ESPN’s Keith Law is the latest to come out with his prospects ranking (subscription required), and the Mariners check in with four in the top 100.
The first three are predictable, because they’re making all the prospects lists: Dustin Ackley (at No. 7), Michael Pineda (at 21), and shortstop Nick Franklin (at 53).
The somewhat surprising inclusion — at No. 100 — is outfielder James Jones. This is a guy that scouting director Tom McNamara has always been very high on, and it looks like that confidence is paying off. Writes Law: “Give the Mariners a ton of credit for this pick — Jones was a hard-throwing left-handed pitcher at Long Island University who hit only as a part-time DH, and most clubs looked at him in that light. The Mariners took him as an outfielder and the early returns are exciting.
“In 18 months in pro ball, Jones has shown himself to be a quick study, dramatically improving his pitch recognition and his reads in the outfield between spring training of 2010 and the second half of the year….He’s one of the most athletic hitting prospects around with a plus-plus arm and easy power, even the other way, from good torque and hip rotation in his swing. Jones will play all of 2011 at age 22, but given his experience level he has more upside than even that age would indicate, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him light up the hitter-friendly California League as he continues to learn.”
Jones had a .269/.356/.432 line last year at Class A, with 12 homers and 65 RBI. The left-handed hitter and thrower was a fourth-round pick the 2009 draft.
In his ranking of the top 10 prospects in the Mariner system, Law went with those four, plus RHP Taijuan Walker at 5, LHP Mauricio Robles at 6, 3B Alex Liddi at 7, SS/3B Marcus Littlewood at 8, OF Johermyn Chavez at 9, and RHP Stephen Pryor at 10.