After looking at the interesting and fairly loaded catcher position yesterday, we move to the grassless pastures of first base. Once past the big league roster, which is bare enough, most of the future first basemen in the organization are likely to be moved from other positions. Most of the current first basemen in the minors are not really prospects for one reason or another.
It’s too much to say the position begins and ends with Justin Smoak, but he is still the primary hope for 1B production. We could write posts for days about Smoak. I’m a big supporter, or have been in the past, but time is clearly running out. There are plenty of big time prospects that take a long time to find themselves in the majors, so there’s still hope. The question is how long the Mariners can wait for him to become that player. Given the current state of the team and the lack of better options, they can keep waiting for a while, but Smoak needs to show some consistency before this season ends. Continue reading
The Mariners have 4 games left in one of the most dismal seasons in history, and no one is sad to see it go. I haven’t watched more than an a couple innings of a game in weeks. The outlook for 2011 isn’t much better, to be honest. Barring an unexpected and significant payroll increase, there’s not much room in the budget for big-ticket additions. Even if there were, it’s not a great free agent class.
Still, the Mariners need to, and will, make serious changes to the roster. Some of this will just be with playing their younger players more, but there will certainly be some moves and fresh faces as well. In an effort to get ready for the offseason, I’m going to walk through each position and see what the Mariners have, for both 2011 and the future, and what they’ll be losing. I’m not going to touch on who they might add yet. That will come later in the offseason, if at all. Frankly, there are very few people sufficiently smart and well-connected to project those kind of moves more than a few days out. Consider this series of posts something of a triage: which positions are in the worst shape going into next year, and which might be okay. It’d be too depressing to start with catcher, so we’ll look at the first basemen after the jump! Continue reading
High Desert Mavericks (California League)
We’ve arrived in Adelanto, CA, home to absurd amounts of home runs, terrified pitchers, and the High Desert Mavericks. HD is in the High-A California League, which essentially means it’s the third highest level in the Mariners system, ranking ahead of full season Clinton and short-season Everett and Pulaski. It’s a common landing spot for advanced college draftees and the first spot where you start to see prospects really get a lot of attention, unless they were big name signings or draftees. As I mentioned in the West Tennessee post, it’s also a hard place to guage prospects. Due to some small parks and thin air, the Cal league and High Desert in particular is maybe the best place to hit in all of professional baseball. Every year brings some gaudy numbers, which means that hitters are examined very closely and don’t really get the benefit of the doubt until they’ve shown more at a higher level. Pitchers are kind of given a break if they put up bad results. Just looking at stats, a casual fan often overrates a hitter’s year. Conversely, I think some hitters get underrated by prospect watchers, but that’s easily remedied by playing well once they reach West Tennessee.
After a fairly loaded roster in 2009, 2010’s is a little weaker. Due to that factor and just that these are younger guys or players who haven’t been in the system long, my knowledge is much more limited (and that will only increase further down the system). There are some definite prospects though, so let’s see what we’ve got.
Anthony Vasquez- LHP Vasquez was called up to West Tennessee shortly after I wrote their post. He’s a smallish starter having a very solid year. Sounds like he has decent stuff, but his upside is probably Jason Vargas-ish, solid contributor but not a consistent high-level guy. Here’s a good ProballNW write-up with a lot more info.
The Big Boppers
Rich Poythress- 1B A 2009 second rounder, Poythress was regarded as maybe the best college power bat in the draft. A big right handed hitter, he’s having a solid year with an OPS currently at .918, but again it’s High Desert and his strikeouts are a little high. There’s good hope here, but he hasn’t quite set the world on fire. Continue reading