Sickels Top 20, part 2

I/O:  Sickels with 1 Mariner, Ackley, in his top 100. 

CRUNCH:  And Ackley don't count.  He's a North Carolina Mariner.  In no way, shape, or form is Dustin Ackley an M's org product.

The fact is, that national analysts believe M’s prospects when they see them.   Hit .300 in the bigs.

I ain't defensive about M's farmhands.  I'm just delivering da truth.  There's a bias against them.  :shrug:  Don't bother me, but take it into consideration.

What did national analysts think of Adam Jones before he crushed AAA?   Of Jose Lopez before he made the AL All-Star team?  Of Mark Lowe before he fanned 25 of the first 30 AL hitters he faced?  :- ) 

That's the way it's gonna be.  Fine.  It don't make Rowland-Smith's curve ball any easier to hit.  This ain't the NCAA Mythical National Championship.  Suit up and we'll see.


In the comments, one poster listed a bunch of ham-and-eggers that Sickels had graded B, pointing out that Saunders (at B-) was obviously better than many of them.

Saunders was the #4 PCL prospect per Baseball America, so this was a poster taking Sickels deep.

The gracious and intelligent Sickels simply admitted his mistake.  Nicely.

That's awesome.  But it's one more reflection of the subconscious presumption of putridness on the part of blue-and-teal prospects.


I/O:  Sickels acknowledges Michael Saunders’ talent objectively speaking – but subjectively, just doesn’t “see” him.  In the comments, about 98.44% of the posters chew Sickels’ heels for …. The only M’s prospect that Sickels takes seriously.

CRUNCH:  I pretty much agree with this.  According to SSI, (1) objectively speaking, Saunders is a blue-chip prospect.  But (2) I just don’t “see” him.  I think Saunders will have 2,000 – 3,000 AB’s in the bigs.  As a mediocrity.

Objectively speaking, you want to go ahead and throw the dice, see if he comes up 7's.  But I'm turning away as the dice hit the green, babe.


I/O:  Dan Cortes still in the top 10.

CRUNCH:  Sickels' generosity never ceases to amaze.  :- )  Most analysts deep-six a prospect for any kind of public self-exposure.


Elsewhere in the article, Sickels opines that the M's have an oddly risky minor leaguer pool, with more upside than the average org, but lower basic chances of success.

Does SSI agree with this?  Well, (1) the M's don't yet have K/BB pitchers and EYE hitters like Oakland, so ..... yeah, but (2) mostly when you've got Halman 18, Carp 19, Tuiasosopo 23, etc., calling those guys less-likely than other orgs' #12 prospects is probably just reflecting your opinion of the org.

When you do get a guy with tremendous K/BB and EYE -- Pineda, Carp -- then you go to your other dismissals, lack of upside, health, whatever.

Either the M's actually do have players with more risk-reward factor than (say) Cleveland's, or the M's minors talent is simply underrated.


I/O:  Mauricio Robles at the #14.

CRUNCH:  This was supposed to be the key to the Washburn deal, and the M's got at least two other offers that had ML execs' eyes popping.

So here again, you've either got Robles undersold, or Washburn was given away for 30 cents on the dollar...

Being as I root for the same team as G-Moneyball does, I'll go with (A).


I/O:  Alex Liddi climbing everybody's hits chart.

CRUNCH:  Last year at this time, it was fashionable to dismiss every High Desert hitter with a wave of the hand.  But Liddi is getting massive respect from everybody.

Liddi is another projectable-power guy who was named Topps Cal League player of the year, Cal League MVP, Mariner farmhand of the year .... played in the All-Star Futures game, played for Italy in the WBC going 3-for-8 with a double and four strikeouts.

I'm a little skeptical, because his EYE is weak for a blue-chipper, and it's not like he has light-tower power to justify the 55/122 EYE.  But who knows; I've never seen him play.

James' rule of thumb:  a blue-chipper trashes A+ at 20, AA at 21, AAA at 22 ... then might trash the majors at 25.   Liddi hit .350/.400/.600 in A+ at 20.  A wind-blown Manny line is still one type of Manny line.

Sickels says AA will tell.  Yeah, he'll hit like Shin-Soo Choo did in AA and then get pigeonholed as a 1.5-WAR upside guy...

So, cool,




There's a reason Ms prospects get no respect. They've been garnering disrespect at a steady clip pretty much since AROD graduated.
Last 10 years show what for everyday M specs?
Adam Jones - (who you mentioned)
Lopez -- (the guy Ms *FANS* most want to ditch).
Carlos Guillen? (who they gave away)
Raul Ibanez? (who they gave away - let get good - let come back - and gave away again)
Am I missing anyone?
Lopez & Guillen were both foreign free agents. Ibanez and Jones were both 36th and 37th round draft picks taken 11 years apart. We aren't saying every prospect has to turn into Chipper or Andruw. But, where are the Ms equivalents of Marcus Giles, Klesko, Adam Laroche, Francoeur, Furcal, McCann, Kelly Johnson, etc., etc., etc. for the past decade?
By Mariner standards of the past decade, Yuni was a SUCCESS STORY. And you're suggesting that the masses are under-valuing Ms specs?
Heck - go back 18 months. Who was the #1 Mariner "can't miss" prospect after AJ was traded? His name was Clement. Today, he's a 1B who will get to "compete" for a job with Steve Pearce and Garrett Jones. As a catcher, Clement had lots of value. As a 1B he's moved to the complete other end of spectrum of minimum acceptable production. But, he hasn't established anything YET in the majors. He could end up being good -- or not.
Honestly, if Clement and/or Saunders and/or Moore and/or Carp ... etc. actually start producing in 2010 -- then the perception of the Ms farm is going to begin to change.
30 teams -- 100 slots. That's 3.3 per team if perfectly spread. The Ms have *EARNED* their perceived development rating based on the performances of the last 10 years of Ms prospects, (whether raised in captivity or released to roam foreign ranges).  Ultimately, the perception of how good a farm system happens to be will always lag results.  The Ms farm "might" be much better today -- but the proof is in the production that comes in 2010 and beyond.

Anonymous's picture

Well, ya, you compare it to the Braves or something and the system does look pretty awful.
I do think the system has done better in more recent years though. Felix, Choo, Cabrera, Meche, Thorton, Jones, Pineiro, Putz, Sherrill, Soriano, etc., etc.  Theres a good number of quality MLBers that were raised in this system, although many panned out with different teams.

Taro's picture

And as far as specifics are concerned, I don't really disagree with the OVERALL ranking of the Mariner's farm as a middle-of the pack type.
I DO disagree with a lot of the individual ratings though.
If Saunder hits 770 OPS with +10-15 runs D in LF he is a 3.5 WAR mini-star like Randy Winn in his prime. That is a quality player worth at least a B+ rating. I'm not even the biggest Saunders fan, but hes definetly a a high quality spec.
Noriega and Liddi are hilariously high. Sorry but I don't buy into the pair of .420 BABIP hitters with terrible plate skills in the low minors. Noriega is more interesting due to his D and SS eligibility, but he has a looong ways to go with the bat.
Moore and Tui are way too low. Halman is low for my taste as well. His plate skills are terrible, but hes eons of a better prospect than Liddi or Chavez. Pothyress should make the top 20.


We're talking about the last 5 years of M's minor league acquisitions, since Bavasi and Fontaine were here.
By definition, these guys are going to be still in the minors or just hitting the majors, such as Chris Tillman who just came up to Baltimore last year, but who is regarded one of the best young SP prospects in the game.
Clement hasn't yet hit his 30 homers, but of course how many AB's has he had in the majors?  Check him when he's 28, like with Jason Varitek.
Asking how much Morrow, Clement, Aumont, Jones, Tillman, Mark Lowe, Wlad Balentien, Ryan Rowland-Smith, Shawn Kelley, etc have done in the majors at this point? ... it's simply a little early for the post-Fontaine era to be assessed yet.
Granted, the M's have always had significant issues in transitioning these guys to the big league game.  Might be something in the coaching water.  We all know the approaches they've taken with guys like Lopez and Bibens-Dirkx.  :- )


That as Saunders, Moore, Tui, etc ... as well as Jones, Clement, Aumont, etc ... begin to produce, that perceptions will change...
That's absolutely true, and absolutely the point.   As this post-Fontaine group starts jelling, then the 18-, 19-year-olds in the M's system will be judged differently.
Which is a condemnation of the rankings.  Scouts aren't supposed to be judging Matt Tuiasosopo by Jeff Clement.  They're supposed to be able to look at Matt Tuiasosopo and correctly assess his ability regardless of what org he's in!


While I understand what you're say, Doc ... the truth about specs - ALL SPECS - is that they do not get better simply by aging, (though this is what the age-arc charts would have us believe).  They get better by LEARNING something.  So, yes - it is completely fair to judge a player based on the past performance of the farm system - because that farm system is the one teaching him.
While some 'savants' will perform the same regardless of environment -- by and large, if your student has a choice between an impoverished inner-city school vs. Beverly Hills 90210, that student is WAY likely to have a completely different performance arc depending on which school he ends up at. 
Of course, if you're constantly drafting players with 800 SATs, you're going to get different results than if you're drafting those with 1400s.  Where you draft matters.  You don't get a shot at Griffey or AROD or Strausberg if you're winning 95 a year.
The reason I used the Braves as my comparison, (other than I'm most familiar with them), is that they were drafting in the 20s for much of the past 20 years.  They were not advantaged by winning 60 each year, (like a KC or Pittsburgh or Milwaukee).  The Ms were a generally winning franchise until Bavasi -- but even at that, they've had winning records 2 of the past 3 seasons. 
Additionally, I didn't mention pitchers, specifically because the Ms do have a much better track record with pitchers in this time period, (especially relievers).  I've noted that as a strength in the past.  But, the list that started this thread was severely (and oddly) heavy with position players.  Personally, I'd be thinking if anyone got shortchanged, it was guys like Kasperek. 
I "hope" that Z has changed the direction of the farm - primarily by skewing away from the quick-twitch types and looking more at baseball smarts.  But, that isn't exactly a good sign for the quick-twitch types already in the pipe.  If they were "800 SAT" players *AND* the new regime doesn't believe they'll adapt -- that shouldn't change their projections upward.  And, as you note - it'll be 3-5 years before Z's prospects start getting enough MLB time to begin making an informed decision on them.


First off, anyone who is not familiar with the "mother lode" of video at, then go there directly; it's awesome:  Great job by the guys at that site.
Couple of interesting things to me: Main one is James Jones -- definitely keep an eye on him.  Watch the video  -- obviously a gifted athlete, was mostly scouted as a pitcher.  You think he'll just be Halman from the left side.  But wait -- decent 0.48 eye ratio and .392 OBP at Everett.  Loads of potential there, and scouts were raving.
Also, Gabriel Noriega and Nick Franklin.  Both ranked too high based on how far they have to go, but no question both have a chance to be solid MLB middle infielders.  We certainly need that since we have a whole generation of middle infield prospects now in Cleveland.  It's interesting that Franklin was pretty roundly panned on draft day, but maybe a semi-splashy 6 games in Everett caught people's eye: 8-for-20, with 3 xbh and only 2 K.  Both Noriega and Franklin are switch-hitters, BTW.
I'm definitely taking a wait-and-see approach to Alex Liddi, but '09 is certainly a great leap forward for him, and there's a lot to like there.


Whereas two orgs might draft similar pools of talent, the weaker org (M's) might simply do a worse job in *developing* that talent.
Totally agree with this criticism, even during the last few years...

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