Spring Training Notes: Mariners Bats

In addition to scouting a trio of young Mariners pitching prospects, a number of top position prospects also made the trip to Goodyear Stadium.

Nick Franklin batted second and played shortstop alongside Brad Miller. Franklin struggled at the plate and in the field as he failed to make hard contact and booted two balls on the infield.

On one play a few steps to his right, Franklin attempted a back hand, but choppy footwork left him in poor position to make the play. The ball ricocheted off his glove and into shallow left field.

His second error was on a ball a step to his left. Instead of fielding the ball in front of him, he ole’d it off his side and it bounced off his palm and into centerfield.

In 2012, a leaner Franklin failed to impress defensively as a member of the Jackson Generals. With the added size of an off-season regimen filled with 6,000 calorie days and time in the weight room, it’s even more difficult to project Franklin as a shortstop at the Major League level.

Brad Miller manned the hot corner, with former third base prospect Francisco Martinez working exclusively in center field now. Untested in the field, Miller rolled over on inside pitches in multiple at bats resulting in weak ground balls to the right side.

In left field, Vincent Catricala misplayed multiple balls. On a shallow pop up, Franklin was forced to make an over the shoulder catch as the left fielder meandered to the ball hoping to be called off.

On a deep fly ball to left-center field, Catricala took a poor route and slowed as his focus shifted from the ball in play to the center fielder converging on the ball. An extra step would have helped Catricala as the ball bounced off of his glove and rolled along the warning track.

Defensively, Catricala’s future home is to be determined, but left field is unlikely to be it.

At the plate, he rolled over on multiple fastballs resulting ground balls to shortstop. Catrical presented as stiff at the plate, although has hands were quick through the strike zone.

Julio Morban was the most impressive Mariners prospects offensively. With two singles to left-center field, he showed an innate ability to stay back on fastballs on the outer half. Not only does he have quick hands, but the bat head lingers in the zone hinting at an advanced feel for contact.

The right-fielder attacked pitches early in counts every at bat. This included flailing at a couple of sliders low and out which left me with the impression he’d have to tighten his approach at the upper levels.

John Hicks served as the designated hitter. With the perfect catcher’s frame, he makes a great first impression. At the plate, he hit a fly ball to center field for an out and single to right off of an 87 mph Matt Capps fastball.

The fly ball to center was interesting because backspin created enough loft to nearly burn Francisco Martinez.

As for Martinez, he continues to underwhelm. His frame has really filled out from last season. If he’s successful in center field, maybe he recovers a bit of lost value. However I’ve now seen more than a dozen plate appearances by Martinez without a hard hit ball to speak of.

18-year old Timmy Lopes also made an appearance and singled up the middle in his first at bat. Lopes is undersized, but has tools and an advanced idea of what he’s trying to accomplish at the plate.

To stumble upon an embarrassment of prospect riches on day one has set the bar high for the remainder of this trip.




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Mike Newman is the Owner/Managing Editor ofROTOscouting, a subscription site focused on baseball scouting, baseball prospects and fantasy baseball. Follow me onTwitter. Likeus on Facebook.Subscribeto my YouTube Channel.


32 Responses to “Spring Training Notes: Mariners Bats”

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  1. Dirck says:

    Based on this review ,it doesn’t sound like Franklin projects to be able to play SS, second, or third adequately . Is he a corner outfielder ,or does he become one of the Mariners’ dozen or so DH’s ?

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    • Mike Newman says:

      Franklin will make a fine defensive second baseman. When I wrote about him in my Newman’s Own pieces, it was as the best 2B I scouted in 2012 even though he was at SS. It’s just one game, but I felt it was important to mention the miscues on defense.

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  2. Chummy Z says:

    Based on this review, these guys are not good at baseball. Ouch.

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    • Rob says:

      My view is that Mike is harder on prospects than other evaluators who tend to rate prospects too high. Many other evaluators don’t seem to realize how much each and basically every single prospect has to improve to reach their ceiling. Mike points out these flaws while still acknowledging they can get better in most regards. Personally, I see him as more of a realist.

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      • Rob says:

        *Many other talent evaluators do realize how much better each prospect has to improve to reach their ceiling, but they tend to not include it in their reports. BA especially make reports for prospects that makes each team seem to have at least five potential #2 starters in their system and lists the positives of each prospect without mentioning why they are still in the minor leagues (they need to still get a lot better).

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      • wobatus says:

        And you can’t, and Mike doesn’t appear to, make firm judgments based on seeing just one day. He has like Miller in the past, he just noted he had an issue a couple of times that day. I remember reading about the first time an Angels scout in a high school game saw Trout he popped out 4 times.

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        • Mike Newman says:

          Thanks all,

          I take your comment as very high compliments. In the end, I can only share what I see. If you remember back to my previous pieces on Mariners prospects, I was extremely high on Walker, higher than most on Miller and liked Franklin as a 2B with an upside of .275 with 15-18 HR. One day doesn’t really change that.

          However, my first looks at Paxton and Catricala weren’t especially good ones. Catricala was bad enough for me to consider him a fringe prospect at this point, if that.

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  3. rustydude says:

    If someone has “quick hands”, how does he additionally have the ability to have the “bat head linger in the zone”? It seems that the only way this is possible is for the hitter to use his quick hands to get the bat head into the zone quickly, and then put the brakes on his swing at that point. And if this is true, why would a hitter want to slow his swing down once in the zone? Wouldn’t you want a good follow through on the swing to give any contact with the ball more power?

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    • Rob says:

      Quick hands refers to a direct bat path and good bat speed. The bat stays in the zone a long time when the path of the bat is direct through the zone and the bat stays for a longer time pointing closer to home plate than to the mound.

      Chase Utley has very quick hands because his bat stays closer to his body rather than extended like Edwin Encarnacion. Utley’s bat stays in the strike zone a long time because by keeping his hands in, he can create a larger contact area in front of the plate instead of having a smaller contact area on top of the plate.

      All of this is obviously hard to explain if you don’t have a solid knowledge of hitting mechanics and if you don’t have any visuals.

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      • Balthazar says:

        So Rob, I get it, and your description is clear. That’s exactly how I would envision it. In addition to better bat speed, quick hands also mean you can wait on the pitch longer before starting to swing and so get a better read on the break, leading to both a better plane through the zone from a good read and better contact on the ball.

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        • David says:

          It also frequently correlates to doubles or advanced doubles power, guys like Cano and Beltre are known for their fast hands and even swing planes.

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        • Mike Newman says:

          I’m loving the quality of comments in this thread. I’m not sure I’ve ever read better in one of my prospect pieces.

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        • Balthazar says:

          So Mike, you give us real content detail in your remarks, so it’s easy and worth it to sink our own teeth in. That’s to say, you bring out the best in the audience rather than just chatter. I look forward to your posts.

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  4. M's fan says:

    Give us back our blogger you wankers.

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  5. Evan says:

    SSS spring training warning, but very good notes none the less. Good to hear Morban is making a good impression, it sounds like he could climb some prospect lists this season.

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    • Mike Newman says:

      Evan,

      After nearly 170 pieces including a number of posts discussing the utility of single looks, I trust readers to differentiate between a thorough scouting report and game notes.

      Thanks for the kind words!

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  6. Balthazar says:

    I’ve been higher on B. Miller and Franklin as hitters last year, but neither has had a particularly impressive Spring, particularly at the plate. That doesn’t change my view on them as prospects—hey, it’s _Spring training_—but unfortunately they’ve missed a chance to make an impression on the org.

    That game was Franklin’s worst of the Spring, especially defensively, but the things he showed wrong are why he should have been moved off the position already; poor foot work, poor approach to fielding position, plus below average arm strength. Seriously, the Ms should commit to Brad Miller as a short stop and work to get Franklin settle in at 2nd base. Of course the Ms have already deeded 2nd base to Dustin Ackely in anticipation of greatness . . . . Doubt we’ll see either Franklin or Miller in Seattle this year until and unless the org gets their positions settled and they get the reps in. Carlos Triunfel is getting the long look this Spring as the big league back-up, and doing enough to enter the picture. If Ryan or Ackley went down, I’d expect to see Triunfel brought up for depth while Andino gets the first shot at playing time.

    I don’t know how Catricala managed to tear up the low minors and turn into stone in AAA; or I don’t want to think too deeply about it, to be more accurate. He’s off my map as any kind of prospect, and he’s certainly never been a LFer. I’ve never remotely understood all the interest in Franciso Martinez as a prospect. He’s shown basically nothing with the bat, and been shuffled between positions. His acquistion was a mistake; the scouts who bid on him need to take a look in the mirror on that one. I’ve also stopped paying attention when I see his name.

    Julio Morban, now. He’s moved up the chart. The Ms need OFers; he seems to be one who hits. If he can stay on the field and show a full season’s production in AA, we’ll know more but count me interested. And Hicks seems to be coming on well also. The pros are about production, and guys who are going to get there and stick produce.

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  7. Evan says:

    I’m very interested to see Triunfel play this year. The bat hasn’t come around yet, but hes filled out a bit more physically since last year, and has hit the ball hard this spring. The range at SS is a bit concerning, but his defense is better than Franklin’s, and if his bat is coming around he could be a useful piece as a utility/backup infielder. Given that Miller is the best SS prospect, if Carlos can survive in a major league role it makes it that much easier to trade Nick Franklin, perhaps for an outfield prospect.

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    • Balthazar says:

      Triunfel actually hit decently in Tacoma last year, the only prospect other than Carlos Peguero to do so there. (Figure that out). I don’t know how much better Triunfel gets in the minors, but being on the 25 man just to sit doesn’t grow experience much either. It’s tough when you’re a tweener as a prospect.

      I’m actually hoping the Ms keep Triunfel on the roster going north. He’s got to be nearing Rule 5 loss though I don’t remember his dates, so it’s probably use-or-lose after this season. And somebody will take him next winter, he’s _still_ pretty young, and as we see more or less major league ready. Probably never a star, and maybe never a regular, but if he’s going to be a useful spare part it’s time to put him in the right place.

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  8. maqman says:

    As of today Miller has an OPS of .725, Franklin .606, Triunfel .598 and Catricala .592. After swatting 2 dingers yesterday Morban is at .982, one of 13 Ms players hitting over .900 OPS, in addition to leading MLB in dingers so far this spring. SSS applies but this is not your old forlorn Mariners of recent memory. Get used to it.

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  9. pointsette says:

    And Miller hasn’t made errors? nobody has written up miller for the two errors made in a single game this spring training. what’s up with the criticism? they each now have three errors this spring. Franklin happened to catch up to miller this game.

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    • Everett says:

      Because this was the game Mike happened to be at while scouting and he was sharing his observations from this game.

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      • pointsette says:

        gotcha – checked the teams st stats and this game didnt count. franklin and triunfel only have one error towards games that are actually recorded. Miller has 3.

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        • Mike Newman says:

          I went to Peoria last night to scout Profar, Bogaerts and Schoop from the Netherlands and Miller played SS the entire game. He’s not always pretty, but he has the ability to make the plays. If his positioning and body control improve a bit, his error totals should drop.

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    • Balthazar says:

      Brad Miller actually has decent range. He has some positioning things to work on as Mike N. says, bu those are what time in the minors are for. Miller’s real problem has been with his throwing arm; most of his errors have been bad throws. How much he can improve that by better body control &etc. remains to be seen. Miller can _cover_ the position at a competent level, though. It’s just not looking like Franklin can, and part of that is Franklin’s not having the good footwork to get in a good position for the catch-and-throw. Garlos Triunfel mentioned above was very slow to master the fundamentals of positioning despite good athleticism, and there was always talk about moving him off the position. But if he’s now All-star out there now he’s improved to acceptable after five hers of repetitions. Miller needs to polish up his defense faster than that, but he’s also in better shape than Triunfel was, sot here’s reason to believe Miller can cut it in the majors defensively at SS.

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  10. JimO says:

    Saw two games in Peoria this week. Brad Miller and Julio Morban were in the lineup both times. This is of course a small sample.
    Miller showed good hands and a good arm at both 3B and SS. did not see if his range was good. He hit a line drive homer and a double. All of his outs were solid line drives that found well placed fielders. He was really impressive. His power is much less than Seager however especially to the opposite field.
    Morban hit a double off the very tall batter’s eye. Otherwise his outs were pretty routine. He looked very good defensively in CF and LF with good routes.

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    • Mike Newman says:

      Thanks for contributing this JimO. I’m always happy to hear updates from readers. Crowdsourcing is a great way to compile a large amount of prospect information.

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    • Balthazar says:

      So JimO, I appreciate the details; I’m always looking for crumbs to fill in the picture on some of these guys. Regarding Miller, I wouldn’t expect him to have the HR power of some, contact has been the strength of his swing in college, so to speak. But Miller’s real asset has been a _great_ eye at the plate leading to a ton of walks. If he controls the zone when he swings and takes the walks, he’ll be an on-base machine. That works, especially for a SS if, as hoped, he sticks there.

      I’m interested to hear your remarks on Morban’s defense. He’s always been spoken of as a good athlete, so if he’s showing good reads too as you say, we have something quite interesting on our hands.

      And Carlos Peguero, I love him as an athlete. Carlos . . . hasn’t been the smartest guy around, he seems to need a lot of mental reps. I don’t want to knock him for that like some do, he is what he is. If Peguero has decided to take his defensive game seriously, his speed by itself could have him hold his own in a corner position. And Peguero crushes off speed stuff re: an interesting write up by other Mariners’ observers. Can he shorten his l-o-n-g swing so as not to be eaten up by fastballs? A major league career depends upon him making that adjustment. The thing is, if the Mariners use up their options on Peguero, he’ll never make it through waivers or the Rule 5. There will be 27-8 teams out there who’ll be looking to take a flyer on the physical package. Yeah, Peguero may never make it; maybe that’s even likely. But it’s not like he has nothing to work with. A frustrating but fascinating guy, just not one to count on until he shows he’s improved.

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  11. JimO says:

    Glad to offer a few observations. Pitcher-wise: Noesi and Carraway were terrible. Carraway loses forward momentum in his delivery and gets rocked like batting practice.
    Medina is the Peguero of pitchers. He would embarrass one hitter and then look out of control the next.
    Bawcom and LaFrombise were sharp but they were facing minor leaguers late in the game.
    Also Peguero legged out a triple and it was truly impressive. Third baseman wanted none of that.

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