Prospects to Watch
Boog Powell, who came over in the Karns trade with the Rays, is somebody Dipoto feels really fits Safeco Field. He plays great defense and works hard at the plate to get on base. It will be tough for Powell to make the Opening Day roster with Franklin Gutierrez being able to play any outfield position ahead of him. If there are any injury problems, look for Boog to get the call-up. An exciting player who isn’t afraid to sacrifice his body in the field and lay down a bunt to get on-base is always fun to watch.
Danny Hultzen, the former number-two pick has never been able to show what made him worthy of that pick because of injuries. The Mariners dropped him from their 40-man roster earlier this offseason, but he cleared waivers so he is back in the M’s organization. Dipoto has said that Hultzen will enter the spring as a reliever in hopes that will help him stay healthy. In three professional seasons, he has only been able to manage 10 starts due to a number of shoulder issues. Staying healthy, not performance will be the main thing to watch with him this season.
D.J. Peterson and Alex Jackson are two of the M’s top prospects coming off very disappointing seasons. Peterson slashed .223/.287/.344 with just seven home runs combined between Double-A and Triple-A in 2015. In 2014, he slugged 31 home runs between High-A and Double-A and seemed on the fast track to the big leagues. Jackson was the M’s first round pick in 2014 out of high school. Between Short-Season and Low-A he managed to slash just .207/.318/.365. While he is only 20 years old, this seems like a make-or-break year for Jackson.
Jackson is still a few years away from being ready to get his shot with the big-league club, if his potential can match his actual game performance. Peterson needs a really good bounce-back year in hopes of trying to make the club in 2017. A guy who can hit for power always has a chance but in Dipoto’s system you have to be able to be a well-rounded player if you are going to make it. Spring training is the first step for these two young prospects to rebound from a disappointing 2015.
Mike Zunino, while not considered a prospect anymore, is another top pick of the Mariners who has struggled at the major-league level. Dipoto has said that Zunino will start 2016 in Triple-A until he can show that he can dominate and develop at that level. Many believe he was rushed to the big leagues and his numbers reflect that. In three years at the big league level he slashed .193/.252/.353. In 2015 he hit just .174 with 11 home runs in 112 games. He also struck out 132 times and walked just 21. The hope is after an offseason working with Edgar Martinez and having success in Triple-A that Zunino will be able to translate that to success in the big leagues.