G-Moneyball On the M's Top 10 (and below)
yes, it's a poor system, saith he

From Sickels's list:

Kyle Lewis - small school bat who blew out his ACL. I looooooove this guy, but his two knocks are perceived level of competition and health.  He's also at least 3 years away IMO.

Tyler O'Neill - with him it's all pitch recognition. Is he more Nelson Cruz or Carlos Peguero?  It took Cruz a few years and some PEDs to put it together.  Bodybuilding frames always carry some concern in baseball (think: Ruben Sierra destroying the middle part of his career because he lifted too much and lost flexibility).  Still a big fan of Tank, too.

Nick Neidert - I like his arm, but he's started all 30 games he's pitched in across 2 seasons and still only has 126 IP.  The Ms are using him in an abnormal way, which breeds concern as to why.  He's young and has some growing to do, but he's several years away at best, barring some kind of Diaz-ing to the pen.

Dan Vogelbach - bad body, has hitting talent, hasn't taken full advantage. Billy Butler or Jack Cust? I come down on the Butler side, but both Cust AND Butler were done when the age clock chimed after 31. Shouldn't matter to Seattle since they have Vogue young. Being able to play 1B is more pressing, because a bad 1B ruins your infield defense from a catching-bad-throws perspective too.

Max Povse - couldn't make the top half-dozen arms for another org, is #2 for Seattle. Really a fan of his motion and stuff, but doesn't profile as a front-line pitcher.  Seattle doesn't have anyone who necessarily does. Aimed at the MOR, which is fine for now.

Rob Whalen - too high, IMO, but a BOR possibility.  More would require him to Moyer his way to success.  We'll see how his stuff holds up to extended MLB exposure, but somewhat-wild soft-tossers with high Ks are usually begging hitters to make mistakes and chase.  Maybe he can be effectively wild.

Mitch Haniger - love him. RH Saunders with his head on straight (because he wasn't trying to make his swing adjustments in the majors). Putting him with Gar should help keep swing constancy too. Fingers crossed, but I expect this to pay off big.

Andrew Moore - Another MOR arm that I expect pretty good things from.  He's been an underdog his whole pitching life, so this is nothing new for him. The right roll of the dice gets us RH Mark Buehrle, which I would certainly take.

Well all of that looks good, right?  The problem is that everything after that is scrap.  A couple of relief arms will work out, maybe a teenage bat comes through in 2022, but I doubt it.  Denver has no real expected (or even potential) TOR arm left on the farm at any level, and they have no MOTO-hitter types outside of what's on this list.  It's all crappy shortstops, prayers in CF, and some non-positional guys like Joe Rizzo, DJ Peterson and Joe DeCarlo. If one out of 3 blue-chip prospects can make it in the bigs, then Seattle has about 2 major leaguers from the above list and then some fill-in pieces and #6 starters. O'Neill and Haniger will have a couple of years to get it right before Lewis shows up.  After Lewis there is basically nothing.  

If you want to be a top-heavy farm, then you'd like A-level upside.  If you have a bunch of B-level guys then you want a ton of shots at it.  Seattle has MOR arms and #6 hitters, and only a couple of each.  That makes them very skinny.  If they all pay off you look great, but at that point it's about player development, which Seattle has been terrible at for decades. You know how I am - I love the #19 prospect most years and see a lot of upside.  This is not that farm (although that is Joe Rizzo this year, and I'm a fan of his).

Drafts are for replenishing the depth of a system, but we have none so that may take a while. DiPoto is rightly front-loading the talent because if Seattle can't get it done in the next 2-3 years then it's gonna be a fallow time.  Felix is in decline, Cruz will be gone, and Cano's mammoth contract will be saddling this team with the price of reaching for the stars to try to get Felix into a World Series. 

The time is now.  But DiPoto is going to have to heist some other clubs to get some of the pieces he needs in 2019, 2020.  If he can't manage to hit on all of these Haniger / O'Neill / Moore types, the reinforcements behind them look slim and none.

In the meantime, Seattle is attempting the All-Glove OF 3.0.  It worked with Cammy / Ichiro / Winn because they could also hit.  It did not work with Saunders / Guti / Ichiro because they hit like mostly CFs while the infield fell on its collective face.  Because Seattle has a 2B and a 3B who are MOTO hitters, maybe they can get away with it until the corner production comes to the fore.

But Seattle is not betting on the Farm Collective to make this happen long-term.  It's placed very specific bets, without a lot of outs if those bets don't pay off.  If you want to chase a Jack-High Flush, be prepared to bust to a guy holding some 8s and 10s, and certainly to the guy with a pair of Aces.  The Farm isn't gonna pick DiPoto up with a lot of surprise showings, IMO.  It'll be somebody in the top-8, or nothing we have yet.

Unless you like pen arms.  We should keep having those.  Hey there Dan Altavilla!





It's a little tough to get where you are on "M's top 10 vs the Giants top 10" since you give (valuable) short-sum descriptions, with emphasis on warts that separate B-C prospects vs. A prospects, as opposed to grades.  You do put in the line "looks pretty good, right?" before giving the problem:  the 11-30 and below, apparently.

Personally am in absolutely no position to know how the M's 11-30 are doing.  Will take your word for it.  Dipoto and crew have the M's orgs winning at EVERY level and not with old guys ... however I'd be hard-pressed to name a low-minors hitter I like, for example.  Seems plausible the M's depth is lacking.


For other readers, here is John Sickels' rankings of the systems 1-30.  We mention the Giants since they're #17 (to the M's #23) and that's about where they've been.

Really curious about the M's top 10 specifically vs other top 10's, because the M's 2017 top 10 looks puurrrrrty good compared to previous MARINERS lists.  Particularly if you were to semi-include Edwin Diaz.

Appreciate it G.


Last year at this time, our top ten was what?

Which prospects did we trade away that were mortal locks to be effective major leagues at any point in the next three years? Which prospects did we trade away that had high ceilings...I can think of a couple high-ceiling-long-road guys...especially pitchers...but the well was pretty dry and now it has a bunch of guys who can help the Mariners win in 2017 floating in it.


Personally I do favor, very much, the basic principle of trading Gohara for Smyly and Taijuan for Segura. In four years an asteroid could have hit the earth, or Dipoto could have made a deal or two, or the M's might draft some cool NCAA players, or a lot of things.  Take no thought for the morrow (within reason of course).  

Dipoto has built a 40-man roster that is rich with dynamism.  We all know that these 5-6 ML-ready players are quite the exciting *supporting cast* for Paxton, Smyly, Boomstick, Cano, Seager, Segura, Diaz and co.

A great example of Win Now, That's the Best Way to Win Later --- > might be KC "mortgaging its future" by trading Wil "Roy Hobbs" Myers for Shields and Davis.  KC's success fed upon itself.


Of course Gordon you were merely answering my question about "is the 11-30 really that bleak?"  Which, I can't imagine you providing more detail or sounder logic.


The way Dipoto is running / structuring things, there really should be 2 different lists... one for 2017/2018, and one for 2018 and beyond.

The 2017 list has the Haniger, V-Bach, Gamel, Heredia, O'Neill, Motter and possibly Powell as hitters,  and the pitchers as Zych, Altavilla, Miranda, De Jong, Pazos, Overton, Povse, Moore,  Whalen, Fry, Simmons, Vieira, and possibly Curtis.

Having this short term list shows where Dipoto is really throwing spaghetti, and maybe he catches one "off-the-board" guys that just really reacts positively to either Edgar or Mel Jr.

The mid season 2018 and beyond list has the Lewis, Rizzo, Peterson, Hernandez, Veloz, Bishop, Ascanio, Torres, Walton, Brigman, Liberato, Rosa, Andrade, Filia, Smith, Taylor, DeCarlo, and possibly Marlette.... and the pitchers are Neidert, Miller, Lopez, Wells, Pagan, Unsworth, Warren, Misiewicz, Newsome, Inman, Zokan, Anderson, and Gilles.

Breaking out the Future list helps show that the M's are prepping the lower levels with some talent - especially position players, although as G-Man says there will need to be A LOT of player development that takes place before most of the players on the future list gain any credibility with the so called experts.


Keeping in mind that since the Ms can't use all their Right Now guys right at this actual moment, there will be stagnation in AAA until we have to move some to clear 40-man room or because players are out of options.  

But for the futures list, I just don't see the talent.  We traded most of the talent from that list.

Hitters: Lewis (yes), Rizzo (I'm a fan, he's half a decade away and needs a position), Peterson (he's a now guy, not a futures guy, and he's failing at now), Hernandez (see: Rizzo, but not quite as high), Veloz (7 years away with good player development, so not holding my breath), Bishop (hahahaha), Ascanio (no), Torres (maybe), Walton (better than the departed Drew Jackson at least), "Brigman, Liberato, Rosa, Andrade, Filia, Smith, Taylor, DeCarlo, and possibly Marlette...." all those guys are just names. Brigman hasn't done anything.  Marlette is regressing. Andrade is the king of great names but has done nothing to warrant the belief that he's the future, and even if he was it would be in 2022. I don't think he's getting out of Everett this year and I didn't particularly like the bare glimpse we got of him in the AZL.  

Just because they're in the minors doesn't mean they're part of any future for the Mariners. I think Filia is fascinating and Liberato and Vargas have some interesting qualities, but they're so far away from being any kinds of contributors without an overabundance of talent that would give them some wiggle room on the journey.

I like Neidert, Miller, Newsome (I'm a bigger Newsome fan than most) and maybe Inman as potential starting arms of some stripe.  The rest are bullpen or AAA guys waiting on a 6th starter call.  The talent just isn't there. The track record of Mariners scouts in Latin America is atrocious where hitters are concerned. If we're betting the future of the 2021 Ms on getting a good bat from the DR or Venezuela or Brazil then give it up now.  It's not going to happen.

Seattle's hope is that they can get Lewis and one of Haniger or O'Neill to work out for the OF, and play whichever CF of the mass of options we have there now between them (unless we're gonna let Lewis or Haniger do it). I don't know what they're doing for pitching, because they are hoping to have Smyly's replacement in the minors but not Felix's.  Praying Paxton keeps it together and they can buy the right arm for a #2 starter, I guess. 

DiPoto has time to restock. Especially if he hits on his chosen guys - that would be terrific.  The Ms better load up on arms in June, that's for sure, even if it's only to have more guys to trade away. The first key to being able to work the trade side of things is having players other people want.  Our minors are running out of those, which is why we had to trade all of our pitching depth in the first place.


That we took last draft.  That's my real hope.  If any of those college boys (Walton, Brigman, Filia, Zammarelli, et al) can pan out it helps a ton. But I won't bet on it.  I've been watching the Ms farm system for about 15 years. I've seen worse farms from us, but there are few that have me as pessimistic beyond the top of the system as this one does.  We'll see what tidings this year brings, and if some players who need to get to the upper minors can actually succeed there.


In general, I agree that currently that the number of the future guys look weak at best... and I'll add that my Adopt-a-players are Neidert, Rizzo and Torres - so we are pretty close in our thinking. I will go even further in saying that I HIGHLY doubt the A ball teams and below will have winning records, let alone winning their divisions this year.

Further, I agree that there will be stagnation at the upper levels, so thus I am hoping the player development guys are good because they will have time with many at the lower levels - unless Dipoto makes more trades.  

I am just hoping that Dipoto and staff selected / traded for some true diamonds in the rough for the Tacoma team, so the M's have lots and lots of choices through out this year and next when changes are needed... and I really like many of the pitchers on the now list - from Povse to Pazos to De Jong to Moore.


Needless to say you want the base of that pyramid as broad as possible, but --- > there's a discussion at BJOL as to just how tightly the minor league SYSTEMS correlate with winning pennants.

The Yankees at times (such as the early 60's) have been legendary in trading their hyped minor leaguers for MLB players who can help right now.  As you've said G, it's not wrong in concept.  But of course it's not the question I asked :- ) You answered the one I asked.


The Mariners have a very shallow talent pyramid and it's not as high as some others, either. Compared to San Francisco, the height might be about the same but the Giants have a much broader legitimate base.

Let's look at tiers. For me it goes three good Tier 1 bats (B+ and above) in Lewis, Haniger and O'Neill. Lewis is still the best system prospect for me - I won't demote him until I see his recovery from that ridiculous knee injury. I have Seattle with three Tier 2 arms (B to B-) in Neidert, Moore and Povse.  I don't like Whelan as much as Sickels, but I like Heredia more, so he goes into tier two for me as well, below Vogelbach.  That's it.  Everybody else is a BOR starter/reliever or a benchie/ average-hitter hopeful.  The Ms are stocked with MIF who won't hit and hackers who don't really field enough for their bat skill (or who do field but can't hit, like Bishop). Sickels agrees that Seattle has basically 3 good hitting prospects, 3 decent #3-4ish arms, a DH, and then a cliff. He has Brayan Hernandez standing on the edge of that cliff, which is sweet but probably overrated. 

Seattle flushed their entire minor league starting pitching chain in order to get the Ben Gamels of the world in here to compete for that 4th OF spot.  They have had a winning minor league system because most of the guys down there are pretty good minor league players with little major league upside. They are in the minors for a reason. I commend them for prioritizing winning, but that doesn't necessarily translate to the bigs.  

Some guys that were moved: Gohara would have been the #3 prospect on the Ms if he'd stayed. I get moving him, but if it doesn't work and the Braves are running Lefty Zambrano out there in 3 years it'll look bad. Orozco AND DePaula could each have been top-5 prospects for the Ms as soon as next year.  They could also rip their arm off like Dan Missaki, which is why low-minors teens don't normally have tons of trade value and WHY YOU DON'T TRADE THEM IN BATCHES. Littell was a younger version of Povse.

Compare that to the Giants.  First, the Giants have been very good at getting more out of their system than outside analysts would think, which speaks to a good player development staff that I am not willing to grant the Mariners yet.  But beyond that, they are the example of what you want to do if you don't have those 99 MPH arms or 40 HR bats: you go for multiple good players to give you Doc's famous 3-to-make-1 preferences. Sickels gave them 14 guys in the B- and above range, and Seattle 9. Seattle's C+ guys aren't really teens with tons of upside either. They aren't at C+ or C due to risk, but because they simply don't seem to have the full package for success.

As far as strictly top-10, I like Beede better than any Ms pitcher, but Lewis better than any Giants hitter. The rest of the bats throughout the top-10 are about even (though Haniger in CF would have to bump higher - I need to see it first). SF's pitchers are about the same (they just have more of them) and their top-10 is really like a top-dozen, while Seattle's top-10 is more like a top-8.

Sickels has the two teams about even in C+ and above talent, but I disagree with him on how many guys with the ability to jump up multiple tiers there are in Seattle's system.  That's what we're going to see this year.  DiPoto drafted a raft-full of college hitters last year instead of going with any younger talent, and those college guys are going to have to improve significantly on their college careers to be good big-league hitters.  Eric Filia has a bunch of walks, an astounding 2:1 batting eye and a high BA but no power and turns 25 this season - and he has to play on a corner. He was in Everett.  Where can you get him to by the time he turns 26?

The Ms have to show they can do what the As did, and turn mid-20s guys with decent eyes and a systematic approach into pieces and not just stoplosses. Seattle has cases full of stoplosses but not a lot of guys who can move a needle. The Giants have more guys who can be plus major leaguers in their system, IMO. That's what makes them better. More chances is almost always better.  I mean, if you give me Felix and Griffey and A-Rod then yeah three "pretty good or above" players is fine. The Ms do not have that.  They HAVE to find more upside in this next draft.

It's hard to catch lightning in a bottle on a clear day.

DiPoto did what he felt he needed to do to get Seattle over the hump and backstop against injuries this year and next.  It's completely fair. But it means the farm is a system that will completely fail in everything but relief arms if the handpicked guys don't succeed. In that sense, nothing has changed from the Bavasi and Zduriencik years thus far.  Hopefully DiPoto's better at hand-picking and grooming those chosen few than his predecessors.

Until we know that, ranking the Ms in the bottom third seems fair to me as well.


Or maybe Sickels is the Gordon Gross of the red states.  Klat could probably give you a tab/subdomain if you thought any moss was going to gather on the minors stone this year.  :- )

Your explanation of the 11-30 problem is convincing amigo.  Thanks for all the detailed analysis.


In 2011, Jose Altuve was listed as the Astro's #13 prospect.  #13!  Jordan Lyles, he of the 27-43 record and 81 ERA+ was #1.  Delino DeShields was #2.  Mike Foltynewicz was #3 (9-5 for Atlanta last year).  Some OF dude named Austin Wates, who just hit .236 with 1 HR in AAA, came next.  Then you had some OF dude named J.D. Martinez, who has laid waste to AL pitchers for three years running (and who was my dream trade partner for Martin).  Melancon and Villar were up after that.

Martinez was a B-, Melancon and Villar were C+ guys.

Lessons Learned:  1)  The Astros had a DEEP system, but even some of that great depth was suspect in the minors.  Villar was only a C+.   Altuve only a C.  2)  Austin Wate was a better prospect than Martinez, Villar AND Altuve.  Oh my.  Guys make a suprise rise to the top all the time.  3) Altuve was nice during his first three seasons in the bigs....but who saw the next three?  4)  All prospect lists (except Docs, G's and Matty's, of course) are suspect.

Oh...the guy after Altuve was some 22 year old lefty who had been in A+ the year before; 120 innings with a 1.28 WHIP in the Cali League.  He was some rube named Dallas Keuchel.  Three pitchers not named Lyles, Foltynewicz or Melancon were listed way ahead of him.

Somebody named Hernandez, Pagan, Rizzo, Torres or some such will turn out to be pretty good. Some dude named Peterson, or D.J or Deej will fail.

I'm all in on Andrew Moore. Haniger will be a fine to VG MLB'er, but like G, I wish he were in CF.  Neidert I don't know anything about so I'll leave him off my list.  I'm a buyer on O'Neill.  Vogs is my type of guy.  Povse, too.  I will  love Lewis because everybody else does, but I've not spent anytime watching his highlights......and he had a pretty substantial knee injury.  Ask me again in March of '18, I will skip him for now. 

#'s 1-4 on my list are Haniger, then Moore, with Vogs/O'Neill tied beyond.  Povse and Gamel (is Heredia still a "Prospect?") would come after.

My list is probably wrong, too.  Beyond the Trouts, Felixs and Juniors.....everybody is a bit of a guess.  Even an Altuve.

Jpax's picture

I would second your comments, Moe and agree with Rain's "two lists" concept. I do believe there is the "Let's Win Now!" list and group of players for the next 2-3 years. Then , as Rain says, a second list of raw prospects and low minor leaguers. I would not expect anyone from the "Let's Win In the Future!" list to progress up to the Majors within the next 2 years. Start trickling up in 3-4 years. Plenty of time to draft and develop several prospects (if we can develop prospects is, of course, the big question).

Anytime a new regime or management team takes over, they evaluate things differently. This is true everywhere, sports, business, politics, etc. DiPoto has brought in a "C the Z" philosophy and has brought in McKay with brand new philosophies. He and his team have had a year to evaluate all minor league talent and make decisions on who best fits our "New" philosophies and system. I would highly suspect that all the players traded may not be good 'fits' in his new culture and philosophies. Looking only at stats, I doubt if we would ever have enough information to know ourselves. Stats for one player or another may look really good or promising, however, we do not know personality, work ethic, compatibility, resistance to change, etc.

Personally, from what I am seeing and is being told us about the new player he is acquiring, I tend to like them. For example, the much discussed Haniger (sorry Matt - Maniger). If there is a low Minor League player in our system equivalent to a young Haniger, I can't see DiPoto trading him. Of course, Haniger wasn't Haniger for his first couple of years as a prospect, either. Something finally clicked for him and DiPoto may have been the first to notice and realize the change???

Sorry for the long winded post. I am truly optimistic about the Mariners and their future and its been awhile that I could honestly say that.


At one time I read that the average major leaguer had been a #15 draft pick.  Can't overestimate our ability to project these youngsters' futures.

Of course that's not to take anything away from an expert assessment of their chances as it stands today.


I don't think that means much about Smyly moving forward.  He was probably SUPER-jacked-up for this start...pitching for the host nation against King Felix and facing a really good line-up...

That'll add hair to a fastball if there's any to add.


is that he probably hasn't *lost* any velocity.  The 94mph high should probably be viewed as noise due to the specific conditions, but that he was able to exceed recent velocity averages suggests pretty strongly that he's not *declining* in that regard just yet.

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