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Prospects Under The Radar

Thankfully, the Mariners have finally had some young guys worth following and getting excited about. Even more exciting, many of those guys are in AAA now, meaning they are just a short drive away in Tacoma, and also that they are very close to the majors.

The other exciting thing is that the Mariners finally have enough promising guys to allow some to get lost in the mix a little. The following are a handful of Mariners prospects that haven't caught many headlines, but are worth some attention:

  • Nate Tenbrink, OF, West Tennessee (AA) - Tenbrink pretty much forced a call up to AA by tearing the cover off the ball in High Desert. While he has slowed down with the promotion, the numbers are still respectable. Nate's stolen base numbers have been good throughout the minors, and he combines that with marginal power. Tenbrink will play in the Arizona Fall League, so the M's seem interested in accelerating his development. I see him as a fourth outfielder, but he has risen through the system rather quickly, and Safeco is friendly (or at least not unfriendly) to left-handed hitters with speed and gap power.
  • LHP Anthony Vasquez, LHP, West Tennessee (AA) - The M's 18th round selection just a year ago, Vasquez isn't overpowering, but he is already holding his own in AA at the end of his first full pro season. He has crafty lefthander written all over him, and he probably isn't much more than organizational depth, but that makes him a nice find with where he was taken in the draft, particularly with how quickly he has progressed through the system.
  • Johermyn Chavez, OF, High Desert (A+) - Chavez was the "other guy" in the Brandon Morrow trade, and his first year as Mariners property has been an impressive one. To date, Johermyn sports a .313 batting average with 30 home runs. The homers are enough to pace everyone in the Mariners organization - spanning all levels of the minors, and the majors too. While Chavez plays in a very hitter-friendly league, he flashed power in the pitching-friendly Midwest League last year too.  He is still a few years away, but he may make the Morrow deal look fair after all.
  • Brian Moran, LHP, High Desert (A+) - To be honest, I am not sure why Moran has not been pushed through the system quicker. He started the year off in Clinton, where he was dominant, and he hasn't slowed down much in the friendly hitting confines of High Desert. How is this for a line from a reliever for a season: 63.2 IP, 56 H, 8 BB, 74 K, and no home runs allowed. That'll do, especially from a left-hander. Moran is vindicating the lofty ranking I gave him on my 2009 college prospects list. I remain confident that he will be a good MLB reliever.
  • James Jones, OF, Clinton (A) - Jones turned some heads in Everett last year, but got off to a horrible start in Clinton this year. However, he has steadily picked up his production, and now own a solid batting line. The speed is apparent from good base-stealing numbers, as well as the rather high triple rate. Jones strikes out more than you would like to see, but he is 6'4", so that's not too shocking. The good news is that he already has a solid eye. Will he stay lanky like Michael Saunders, or become more powerful? Either way, Jones is flying under the radar right now. He has a chance to develop into a solid outfielder.
  • Erasmo Ramirez, RHP, Clinton (A) - Erasmo, as a short right-hander that doesn't throw all that hard, is built to be an underrated prospect. However, at 19 years old, he manhandled the Venezuelan summer league last year, issuing a measly 5 walks in 88 innings pitched. In his first taste of stateside pro ball, he has kept a striking low walk rate, issuing only 16 in 134 innings pitched thus far. Command is certainly Erasmo's calling card, which at lower levels keeps his strikeout rates healthy. Those are likely to shrink as he progresses through the system, but at only 20 years old right now, what's stopping his pure stuff from improving? A knack for throwing quality strikes tends to be underrated anyway, and that's exactly what Erasmo does to succeed. His ceiling might be as a dependable fourth starter, but sometimes talent evaluators forget how valuable that is.
A healthy farm system is about more than churning out impact players. Every roster in baseball is dotted with solid role players, and they have to be developed somewhere. It looks like the Mariners are finally developing a healthy batch of their own depth-fillers for the first time in too long.