The spring-training countdown is roughly at three weeks (depending on when you read this) before the Feb. 20 reporting date for pitchers and catchers at the Mariners’ year-round complex in Peoria, Ariz.
(Fans who make the trip will, by the way, see a renovated Peoria Stadium as the second phase of a three-year upgrade. Last year, the city spruced up the Mariners’ and Padres’ office complexes.)
It's the time of year when prospect rankings and other predictions take center stage. The preview annuals are out — or will be soon. (Be sure to check out Athlon’s guide for a particularly insightful assessment on the Mariners.)
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***The Mariners rank 21st among the 30 organizations overall, in Law’s assessment. The Chicago Cubs rank first, followed by the Minnesota Twins and Houston Astros. The Detroit Tigers rank last.
Law notes: “The Mariners' system was long light on bats and full of arms, but the promotions of Taijuan Walker and James Paxton, as well as a pair of hitter-heavy drafts, have flipped that around.”
That’s no surprise.
Every rating service I’ve seen ranks Jackson and Peterson as the organization’s top two. (Peterson has an invitation this year to big-league camp.)
Law’s top three overall prospects are Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, Twins center fielder Byron Buxton and Astros shortstop Carlos Correa.
Want some rankings you can view for free?
Our friends at Baseball Prospectus recently updated their PECOTA projections. Much of the Prospectus’ site is also behind a paywall, but you can see the projected standings here.
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The takeaway is the Mariners project to repeat their 87-75 record, but PECOTA shows that as the second-best mark among American League clubs.
Unfortunately, it’s also second-best in the AL West behind the Los Angeles Angels at 90-72, which means the Mariners would host the Wild Card game (against Boston or Tampa Bay, according to PECOTA.)
PECOTA is a sabermetric-based formula that stands for “Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm.”
It’s as technical as it sounds (or so I’m told and am quite willing to believe). It’s not always dead-on accurate, but it’s interesting…especially in late January.