Have you ever thought about the confusion that most come with farmers who follow minor league baseball closely. They might ask, “What’s going on down on the farm today?” How does the farmers confused son answer? It could be, “The cows are milked, the chickens are laying eggs, and the sheep dog is having a good time.” He could also say, “James Paxton looked awfully good in his debut and Nick Franklin has started the season on fire.” Both answers are correct, assuming the farmer has kept his farm in good health, but the father’s probably only looking for one answer. Man, that would get confusing. Of course you haven’t thought about that. No one has because that’s stupid. Well, maybe the select farmers who follow baseball make a good wise crack about it sometimes.
The Mariners farm has been making a good amount of noise in the last year. How’s that for a transition? Say what you want to about Jack Z, but he has truly brought the farm system to one of the highest levels it’s ever been at in organizational history. Yes, that doesn’t mean definite success but that’s one of the reasons why Matthew, me and many others are big fans of his.
The minor league teams opened the season Thursday and I thought I’d give you a quick rundown of players you might be interested and where they’re at. I’ll just go team-by-team through the system with the players I find the most interesting. I will skip over some players because, either, I don’t find them interesting or I just simply miss them on accident. Leave any player questions in the comments and I’ll get to them. Also, Jay Yencich from USS Mariner has written a preview for each team that will be much more detailed than my rundown so I’ll link it by the team name for all those hardcore fans like the farmer in the first paragraph (ha! You thought I couldn’t tie that back in).
Tacoma Rainiers (AAA) USSM Preview
Triple-A teams often don’t have top prospects in them, at least for long. It’s thought that AAA teams store all the depth for the big-league club and that includes many AAAA players (what I mean by that is players who have mastered triple-A but can’t quite cut it in the majors for the long haul). No offense, Mike Wilson. That holds mostly true this year. The Mariners double-A team may have more talent on it, but Tacoma still has some very interesting names. Here are the names that intrigue me the most in Tacoma.
Players to watch:
Maurico Robles and Forrest Snow (SP) – Tacoma’s starting rotation leaves a bit to be desired but these are the two most interesting prospects here. Robles is a lefty who has a low-90’s fastball. If he’s going to make the majors, it’ll be as a reliever. I’m not sure why he isn’t in the bullpen already. He struggles with control. Forrest Snow is a UW alum and stands a bit more of a chance to get into the M’s rotation at some point. He’s basically skipping the double-A level. He doesn’t have the best stuff (good change-up but everything else is about average) but could be a decent back of the rotation starter. Anthony Vasquez is in Tacoma too but he should never start a game for the M’s again. Please.
Charlie Furbush – You know about him. He’s a lefty and was with the Mariners most of the 2nd half last year. He is in the bullpen but he could make a spot start here and there. He has decent stuff and sometimes it’s even pretty good. If he keeps the home runs down he’ll find his way up soon.
Chance Ruffin – Tacoma’s strength is their bullpen. Ruffin is a righty with a mid-90’s fastball and good slider. He was with the M’s at the end of last year and will be again, I imagine.
Shawn Kelley – Another good righty in the bullpen. He lost a little velocity from Tommy John surgery and maybe they sent him down to try to get it back? I don’t know, but he’s probably better than some of the guys in the Seattle bullpen.
Cesar Jimenez -Cesar is a lefty specialist and there’s usually a place on big-league clubs for players like this eventually. He has gotten a little worse with his control and overall numbers the last couple of years. Still, he’s worth keeping an eye on. All four of these guys aren’t far from making the Mariners and I bet some of them will be up before the end of the month even.
Vinnie Catricala (3B) – Position players! Vinnie is probably the best, actual prospect on Tacoma. He can hit really well. Vinnie made a push for the 3rd base job in the spring but lost out. That’s probably good since he’s hardly played in AA, and has not played at all in AAA. He has improved his strikeout numbers last year and hopefully will do so again this year. He needs to improve his defense too. The guy can hit and will find a place on the M’s soon if he can find a true position.
Carlos Triunfel (2B, SS) – Triunfel will probably play shortstop for Tacoma most of the time. He used to be the prized prospect in the system but a broken leg kind of unhinged him and he hasn’t really regained his top status since. His hitting numbers went down and his defense at shortstop is questionable. He’s still pretty young and had a large improvement last year so maybe there’s still hope for him.
Carlos Peguero (LF) – Maybe I shouldn’t put him in here because if you follow what I write you know that I’m not a fan of his at all. He swings and misses way too much, sucks at defense, and has no plate discipline. That being said, he hits the ball a country mile and has started off the year on fire.
Trayvon Robinson (CF) – Trayvon strikes out too much but he hits for some power and has a good amount of speed (although his stolen bases have gone down a lot for some reason). If he could up his contact rate, he’d be a really interesting player that would be fighting to the top of the centerfield pile. Lets hope for some development.
That’s it for Tacoma, and I’m already over 1000 words. Check out the most talented team in the minors after the jump! I’m not kidding, extremely talented!