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January 8, 2013 7:42 PM

Jim Callis of Baseball America ranks Mariners' farm system No. 2 in majors

Posted by Larry Stone

I just got into my hotel in Atlanta, where I'll be writing Falcons stories this week in advance of Sunday's Seahawks playoff game. But I wanted to make sure I post this: Jim Callis, the executive editor of Baseball America, revealed in a chat yesterday his top 10 farm systems in the major leagues.

The Mariners come in at No. 2, right behind the Cardinals. Here is the list, with Callis's comments:

1. Cardinals Loaded big league club awaits Oscar Taveras, Shelby Miller and Trevor Rosenthal.
2. Mariners Their best prospects, even 2012 first-rounder Mike Zunino, have had Double-A success.
3. Marlins Blockbuster trade with Blue Jays propelled this system from middle of the pack.
4. Rangers No organization has more high-ceiling prospects, or one better than Jurickson Profar.
5. Red Sox Help is on the way with Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley, Matt Barnes and Allen Webster.
6. Rays Dealing for Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi helps to make up for recent lackluster drafts.
7. Twins The best collection of bats in the minors, led by Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano.
8. Pirates System isn't deep but has impressive trios of arms and bats that most can't match.
9. Diamondbacks No. 6 on my list before subtracting Trevor Bauer and adding Didi Gregorius.
10. Astros Rebuilding will take time, but trades and 2012 draft are steps in the right direction.

Callis points out that this is his personal list, not that of the Baseball America staff. But that still means a lot. There are a lot of great people doing minor-league analysis, and Callis is right up at the top. It's his job, not a sidelight. Callis sees most of the prosects and talks to more scouts and baseball personnel than just about anyone.

So this is a significant achievement for the Mariners, a sign that Jack Zduriencik is indeed succeeding in building up the talent level in the organization. Will that translate to Mariners victories? Not necessarily. I've seen a lot of Baseball America darlings over the years never achieve much of anything at the major-league level. But it sure beats the alternative.

We all know the names that are leading to most of the excitement -- Taijuan Walker, Mike Zunino, Danny Hultzen, James Paxton and Nick Franklin, front and center. But the Mariners are developing some depth in their farm system as well, which bodes well.

Again, the Mariners still need to be shrewd and aggressive in their acquisitions. But to have a strong minor-league system to feed the majors, as well as to use as trade fodder, is a great weapon to have. Just look across the division at the Rangers, who have used this precise formula to great success. They are ranked No. 5 on Callis's list, and have another group of blue-chippers on the verge of the majors, including the No. 1 player in most minor-league rankings, infielder Jurickson Profar, as well as third baseman Mike Olt, outfielder Leonys Martin and starter Martin Perez.

The Mariners have quite a ways to go to get to the stature of the Rangers, of course. But at least they are getting the prospects part right.


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