By Shannon Drayer
Baseball America has come out with their Top 10 Prospects lists for every team in the MLB and the Mariners' list is interesting. How so you may ask? Well, take a look.
1. Mike Zunino, C
2. Taijuan Walker, RHP
3. Danny Hultzen, LHP
4. James Paxton, LHP
5. Nick Franklin, SS/2B
6. Brandon Maurer, RHP
7. Carter Capps, RHP
8. Stefen Romero, 2B
9. Brad Miller, SS
10. Victor Sanchez, RHP
I am going to guess that the majority of you are familiar with at least eight or nine of the top 10. I don't know how much of this is because we have shifted our focus to the future knowing that Jack Zduriencik and crew had a reputation for good drafts or if it is because of the caliber of these players.
I am not saying that all of these guys are going to make it but you have got to be optimistic about the vast majority of them. This is a shift from years past. We won't talk about the few prospects the Mariners had that were traded away by Bill Bavasi. That is history everyone is well aware of. At some point you have to move beyond your mistakes and the front office staff has helped by rebuilding the farm system.
Since this is a top 10 list, BA obviously had to come up with 10 players. Sometimes this is easier said than done. Some years there are questionable names or no-names on the list because the talent is questionable or non-existent. This doesn't look like that at all. I don't see filler here.
What I do see is legitimate replenishment going on when I compare the 2012 list to the 2013 list. The 2012 number one, Jesus Montero, is in the big leagues and replaced by another catcher, Mike Zunino. Two through seven are the same with Walker, Hultzen, Paxton and Franklin behind Zunino. Two players from the Doug Fister trade, Francisco Martinez and Chance Ruffin, were six and seven in 2012 but knocked off the list by Maurer and Capps. Tom Wilhelmsen, Vinnie Catricala and Phillips Castillo rounded out the top 10 in 2012. Romero, Miller and Sanchez take their places in 2013.
Two players come off the 2012 list because they are everyday players on the big league team. It would not be unreasonable to say that we could see any of the top eight on the 2013 list in the big leagues. A stretch for some but not out of the question. This is a far cry from lists past.
There is something missing, however. Outfielders. Not one on the list. It is a clear area of need throughout the organization. Perhaps someone on the list will be used to bring one in. Or a first baseman/DH.
And on that note ...
As I wrote this morning, get ready to hear the Mariners names attached to everyone who can swing a bat. Various reports today have had the Mariners linked to Adam LaRoche, Michael Bourn, Mike Morse, Delmon Young, Ryan Ludwick and of course Billy Butler.
Coming off the market (although I believe all of these are agreements and not finalized contracts) are Mike Napoli, Angel Pagan, Joakim Soria, Jason Marquis and James Loney.
One last note, please check this out if you have a chance.
Public-relations representatives from all 30 teams have announced a jointly organized auction to benefit Stand Up To Cancer. The auction, which features baseball-related experiences, closes at 8:59 p.m. Thursday.
Greg Johns of Mariners.com has all of the details here.