It’s the time of year when the organizational prospect rankings start to appear, and Baseball Prospectus just released its Top 10 for the Mariners’ system.
There are no real surprises, but the rankings underscore the organization’s dearth of talent at the upper levels. (Baseball Prospectus is a pay site, and an excellent one, but for now anyway, the post can be read for free.)
Outfielder Alex Jackson, the sixth overall pick in the 2014 draft, ascendd to the recognition as the organization’s top prospect despite a disappointing first full pro season.
"An advanced offensive skill set was one of the reasons Jackson was considered the best prep hitter in the country in 2014," Prospectus observed. Funny what hitting .157 in the Midwest League will do to perception.
"Yes, Jackson stunk worse than the dog food factory in Clinton, but there’s still room for optimism."
While harsh, it’s a fair comment, and it points to the work that general manager Jerry Dipoto and farm director Andy McKay have in front of them.
The rest of the Prospectus Top 10: RHP Edwin Diaz, LHP Luiz Gohara, 1B/3B D.J. Peterson, LHP Ryan Yarbrough, OF Luis Liberato, SS Drew Jackson, OF Boog Powell, OF Tyler O’Neill and RHP Nick Neidert.
Among the top six, only Diaz is coming off a season that can’t be characterized as disappointing. Peterson ranked No. 1 a year ago in the Prospectus rankings.
"After a fantastic 2014 season," Prospectus writer Christopher Crawford said, "Peterson struggled mightily in 2015, and several sources I spoke with believed he didn’t belong in the system’s top 10, much less the top five."
The Prospectus post has evaluations and projections on all 10 players in its ranking. It’s definitely worth a read. The annual TNT Top 10 list of the organization’s prospects will be published in February.
In addition to its Top 10, Prospectus also identifies five players "who are just interesting." That list: OF Austin Wilson, LHP Nick Wells, OF Brayan Hernandez, OF Ian Miller and RHP Dan Altavilla.
Dipoto has already overhauled the club’s big-league roster. Revamping a moribund farm system figures to be a much longer-term project.
And he knows it.
"What you want," Dipoto said, "is to have the biggest and most diverse collection of 26-and-under players that you can choose from. In an ideal word, they have options and flexible and can all play multiple positions.
"I was a little disheartened at the overall strikeout rate in the minor leagues. You’ve got a lot of guys striking out a lot.
"Very talented players with a lot of upside to tap into, but it’s only going to happen if we can somehow develop more contact. That’s going to be step No. 1 from a development aspect."
There’s a long way to go.