- C – Tyler Marlette – 23 yo
- 3.24/.772 combined – PAG/APPA – (HiA Bakersfield – 3.42/.793; Double-A Jackson – 2.27/.630)
- 2016 stats combined: .277/.335/.463; .798 OPS; 23 doubles, 15 home runs; 6 stolen bases
Peering over the Seattle Mariners catching landscape, it really wasn’t much of a race as to who this year’s UTR OAS choice would be. The organizational catching vector houses prospects like 26-year-old Steve Baron, who posted a less-than-median 2.64/.658 PAG/APPA in 67 games for Double-A Jackson. Twenty-three year old Arturo Nieto had a season to forget hitting .228 with only 12 extra base hits and 78 strikeouts in 80 games with LoA Clinton. This “leaves” (using the term loosely) Marlette at the top of the minor league catching mountain for 2016. Marlette The 5’11” – 195 lb. righty made steady progress in his first four years beginning in 2011 with a 12-game 1.25/.333 PAG/APPA with Rookie Pulaski until his 2014 combined PAG/APPA of 3.56/.853 with HiA High Desert and AA Jackson. The former Paul J. Hagerty HS draftee saw a huge dip in production last season however, with new HiA affiliate Bakersfield and AA Jackson. He logged a 2.38/.606 in 89 combined games. I believe now that Marlette has settled in and what you see is what you get offensively. Thirty-six percent of his hits will go for extra-bases, he possesses a career .276 batting average and he throws out 36% of would-be base stealers. I’ll take that every day of the week from behind the plate. Yet, I believe Marlette needs to do a little more to cement himself as the catcher of the future at Safeco Field.
- 1B – Kristian Brito – 21 yo
- 3.67/.841 – PAG/APPA – (Short Season Everett)
- 2016 stats combined: .298/.360/.483; .843 OPS; 12 doubles, 7 home runs
Since he was drafted in the 2nd round by the Cubs back in 2011, Dan Vogelbach was always looked upon as the quintessential American Leaguer. Huge bat, but limited defensively (despite the fact he carried a career .991 fielding percentage at first base.) With All-Star, and now World Series champion, Anthony Rizzo entrenched at first, Vogelbach got what most knew was coming in a trade to the American League. Seattle’s addition of the 6’0″ – 250 lb. hitting machine made for a nice problem, as the Mariners already house former first round pick D.J. Peterson. So, with Peterson poised to eventually take over at first and Vogelbach as DH, with first base duties possible as well, the Mariners have time to allow their 1B prospects take shape in the minors. Based on 2016, there’s plenty of fat to chew on too led by 2012 – 11th rounder Kristian Brito. Despite playing only 46 games, the humongous 6’5″ – 240 pounder Puerto Rico native logged the most statistically productive season, not only among low level first baseman, but in his young career. For the AquaSox he rapped an extra-base hit in 36 percent of his at-bats, led the team in home runs and RBi’s (46) and ranked third in total bases with 86. There are other first baseman like Justin Seager and Dalton Kelly I like, but I think Brito, along with 18-year-old Dominican Dalton Contreras have the game to lead the next wave of Seattle first basemen.
- 2B – Greifer Andrade – 19 yo
- 2.90/.879 – PAG/APPA – (AZL – 3.27/.924; Short Season Everett – 0.50/.250)
- 2016 stats combined: .318/.384/.511; .895 OPS;
Upon signing with the in 2013 out of Mariners, many in the organization felt that the young Venezuelan’s skills on the defensive side of the ball could translate to just about anywhere on the diamond. Yet, Andrade was also lauded for his bat. He possesses great hand-eye coordination, plus bat speed and is a line-drive hitter with gap power. And he’s shown that at every level he’s played in. This season, the 6’0″ – 170 pounder played only 30 games across two levels and didn’t necessarily light up the scoreboard, but Andrade’s overall skill set is screaming breakout. I expect Andrade to spend all season with Short Season Everett, but I could be wrong. Seattle is not afraid to push their position prospects so an aggressive move to LoA Clinton could be in the cards just to see what Andrade can do if boldly challenged.
- 3B – Nick Zammarelli – 21 yo
- 3.60/.824 – PAG/APPA – (Short Season Everett)
- 2016 stats: .329/.391/.467; .858 OPS; 18 doubles, 5 home runs
I love to research scouting reports. That’s no news to those who follow our website. It’s essential if you want to spread the word about prospects. However, what I love to read more are scouting reports that are a bit crooked from actual production. Nick Zammarelli was drafted in the 8th round out of Elon University (NC) and was assigned to Short Season Everett. He came to the organization with no real standout tool: His bat was raw, slower through the strike zone than it should be, raw power, slow on the base paths and average defense at best. Yet, the 6’1″ – 195 lb. lefty finished the season ranked second in the Northwest League in hits (84), batting, ranked fifth in doubles and RBi’s and ranked second in total bases (119). Defensively he committed seven errors at third, but also played both infield and outfield corners. But the bat. What’s with the bat after a scouting report like that?? His debut well overplayed his scouting report and that’s real exciting to see from the UTR standpoint, as it’s our job to talk about the little guys, the “notspects” who regularly get overlooked because of age and/or draft status. I’m not proclaiming Zammarelli is the second coming of Ted Williams. I’m not proclaiming he’s better than 18-year-old top third base prospect Joe Rizzo. But if Zammarelli continues to push out this kind of production next to Rizzo, it will be interesting to see the future tale-of-the-tapes, especially when it’s not “supposed to be” this close.
- SS – Carlos Vargas – 21 yo
- 3.13/.758 – PAG/APPA – (Dominican Summer League)
- 2016 stats: .242/.344/.391; .734 OPS; 11 doubles, 7 home runs; 32:35 BB:K ratio.
Seattle’s top shortstop prospect Drew Jackson deserves all the praise he’s gotten to this point. The 2015 – 5th rounder out of Stanford isn’t flashy. He’ll hit for average, has speed (16 stolen bases), and displays gap-to-gap, yet sneaky power. The 30 errors is a concern though, but his supreme arm strength is a huge carrying tool. So, all the attention toward Jackson helps kick open the UTR door to Carlos Vargas. The 2015 international signee out of the Dominican Republic was lauded for his projectable body, bat speed, and there’s a belief that he will hit for power in the future. At 6’3″ – 170 pounds already, his size and premiere athleticism is enough for him to stay at shortstop as he matures, but this size could also spell a shift third base. In PAG/APPA terms, Vargas didn’t log THE best season among all shortstops HiA and below. As it is common with a teenager, he has a lot of work to do. Scouts say along with his defense, his swing, albeit productive, has a lot of moving parts and needs polishing. Scouts feel he’s athletic enough to stay at short, but a shift over to third base or an outfield corner is inevitable. The reason I chose Vargas as my OAS was I took a step back from just PAG/APPA and saw the possible sum of all the parts. The combination of his age, debut production. projection and PAG/APPA score tells me that Vargas could be a monster in the making.
- LF – Jay Baum – 23 yo
- 3.14/.691 – PAG/APPA – (HiA Bakersfield)
- 2016 stats: .252/.328/.368; .696 OPS; 28 doubles, 9 home runs; 14 stolen bases.
If you want to peek and see an exciting future, look no further than the Mariners outfield prospect lineup. Nearly 40% of the current Mariners top 25 include outfielders. There are a ton of center fielder/right fielder types inside the system. This leaves a crack in the UTR door for 2014 – 21st rounder pick Jay Baum to sneak onto this years list. In a repeat of the Cal League, the former Clemson Tiger ranked second among all HiA prospects and below in doubles next to aforementioned Dalton Kelly‘s 30. When running my numbers, the rub on Baum is this: He has great skills with the bat and his position diversity is unlike any other prospect in the system, but seeing the tremendous strength the outfield position has within the organization, he’s simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. However, name an organization that couldn’t use a kid like him. Look how Sean Rodriguez helped the Pittsburgh Pirates last season. Baum is that plug and play prospect. Some have even made Michael Cuddyer comparisons when talking about Baum’s bat and all the skillful gloves he brings to the park every day. I don’t foresee Baum leap frogging any top prospect in the system. But if everything goes right, I do envision Baum carving out a nice super-utility role.
- CF – Kyle Lewis – 20 yo
- 4.43/.985 – PAG/APPA – (Short Season Everett)
- 2016 stats: .299/.385/.530; .915 OPS; 8 doubles, 3 home runs, 5 triples; 3 stolen bases.
Let’s get this out of the way and quickly. Any and every Seattle Mariners top prospect conversation should begin and end with 2016 – 1st rounder Kyle Lewis. And it’s scary to think about the additional damage he could have laid upon Northwest League pitching had he not torn his ACL, medial and lateral meniscus in his right knee in a home plate collision a mere 30 games into his pro career. Lewis can do it all. He has big time power, supreme plate discipline and the speed to change games. It will be interesting to see where the Mariners place Lewis to begin 2017. Do they keep him in Short Season Everett so he can get his feet wet again, or do they challenge him with an assignment to LoA Clinton of the Midwest League, known as a pitcher’s haven? Either way, Lewis will wow scouts, fans and writers alike. If you’re in a fantasy league and have a rookie draft on the horizon, take Lewis and feel confident that you have a kid with future impact potential.
- RF – Eric Filia – 23 yo
- 3.80/.891 – PAG/APPA – (Short Season Everett)
- 2016 stats: .360/.451/.494; .944 OPS; 19 doubles, 4 home runs, 10 stolen bases; 40:19 – BB:K
When Jim and I came up with our own metrics – TPS and PAG/APPA – our goal was to create a system that would help us find the most “under-the-radar” prospects we could find and give them the attention that their production proved they deserved. And in the 9 years we’ve been reporting, the creation of these metrics has allowed us to stumble upon some incredibly amazing stories as well. 2016 – 20th rounder out of UCLA Eric Filia presents one of the most fascinating stories I’ve come across in all my years of UTR tracking. When I do player research I usually I try to paraphrase a kids career ascent to the UTR OAS list, but this time, I simply can’t. I’m gladly stepping aside and ask that you click on this link. It’s an amazing story from February 2016 by “Daily Bruin” senior staff writer Matt Cummings (You can follow him on Twitter @mbcummings15). Now I know Filia will fall off the UTR radar this coming season due to UTR age criteria, but this is a player I plan to follow very closely. And I think you should to. Not only because he’s a gifted baseball player. But a player that the Mariners boldly took a chance on. Filia was given a second chance in life, and that’s something (whether you’re a baseball fan or not) we all can relate to.