Top 11: Down on the Farm

Another Top 11 coming right up! This time a look at the young guns in the Mariners farm system. The major league team might not be very impressive, but Jackie Z and co. have been hard at work stocking the shelves of the minor league affiliates with top talent through the draft and trades. Here’s the best of what the Mariners farm system has to offer.

11. Phillips Castillo (OF, Rookie)

This 18 year old prospect, who was signed by the Mariners out of the Dominican in 2010, shows great promise a few years down the road. He began by hitting a solid .300 and a .848 OPS in the Arizona League last season at the Rookie level. Castillo possesses the potential to develop some power in his bat, but will also hit for average. Again, keep in mind that he is still at least three years away, but ESPN Insider Keith Law did coin him as the Mariners’ minor league “sleeper,” which is promising. He probably has one of the highest ceilings offensively in the Mariners system, but we all know that anything can happen in the minors.

10. Brandon Maurer (SP, AA)

Selected by the Mariners in the 23rd round of the ’08 draft, Maurer is your prototypical starting pitcher coming in at 6’5″ and 200 lbs. This is now year five for the 21 year old righty and he seems to be making steady progress. He has been injury prone in the past, having dealt with elbow troubles, but he seems to be doing quite well so far this season with the Double-A Jackson Generals of the Southern League. He currently boasts a 5-1 record and 3.82 ERA, but has been extra impressive in June, compiling a record of 3-0 and a 2.73 ERA. Look for him to continue to improve if he can stay healthy.

9. Brad Miller (SS, High-A)

Selected in the second round of the 2011 draft, Miller has torn up the minors since then. He batted .415 for the Clinton Lumberjacks in the Single-A California League, and has set another hot pace this season by batting .322 with a .934 OPS for the Advanced-A High Desert Mavericks. This should come as no surprise though, as Miller was the ACC player of the year in 2011 for Clemson and is a two-time USA national team member. He has been described as a “hard-nosed” player who can either stick at shortstop, or develop into a utility man down the road.

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Seattle Mariners Season Preview

College basketball is coming to a close and that can only mean one thing: Baseball is upon us. The crack of the bat, the smell of freshly cut grass, and sunny days that change into warm summer evenings. America’s pastime and all that it encompasses is something that is in a league of its own. The nostalgia that surrounds the game of baseball is unparalleled. It was my first sport; my first great interest. And that cannot be changed. Just like my fan hood towards the Mariners, who have unfortunately left us disappointed for the past ten years. Regardless, I’m as excited as ever for this season. You may ask what I’m excited about? To be honest, it might be just a bunch of false hope, but let’s take a deeper look at the team Jackie Z and Eric Wedge have assembled for us this year.

Opening Day Lineup:

1. Figgins 3B, 2. Ackley 2B, 3. Ichiro RF, 4. Smoak 1B, 5. Montero DH, 6. Carp LF, 7. Olivo C, 8. Saunders CF, 9. Ryan SS, Pitcher: Hernandez

Hitters: 

  1. Chone Figgins, 3B: Who would have thought that this guy would still be in the starting lineup after last season. Unable to move everyone’s favorite Mariner due to his grossly overpaying contract, Figgins has found himself in a more comfortable position: batting first in the order. Figgy was the opening day leadoff hitter for three years for the Angels and in those years his combined average was .280. I think anybody would be ecstatic if he even got into the vicinity of that number this season. After a dismal .188 average last year in 288 at-bats and only 11 stolen bases, the only way to go is up…at least we hope. He’s hitting only .214 in spring training. I’m just going to leave it at that.
  2. Dustin Ackley, 2B: Ack made a splash last season with his call up from triple-A in mid-June. Through his first ten major league games last season he was batting .303. My SS&O partner in crime and I were even on hand to see his first MLB home run (thanks again for the tickets Brandon). He did cool down a little as the year went on but he finished with a respectable .273 average. Not too shabby, especially for this offense. Ackley still remains one of the best young players in the game.
  3. Ichiro, RF: The Old Reliable himself, Ichiro experienced a small setback last season (at least for his standards). It was the first year in his 11 year career with the Mariners that he did not eclipse 200 hits or bat over .300. Albeit 184 hits is still impressive and a .272 average isn’t terrible, but it just wasn’t Ichiro-esque. He is getting up there in age, now at 38, which could account for the setback, but I don’t see him repeating that this season. He’s batting .400 in Cactus League play which is right where he should be. All of that aside, the major news of this offseason with Ichi is his switch from leadoff to third in the order. We have heard for years that the guy has power in his bat that he’s never shown just because of the fact that he has never needed to at the number one spot in the order. I’m still skeptical about the claims but am hopeful that the rumors are true. It just doesn’t seem right given the size of the man, but hey, if anyone were to wow you at the plate wouldn’t it be him?  Continue reading