I had some time this weekend to return to my former project of reviewing the various AL West farm systems with a simple performance / age scoring metric. In previous posts, I used the system to show how scary good Texas could be in a couple of years, and suggested that Oakland might be overrated. This week, I take a look at the Mariners.
After the Halos' held up so well against more highly touted Oakland, I expected Seattle to lag behind. I was wrong: Seattle's top 30 prospect performances outscored the Halos' top performances by 3%, and Oakland's by over 2%. I knew about on-the-cusp studs Jeff Clement, Wladimir Balentien and Brandon Morrow, and phenom Carlos Triunfel, but there is a lot more to like about the Mariners' system. They have good, high ceiling young arms down in the lower minors, and a mix of solid position prospects, especially outfielders, working their way up the system. Here's the list of the combined ten top performers:
Angels - Will Smith, sp, 19. Rk k/inning: 1.04 k/bb:12.67 go/ao: 1.30
Mariners - Nolan Diaz, sp, 17.5. VSL k/inning: .66 k/bb: 9.75 go/ao: 1.78
Angels - Sean Rodriguez, U, 23. AAA. OPS: 1.042
Mariners - Carlos Triunfel, ss/3b, 18.5. A+. OPS: .742
Mariners - Cesar Jiminez, rp, 24. AAA k/inning: 1.24 k/bb: 5.88 go/ao: 1.28
Angels - Brandon Wood, ss/3b, 23. AAA. OPS: .971
Mariners - Matt Tulasosopo, 3b, 22. AAA OPS: 0.817
Mariners - Greg Halman, cf, 21. AA OPS: .854
Angels - Baudilio Lopez, sp, 17.5. Dom k/inning: 1.24 k/bb: 4.65 go/ao: 1.45
Angels - Jordan Walden, sp, 20. A+ k/inning: 0.90 k/bb: 2.52 go/ao: 2.11
Other noteworthy Mariners' performances came from AAA second baseman Luis Valbuena, rookie league pitcher Jose Rios, and Venezuelan Summer League Erasmo Ramirez.
Five of the top ten, and sixteen of the top thirty prospects in the combined Halos/Mariners list are Mariners. While the Mariners' scores were helped by their FO's tendency to place better prospects against older competition - as a group, their cumulative years under league average totaled 30% more than their Halos counterparts - it's clear that they've got some legitimate talent emerging. It's unlikely that a critical mass of their best guys will be in place by 2010, due both to dumb FA contracts blocking younger talent and the fact that some of the best players are years away, but I would not be surprised to see the Mariners become dangerous again around 2011 or so, as long as Bavasi's legacy doesn't continue to inflict too much of a handicap on the club.
Some notes about the system: due to the Halos' signing of Bobby Abreu and Wood's consequent loss of MLB at-bats, I put the latter back into the system. Also, I'm going to create a combined list of the AL West's top performances later in the week, though I'm changing the scoring metric somewhat to use league OPS+ instead of a straight OPS measure. That could change rankings slightly.