As stated yesterday, John Sickels posted his Top 20 Seattle Mariners Prospects last week, which was something that I had time to help narrow down the list on, but not actually comment on at that point. I've been pretty critical of Sickels' lists in the past, but this one I actually kind of like, or see things that I'm intrigued by.

1) Taijuan Walker, RHP, Grade A-
2) Danny Hultzen, LHP, Grade A-
3) James Paxton, LHP, Grade B+: Borderline A-
4) Nick Franklin, SS, Grade B: Borderline B+
5) Jose Campos, RHP, Grade B
6) Vinnie Catricala, 3B-1B-OF, Grade B-: Borderline B
7) Francisco Martinez, 3B, Grade B-
8) Alex Liddi, 3B, Grade B-
9) Phillips Castillo, OF, Grade B-
10) Brad Miller, SS, Grade B-
11) Chance Ruffin, RHP, Grade B-: Borderline C+
12) Guillermo Pimentel, OF, Grade C+
13) Stephen Pryor, RHP, Grade C+
14) Martin Peguero, SS, Grade C+
15) Victor Sanchez, RHP, Grade C+
16) Tyler Marlette, C, Grade C+
17) Stefen Romero, 2B-OF, Grade C+
18) Carter Capps, RHP, Grade C+
19) Erasmo Ramirez, RHP, Grade C
20) Jabari Blash, OF, Grade C

Note that a lot of the borderline calls here skew towards the positive end of the spectrum. Good news throughout. To go over some of the list in a little bit more depth, I'll start with certain gestures that I agree with. I'm pleased to see at least one Liddi advocate among prospect rankers (who is okay with his defense!), as well as some additional love for Castillo and Miller, who I think have been underrated by a number of outlets so far, Miller in particular. I'd side with him in dropping Ruffin as well, not because I dislike him so much as a belief that pure relievers don't have the same impact. I'm also glad that someone remains a bit suspicious of Pimentel's lack of production and struggles to improve his plate discipline in Pulaski, where hitters typically have quite an easy time. I hope that he eventually proves me wrong and turns into the elite hitter people think he's going to be, so I can cry out "Guillermo, forgive my sins!", but right now, the lack of plate discipline suggests to me that a physical capacity to hit thirty dingers is going to be overridden by the fact that you don't need to throw him good pitches in order to get him out.

As for stuff neither here nor there, I'm interested in the ranking of Marlette in such a high spot. It's not indefensible because BA regards him as the best power bat we signed from the draft (i.e., Cron excluded), and that he homered in Petco Park and can hit to all fields is well known. On the other hand, he's a catcher, and catching always raises defensive concerns, and in our very limited sample of 45 plate appearances last year in Pulaski, he struck out thirteen times and didn't walk once. Nevertheless, he's one of the guys that I'm really looking forward to seeing in the coming season, as to whether he lives up to his billing. I figure there's a chance he ends up in Everett. Another "neither here nor there" is the addition of Jabari Blash, which overall, I like. Blash has some unknowns right now like the reconciliation of his plate discipline with his power, but you aren't likely to find better tools around in the system, so he's not a bad player to dream on. The final one is that Romero is ranked pretty highly with Sickels making some analogies to Catricala. I like Romero and think he was easily one of the best hitters on last year's Lumberkings squad, but I kind of want to see him do it at a higher level and am still uncertain of his defensive future, although it certainly looks more positive than it used to, I think.

My disagreements are few, and somewhat expected. I think that Capps, who has been starting so far in spite of his mechanics, deserves some benefit of doubt at this stage, and even if you do see him as a reliever, the stuff is good enough to justify moving him up. I also disagree with the assessment on Erasmo because I believe that his arsenal, reported velocity uptick accounted for, is better than Sickels gives him credit for. I could see him as a #3 starter (maybe not on this team, fingers crossed), not just a back-end innings eater. The other issues really just make a mess of the whole process because Sickels included a bunch of also-rans, and among those with a case for being underrated, you have Burgoon, Hicks, Littlewood (I'll sigh here, but I'm willing to admit it), Marder, Maurer, Morales, Raben… heck, let's just say all of them with maybe an exception or two. I think that any of those guys has a chance to break out. Chiang, if his Eastern League numbers held up, was legitimately interesting. Forrest Snow would have a lot more press in a system with fewer quality arms. Triunfel is still young. Littlewood is still young. Marder and Hicks could have dropped just because so many catchers were selected at once. You can see where it gets to be a bit of a mess if you really start discussing whether each pick belongs and why. I'm not envious of those that have to write these lists. There's a good amount of talent in here and enough names to go around where someone in that list of honorable mentions is going to be talked up as a prospect on the rise in the next year or so.