Yesterday, Kiley McDaniel published his consummately researched and demonstrably authoritative prospect list for the Seattle Mariners. What follows is a different exercise than that, one much smaller in scope and designed to identify not Seattle’s top overall prospects but rather the rookie-eligible players in the Mariners system who are most ready to produce wins at the major-league level in 2015 (regardless of whether they’re likely to receive the opportunity to do so). No attempt has been made, in other words, to account for future value.
Below are the top-five prospects in the Seattle system by projected WAR. To assemble this brief list, what I’ve done is to locate the Steamer 600 projections for all the prospects to whom McDaniel assessed a Future Value grade of 40 or greater. Hitters’ numbers are normalized to 550 plate appearances; starting pitchers’, to 150 innings — i.e. the playing-time thresholds at which a league-average player would produce a 2.0 WAR. Catcher projections are prorated to 415 plate appearances to account for their reduced playing time.
Note that, in many cases, defensive value has been calculated entirely by positional adjustment based on the relevant player’s minor-league defensive starts — which is to say, there has been no attempt to account for the runs a player is likely to save in the field. As a result, players with an impressive offensive profile relative to their position are sometimes perhaps overvalued — that is, in such cases where their actual defensive skills are sub-par.
t5. John Hicks, C (Profile)
Between Hicks and Tyler Marlette (below), the latter is probably the overall more impressive prospect. Marlette was drafted out of high school (Hicks, college); received a signing bonus of about $650 thousand (Hicks, about $250 thousand); and earned a promotion to Double-A in just his age-21 season (while Hicks only first appeared there as a 23-year-old). For 2015, however, they profile as almost the same player, projected by Steamer to produce roughly identical offensive lines while both benefiting — deservedly so, it would appear based on McDaniel’s analysis — from the catcher positional adjustment. Should something happen to Jesus Sucre, Hicks would be an entirely acceptable replacement. Even if something doesn’t happen to Sucre, that might still be the case.
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