Because of where the Mariners’ prospect depth currently lays, the Generals might just be the team to watch in the organization this year, as they have some of the more interesting prospects in the system.
Prospects To Watch:
- 1B Rich Poythress: Poythress had a prodigious season in High Desert last season, and there’s plenty of reason to think and hope that it wasn’t another Cal League fluke. If Poythress can put up strong numbers again in 2011, he’s going to shove his way on to the prospect radar.
- OF Johermyn Chavez: Like Poythress, Chavez is out to prove that his 2010 Cal League campaign was no fluke. Might have the best all-around bat of the M’s various high-powered outfielders in the ipper minors.
- 2B Kyle Seager: Seager is going to do his best to make the M’s infield situation of the next few years interesting, but he might be slated to a utility role in the majors. Still, he could do well in such a role and still get plenty of playing time.
- SS Carlos Triunfel: Triunfel is at a point in his career where he has to start producing, and do it in a hurry. He’s also not a shortstop in the long-term; the organization might be best-served to work on a position change sooner rather than later, most likely to third base.
- IF/OF Nate Tenbrink: Tenbrink opened some eyes last season, and is looking to open them a little bit wider this year. He’s got a good bat and a lot of defensive utility, which could make him a valuable player later on in the majors.
Other Players Of Note:
- LHP Anthony Vasquez: Vasquez is a command-and-control lefty with middling stuff, but he got the job done well in 2010. If he repeats that performance in 2011, he could be able to become a Jarrod Washburn-esque back of the rotation starter.
- LHP Brian Moran: Moran impressed across three levels in 2010 (though he only had two AA appearances), and if he continues to do well, could factor in to the M’s bullpen picture sooner rather than later.
- RHP Josh Fields: Fields needs to put together a good 2011 campaign, or he’s going to become just another busted relief prospect.
- OF James McOwen: Remember his hitting streak in 2009? While McOwen is no stud prospect, he’s at least moderately interesting, and could make a decent reserve OF for somebody someday.
- RHP Erasmo Ramirez: Ramirez only has middling stuff, but uses good command to help him generate a ton of ground balls. Could become a Doug Fister type of pitcher in the majors.
Breakout Prediction: RHP Steven Hensley
Hensley, a former fourth-round pick in 2008, is in his last season he has before the Mariners have to decide if they want to put him on the 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule V draft, and at this stage it’s up to him to make that decision for them. He’ll be repeating AA to start the year, and will be looking to use this opportunity to do just that.
Hensley brings a fastball hitting in the high 80’s to low 90’s paired with a slider that Baseball America once billed as the best in the system (he’s since been passed by Michael Pineda for that honor, which is no slight to Hensley). He also has a change that acts almost like a splitter at times, but it’s really just an average pitch there to keep lefties honest.
Hensley does have some durability questions; he has an elbow injury on his record, and he averaged just 5 1/3 innings per outing in 2010. If he can start to move past those concerns and put up some good numbers, he could potentially put himself in to the conversation for a major league roster spot as soon as next summer.
Hensley’s 2011 pitching line estimate: 150 IP, 3.85 ERA/4.10 FIP, 125 K’s, 58 BB’s