Seattle MarinersOur expert from ScoutPRO.com,Shawn Childs, helps you prepare for your big fantasy baseball draft.
Seattle Mariners Team Projection
The Mariners haven't made the playoffs in their last 12 seasons. After showing some growth in pitching over the previous 4 years, Seattle finished 13th in the AL in ERA (4.31) last year. They also allowed the 5th most HR's (174). Overall, their offense has been weak over the past 5 years (3.6 runs per game). The Mariners finished 12th in runs (624), but they were 2nd in HR's (188). Furthermore, Seattle only stole 49 bases and finished last in the AL in bating average (.237). Seattle did make a big splash in free agency by signing 2B Robinson Cano. They also added free agent OF Corey Hart, traded RP Carter Capps for OF Logan Morrison and signed C John Buck and MI Willie Bloomquist for depth. On the flip side, Seattle lost 1B Kendrys Morales and OF Raul Ibanez. Their starting rotation has a true ace in Felix Hernandez, but their success will be driven by the development of two young pitchers - Taijuan Walker and James Paxton. Additionally, the Mariners bullpen looks to have a few question marks.
1. SS Brad Miller
Miller outplayed Franklin last season in the majors. He was a better run scorer (39%) and run producer (17%). His K rate was a respectable 15.5%, but his walk rate (7.2%) came in short of the major league average. Brad handled himself pretty well against lefties (.270), but he hit all of his HR's (8) off of RH pitching. Miller hit .334 during his minor league career with 27 HR's and 30 SB's in 867 at bats. His minor league K rate (16.1%) was in line with his major league success. He did take more walks in the minors (11.3%), which led to a career .409 OB %. Of his 215 career games in the minors, 199 have been at shortstop. Miller has a more stable skill set at this point of his career, and I expect him to be the starting SS for Seattle. He has 15/15 upside with a possible plus batting average with 550 at bats. To me, he looks like the best option to bat lead off against RH pitching.
2. 3B Kyle Seager
Seager played real well over the first 4 months of the year (.298 with 17 HR's and 50 RBI), but he died over the last 2 months of the year (.181 with 5 HR's and 19 RBI). His batting average has been short against lefties over the past 2 years (.237 in 2012 and .235 in 2013), but he hit 17 HR's in 453 at bats. His K rate (17.6%) declined slightly, while his walk rate (9.8%) was a career high. Kyle's power growth is a good sign and his approach at the plate and his minor league resume suggests upside in batting average down the road. Kyle will even chip in with possible double digit steals. Seager hit .304 with a .374 OB % while batting 2nd. His batting average has .300 upside with 20 HR power and double digit speed.
3. 2B Robinson Cano
The Mariners blew away Cano with a 10-year, $240 million contract. Robinson has hit over .300 in his last 5 seasons. His K rate (12.5%) remains in a very good area, while his walk rate (9.5%) has shown very good growth. Last year, Cano was a plus run producer (20% RBI rate), but he had his shortest RBI chances since 2006. Furthermore, he had a great first half of the year (.302 with 21 HR's and 65 RBI) before his power faded after the All Star break (6 HR's). Cano is a career .318 hitter against RH pitching and .290 against lefties. He has hit .309 at Safeco Field with 4 HR's and 20 RBI in 163 at bats during his career. His FB rate (29.8%) has been short over the last 2 seasons, while his HR/FB rate (17.3%) has been strong over the past 3 years. The change in ballpark and team is somewhat of a concern. Cano is a rock solid .300 hitter with 25+ HR potential, but his RBI total may lack upside unless the Mariners get a solid option as a lead off hitter.
4. OF Logan Morrison
Unlike Smoak, Morrison's lack of success over the past 2 years is more due to injuries. Last year, he missed 2+ months of the season due to his recovery from right knee surgery. Logan had no value against LH pitching (.183 with no HR's and 6 RBI in 71 at bats). He is a career .244 against lefties with 9 HR's in 357 at bats. His K rate (16.8%) was a career low and he had a solid walk rate as well (11.4%). In 2011, he had a solid HR/FB rate (18.1%), but it has declined over the last 2 seasons due to injuries. Morrison has been more of a GB hitter (46.1%) during his major career. Overall, Logan is a much better player than his resume suggests. He has a 20/80 skill set with upside in batting average. Morrison hit .286 during his minor league career with 57 HR's and 292 RBI in 1742 at bats. Lastly, his K rate (15.0%) was in a good area and he took some walks (12.3%).
5. 1B Justin Smoak
Smoak has been brutal as a middle of the order power hitter over the last 3 seasons. His RBI rate (10%) has been one of the weakest in the game for someone with 39 HR's over the last 2 years. His K rate (22.8%) has declined over the last 2 seasons, but he did set a career high with his walk rate (12.3%). Justin has had a low batting average against both RH (.229) and LH (.223) pitching. In addition, his FB rate (45.5%) was a career high. Last year, he was somewhat productive against righties (.260 with 18 HR's in 308 at bats). Smoak only had 6 HR's and 11 RBI over the first 3 months of the year. He found his power stroke in August and September (11 HR's and 27 RBI in 183 at bats), but his K rate (25.7%) faded. This year, he should get full time at bats with less competition at 1B and DH. Smoak is a switch hitter with 20+ HR power. However, he is only a .227 career with no promise of upside. His resume says no way, but his scouting report suggests he has more in the tank. Low end power gamble with batting average risk.
6. DH Corey Hart
Hart missed all of 2013 with a knee injury that required 2 surgeries. He signed a 1-year, $6 million contract in December. Corey received full medical clearance in early December and is expected to be ready for spring training. Prior to his injury, Hart had a declining K rate (24.3%) with a career average walk rate (7.1%). Corey is a career .300 hitter against LH pitching and .267 against righties. He has five 20 HR seasons on his resume, but only one 100 RBI season. Possible 20 HR/80 RBI skill set with some down side batting average risk. Seattle's lineup is loaded with left handed hitters, so Hart should get a very good chance to bat in the middle of the batting order if he has no set backs.
7. OF Michael Saunders
Saunders had a 7-game hitting streak in early April (.333 with 1 HR and 5 RBI) before suffering a strained right shoulder on April 10th. The injury forced him to missed 17 games. Michael struggled in May (.187 with 2 HR's and 6 RBI), which led to him losing at bats against LH pitching. Last year, he hit .211 against lefties with a 27.3% K rate. His overall K rate (25.2%) was higher than 2012, while his walk rate (11.5%) was a career best. In 2012, Saunders flashed a 20/20 skill set in 2012, but he has downside risk in playing time against lefties. His strikeout rate supports his batting average risk.
8. C Mike Zunino
Zunino didn't make the impact fantasy players hoped for when he was called up in June. His K rate (25.4%) was high in the majors and even higher at AAA (28.8%). Both numbers were much higher than his brief 2012 season at Low A and AA (17.4%). Additionally, he struggled against both RH (.213) and LH (.217). Zunino hit .286 in his 1+ season in the minors with 24 HR's and 86 RBI in 364 at bats. Zunino is an upside player with plus power. His major league resume looks weak and it suggests he may need time to develop, but he may hit the ground running with a winter to think about his lack of success. I expect his batting average to approach neutral this season with 15 HR power.
9. OF Dustin Ackley
Ackley has been a bust during his major league career. Last year, he struggled right out of the gate, which led to a trip to the minors in June to make a job change. His K rate (16.9%) has improved over his last 2 seasons, but his walk rate (8.7%) has declined. His lack of success was about equal against RH (.250) and LH (.259) pitching, while his GB rate (51.1%) has spiked upward over the past 2 seasons leading to a short FB rate (27.0%) and an even shorter HR/FB rate (4.8%). When he was sent to AAA last year, he hit .365 with 2 HR's and 14 RBI in 104 at bats. His approach at the plate was much stronger in the minors (15.7% walk rate and 11.1% K rate). Dustin is still young, but his window of developing into an impact player is getting smaller. Ackley was expected to be a future .300 hitter with a solid approach at the plate. He hasn't shown upside in power or speed at this point of his career. Seattle really doesn't have a true leadoff hitter, so 2014 may be his last chance to have value as a top of the order hitter. He'll qualify at 2B, which gives him a slight bump in value if he gets full time at bats. Possible .280 hitter with a 10/10 skill set.
10. SS Nick Franklin
The shortstop position for the Mariners could be tricky this year. Last year, Franklin played at a high level at AAA (.324) with an improved approach at the plate (30 walks and only 20 K's in 42 at bats). Nick showed power (12 HR's) with Seattle with some speed (6 SB's), but his K rate (27.4%) led to a short batting average (.225). His walk rate (10.2%) was better than his overall minor league resume (9.6%). Franklin was a better hitter left handed (.232 with 11 of his 12 HR's). Over the 2nd half of the year, Nick had 94 K's in his last 257 at bats (32.6% K rate), which tells me that he may not be ready to be the everyday shortstop for the Mariners. He hit .287 during his minor league career with 46 HR's, 172 RBI, and 63 SB's in 1545 at bats. His glove may be slightly better than Brad Miller's. Franklin played 261 games at short and 122 at 2B in the minors. He has a possible 20/20 skill set down the road, but needs to improve his contact rate in the majors. He'll enter 2014 with unclear playing time, which means downside risk.
11. C John Buck
He will be a veteran bat with power off the bench, plus Buck should be in the lineup at least once a week.
12. C Jesus Montero
Montero will qualify at catcher this season, but he probably won't see any time behind the plate. Last year, he was suspended for 50 games for his connection with Biogenesis. Jesus is a career .258 hitter in the majors with 22 HR's and 83 RBI in 677 at bats. If he played well, he could be the everyday DH with Hart being shifted back to the OF. As a #2 catcher, he has plenty of upside if he can turn his career around. Possible sleeper.
13. MI Willie Bloomquist
Low upside player that will add depth to the outfield and infield. His at bats will be real short in 2014.
14. OF Abraham Almonte
Switch hitting outfield bat with possible double digit power and 30 SB upside. Almonte is a career .269 hitter in the minors with 47 HR's, 282 RBI, and 202 SB's in 2623 at bats.