An organization can learn a lot about a prospect’s development/progress from a sample size between 5-10 games at the end of the season:
- Mike Trout played 5 games at Cedar Rapids (A-Ball) to round out 2009; his draft season.
- Andrew McCutcheon played 13 games at Williamsport (Penn League) to round out 2005; his draft season.
- Felix Hernandez started 2 games with Wisconsin to round his 2003 campaign; his inaugural stateside season.
McCutcheon hit .346 in his 13 game stint with Williamsport and never did return to Low-A ball. Felix struck out 18 in two starts and recorded a 1.93 ERA and started the next season in High-A.
Here we go -
At one time I was thinking I would write Dario Pizzano’s section in all caps with bold text but he has since been promoted to Low-A Everett. **Golf Clap** towards Seattle’s management for this one.
Take a look at Pizzano and 6 others from the Mariners organization that could use a look at the next level.
Dario Pizzano – 15th Round (2012) – Columbia University – OF
Any time you have a 21-year-old hitting over .320 in a rookie ball setting you want to think about getting him promoted. Any time you have a 21-year-old hitting .356/.443/.508/.951 for the season you start thinking about skipping the next level the following year. This is what the Mariners saw as Pizzano received a call-up to Short Season Everett with 7 games remaining. Pizzano led the Appalachian League in hits at the time of his promotion and leads in average by .031 points
James Jones – 4th Round (2009) – Long Island University – OF
Since 2009 Jones has moved up just two levels within the organization after beginning his minor league journey at age 20 in Everett with the Aquasox. At 23 Jones is a .286 hitter over 4 seasons in the minor leagues but is currently topping any of his work done in the minor leagues prior to this year.
Born to lead-off: Since being placed in the lead-off spot July 4th Jones has raked the CAL league with a .361 (68-188) average hitting 14 2Bs, 8 3Bs, and 4 HRs while swiping 15 bases and posting a 24BB/32K ratio (.75 BB/K ratio).
From July 4 to August 11 Jones crossed the plate a total of 38 times; twice more than Mike Trout, with 36. Jones has scored a total of 105 runs in 118 games in 2012.
Jones could not stay in healthy in 2011 as a broken nose and other injuries ended his season in July shaping his return to High Desert in 2012. The Mariners organization lacks a dynamic lead-off hitter. If Jones can start being productive in the 1st half of a season he could find himself MLB bound in 2014.
2012 line: Jones is hitting .314 with a .901 OPS and a .387 BABIP. Jones is in double digits for 2Bs, 3Bs, and HRs with 24 stolen bases, 105 runs, and 74 RBIs.
Verdict: Spend the final 7 games of 2012 with AA-Jackson.
Carson Smith – 8th Round (2009) – Texas State University – CL
Carson Smith has the frame of a closer at 6’6″ 205 and a fastball that can reach 96 MPH. His secondary pitches were described as passable coming into the MLB Draft which is lower than many analysts had placed him on raw baseball talent.
Smith signed to late into the 2011 season and made 2012 his inaugural pro-ball season starting with High Desert in the CAL League.
Shutting it down: Since 6/15 Smith has posted 14 saves in 31.1 IP walking 10 and striking out 46. In this time Smith has allowed no HRs and only 29 base runners (0.93 base runners an inning).
2012 line: Smith has a 3.02 ERA complemented with a 2.83 FIP striking out 10.86 K/9. He is 5-1 on the season from the bullpen with 15 saves in 59.2 innings thrown.
Verdict: Spend the final 7 games of 2012 with AA-Jackson.
Brad Miller – 2nd Round (2011) – Clemson University – SS
Miller received a promotion to Jackson 33 games ago; making him a dark horse to receive another. His numbers have been so eerily similar on both levels that it’s like no jump was ever made.
Nick Franklin, widely regarded as the future SS of the Mariners, has struggled in Tacoma batting .237 over 57 games.
Something to prove: After hitting .337 in 97 games with High Desert many MLB pundits said Miller could not produce the same results outside the CAL League; he has more than proved those analysts wrong. Miller posted a .409 OBP with a .391 BABIP and an 11% walk ratio with the Mavericks.
Proving his worth: Through 33 games in AA Miller is hitting .322 with a .420 OBP posting a .371 BABIP and walking in 14.7% of his plate appearances.
2012 line: .335/.413/.505 hitting 14 HRs , 38 2Bs, 103 runs, and a .918 OPS. Miller has 178 hits in 130 games played for the season.
Verdict: Spend the final 8 games 0f 2012 with AAA-Tacoma.
DJ Mitchell – 10th Round (2008) (acquired via Trade) – Clemson University – SP
The Yankees thought highly enough of Mitchell that he saw some innings in the big leagues this season before being traded to the Mariners along with Danny Farquhar; who is also throwing in Tacoma.
Controlling the diamond better: Mitchell has thrown 7 starts with Tacoma totaling 42.2 innings (6.02 IP per outing) recording a 2.95 ERA. Mitchell’s strikeout numbers are down posting 5.48 K/9 with Seattle, the lowest in his minor league career, after recording 7.56 K/9 with New York in 2012. Mitchell’s BB/9 and HR/9 numbers are similar but it’s some of his other numbers that tell how good he has been.
Mitchell has a .242 BABIP against leaving 75.4% of runners on base since coming over from New York. In 15 appearances with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2012 Mitchell posted a .308 BABIP allowed and stranded just 65.3% of runners.
Dwight Bernard, Tacoma’s pitching coach, seems to have shown Mitchell how to control the diamond behind him better through pitch location and pitch selection. With the way Noesi and Ramirez have thrown in Tacoma for 2012 this kind of improvement should help Mitchell get a shot at the rotation.
Verdict: Mitchell is on the 40-man roster and we expect him to see the big leagues shortly after the roster expands on September 1st.
Dennis Raben – 2nd Round (2008) – Miami University – OF
Raben is 24-years-old and serving his third season with High Desert in High-A ball. You might look at that and simply move on to the next prospect but his consecutive seasons in High-A ball are no indicator of this kid’s talent.
Raben missed all of 2009 to injuries after a promising .274/.411/.560 performance with Everett post-draft in 2008.
Gotta stay healthy: Raben missed part of 2010, 2011, and 2012 to injuries but has posted a .298/.379/.555 line with a .934 OPS over 4 seasons in the Seattle Mariners minor league system.
It is agreed that when Raben is healthy he is a promising young slugger.
“He battled some injuries and he’s getting over them now and (a power hitter) is who he is,” Mavericks manager Pedro Grifol said.
Raben has slugged 53 HRs and 195 RBIs over 243 career games played. Split those numbers up and in a 162-game full season Raben averages 34 HRs and 130 RBIs a season.
Though his 2012 numbers have dipped it is agreed upon that Raben is healthier than he has been in recent years and has posted a .303 (24-79) August average with 5 HRs.
2012 line: .274/.370/.474 with an .844 OPS and 40 RBIs in 58 games played. Note that Raben has posted his highest BB/K ratio in 2012; nearly twice as high as 2010.
Verdict: Almonte and Dunigan are not the future of the Seattle Mariners; spend the final 7 games of the season with AA-Jackson.
Robert Shore – 41st Round (2011) – Oklahoma University – SP
There has been a lot of talk about Tyler Pike, Victor Sanchez, and The Big Three (Hultzen, Walker, Paxton) this season but the most overlooked prospect in the Mariners system is Bobby Shore.
Shore tossed one relief appearance for Everett in 2012 before getting the call-up to Clinton. Shore has split 16 appearances with Clinton coming out of the bullpen 8 times and getting 8 starts.
ON-FIRE: In 8 starts with Clinton Shore is 3-1 with a 1.30 ERA. In those starts Shore has not allowed a HR and has given up 2 or less ERs in each outing while recording 6 straight quality starts. Between 2 starts on 8/05 and 8/10 Shore tossed 13 shutout innings with 20 Ks and 0 BBs.
Shore has recorded a strikeout ratio of 25.6% allowing a .196 batting average and a sub 1.000 WHIP since joining Clinton.
2012 line: 4-3 with a 1.81 ERA. Striking out 64 and walking 17 in 64.2 innings. 8.9 K/9 ratio and a 0.974 WHIP.
Verdict: Spend the final 8 games of the season with High Desert.
It’s tempting to send guys like Pike and Sanchez up a level but ultimately with their age it’s best to get them used to the movements and pace of minor league baseball before promoting them late season or fast-tracking them.
On a final closing note; I do not want to see Zunino (.406/.472/.813 over 9 games with Jackson) in Seattle this season. I am happy to see him mashing with the best of them in the Southern League but the kid is going to require some PCL time before making a full-time jump to Seattle; he can have plenty of that in 2013.