Seattle Mariners Down on the Farm: The 2nd Basemen

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Photo Credit (milb.com)
Cheney Stadium on a beautiful summer evening in Tacoma, Wa – Photo Credit (milb.com)

While your Seattle Mariners are unexpectedly in a power struggle for first this summer, the minor leagues have been on fire. Continuing our look through the minor leagues, we hit the “Keystone” or 2nd Base.

Up in the majors, the Mariners currently have a potential future Hall of Famer in Robinson Cano, so the position is a tough one for kids hoping to break through to the bigs. However the fact that Cano has lost a step and Adam Lind and Dae Ho Lee are both off the roster at the end of 2016 could open the door at 2nd as Cano possibly moves to 1st base. That could leave a wide door open for any future big leaguer to bust through.

AAA-Tacoma Rainiersrainierslogo

The Seattle Mariners have raided the Rainier’s twice for infield help. Currently Luis Sardinas and Shawn O’Malley are on the big league squad. In addition with the departure of Ed Lucas to the Reno Aces, there are currently two Rainier’s that have been given the chance at the 2nd base spot to battle for playing time.

Daniel Robertson

Daniel is a career minor league with over 830 games and 3100 at bats under his belt. The former Oregon State Beaver has found his way to the majors in 2014 (Rangers) and 2015 (Angels) for 107 total games in the Majors.  Robertson hit for a decent .274 average in the bigs, but has yet to catch on.  More of an outfielder than a 2nd baseman, he has been getting an opportunity to compete at the position.

Zach Shank

The 25-year-old Shank was just called up from AA Jackson. While he has yet to play in the field, Shank has been groomed as a utility player. Shank has played 2nd base several times at Tacoma and Jackson this year and has close to 150 games started at the position.  Shank has played significant amounts of time in the outfield and at 3rd base.

Zach has earned his way to Tacoma with the departure of Shawn O’Malley and a scorching stat line at Jackson. With the Generals he hit for .315, collecting 2 doubles and 2 triples along the way.

Matt’s Magic 8 Ball:

ETA – Unclear. Both seem to be more suited to a utility role, which is useful at the major league level but with Shawn O’Malley, Luis Sardinas, Chris Taylor and even Stefen Romero, the Mariners are flush with these players. Neither truly has the ability to hold down a 2nd base spot at the next level and will both remain utility or be moved to other roles.

AA- Jackson Generalsjackson-generals-logo

Tim Lopes

Lopes spent 2015 playing in Bakersfield. The former 6th round draft pick in 2012 has seen 40 games this year at Jackson. Lopes has 5 errors and a .969 fielding percentage.  Against Southern League pitching, Lopes has a .280 average with a healthy .347 on base average.  Lopes has 6 doubles, 2 triples, 9 steals, and 19 RBI on the year.

Matt’s Magic 8 Ball:

ETA- 2018. Lacking any sort of power, his glove and contact are what keep him around. He projects more as a utility player down the road unfortunately which runs him right into that logjam. But his footwork and glove are great, so he may land somewhere that’ll put his skills to use in the majors.

Advanced A- Bakersfield BlazeBakersfieldBlazeCap

Gianfranco Wawoe

The 21 year old from Curacao has been given a shot on the farm to play both SS and 2nd. Defensively he has been far stronger at 2nd (.966 fielding percentage) than he has at short (.918). This year with the Blaze, he has been hitting under his career average (.271) with a .248 average and a .302 on base percentage.

Matt’s Magic 8 Ball:

ETA – Foggy. He hasn’t really found his place as of yet. Only 21, he still has a bit of time to fill out physically and potentially find a permanent spot. It’s likely though that he winds up mainly as organizational depth at 2nd base.

Single A – Clinton Lumberkingslumberkings

Jordan Cowan

The Aquasox Alumni is currently injured, but he is quite adept defensively with a .985 fielding percentage.  While he hasn’t had a chance to make a splash in Clinton, he did get a chance to play in Australia for the Adelaide Bite.  With Adelaide, Cowan batted .292 in 25 games and stole 10 bases.

Chris Mariscal

Fresno State’s Chris Mariscal has been given a shot at 2nd base as well. Last year, he played 2nd, 3rd, and short developing into a utility infielder.  Chris has struggled at 3rd defensively and seems to shine much greater at 2nd.

Offensively, Chris has 23 hits on 99 at bats. 10 of those hits went for doubles demonstrating his ability to hit to the gaps.

Rafael Fernandez

With Jordan’s injury, Fernandez has slid from his shortstop position to compete for playing time.  Defensively he has 2 errors on the season, which at a .970 fielding percentage is consistent with his minor league career average.

Offensively, Fernandez has struggled this year, with only 14 hits on 76 at bats (.184 average).  The Venezuelan has been able to get on base adequately though with 12 walks on the season.

Matt’s Magic 8 Ball:

ETA – Jury’s out. All three have their strengths, but the player that stands out here for me is Jordan Cowan. I think he’s worth keeping an eye on, as I like what I’ve seen. Both Mariscal and Fernandez are a little older for this level and are long shots in my opinion.

Short season A -Everettaquasox

Note: the Aquasox begin their season in June, and most of their roster has yet to be determined, as it primarily depends on the draft.

 

Conclusion

There’s a lot of depth here for organizational help and utility players at the top level. But there isn’t a top prospect or even someone ranked in MLB’s own top 30 of the organization. In a farm system that’s recently been rated fairly low, that’s not too surprising. But with an aging Robinson Cano, the Mariners need to address this position soon. That may be what happens next month in the MLB Draft.

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