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Larry Stone gives his take on a wide array of baseball issues and weighs in about the Mariners, too.

January 26, 2011 at 10:48 AM

Help on the way? M’s rank highly in young talent

ackley2b.jpg

(Dustin Ackley is shown during a Tacoma Rainiers game last season. Seattle Times staff photo by Jim Bates).

UPDATE: Tip of the cap to the Far From Port blog, which listed several different rankings of the Mariners’ top 10 prospects (a link I found via my BFF, Twitter).

A couple of talent-ranking lists are out, and the Mariners make a nice showing. This is no guarantee of anything, of course — young talent, even the most highly touted, doesn’t always pan out, and even the ones that do still need good pieces around them to be anything more than just one bright spot on a lousy team.

That said, this has been a pretty discouraging winter for Mariner fans, so any promising news is probably welcome.

First comes this list by mlb.com’s Jonathan Mayo, ranking the top 50 prospects in the major leagues. The Mariners have three in the top 50, compared to just one last year (second baseman Dustin Ackley at No. 15 in 2010).

Ackley has jumped from No. 15 to No. 5 (behind outfielder Mike Trout of the Angels, pitcher Jeremy Hellickson of the Rays, outfielder Bryce Harper of the Nationals and outfielder Domonic Brown of the Phillies, while pitcher Michael Pineda checks in at No. 13, and shortstop Nick Franklin at No. 38. In addition, Mayo notes that outfielder Guillermo Pimentel just missed the top 50, coming in at No. 56. Pimentel, who even turn 18 until last October, is a name to tuck away. Signed out of the Dominican Republic by Bob Engle and Patrick Guerrero, Pimentel was ranked the No. 7 outfielder in the minors by Mayo, who wrote: “He could be the kind of left-handed power bat teams dream about.”

Only two teams had more prospects on the MLB list than Seattle — the Royals with six, and the Rays with four.The Braves, Reds, Rockies, Yankees and Blue Jays joined the Mariners with three. Looking at the rest of the AL West, the A’s were one of four teams without a player in the top 50, while the Rangers had two, and the Angels were represented only by Trout.

Not surprisingly, the Royals rank first on Keith Law’s list of organizational rankings on ESPN.com (subscription required). The Royals are generally regarded as the most talent-laden team, at least when it comes to minor-league talent.

The Mariners come in at No. 10 on the list (behind the Royals, Rays, Braves, Blue Jays, Phillies, Angels, Twins, Reds and Yankees). The Rangers, ranked No. 1 last year by Law, drop to 12, but Law points out that’s because so many of their young prospects either jumped to the majors to help them win the pennant last year, or were used in trades. The A’s rank No. 18.

The Mariners’ ranking, Law writes, is largely a result of their two blue-chippers. He writes: “Top-heavy with Dustin Ackley and Michael Pineda and strangely light on international talent below that, even though that is a historical strength for the club. The Mariners have a couple of possible fast-moving relievers, led by Stephen Pryor and Tyler Burgoon, who could make an impact in the next 24 months.

Law will come out with his Top 100 prospects list Thursday.

Update: I just ran across an article that says the Mariners will be looking at Cuban defector Yasiel Balaguer, an 18-year-old outfielder in Miami.

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