Originally written on NorthWest Sports Beat  |  Last updated 8/10/12
Plenty of bats to go around

Seattle is an organization that’s been mired in hitting woes. That’s why when mega prospects like Nick Franklin and Mike Zunino come along, they’re all everybody talks about.

Believe it or not, there are some other top bats in the farm system besides those guys.

Their ceilings might not be quite as huge, but they still have the chance to become great players at the MLB level.

Today we’re looking at “the other guys.”

They’re not as flashy as the Franklins and Zuninos of the world, but that doesn’t mean their upsides aren’t as exciting.

Brad Miller

Miller profiles to be a top of the order hitter.

For a team that’s been plagued with shortstop woes, it’s a pretty deep position in the farm system. (Nick Franklin is of course ahead of him) Drafted in the second round of the 2011 draft, Brad Miller is another Mariner shortstop to keep an eye on.

Taken from Clemson, Miller had an impressive college resume. Three year player with a slash line of .339/.452/.485. In his final NCAA season he lead the ACC in average and OBP, as well as his team in most major offensive categories.

The 22-year old hasn’t missed a beat with his transition to pro ball. In 2011 he hit .415/.458/.528. So far in 2012, Miller is hitting .335/.412/.513 with 13 home runs and 21 stolen bases.

His highest level reached has been AA.

Miller profiles to be a top of the order hitter.

His advanced understanding of the strikezone helps him hit for average and get on base—in fact, Miller might be the most patient hitter in the system. As he rises through the minors home runs should transition more into doubles, but he’s got plenty of speed to round out his game.

Defense remains the biggest question mark for Miller.

If he isn’t a long term solution at short, there’s plenty of other positions where he could test his glove.

At his lowest Miller has all the makings of a solid utility man.

Overall, his ceiling is that of an everyday shortstop who will get on base at a .370-.400 clip and steal plenty of bases.

Phillips Castillo

If you look up Mariner prospect lists your going to see Castillo ranked in a lot of different places. Rankings aside, every writer will say the same thing: huge upside.

Castillo is your typical Dominican born super prospect. Signed as an international free agent at the age of 17, Castillo looked like a pro in the 2011 Arizona Fall League—his first venture into pro ball.

He posted an .848 OPS with 24 extra base hits (18 doubles, 5 triples, 1 home run) and 8 stolen bases in 48 games.

As is the case with these types of players, where there’s hype and ceiling there’s also inexperience and struggles. Castillo is certainly showing that now, hitting .242/.338/.430 in 2012. He does have 5 home runs, but 0 stolen bases.

Just because he is struggling doesn’t mean fans should give up on Castillo. As he learns advanced pitches he could turn into a great player.

Scouts already like his defense, and he looks to settle in a corner outfield spot. He has a great feel for hitting, with the ball coming off his bat perfectly. He’s got the power to hit 2o+ home runs, and if he works on his baserunning the speed to swipe 20+.

Though his skills are raw, the future remains bright for Castillo.

Drafted in 2009, Vinnie Catricala has been a stud at nearly every level.

Vinnie Catricala

If you ask someone the top three hitters in the Mariner’s system they’ll first say Nick Franklin. Then, they’ll probably say Mike Zunino.

Third will be a toss up between Francisco Martinez—my answer—and this guy.

Drafted in 2009 from the University of Hawaii, Vinnie Catricala has been a stud at nearly every level.

In three seasons of college ball, he hit .313/.396/.479. In his first taste of pro ball he posted a .856 OPS with 8 home runs in 59 games. Last season between A and AA he hit .349/.421/.601 with 25 home runs, 106 RBI and 17 stolen bases.

Did I mention he’s a stud with the glove, with an ability to play either corner infield positions or the outfield?

Unfortunately, gaudy minor league stats don’t always profile MLB success. In 2012 Catricala finally seems stumped, hitting a forgettable .238/.304/.359 with 8 home runs in 104 games with Tacoma.

That’s why Catricala is so hard to rank. Is he a AAAA player, or a legit MLB prospect?

For now, Catricala’s track record shows plenty of promise. Chances are his 2012 woes are just growing pains.

If Catricala finishes the season strong, a good showing in Spring Training could garner a starting job come 2013.

Did you read my Mariners pitching prospects report last night?

CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT THE MARINERS BLOG IN OUR CLUBHOUSE TODAY AT NWSB!

© Jonathan Irwin for North West Sports Beat, 2012. | Permalink | No comment |

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Post tags: Arizona Fall League, Brad Miller, Clinton LumberKings, Francisco Martinez, Jackson Generals, Mariners prospects, Mike Zunino, MLB, Nick Franklin, Phillips Castillo, Seattle Mariners, Seattle Mariners blogs, Seattle Mariners farm system, Tacoma Rainiers, Top prospects, Vinnie Catricala

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