One of my favorite things to read during the baseball season is Baseball America’s weekly Prospect Hot Sheet. It’s published every Friday (here’s yesterday’s) and there’s an accompanying mid-day online chat with one of BA’s writers. You might have to be a subscriber to participate in the chat, I’m really not sure, but it’s fun to read through later.
The Hot Sheet isn’t a weekly reranking of the best prospects in baseball, as the introduction points out. It’s just a ranking of which guys had the best week in the minors, with the selection skewed heavily towards guys who are actual prospects. You won’t see many guys in their late 20′s, except maybe in the “Man Among Boys” category.
Yesterday’s Hot Sheet was the fourth of the year. The first two contained Mariners prospects, the last two haven’t. Going by memory, Danny Hultzen, Taijuan Walker and Brad Miller have all made appearances, and I think Nick Franklin might have snuck into the “Team Photo”.
There’s nothing too revelatory in this post. I just wanted to pass along the link. The Hot Sheet and chat is a good way to get to know prospects throughout baseball and keep up on who’s having a good year.
Talking quickly about the Mariners minors, all the talk has been about Double-A Jackson, which BA called the most talented team in the minors. The Mariners top three prospects, pitchers Walker, Hultzen and Paxton are all there and have been dominant for the most part. Paxton’s had occasional control issues, but overall they’ve been about everything anyone could have hoped for. Hultzen is on pace to see Seattle this year. Walker is probably ready, but I’m betting they hold off given his youth. Paxton has more to iron out, but once he does, he might have the most big league ready game of the three.
Nick Franklin’s having a solid year, and Francisco Martinez and Denny Almonte, two toolsy and talented guys with lots of questions, are off to decent starts. The guys at High-A High Desert are hitting the ball like crazy, as usual, but it’s still pretty early to get hopes up or down about anyone in particular. Vinnie Catricala, in Tacoma, has had a terrible start to the year, but he recently went 4-5 with a homer and a double, I think, so hopefully he’s turning things around. He’s the best bet for a guy to come up and hit later this season.
One other thing to think about is the upcoming draft, now about a month away. The Mariners hold the third pick. Most don’t see this as an overly deep draft, but they only have to find one guy, and scouting director Tom McNamara and company have proven themselves pretty good at that. The popular contenders to be Mariners right now are high school CF Byron Buxton, college catcher Mike Zunino, or one of a slew of college pitchers between which I can’t really distinguish and won’t name right now.
Buxton is considered the top guy, a toolsy speedster with good hitting ability and the likelihood to develop above average power. He’s similar to Bubba Starling, whom I wanted the Mariners to take last year, but might be a little more talented with the bat at this point. Zunino is considered as close to a sure thing as the draft gets at catcher. He might not be at the Buster Posey, Carlos Santana, Matt Wieters level of prospect, but I’ve heard him described as a better hitting Jason Varitek, which is pretty valuable. There’s also high school shortstop Carlos Correa from Puerto Rico. He’s likely to end up at third base. I don’t generally like the typical Latin American hitter template (free swinger, bad strike zone management), but he sounds pretty talented.
At this point, I’m hoping the Mariners take Buxton or Zunino, mostly because they still need bats and pitching is getting boring. The Mariners know a lot more than I do, though, and I’m happy with whomever they decide is the best pick.
We’ll have more on the draft as it gets closer. For now, enjoy your weekend. Maybe the Mariners will finally win a game!