Prior to the 2009 season, we identified 10 prospects to watch in the Mariners farm system. Of those 10, six remain on the 2010 list.
Greg Halman, OF: In 2008, the Netherlands native fell one home run shy of the elusive 30-30 mark as he combined to hit .272 with 29 homers and 31 steals between High Desert and West Tenn. In 2009, though, he struggled at the plate, his average dipping to .210 with the Double-A Diamond Jaxx and his strikeouts rising to a Minor-League-high 191. But it is way too early to give up on this excellent athlete who has power, speed and a strong arm. He still led the Southern League with 25 homers and drove in 72 runs.
Mario Martinez, 3B: Coming off a strong showing in the Rookie-level Appalachian League and making the move from shortstop to third base, the Venezuelan-born Martinez struggled a bit in his full-season debut at Class A Clinton. But he settled in when he moved down to short-season Everett, hitting .308 with a Northwest League-best 93 hits to finish the summer with a combined .267 average, five homers and 57 RBIs. He is fine defensively with a strong arm, good range and soft hands and hits to all fields, though he doesn't have much power.
Adam Moore, C: The 2006 sixth-round pick out of Texas-Arlington had his breakthrough campaign in 2007 when he hit .307 with 22 homers and 102 RBIs in his full-season debut at Class A Advanced High Desert. In 2008, he hit .319 with 14 homers and 71 RBIs at West Tenn and led the organization in on-base average at .396. Last summer, he continued his ascent, hitting .287 with 12 homers and 56 RBIs between West Tenn and Tacoma, then batted .217 in a brief big league debut. He has raw power to all fields.
Michael Pineda, RHP: Pineda was our preseason pick for Mariners Minor League Pitcher of the Year for 2009 after posting a 1.95 ERA at Class A Wisconsin in '08, but two stints on the disabled list with elbow soreness kept him from meeting that expected potential. When healthy, he dominated a hitters' league with a 2.84 ERA in 10 games at High Desert, limiting batters to a .190 average and walking just six while striking out 48 in 44 1/3 innings. The once-lanky Pineda, who stands 6-foot-5, has put on plenty of muscle since signing out of the Dominican Republic, and he looked good in postseason play, flashing his low-90s fastball, cutter, changeup and slider.
Michael Saunders, OF: Of all of the players on the preseason top 10 for 2009, Saunders came the closest to "graduating," as the Canadian prospect barely maintained his rookie eligibility, hitting .221 in 46 games with the Mariners and finishing eight at-bats shy of the limit. He hit .310 with 13 homers and 32 RBIs at Tacoma in his Minor League stint, getting a late start as he recovered from shoulder surgery, and his gap power should develop into over-the-wall power with time. He will begin the year back in Triple-A.
Carlos Triunfel, SS: One of the most promising and exciting players in the system, the then-teenage Triunfel missed virtually all of 2009 when he suffered a broken ankle and leg in a baserunning collision the first week of the season. He has the best arm in the organization and could move to third base, especially if his leg affects his agility. His stocky muscular build looks better suited to the corner spot, but he'll have to play himself out of shortstop first. He has a live bat but not as much speed as his 30 steals in 2008 might suggest.
Prospects to watch
|Phillippe Aumont RHP||Dustin Ackley, 2B|
|Josh Fields, RHP||Nick Franklin, SS|
|Greg Halman, OF||Greg Halman, OF|
|Mario Martinez, 3B||James Jones, OF|
|Adam Moore, C||Alex Liddi, 3B|
|Carlos Peguero OF||Mario Martinez, 3B|
|Michael Pineda, RHP||Adam Moore, C|
|J.C. Ramirez, RHP||Michael Pineda, RHP|
|Michael Saunders, OF||Michael Saunders, OF|
|Carlos Triunfel, SS||Carlos Triunfel, SS|
These four players were on our 2009 list but are not on the 2010 list, due to the loss of rookie status, trade, poor performance, injury, the addition of other prospects to the list, etc.
Phillippe Aumont, RHP: The club's first-round pick in 2007, he didn't make his pro debut until 2008 due to injuries and had a 3.88 ERA combined between High Desert and West Tenn in 2009. He was one of the prospects dealt to the Phillies in the Cliff Lee trade.
Josh Fields, RHP: The Mariners' first-round pick out of Georgia in 2008, he didn't sign until February '09, and the rust showed as he made his pro debut with West Tenn. He posted a 6.48 ERA with the Double-A Diamond Jaxx and is still regaining the power stuff that earned him first-round status.
Carlos Peguero, OF: The toughest cut from the preseason top 10 list from 2009, the 6-foot-4, 245-pound left-handed hitter rebounded from an injury-interrupted 2008 campaign to flash his big-time power at High Desert in '09, hitting .271 with 31 homers and 98 RBIs and a .560 slugging percentage. He also added 14 triples, second among Minor Leaguers. His dropping off the list is much more a comment on the depth of the Mariners' system than a knock on Peguero.
J.C. Ramirez, RHP: Ramirez was one of three prospects sent to the Phillies in the Cliff Lee deal. The Nicaraguan native posted a 4.14 ERA at Class A Wisconsin in 2008, his first full season, but struggled in the move up the ladder in 2009 with a 5.12 ERA at High Desert.
The following four players are new additions to the Mariners' Prospects to Watch list.
Dustin Ackley, 2B:The second player taken overall and the undisputed offensive star of the Draft Class of 2009, Ackley moved from shortstop in high school to the outfield at North Carolina and then to first base as he recovered from Tommy John surgery. Now the Mariners are seeing what he can do at second base. The left-handed hitter, who will make his pro debut this spring, hit .417 with 22 homers and 73 RBIs as a junior for the Tar Heels.
Nick Franklin, SS: The Mariners' second first-round pick last spring, taken 27th overall, is a switch-hitter from high school in Florida who has great range and agility on defense and plus potential at the plate. As with Ackley, he signed late and 2010 will mark his pro debut.
James Jones, OF: The sleeper pick on our list, Jones is from New York City and played his college ball under the radar at Long Island University, but he caught scouts' eyes not just with his bat but with his 97 mph fastball as a left-handed pitcher. Many teams would be trying him on the mound, but the Mariners are seeing what he can do as a right fielder. He brings to mind a young Fred McGriff with his rangy athletic body, plate discipline and power potential.
Alex Liddi, 3B: The California League MVP and Mariners' Minor League Player of the Year for 2009, the Italian-born 21-year-old hit .345 with 23 homers, 104 RBIs and 44 doubles in 129 games at High Desert, leading the system in batting. He ranked in the league's top five in several categories and led the Minors' full-season players in average. He was also named the league's top defensive third baseman and, with his quick wrists and level stroke, he should continue to do well as he moves up the ladder.
Lisa Winston is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.