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Mariners Top 10 Prospects

By Jim Callis
December 26, 2002

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Prospect Handbook
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1. Rafael Soriano, rhp

Age: 23. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 175. Signed: Dominican Republic, 1996. Signed by: Ramon de los Santos.

Background: For a guy who didn’t start pitching until 1999, Soriano has made remarkable progress. He spent his first two years in pro ball hitting .220 as an outfielder. After getting acclimated to the mound, Soriano ranked as one of the low Class A Midwest League’s top pitching prospects in 2000 based primarily on his fastball, but he now projects as a three-pitch starter. Though his arrival at spring training was delayed by three weeks while his identity and birthdate were being confirmed by immigration officials–none of Soriano’s vital statistics changed–he pitched well enough at Double-A San Antonio to earn his first big league promotion in early May. After two scoreless relief appearances, he pitched well in five of his first six starts. Then he strained his shoulder and landed on the disabled list for three weeks. Sent back to Double-A once he was healthy, Soriano won the Texas League championship game. He allowed one run and two hits in seven innings while striking out 14, including three punchouts of Rangers slugger Mark Teixeira.

Strengths: The Mariners were encouraged by Soriano’s playoff performance because he had all three of his pitches working. He threw in the mid-90s and topped out at 97 mph and showed his usual hard slider. Best of all, he threw 12-15 changeups to keep a predominantly lefthanded lineup at bay. When he made the transition to the mound, Soriano quickly demonstrated polish and smooth mechanics. He is a true power pitcher, and his fastball/slider combination would allow him to close games if Seattle needs him in that role.

Weaknesses: Soriano missed the latter part of 2001 with an impingement in his shoulder, and the joint bothered him again last year. With a career high of just 137 innings, he has yet to prove he can handle a full-season grind. Soriano needs more consistency and trust in his changeup. He doesn’t beat himself with walks but needs better command in the strike zone.

The Future: The Mariners have two openings in their rotation, and Soriano is a prime candidate to fill one of them. Even if he starts 2003 at Triple-A Tacoma, Soriano will get called up before too long.

2002 Club (Class)

W

L

ERA

G

GS

CG

SV

IP

H

HR

BB

SO

AVG

San Antonio (AA)

2

3

2.31

10

8

0

0

47

32

6

15

52

.190

Seattle

0

3

4.56

10

8

0

1

47

45

8

16

32

.243

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