Baseball America is releasing it's Top 10 prospect lists for various organizations around baseball. The Mariners' Top 10 list for 2013 was released today.
Not surprisingly, the Mariners most recent first-round draft pick Mike Zunino leads the list. The hard-hitting catcher had a stellar first year of professional baseball. He rose through the organization, starting at Class A Everett and moving to Double A Jackson and produced along the way. He had a solid Arizona Fall League as well.
Zunino ranks ahead of Taijuan Walker, who remained the No. 2 prospect in the organization for the second straight season. Here's last year's Top 10.
1. Mike Zunino, Catcher
Zunino, the Mariners 2012 first-round draft selection out of the University of Florida, was the 3rd overall selection in the 2012 Major League Baseball First-Year Draft and was the recipient of the 2012 Golden Spikes Award. With Everett, Zunino reached base safely in 26 of his 29 games, and recorded hits in 23 games to begin his career. He hit .373 (41-for-110) with 29 runs, 10 doubles, 10 home runs, 35 RBI and 18 walks with the AquaSox. Prior to his promotion to Jackson on August 12, Zunino had a 6-game hitting streak (.583, 14-for-24, 7 R, 3 2B, 3 HR, 16 RBI). Despite only appearing in 29 games, Zunino tied for 4th the Northwest League in home runs (10). With the late start on the season, Zunino lacked the at-bats to qualify for the batting title, a race he would have won. He was named the Northwest League Player of the week 3 times, including back-to-back weeks to begin his career (July 16-22, July 23-29 & Aug. 6-12). Overall Zunino hit .360 (58-for-161) with 35 runs scored, 14 doubles, 13 home runs and 43 RBI in 44 games combined between Everett and AA Jackson.
2. Taijuan Walker, RHP
Walker's numbers weren't exactly eye-popping. He had moments of brilliance, and moments of inconsistency. He posted a 7-10 record with a 4.69 ERA in 25 starts. He struck out 118 hitters and walked 50 in 126 2/3 innings pitched. Walker went winless in his last seven starts with a 0-5 record. It could be due to fatigue and some minor issues. But he was still a Futures Game participant and still only 21 years old
3. Danny Hultzen, LHP
Hultzen went 9-7 with a 3.05 ERA in 25 starts in his first professional season combined between AAA Tacoma and AA Jackson. Prior to his promotion with Tacoma on June 20, Hultzen went 8-3 with a 1.19 ERA (10 ER, 75.1 IP) in 13 starts with Jackson. He limited opponents a .151 (38x252) batting average, while walking 32 and striking out 79 in 75.1 innings. Hultzen was named Southern Pitcher of the Week in consecutive weeks, May 28-June 3 and June 4-10. After allowing 5 runs in 4.0 innings in his first start of the season, Hultzen allowed only 5 earned runs in his last 71.1 innings (0.63 ERA), lowering his ERA from 11.25 to 1.19 ERA. He also held opponents scoreless in 26.2 consecutive innings (5/23-6/13), which was the longest scoreless inning streak by a Jackson pitcher. At the time of his promotion to Tacoma, Hultzen led the Southern League in ERA (1.19), opponent’s batting average (.151), WHIP (0.93), while leading all starters with the fewest base-runners per 9.0 innings (8.72). He also ranked T1st in the league in wins (8), 2nd in strikeouts (79), T4th in innings pitched (75.1) and in strikeouts per 9.0 innings (9.44). Hultzen was the starting pitcher for the North Division in the Southern League All-Star game, tossing a scoreless 1st inning with a walk and strike out. He also appeared in the 2012 MLB Futures game, allowing 1 run on 3 hits and striking out 1 in 1.0 inning. Hultzen was promoted to Tacoma on June 20.
4. James Paxton, LHP
Paxton finished tied for the team lead with 9 wins, going 9-4 with a 3.05 ERA (36 ER, 106.1 IP) in 21 starts. He limited opponents to a .244 batting average (96x393), while walking 54 and striking out 110 in 106.1 innings. Paxton was named the Southern League Pitcher of the Week, April 5-15, after allowing only 1 run in 10.1 innings over first 2 starts (1-0, 0.87 ERA, 6 H, 1 BB, 17 K). He struck out at least 7 batters in a start 6 times, including a season-high 10 batters in his first start of the season on April 6 vs. Birmingham (5.2,2,0,0,0,10). Paxton missed over a month after being on disabled list (right knee) from May 26-July 2. After returning for the DL on July 3, Paxton went 6-1 with a 2.40 ERA (16 ER, 60.0 IP) in 11 starts. During this stretch he was tied for the Southern League lead in wins (6), while ranking 3rd in ERA (2.40) and strikeouts (58).
5. Nick Franklin, SS/2B
Franklin hit .243 (65x267) with 39 runs, 15 doubles, 5 triples, 7 home runs and 29 RBI in 64 games with the Rainiers, following a .322 (66x205), 25 R, 17 2B, 4 3B, 4 HR, 26 RBI performance in 57 games with Jackson. At the time of his promotion ranked 2nd in the Southern League in average (.322) and T3rd with a .394 on-base percentage.
6. Brandon Maurer, RHP
Maurer was named Southern League Most Outstanding Pitcher after going 9-2 with a 3.20 ERA (49 ER, 137.2 IP) in 24 starts with AA Jackson. After being limited to only 22 games, 17 starts, over the 2010-11 seasons due to injuries, Maurer rebounded to lead the Southern League with an .818 winning percentage and ranked 5th in ERA, while helping Jackson to the best record in the league in 2012 (79-61). Maurer limited opponents to a .260 (133x512) average, while walking 48 and striking out 117. He finished tied for the Generals lead in wins (9), while leading the team in strikeouts (117) and innings pitched (137.1). In his final 14 starts of the season, from June 1-Aug. 16, Maurer went 7-1 with a 2.50 ERA (24 ER, 86.1 IP) and recorded 10 quality starts. During this stretch has lowered his season ERA from 4.38 to 3.20. After only recording 7 wins in his first four seasons in the Mariners organization, Maurer set a career-high with 9 wins in 2012.
7. Carter Capps, RHP
Capps, 22, went 2-3 with 19 saves and a 1.23 ERA (7 ER, 51.1 IP) in 39 relief appearances combined between AA Jackson and AAA Tacoma. The 6-5, 220-pound right-hander averaged 13.2 strikeouts and 2.1 walks per 9.0 innings and converted 19 of 21 saves opportunities. He held opponents to a .212 (40x189) batting average, while walking 12 and striking out 75. Capps was selected to Seattle on July 31 and made his Major League debut on August 3 at New York (AL). In 18 relief appearances with the Mariners, Capps is 0-0 with a 3.96 ERA (11 ER, 25.0 IP) with 28 strikeouts. He was the third player from the 2011 draft to make his MLB debut. Capps was the Mariners 3rd-round supplemental selection (121st overall) in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft out of Mount Olive College (NC). He was named the 2011 NCAA Division II Pitcher of the Year after going 14-1 with 2 saves and a 1.75 ERA in 20 games/15 starts.
8. Stefen Romero, 2B
Romero hit .352 (167x474) with 85 runs scored, 64 extra-base (2B - 34, 3B - 7, HR - 23) and 101 RBI in 116 games combined between A High Desert and AA Jackson. In only his second professional season, Romero finished 3rd amongst all full season minor leaguers in average and was named to the Baseball America 2012 Second-Team All-Star team as a second baseman. Romero was one of only 19 players in the minor leagues to knock in at least 100 runs. He tied for the organizational lead in average, while ranking 2nd in RBI and 3rd in home runs. Romero became the first Minor League Player in 2012 to hit for the cycle when he accomplished the feat on May 22 at Lancaster. Romero was named to the California League All-Star team before being promoted to Jackson on June 21. With the Generals he hit safely in 47 of 55 games with an at-bat, while batting .347 (75x216).
9. Brad Miller, SS
Miller hit .334 (186x557) with 110 runs scored, 40 doubles, 7 triples, 15 home runs and 68 RBI in 137 games combined between A High Desert and AA Jackson. His 186 hits ranked 2nd amongst all minor leaguers this year, while also ranking 4th in runs scored and tied for 10th in doubles. Miller led all Mariners farmhands with 56 multi-hit games, including 12 three-hit games and 2 season-high four-hit games. He reached base safely, via hit or walk, in 123 out of 137 (90%) games he appeared, including 90 of 97 games with the Mavericks. He was named California League All-Star team and named the league’s Player of the Week, April 5-15.
10. Victor Sanchez, RHP
Sanchez went 6-2 with 3.18 ERA (30 ER, 85.0 IP) in 12 starts. He limited opponents to a .223 (69x310), while walking 27 walks and striking out 69. Sanchez finished 2nd in innings pitched, while also ranking T2nd amongst the league leaders in strikeouts and 9th in ERA.
Capsule info from the Mariners minor league season wrap-up.