sits in the mid-90s and took a big step forward with its command this year. His slider is a plus pitch that gets plenty of hitters to chase and will support solid strikeout rates throughout his career. The changeup lags far behind the other two offerings, but he shows feel for the pitch and should be able to improve it with repetition. Diaz is a long way away from making an impact in Seattle and the upside is that of a mid-rotation starter, so for fantasy purposes he's not a must-get. He's still an interesting guy to stow away in deeper leagues because his growth in three years has been impressive and there could be even more left in the tank that we have not seen.

6. Ketel Marte (SS)

2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.304 79 4 55 29
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
562 0.335 0.411 4.80% 13.88%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
20 S R AA-AAA
Roster Status: On 40 Man Roster (3 Options Left)
ETA to Majors: Late 2015

Marte is a tough prospect to peg. On the one hand, his age relative to his level has always been impressive as are his career minor league statistics. On the other, his only plus tool is his speed and his shortstop defense is still too sloppy to trust at the highest level. What's left is a guy who fantasy owners can fall in love with, despite the high probability that Marte doesn't return the favor. Marte was signed out of the Dominican Republic prior to 2011 and has been aggressively pushed through the system, reaching AAA by the time he was 20 years old.

Viewed primarily as a shortstop, Marte has also spent some time at 2B in his minor league career. He is a burner who has stolen 20+ SBs in each of the last two seasons and pairs the speed with a high-contact approach that lets him maximize his wheels. The Mariners view him as a future leadoff hitter, but until he learns to stay more patient at the plate, that isn't looking very likely. Marte has a career 3.5% walk-rate in the minor leagues and may need to ease down the aggressiveness to become a pure leadoff hitter. I'm hesitant to buy in to Marte since he is still a fairly raw product, but at AAA he doesn't have the luxury of a lot of development time. Normally a huge fan of favoring players extremely young for their level, Marte, from a fantasy perspective, needs a little more statsheet stuffing to make him a more attractive prospect.

7. Tyler O'Neill (OF)

2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.251 33 13 40 5
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
258 0.326 0.468 8.14% 32.95%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
19 R R A-A--Rk
Roster Status: Protect after 2017 Season
ETA to Majors: 2018

An under-publicized sleeper in the Mariners organization, Tyler O'Neill failed to breakout last year after a brief debut in 2013 suggested he could be something special. A Canadian draftee, O'Neill was taken in the 3rd Round of the 2013 draft playing mostly catcher in high school. O'Neill was immediately moved to LF where his bat could move quickly through the system and his average arm wouldn't be as much of a liability. O'Neill brings natural power to the plate and with his plus bat speed, could develop into a middle of the order hitter. He'll be 20 years old next season and will start in either Low-A or Hi-A depending on the Mariners aggressiveness.

O'Neill's 2014 season was cut short thanks to a broken hand after punching a dugout wall. Character concerns aside, the lost developmental year isn't great for O'Neill's future fantasy value. He's going to have to work to cut down on the strikeouts (79 K's in 57 games in Low-A last year), but the underlying tools are there for him to improve his contact abilities. There has been some talk of O'Neill ultimately ending up at 1B based on how his body fills out and I don't know if I trust the bat enough to handle that move. In LF it should play just fine and the upside being determined by how well the power can play off the hit tool. O'Neill is still a quality sleeper for 2015 and take a flier on him in deep leagues if you can grab him late.

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8. Patrick Kivlehan (3B)

Photo Credit: Christian Petersen - Getty Images
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.295 84 20 103 11
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
587 0.363 0.507 9.54% 18.74%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
24 R R AA-A+
Roster Status: Protect after 2015 Season
ETA to Majors: 2016

Kivlehan played college football at Rutgers University, and like most dual-athlete prospects, he has taken a little longer to develop than others. He is entering his age 25 season and spent the majority of last year in AA, so the stats should come with a little grain of salt, but Kivlehan hit an impressive .300/.374/.485 in 104 games in Jackson. Kivlehan doesn't wow you with any specific tool, but he's solid-average across the board and could chip in at every fantasy category. Primarily viewed as a 3B prospect, Kivlehan has played some corner outfield and some 1B in his career. I don't know if the bat can support a move to 1B, but many think that is where his future will take him.

I struggle to invest highly in a player likely relegated to 1B and already 25 years old, but if anyone can salvage some serious fantasy value, it's Kivlehan. He's only been in the minor leagues for 3 seasons and lost valuable development time playing only football before his senior season at Rutgers. Kivlehan plays with a masher's mentality and looks like a future middle-of-the-order presence when he gets a hold of one. Unfortunately, he doesn't fit very well anywhere on the diamond and could become a Quad-A hitter. The Mariners should start him out at AAA with a shot at the big leagues coming sometime in 2015.

9. Gareth Morgan (OF)

2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.148 15 2 12 4
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
178 0.244 0.252 8.99% 41.01%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
18 R R Rk
Roster Status: Protect after 2018 Season
ETA to Majors: 2019

Drafted in the 2nd Round following Alex Jackson, Gareth Morgan is another power hitting prospect in this system stacked with offensive options. A high-school pick out of Toronto, Ontario, Morgan is a massive human being - 6'4" 220 lbs and only 18 years old. Morgan possesses light tower power and can put on a show in batting practice. The questions come up on whether he'll ever be able to hit enough to tap into that power. A large reason for this is his relative inexperience against elite competition coming from Canada. It is not surprising to see Morgan struggle to adjust for the first year or two until he finds his footing.

Struggle is an understatement for Gareth Morgan's admittedly short debut. In 45 games at Rookie ball, Morgan slashed .148/.244/.252 with 73 K's and 2 HRs. Again, the stats don't tell the whole story and Morgan's struggles shouldn't come as a huge surprise. It's far more important that he builds on this foundation and takes a step forward in 2015. The power could be special and it is way too early to give up on this kid. If I were picking between a high probability relief arm or a low-probability slugger like Morgan, I'd take Gareth Morgan 10 times out of 10.

10. Tyler Marlette (C)

2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.297 54 17 51 9
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
375 0.349 0.517 7.47% 18.93%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
21 R R A+-AA
Roster Status: Protect after 2015 Season
ETA to Majors: 2016

A slugging catcher prospect, Tyler Marlette has had a slow climb up the organizational ladder. Largely due to the demands of the position, Marlette has risen one level at a time after being drafted out of high school in the 5th round of the 2011 draft. He reached AA for only 9 games to end this year and will be headed back there to start 2015. There is little doubt that Marlette will stick behind the plate thanks to some much improved reports on his defense in the last two years.

What makes Marlette interesting from a fantasy perspective is a combination of power, ability to stick at catcher, and proximity to the major leagues. Zunino is currently blocking any chance Marlette has to be a starter, but there are plenty of teams willing to acquire a league-average defensive catcher with above-average power at the plate. Marlette is still probably another full year away and it will be interesting to see how his power changes once out of the HR-friendly High Desert affiliate, so there is still some risk with him. Upper level catching prospects with a chance to have an impact bat, are tough to find late in dynasty drafts, but Marlette is one of the few who can offer a cheap flier at that position.

Other Interesting Prospects
by Brian Creagh

Luiz Gohara - A favorite of mine on last year's list, Gohara is a big, Brazilian, lefty with good stuff and a great shot at starting. He has a big fastball and curveball and is just 18 years old. Some reports say he's put on some weight and not in a positive way. He doesn't make the Top 10 because he's forever away from Seattle, but he has #2 starter potential, which is rare for an honorable mention player.


Ryan Yarbrough - A crafty lefty, Yarbrough has a #4 starters ceiling and should fly through the minor league system. He's 23 years old and hasn't pitched out of short season ball, but he throws a lot of strikes and has upped his velocity since being drafted out of Old Dominion. The statistical outputs have been crazy good, but I'm holding off excitement until he plays more age appropriate competition.


Carson Smith - I threw Smith on here as a name to watch for both dynasty and re-draft leaguers. He's already reached the MLB, but has retained prospect status. He throws from a whacky arm angle, but has consistently seen impressive results. Carson Smith will be a reliever for the Mariners, but the high strikeout totals and low ratios could be a useful part of any fantasy bullpen.

About the Authors

Jason Hunt is a contributing writer for Fake Teams, specializing in the minor leagues and prospects
Follow him on Twitter 

Brian Creagh is a contributing writer for Fake Teams, specializing in fantasy baseball and the minor leagues.
Follow him on Twitter 

David Spracale is a contributing writer for Fake Teams, specializing in fantasy baseball and the minor leagues.
Follow him on Twitter