Each Monday during the 2013 minor league season, I will again give our readers a rundown of the best and worst from the minor league week that was within the Seattle Mariners system. The goal is to concentrate only on true prospects (age 26 and under and not on the big league roster), but if any player has an exceptionally noteworthy good (or bad) week, he could appear here as well. The goal is to not only keep you up to date on the goings on, but to try and give you a better look of what talent is in the system by spreading the coverage around.
In this extended Spring Training version of the hot and not so hot, we look at six players not named Brandon Maurer who had time in big league camp this year and what they showed during their time there.
Smith pitched in High-A last year, dazzling in the second half of his debut season. He went on and threw in the Arizona Fall League and then earned a Non-Roster invite to big league camp. A starter in college, Smith pitched well at every one of those stops and showed that he can get more experienced hitters out with his 90-92 sinking fastball and good slider. Look for him to start 2013 in Double-A, but he should be able to move quickly up the chain if he maintains the command he's shown over the last six months. Julio Morban - OF: .300/.382/.600 (9-30), 3 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 4 BB, 9 SO
The second youngest player (to Taijuan Walker) on the 40-man roster and in big league camp this year for Seattle, Morban played well all over the outfield and had his solid hitting highlighted by a two homer game against the Angels (both shots, one off of LA starter Tommy Hanson). He's always had the tools that suggested he could be an offensive force, but the lefty swinging outfielder hasn't been healthy enough to play 90+ games in a season yet. He just turned 21 and the club clearly has plans for him as they added him to the 40, so he's one of the primary prospects to watch in 2013, when he should start in a very talented outfield for Jackson. Brad Miller - SS: .255/.321/.489 (12-47), 4 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 4 BB, 7 SO, 1-2 SB
Miller was the only hitting prospect that lasted the entirety of big league camp for Seattle, and he did so by showing great versatility, playing eight games at shortstop, seven at third base and six at second base. He showed that he can hold his own with his left-handed bat and displayed hustle and heart that really grabbed the attention of the front office, field staff and fans alike. The Mariners are in no hurry to move him off of short, but he has the chops to man multiple positions on the infield and has the athleticism to put in some time in the outfield, too, should the need ever arise. Miller is a throwback type of player that gives his all and that will help accelerate his path to the big leagues.
Ruffin entered camp last year with what seemed like really good odds to break as a part of the big league pen. But he struggled and ended up with Tacoma as their closer, a role he held for less than a week. A rough season that saw his command and strikeout ability take a steep decline left Seattle searching for a change for Chance, and that change has come in the form of shifting him back to being a starter. Ruffin started his first two seasons in college but this isn't a move that is often made with first round picks out of the college ranks. He'll go back down to Double-A and give starting a shot, but this already may be the last chance for the 24 year old right-hander. Yoervis Medina - RHP: 0-1, 6 G, 6 IP, 11 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, 6 SO, 9.00 ERA, 2.17 WHIP, .971 oppOPS
After a disastrous 2011 season, Medina switched to the bullpen prior to 2012 and took very well to the role, putting up a strong 3.25 ERA and 10.0 SO/9 in 69 1/3 relief innings for Jackson. But this spring the 40-man rostered right-hander was hit hard despite not seeing a lot of high level experienced opposition in game action. His fastball-slider combo can be very effective but he needs his command to improve to get better hitters out, and clearly that hurdle hasn't been cleared yet. Triple-A will likely be his challenge to open 2013. James Paxton- LHP: 14.73 ERA, 2.73 WHIP, 3 G, 3 2/3 IP, 6 H, 6 ER, 4 BB, 1 SO, 1.064 oppOPS
I had a couple of scouting contacts pass along concerns with how Paxton performed late in the AFL and those same contacts saw more to be concerned with down in Peoria from the big Canadian lefty. The reports are that his velocity is way down and that he simply doesn't have a pitch that can put hitters away right now. The numbers from the spring certainly back that up, but perhaps this is all tied to Paxton's mechanical issues, which have plagued him in the past. Triple-A is calling for Paxton, and the more selective hitters that await him there could make things ugly if he doesn't regain his velocity, command and overall stuff.
That concludes our look at the best and worst in prospect performances from spring training for the M's. Check back next week when we comb through the first abbreviated week of game action for the four full-season affiliates in this 2013 season.
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