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2007 Prospect Rankings: 21-30

Posted by Jason A. Churchill on February 3, 2007

When I started working this section of the top 50 I was sitting across from a scout with the Cincinnati Reds, who was kind enough to bring some notes and reports with him for my benefit. As I type away using some of the comments he’s made on a few of the prospects I have ranked between 21-30, keep in mind this is one scout’s opinion, and the rankings were not in any way influenced by these anlayses.

I finished the actual rankings the day before Christmas – all of them, 1 through 20, 21 through 30, 31 through 40 and 41 through 50… Mr. K, as I’ll call him in anonymity, was simply kind enough to slurp down a few Alaskan Ambers while I went to work.

We’re down into a group of 10 talents that may actually see the big leagues sometime within the next 1-2 years. But it also contains two long-term prospects whose development is still in the infant stages. From a five-year minor-league veteran to a couple of players who began the 2006 season as teenagers, this group makes for an interesting portion of the top 50.

Mike Wilson, OF
B/T: HT/WT: AGE ACQUIRED 2006 G AB AVG HR RBI BB SO OBP SLG OPS
R/R 6-2/245 23 Draft, 2001-2nd Round (Lummus) Inland Empire/San Antonio 119 449 .276 21 81 51 144 .360 .494 .854

When the Mariners drafted Wilson and swayed him to forego football scholarship offers to play baseball, they were hoping the athlete in the Oklahoma native would take over and rise to the occasion.

Instead, Wilson stewed in Rookie ball for two years and didn’t reach the full-season level until his fourth year as a pro. Early on, there were major concerns about Wilson’s desire, work ethic and dedication to the game, as well as his ability to properly take instruction.

After miring in the lower minors since the last time the parent club made the postseason, Wilson, now 23, finally started to show something. It’s not enough to warrant the second-round selection, but the 6-2, 245-pounder is at least holding his own at the plate these days.

Wilson slugged .555 at Inland Empire last season, forcing the M’s to challenge him in the Texas League where he had his struggles but remained a power threat, despite issues making contact. He lacks quality plate discipline and pitch recognition while his bat speed is a notch about average for a slugger.

Wilson’s raw power has yet to be met by a solid approach at the plate and extended consistency. He’ll have to find room for both in 2007 if he wishes to even get a shot at big-league service. He also needs to learn to go the other way with more regularity.

The former switch-hitter holds very little defensive value, but does possess an above average throwing arm and decent accuracy, making it likely that any time in the majors would be spent as a part-time player or DH. His conditioning is also a concern for the Mariners.

Wilson could return to Double-A where he’d take on the pitchers in the Southern League, but has a shot to break spring training with Triple-A Tacoma.

Michael Garciaparra, 2B
B/T: HT/WT: AGE ACQUIRED 2006 G AB AVG HR RBI BB SO OBP SLG OPS
R/R 6-1/175 23 Draft, 2001-1st Round (Valenzuela) AZ/San Antonio/Tacoma 74 257 .311 3 28 31 47 .399 .397 .796

The Seattle Mariners have a habit of drafting or signing bloodlines. Diego and David Segui, Floyd and Brett Bannister, Jose Cruz Jr, Ken Griffey Sr, Jr and his brother Craig, Shawn and Jay Buhner, and Michael Garciaparra.

Being the younger brother of a potential future Hall-of-Famer, can’t be easy. Being the struggling kid sibling of a perennial all-star has to be tough. Michael won’t hear any of it, however, and has never made any excuses during his tenure in the organization. That tenure has been laced with empty offensive seasons and a laundry list of injuries that have limited the SoCal native to one season of 100 games or more, and just two of 80 or more games played.

Now 23, Garciaparra is building on success after hitting a combined .311 last season, including a .315/.422 line in Triple-A Tacoma. At 6-1 and 175 pounds carrying an anvil, Garciaparra still has trouble reaching the gaps consistently, but displayed that ability to much more satisfying levels last season. He’s always had a good eye and has learned to draw the walk and limit strikeouts.

The former prep soccer and football star is not a great base stealer but has above average speed for a middle infielder and uses his footspeed defensively where he’s a solid second baseman with adequate range and arm strength.

To reach the big leagues, Garciaparra must continue to get stronger in his upper and lower body and he must remain healthy for a full season. He’ll likely start the 2007 season as Tacoma’s starting second baseman and he may even hit in the first or second slot in the order where his solid on-base skills will play well around the likes of Adam Jones, Wladimir Balentien and Bryan LaHair.

His future is limited to reserve work, which may lead to the club playing him at other positions, including center field, as soon as he stays healthy for longer stretches.

Luis Valbuena, 2B
B/T: HT/WT: AGE ACQUIRED 2006 G AB AVG HR RBI BB SO OBP SLG OPS
R/R 5-10/190 21 UFA, Venezuela – 2002 (Carrasquel) Wisconsin/Inland Empire 132 488 .275 5 38 58 70 .353 .387 .740

Valbuena immediately reminded many of Carlos Baerga or fellow Mariners farmhand Ismael Castro. Baerga has a few inches and 20+ pounds on Valbuena, but both have thick lower bodies that influence their scouting reports.

Valbuena has good hands and footwork, but has below lateral quickness, particularly going to his right. His arm strength is adequate and he turns the double play just fine, but his lack of range is more than a concerns and may ultimately result in a move to left field, or force the Venezuelan to play multiple positions to prepare for a career as a utility player.

Offensively, the 21-year-old has a solid stroke from the left side and though he doesn’t switch hit, he handles pitchers from either side of the mound, hitting .324 versus LHPs last season, and .308 in his short career.

Valbuena has average plate skills altogether, due to lack of ability to hit situationally including the bunt, but he has above average strike zone judgment and can draw a walk (58 in 2006). He limits the strikeout to an extent, but his power (led the NWL in 2005) was zapped by legit ballparks and advanced pitching.

To reach the show, Valbuena has to hit and hit for plus power for a middle infielder/utility man. Conditioning hasn’t been a problem thus far, but may become a worry spot as he gets older.

Look for Valbuena to start the 2007 campaign with High Desert, where he has a chance to rake his way into the top 20 with a big year at the plate. The Cal League is a hitter’s paradise anyways, but High Desert is among the top three ballparks and evironments in which to hit.

Alex Liddi, 3B
B/T: HT/WT: AGE ACQUIRED 2006 G AB AVG HR RBI BB SO OBP SLG OPS
R/R 6-4/185 18 UFA, Italy – 2005 (Norton/Mazzotti) Peoria/Wisconsin 58 220 .291 3 27 13 56 .329 .450 .779

The only thing “wrong” about Liddi’s profile is that he doesn’t bat lefthanded. He’s the youngest player in the top 30, stands 6-4 and weighs 185 – already – and possesses solid all-around athletic skills that suggest he could stick at the hot corner, a big bonus, and could make an easy transition to the outfield if necessary.Liddi also has above average bat speed and a good understanding of the game of baseball. The Italian Stallion even put all those tools to good use in his first season in the states, hitting .291 and slugging .450 combined between the Rookie and Midwest Leagues.

How much power Liddi will develop is the big question. Can he continue to sharpen his plate skills year after year and turn into a Joe Crede or even David Wright in terms of home run power? Will his strike zone judgment follow suit to allow him to maintain a high average while he’s mashing for power?

His skills are still raw yet, so those questions will have to wait to be answered, but there’s nothing weak about Liddi’s game thus far. He has a long ways to go but he has all the natural tools to become a legitimate third base prospect over the next few years, a position that is in dire need of some depth in the M’s farm system.

Liddi has good footwork and soft hands, and throws the ball very accurately for the most part, but has been seen rushing throws to get faster runners or when he’s trying to do too much. His arm strength is more than adequate.

“I like his feet,” said an AL scout who first saw Liddi as a 15-year-old in Europe. “He’s probably going to be a kig kid when he’s done growing but if he keeps the feet, he can play third. And his arm is fine, although his release point is sometimes kinda wacky… that’s a normal thing for a teenager.”

“With the bat,” the scout continued, “he’ll just have to work his rear-end off to learn to hit the inside fastball and still cover the entire plate. But again, it’s rare for a kid this age to not have problems with that stuff. I wouldn’t worry so much about the strikeouts as long he continues to hit the ball hard in the gaps. The long balls will come as he gets stronger and that swing gets more consistent.”

Liddi may begin his 2007 season back where he ended last year – Wisconsin in the Midwest League – but spring workouts will determine exactly where the Mariners go with him, as well as a dozen other young talents. I’d be surprised, however, if he didn’t see a lot of time with skipper Jim Horner and the T-Rats.

Oswaldo Navarro, 2B/SS
B/T: HT/WT: AGE ACQUIRED 2006 G AB AVG HR RBI BB SO OBP SLG OPS
S/R 6-0/165 22 UFA, Venezuela – 2001 (Carrasquel/Avila) San Antonio/Tacoma 134 449 .258 3 45 58 90 .348 .332 .680

Navarro is among the last of the light-hitting, slick-fielding middle infielders the club scooped up over the past five years, and he might actually reach the majors as a full-time reserve. When Asdrubal Cabrera was traded to the Cleveland Indians last summer, Navarro moved up on the depth chart and left the Mariners with fewer options at shortstop.

While Yuniesky Betancourt has the position locked up for the next handful of seasons, Navarro does provide the Mariners with insurance should they need it at either spot up the middle. The Venezuela native has exceptional hands and flawless footwork to go with an adequate throwing arm and above average range.Navarro’s shortcomings are all offensively where he has always been among the youngest regulars in his league and found himself in that position again in 2006, where he hit .246 in Triple-A Tacoma.

Lacking even gap power, Navarro’s offensive game is all about small ball; bunting, slap hitting and the occasional walk is about all he’s capable of at this stage.

“He’s got to do something in the weight room,” said an AL scout. “He’s very solid defensively and if he could just get by with the bat, he’d be a prospect. He started to stretch it out a bit in A ball, but he’s been moved so quickly, he hasn’t been able to keep up.”I think, at his best, he’s a marginal major league guy,” the scout continued. “I think he’s a reserve infielder, but he needs more time to put it together at the plate.”

Navarro is going to return to Triple-A Tacoma as their starting shortstop, teaming with Michael Garciaparra up the middle. He could again see a cup of joe in the show if the need for a defender arises via injury.

Carlos Peguero, OF
B/T: HT/WT: AGE ACQUIRED 2006 G AB AVG HR RBI BB SO OBP SLG OPS
L/L 6-5/210 20 UFA, Dom. Republic – 2005 (Engle, Guerrero) Peoria/Everett 59 229 .269 9 39 15 83 .318 .520 .838

The Mariners are laced with young, high-ceiling, high-risk talents in short-season and low A ball, and Peguero may have the highest offensive ceiling of them all. He shared the rookie league lead in home runs before getting a taste of the Northwest League.

Peguero, like Gerardo Avila and most other kids in the system, must learn to make consistent contact and his 83 whiffs in 256 PAs are proof of that. He has yet to improve on his skill to work the count, but he has raw power that rivals any in the entire system, including Wladimir Balentien.

Peguero has enough athletic ability to play a corner outfield spot but could end up at first base where his bat may play well enough. If it does, the Mariners could be sitting pretty with a power-hitting lefty. But the Dominican native has holes in his swing that won’t be easy to correct.

His long, uppercut swing must be adjusted and Peguero must learn to trust his natural strength in lieu of trying to serve the ball over the fences. He’s also got less patience than a physician with a dozen malpractice suits pending, so he’ll have to develop a better overall approach, preferably one that doesn’t zap his raw power.

Like many inexperienced bats, Peguero needs to learn to control the strike zone and put himself into better hitters counts. His future is still up in the air, but he’s a longshot to reach the big leagues and he’ll get a chance to make a mark form himself versus even competition in the Midwest League in 2007 – which is where he’s most likely to begin the upcoming season.

Ryan Rowland-Smith, LHP
B/T: HT/WT: AGE ACQUIRED 2006 G/GS IP W-L ERA BB SO BAA G/F HR STR
L/L 6-3/211 24 UFA, Australia – 2000 (Holland) Inland Empire/San Antonio 30/1 47.2 1-4 3.21 20 57 .265 1.07 3 .586

Rowland-Smith has been an interesting southpaw since signing six years ago out of Australia and has had an adventurous route to his current 40-man status. He began his career in the bullpen, made 26 starts, then went back to the bullpen. In 2005 he was a rule 5 selection of the Minnesota Twins.

RRS pitched well enough for the Twins to consider bringing him along when camp broke, but instead tried to offer the Mariners a check and an A ball prospect in order to keep him. The M’s said no thanks and Rowland-Smith went on to make 17 more starts in AA that summer.

The 6-3, 210-pounder profiles best in relief, and that’s where he spent the vast majority of his season in 2006 – with the exception of the one start he made late in the year – but not until he recovered from an injury suffered over the offseason.RRS goes after hitters with a 90-92 mph fastball that occasionally touches 94, and compliments the heat with pretty solid breaking ball and a useful change. His change has been better in the past and is likely to return to its stature as the best pitch in his arsenal.

Rowland-Smith has always been able to get the strikeout, posting a 9.15 K/9 in six seasons as a pro, and typically limits the dreaded base on balls (3.41 BB/9). But he is certainly better in relief and has a chance to turn his slightly above average stuff into a long big league career.

He’s adept at getting out the lefthanded bats (.216 BAA) and while righties hit .299/.371 against him last season, they slugged just .388. Rowland-Smith isn’t a ground ball specialist, but he’s also not a severe fly ball pitcher.

His mechanics are solid and if he stays healthy his work on a cut fastball may be enough versus righthanded hitters to push him into the majors in 2007. In the meantime, he’ll likely start the season in Triple-A Tacoma as a late-inning relief option.

Cesar Jimenez, LHP
B/T: HT/WT: AGE ACQUIRED 2006 G/GS IP W-L ERA BB SO BAA G/F HR STR
L/L 6-0/200 22 UFA, Venezuela – 2001 ( Carrasquel) San Antonio/Tacoma 27/22 123.2 5-12 4.15 60 76 .255 1.24 8 .500

“Hmmm, Cesar Jimenez, eh? He’s that soft-tossing left-hander, right?” asked an Oklahoma City Redhawks infielder. “Yeah, I think we saw him down in Texas… yeah, we nailed him every time,” said an OKC teammate who also played in the Texas League in 2005.”Nah, that wasn’t him was it?” asked the infielder. “This guy killed us once and we got him some the second time I saw him.”Player 2: “He’s hit or miss, yeah, we shouldn’t have a problem with him… not after three or four.”

That was two PCL opponents’ recollection of Mr. Jimenez and they were spot on. Jimenez is on and off, hit or miss and can’t seem to hold onto gems after the first third of the game.

His BAA after his first inning of work last season was .298, up .58 points from the .240 he allowed in his initial inning. After his second frame, Jimenez allowed a .366 batting average against and his slugging against rose to well over .500 (.522). These are simpy signs that he’s incapable of starting regularly, even in AAA, let alone the big leagues.

The 22-year-old southpaw has a career ERA that stands at 4.55 as a starter and 3.38 as a reliever. Typically, according to Mariners minor league pitching coordinator Pat Rice, Jimenez “pushes the velocity some when he’s coming out of the pen.”

With a fastball anywhere from 84 to 89 miles per hour and a change-up that has its moments as an above-average pitch, the Venezuelan, who can lay claim to being one of the closest friends of King Felix Hernandez, has to work both sides of the plate and mix up his pitches in order to be successful. He’s not a ground ball pitcher but does usually keep the ball down enough to limit the home runs, as his career 0.58 HR/9 ratio strongly suggests.

His slider is decent but needs improvement if he’s to be more than a situational relief option. He’s not particularly good against lefthanded bats but doesn’t give up the extra-base hit much to hitters in either side of the batter’s box, suggesting that he could develop into a decent middle relief option, especially when considering that his arm can be stretched out a bit.

His future is yet to be determined as he could spend the next several years shuffling between Tacoma and Seattle, or he could find himself out of baseball after a few more years. But Jimenez is young enough to build on what could be a decent career as a reliever.

He’ll start his 2007 season back in Triple-A, where he’s certainly going back to the bullpen where he belongs. Hitting his spots and avoiding his typically high walk rates is his first and foremost obstacle.

Austin Bibens-Dirkx, RHP
B/T: HT/WT: AGE ACQUIRED 2006 G/GS IP W-L ERA BB SO BAA G/F HR STR
R/R 6-2/190 21 Draft, 2006 – 16th Round Eve/Tac/Wis 29/0 38.1 2-2 1.64 9 49 .193 0.82 0 .727

When I made calls to ask scouts and coaches about Bibens-Dirkx, I was expecting some to like him because of his delivery and some to think he was a just a short-term novelty that couldn’t get anyone out consistently above AA ball.But the common theme ended up being an extremely bold consensus from the group of about a half-dozen in which I spoke.

“He hides that ball better than any sidewinder I have ever seen,” said one scout. “And when I say sidewinder, what I’m saying is that he isn’t a submariner, not like Quisenberry. Those guys have an advantage when it comes to deception; the ball is behind them for so long and then wham! The ball explodes on the hitter, even if it’s only at 86 or 87 miles per hour. Sidearm guys show the ball sooner, usually. This kid has a little subtle pause or hitch with his wrist and the ball that gives him an extra split-second to fool the hitter.”

Another scout, a former relief pitcher who spent seven seasons with the San Diego Padres, thinks the M’s 16th round pick in last year’s draft has a chance to be a major league arm.

“Dirkx has gotten good reports from everyone I have talked to,” he said. “He’s not a closer type and probably not a setup guy either, but he has a pretty good chance to get outs at that level (majors) and it’s not just because he throws all screwy and hitters are fooled. The big-league bats hit everybody with ordinary stuff. He’s got a little bit better stuff than that.”

Bibens-Dirkx is a sinker-slider guy with a penchant for the ground ball, though he didn’t put up the G/F ratios in his first season in pro ball. His sinking fastball sits in the 85-88 mph range with plus movement – that he can adjust to accomodate a pitch to either side of the dish – and his slider is average to a tick above average by most accounts.

The Mariners have a pretty tough decision to make with Bibens-Dirkx, as to where he starts the 2007 season. He spent 28 games in A ball last summer, 25 of those in the Midwest League where batters managed just a .198/.221/.303 line against him. He posted a promising 49-9 K/BB ratio in his three stops that included two shutout frames in Triple-A Tacoma that resulted in five strikeouts.

It’s likely that Bibens-Dirkx lands in High Desert to start the year, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he gets the nod to jump to the Southern League to give him a challenge. In the end, I expect the first true sidearmer I have ever seen in the Mariners system to see Safeco Field as early August or September, depending on the status of the big club. His future may ultimately be very much like that of a Chad Bradford who spent four seasons with the Oakland A’s.

Craig James, RHP
B/T: HT/WT: AGE ACQUIRED 2006 G/GS IP W-L ERA BB SO BAA G/F HR STR
R/R 6-2/210 24 UFA, Miami, FLA – 2003 (Grifol) San Antonio 43/0 62 4-3 2.61 33 56 .237 1.21 3 .457

Another strong season for James in 2006 has pushed him into a major contention for the Triple-A Tacoma roster this spring. The 24-year-old right-hander spent last year with Double-A San Antonio and logged 72 innings allowing just 65 hits and only three long balls.James operates off a fastball in the 89-92 mph range and a slider that peaks as an above-average pitch. His numbers from last season are a little bit deceiving. He was terrible in April – .319/.407/.489 – and August – .390/.519/.512, but was nothing less than stellar in between.

In May, June and July, James posted a .172 BAA and gave up just 24 hits in 40 frames. He also fanned 38. His crutch may be his lack of consistent command that led to a below-average BB/9 ratio of 4.88. James does get a decent amount of ground balls by keeping the ball in the lower half of the strike zone and not missing up with the breaking ball.

An interesting story from day one, James has come a long way to get where he’s about to be, which is probably just one step away from the show.

In 2001, Craig James was a just-drafted high school senior when he felt pain in his right elbow. He was originally diagnosed with tendonitis. The Giants selected James with the 496th pick overall (16th round), but soon after, found a glitch in their new pitcher’s armour.

The Giants insisted on a more thorough exam on James’ elbow and would not let him pitch in the rookie league where they had originally assigned him after the finishing touches were put on the player’s contract.

“I got the MRI back and the Giants doctor told me, ‘Bad news'” James told InsidethePark.com in 2005. “‘You have a partially torn Medial Collateral Ligament in your elbow. It is 33 percent torn.'”

James was informed that surgery was necessary, but that wasn’t the end of the issue. The Giants then terminated his contract, claiming he withheld information from the team concerning his elbow. In a span of less than a week, James was drafted, signed and sent back home to Miami with a future as in doubt as can possibly be thought. He needed surgery, wanted to play baseball again, but his resources for both were seemingly dry.

Until Dr. John Uribe, who had initially diagnosed James with simple tendonitis, offered to perform the procedure free of charge. Less than two years later, James signed a free agent deal with the Mariners, and has made good on his opportunities.

“I knew that baseball was not over for me. I have that fight in me,” James said.

I guess he was right, because three years later and James is putting himself in a good spot. It’s tough to guarantee that James wins a spot on the Rainiers roster, but he’s certainly ready for the challenge and it makes more sense to challenge James and see what he’s got than it does, well not doing that. James’ future is probably as a Jon Huber-level relief pitcher, but must vastly improve his control if he wants to get outs in the PCL.


Photo Credits: Austin Bibens-DirkxPaulMPhotography.comOswaldo Navarro – Getty ImagesGraphic – Darren Gossler

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57 Responses to “2007 Prospect Rankings: 21-30”

  1. Sneekes said

    Thanks for that, excellent as always.
    The formatting looks a little bit off though, I think I’m missing at least a portion of the first line of each write-up.

    Really looking forward to seeing Bibens-Dirkx in Seattle.
    Intrigued by Alex Liddi, it’s about time we had a run of decent position players.

  2. Goose said

    How big is your monitor and resolution? Because everything comes up fine for me.

  3. Heath G said

    navarro hit 21 homerruns?

  4. Yes, heath, he did. He’s a power-hitting middle infielder. Never heard of him?

    Seriously, thanks, I hadn’t finished his line in the table…

  5. Willmore said

    I’m getting the same formatting thing – the articles start next to the player boxes as opposed to under them. I run at 1600×1200 in Firefox.

  6. Edgar said

    So who are you most excited about? I’m probably pulling for Austin Bibens-Dirkx the most but I think Liddi will probably be the best player. Do you think Nomar Jr has any trade value? Maybe somebody really likes OBP.

  7. I dont have any issues with the formatting on either of my PCs…

    I recently fiddled with the html, can someone give me an update… is it fixed for you? If not, is it better, even if it’s not perfect? Heading in the right direction?

  8. Lance said

    Garciaparra and Liddi’s report look fine now. All others are still starting mid-sentence as before. That’s the problem I’m having. Not sure if one, two, or more lines are getting chopped off.

    Great analysis though. Top-notch stuff.

  9. Which browser, Lance?

  10. jp17 said

    I still don’t see a few lines.

    At home running Opera, only the first few lines of Wilson’s analysis is cut off. At work running IE the first few lines of every piece.

    Other than that, good stuff.

  11. kva15 said

    JAC, on many of the writeups, the text is starting to the right of the graphic box. Since the box scrolls off the screen to the right, you miss the text (and it looks like it starts mid-sentence under the box). Should be a pretty simple fix.

  12. DiQ said

    Wilson’s table is cut off at the SLG%.

    Also Navarro’s picture is overlapping text with Peguero’s table overlapping it as well.

  13. Lance said

    My browser? MSN Premium via Qwest. Also, I didn’t note that all tables are cut off a various points (Wilson, at OBP, G’parra and Valbuena at SO, Liddi and Navarro at BB, etc). Funny, the intro is perfect and was from the start. Problem could be when Wilson’s table was entered and just followed down the line.

  14. marc w. said

    JAC,
    I’m using Firefox at the moment, and while I do notice a change (a lot of the text in the Wilson write-up was obscured by the table), there are still some strange things going on.
    Basically, the tables are still eating into the text. It’s not as bad as it was; only one line, and only on Peguero and Wilson’s write-ups.
    Also, and this is not a huge deal, but there’s basically zero ‘padding’ between the tables/photos and the text, which makes it look a bit odd. Readable, but a bit odd.
    I’m not seeing the tables cut-off like some others.

    Good job, as always…too bad you’re having to spend a lot of time doing formatting.

    Any word on Bazardo, by the way? Who picked him up?

  15. marc w. said

    One more thing – when did the M’s release RHP Aaron Thorne? Just saw this on the BA transactions page. Not that he was a huge prospect – he was an honorable mention top 50 M’s guy on your list. But why would that be necessary? Or is this a drop him, then resign him sort of roster dance like what they did with Campillo?

  16. Thorne was apparently released last week.

    Re: formatting…

    For some reason, it works for me on FireFox… IE it’s a little screwy with the lines starting to the right of the table, but either way I’m going to have an issue.

    I don’t know why, but it seems one or the other is not going to work, and sometimes both.

    I’m going to try one last simple thing and then forget about it.

  17. marc w. said

    Better; now the only one that’s still eating text is the Carlos Peguero box; since it’s not at the top of the write-up, it’s stolen a line.
    Still, the problem with the Wilson piece is fixed…

    So, any particular reason why Thorne got the axe? Visa issues, or lingering injuries, work ethic?

  18. Probably the doubt that Seattle had in him recovering enough to be worth while.

  19. Gookie said

    any mlb or minor league signings that you can see coming JAC ?

    Give bloomquist a break ( from the other blog ), if we ever loose him, we are going to regret it. he fits well for many roles on the team. everyteam needs a guy like him, even if that guy cant hit for crap. i give him credit for all of the great play on the field. he might finally have a break out season, who knows? guys like him are hard to come by, and if he has a .150 BA all of 2007… atleast we can expect a great bunt or two to win a game, or give his heart out on the field…making that catch or big play to keep a lead and win a game.

    I would be totally angry if the mariners were to trade him or loose him in any ways.

  20. Gookie said

    who would you rather have, charles gipson or bloomquist? … or julio franco =)

    atleast with willie, he is still fairly young and the expirience that he has could possibly make a minor leaguer into a major leaguer with his leadership and knowledge of the game.

    also, do you really want to see another raul ibanez case happen? I dont.

  21. jhelfgott said

    “guys like him are hard to come by”

    Nope.

    “he might finally have a break out season, who knows?”

    Breakout seasons usually involve a player reaching untapped potential that was there to begin with. Bloomquist’s never had potential. Seriously, he’s never hit. Not in the majors, not in the minors. His career minor league OPS was .711

    At 75 ABs a year and the league minimum, Bloomquist’s not a total waste of a roster spot. At 250 ABs and $850,000, Bloomquist’s a huge liability getting paid twice what he’s worth for hurting the team.

    With Ichiro in CF, hopefully those ABs will shrink down some, but that’s what we all thought would happend he slugged under .300.

    Replace Willie with Yung Chi Chen today and you lose defensive versatility but add 6-8 runs in 2007, and more beyond that, not because Chen’s great, but because Willie’s bat is bad enough to be that much worse than a replacement utility infielder over a half-season’s worth of ABs.n with Lopez taking the every 2B job last year. Hargrove still found a way to give Willie 250 ABs, a

  22. slim said

    FWIW, Sporting News just rated Willie Bloomquist as the best utilityman in the AL. On account of he made only 2 errors and steals lots of bases. bizarre.

  23. Gookie said

    its the small things that he does that can help this team out.

    i rather keep willie around. what if vidro, lopez , yuni… what if someone gets hurt? then we are going to be scrambling around looking for someone suitable enough to fill in that spot. even if he dont hit, willies that dude.

  24. StandinPat said

    Bloomquist has value as a defensive replacement and pinch runner. Because of his versatility you can carry an extra bat bench that cant play much in the field. The key here is that he shouldn’t start on a regular basis as he swings a hollow bat. The fact that Hargrove gives him way too many AB’s isn’t Willie’s fault and doesn’t mean Willie needs to be traded. It means Hargrove needs to be flogged.

  25. the iceman cometh said

    I’m with Pat. In the case of injury, I’d rather see almost anybody called up from AAA to play regularly so we can keep Willie out of the batter’s box.

    On a side night, wave goodbye to Bazardo and hello to Jeff Frazier.

  26. Lance said

    JAC, all text looks fine now. Tables still cut off at a point but most of the stats are there, I assume, so that’s not a big deal to me.

  27. marc w. said

    Yeah, the text looks fine to me now too. Whatever you did, it looks like it’s working.

    So: Where would Jeff Frazier appear on your top 50? Solid stats in 2005 in the MWL, but didn’t do so hot in the FSL. He’s not young either (24) – at least he knows he’s in an org that’ll push him. What can we expect? I assume his BABIP heads north of the .250s or so, but what’s his ceiling?

  28. Oddly, all I did was align the table to “center” rather than “left”… the cut-off issue didn’t get any worse and it allowed the text to be manipulated… thanks for the help guys – and the patience.

    What I’ll try for 11-20, and if it works, 1-10, is two tables… one at the top with the players name, acquired, B/T, Ht/Wt and that stuff.. and then a completely different table under that for the statistics… that should allow for a better fit horizontally.

  29. Bloomquist can only truly “help” if the team is good and full of regulars that get the job done. Since they are NOT full of legit regulars, Willie is useless because he’s inexplicably thrown into a more regular role, even if it’s just for stretches.

    Bloomquist should be treated the exact opposite of a typical rookie QB that was just drafted in the first round.

    They are the No. 2 guy behind the existing incumbent, and the future of the franchise, but there may be a 3rd string veteran that would get the LONG TERM PT if the team has a chance to do some damage.

    In most cases with baseball, the guy that should be getting the long-term playing time is Adam Jones, Felix Pie or Jacob Ellsbury or whoever the ML ready prospect happens to be..

    If there is an injury to an outfielder after June this year and Adam Jones isn’t up STARTING EVERY DAMN DAY, I’m going to write a billion words on how inept this organization is.

    A billion. That’s a lot.

  30. Lamda said

    Hey Jason – what’s your take on the Bazardo trade today?

  31. Lamda:

    Great pick-up for the Tigers. I don’t know much about the Class-A OF’er the M’s got back, but his offensive stats leave a lot to be desired.

  32. Sheryl M said

    I just wanted to send a note to say Thanks for the write-up on Austin Bibens-Dirkx – he’s my favorite 2006 draft pick.

    However, would like to say that in Midwest league during radio broadcasts – someone was clocking his FB at 89-93 pretty consistently.

    Thanks again!

    Sheryl

  33. Gookie said

    to me, willie is the stan javier minus the hitting. i would not mind seeing willie stay here for good either. we shouldnt base his hitting on everything becasue when or if we lose him, we will all miss him.

    i dont take his performance to be as bad as you all think. yes, he sucks at the plate, though, he sure can bunt well, and i also dont want to see him as a consistent regualr on hitting side. just… keep him for his glove and wheels and knowledge of the games pitchers.

    what ever happened to arquimedeez pozo? did he suck that much? i know it wasa long time ago, but was he ever any good? i was too young to remember.

  34. Slica said

    Who needs bunting when we have Jose Lopez?

    Bloomquist is a very good 25th man. We can call him a utility player all we want, but the fact is, we can upgrade the utility spot. I personally rather see Hunter Brown up here. Bloomquist is a very good pinch runner though. But as for everyone saying he sucks, we are basing it solely on his production in the amount of time he plays—which is too much. Im sure everyone will let him off the hook if he was used properly.

  35. Goose said

    Oh yeah. If you need somebody to come in, pinch run, and steal a key bag, there isn’t many people I would rather have than Willie Ballgame.

    But anything else, I can think of 100 better players.

  36. Walrus said

    Not to put words in Jason’s mouth, but to answer #30’s question…Bazardo was in Jason’s top 20 M’s prospects, and Frazier won’t be…ever.

  37. Uncle Al said

    Jason
    What can you tell us about this 18 YO Juan Carlos Ramirez and where would you rank him if you were to rank him in your top 30? Is there any reason to worry about the M’s just flushing Bazardo down the toilet for nothing? I don’t think the FO cares at all about the money they waste. They act like flushing out the farm system is just a cost of doing business and to hell with making any savings on their sunk costs. You’ve already ranked at least 10 players that probably won’t be on your list after the next 2 years. I’d bet that 3-4 players you rate from 11-20 won’t be around 2 years from now either. The problem is that there were just a lot of marginal players still left in the farm system. With a couple more good drafts and signings, the farm system will be loaded with talent for many years to come. We could see more of this dumping next year as they continue to flush out the system. Some of these prospects will make the M’s roster in the next two years but isn’t what’s going to be available to them in 3-6 years from now what’s really important? I’ve got to believe that this years draft is very important to them.

  38. C. Cheetah said

    Jason,
    In the other sports (Like basketball, football), the scouts/teams know at least 2 or 3 years before if a future draft class is going to be better or worse than the one around it. Is that true about baseball as well, or because of all the learning and development that has to take place after a player is drafted, the strength of the draft class is not known until 6 or so months before the draft?

  39. Lance said

    JAC:
    1) I think they wanted to primarily use WB off the bench last year, but Reed was such an offensive sinkhole and then got hurt (with Lawton not happy with his playing time), and Jones was obviously not ready that we saw WB there much more than what was desired by everyone. With Ichiro in CF, which is what should have happened all along, I doubt we’ll see WB there much, if at all, in 2007. If he occasionally gets a start in the INF to give someone a day off, I’m fine with that.

    2) A billion words? Just make sure they’re aligned to center. j/k

    3) I liken Frazier to T.J. Bohn. How far off would you say that comparison is? Even so, M’s really have no depth in the system for RF for the next couple of years, so this guy could come in handy if Guillen does a crash and burn. Wilson doesn’t go there and Balentien is covered with question marks.

  40. Nighthawk180 said

    The only thing I see wrong with that is the guy hasnt gotten past A yet and he’s 24 years old. He hit .228 there. But other than that I guess thats one more player to add to the depth chart like you said.

  41. Lance said

    I’m not saying he’s at Bohn’s level at this point. Just that he’s got that kind of skillset with a similar ceiling. That’s what triggered my question.

  42. …I’m going to write a billion words on how inept this organization is.

    A billion. That’s a lot.

    Well, it’d be easy to do. You could type “Howard Lincoln, Chuck Armstrong, Bill Bavasi, Mike Hargrove — NOT YOUrS!!!!” once, and copy/paste it 100,000,000 times, and that’d be sufficient. And still be right every time.

    Thanks for the write-up on Austin Bibens-Dirkx – he’s my favorite 2006 draft pick.

    Seconded (and thanks for the photo credit — I’ll be sure to hook you up more next year for sure). While there are other more spotlight guys (Butler, Tillman, Morrow, etc…), my favorite pick was Austin. The guy’s a useful reliever, and could be somewhat close to the majors right now. I enjoyed seeing him in his cameo at Tacoma. Certainly a guy with a sling-shot, whipping, sidewinder type motion should stick out in a crowd of potentially useful relief pitchers (of which, there are dozens and dozens in the minors). Watching him pitch is very, very entertaining. I absolutely love his motion.

    I tend to like the below-the-radar guys myself, and will continue to cheer for Austin, even if he’s starting to be on folks’ radar. I’d love to see him in Tacoma to start the year — but that’s only because I’m biased and love to see him pitch. I know the org is probably thinking Southern League at the highest.

    Very soon, I’m sure, the “Free George Sherrill” blog will likely become the “Free Austin” blog.

  43. re: 36

    Thanks, that’s exactly it.

    re: 39

    Lance,

    Sure, but only a dumb manager and GM would call up Adam Jones and bench him in favor of Willie. Willie CAN be valuable, but they don’t use him right. We all know this.

    Maybe a million or a thousand is better? And yeah, that center align is critical!

    I have never seen Frazier, but the word is he’s pissed any chance of a career away via lackadasical effort levels and is now an organizational guy. He has more natural skills than Bohn, but he’s not much of a player. There is a lot of doubt as to wether he ever makes it past AA.

  44. marc w. said

    JAC/Nighthawk –

    I’m not saying there’s a 1:1 equivalence here, but look at Justin Leone. He was 23 in the MWL and put together a fine season in a tough hitting environment – Justin was a .900 OPS guy for Wisconsin with plus patience and power.
    Frazier also had a decent season down there, once you remember that he was playing a tougher defensive position AND his home ballpark is MUCH tougher to hit in (.75 park factor for HRs) which sapped some of his slugging.

    The year after, both went to high A and struggled. Leone went to the Cal league and put up a .700 OPS, hitting just .233. Yes, he had better patience and better power, but once you normalized the huge gulf between Cal league and Florida State league it might get fairly close.

    Of course, the next year, Leone made The Leap at AA and become a very useful org guy. Frazier COULD do the same. A bad year in A ball isn’t the end of the world, though it does say his ceiling’s probably not as any sort of MLB regular. I’m just trying to show that he could be useful to the M’s system; he’ll probably never be important to the M’s themselves.

    As to what he’s doing in high A at 24, well, so was Leone, but more to the point: if he’d been in the M’s organization, he probably wouldn’t be. If you put up good numbers in the MWL for the M’s, you’ll move (as long as your name isn’t Casey Craig). The Tigers do things differently.

  45. Frazier wasn’t just bad, at 24 and in A ball… he was wretched. And his approach to the game doesn’t even come close.

    One thing you never heard, nor will ever hear about Leone is any sort of lack of effort.

  46. marc w. said

    True, but the point is that if he was in the M’s system, he probably wouldn’t have been there. You put up the line he put up in the MWL (in a tougher park than Wisconsin), and he’d be moving.
    Yes, it sounds like he’s got some attitude issues, and they will probably prevent him from ever making a big difference. I’m just saying that some guys with decent value for the *system* have also struggled at 24 in A ball. We shall see; might be a case where a change of scenery/coaches might help. The odds are still in favor of a BJ Garbe-style flame-out, but I just can’t ignore what he did at W. Michigan…

  47. Nighthawk180 said

    I know that you are comparing Leone to Frazier but where is leone right now? Up and down with the Padres last I heard and didnt make that much of a difference. I could be very wrong but Bazardo would have been at least a shot to prove himself in the bullpen whereas Frazier will be lucky to get a september call up any time soon.

  48. marc w. said

    As I said in the first post, I’m not saying Frazier has an MLB-future. I’m just saying Leone was valuable to the M’s as an org guy, and the M’s actually needed to use it once in the nightmare season of 2004. Guys like Leone/Hunter Brown/TJ Bohn are pretty useful for the system, even if they won’t show up on prospect lists (and they shouldn’t). That’s all – i’m not saying he’s an all-star.

    I’m also not going to defend the trade as an even exchange of talent; not at all. But the M’s needed a 40 man spot and they got one. For that, they had to accept less than equal value. I guess the M’s think that of all the guys fighting for the last 40 man spot/bullpen helper, that guys like Sean White, who’ve shown velo gains instead of velo losses, might be slightly more likely to pay dividends. You can quibble with that strategy, but the odds are that it doesn’t really matter much.

  49. jp17 said

    As soon as the next piece of M’s news is out, this transaction will be forgotten.

    It’s a nothing move. I doubt we’ll hear of either player ever again, unless specifically following them.

    Bazardo wasn’t going to get the call to the M’s bullpen before a number of guys on or off the 40 man.

    Basically Weaver is more useful to the M’s right now, and in the future other guys will need to be added with more upside than Bazardo.

  50. marc w. said

    Jp17,

    Remember that this site is called Prospect Insider; a lot of us actually will be following these guys. I mean, I take your point, and it’s certainly not wrong in the grand scheme of things, but you’ve got a group of self-selected readers here who are *really interested* in M’s minor league guys. So yeah, but no.

  51. jp17 said

    Prospect/Organizational Filler Insider might fit better with Frazier, but yeah, I get your point, I too will likely follow what he does, but my point is that his overall impact on the Mariners is about the same as Bazardo’s, or nil.

  52. Lance said

    I’m confident Bazardo will have some sembalance of a major league career. How much of a career is obviously problematical. However, I would hardly echo a similar sentiment for Frazier. That be as it may, let the chips fall where they will.

  53. jp17 said

    Being that relievers are the easiest position to replace, they are highly unpredictable, and the rate at which the M’s produce relievers; the roster spot plus filler becomes more valuable than Bazardo himself, IMO.

  54. Gookie said

    JAC,

    in all of baseball, who is seen as the next great GM ? would the mariners actually take that rish on an unproven guy to fill in as GM ?

    will dan evens get a shot if bavasi is canned?

  55. Gookie said

    * Risk not Rish my Bad

  56. Baseballistic said

    Gookie:

    This might be farther (way farther) down the road, but one guy that comes to mind is the Red Sox’s new pitching coach, John Farrell. He was very highly touted by the Indians when he left and heralded as “a guy who could make an elite GM someday” by Mark Shapiro — which is no small compliment given Shapiro’s success.

    But I’d love to hear Jason’s take, since the M’s are almost certainly (PLEASE GET BAVASI OUT) going to be looking next year.

  57. Dan Evans will be out with Bavasi, and will John Boles. Sadly, Bob Fontaine will be gone, too, though his draft picks haven’t panned out as even other GMs and Draft Directors thought they would have. Tui and Clement haven’t done much, and if Clement can’t catch, it’s a bad pick at #3.

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