Meetings Underway; Mariners Top-10 Prospects

The Baseball Winter Meetings started today in Nashville, Tennessee.

They are two hours ahead of us in Nashville, and by the time I woke up this morning and logged onto the computer there was already word from Jon Heyman of CBS Sports that the Boston Red Sox have signed free agent catcher/DH Mike Napoli – so we can cross that name off the board, Mariners fans.

Major League free agent signings and trades will be at the forefront of the news coming out of Nashville, but there is a lot going on there other than big league deals.

Every single minor league team has sent a few people there, all of the agents are there, the baseball media is there, the people who manufacture baseball-related products are there (they are a big contingent), and even people looking to work in baseball are there.

The Tacoma Rainiers contingent in Nashville is team president Aaron Artman, VP of Business Development Jim Flavin, Director of Baseball Operations and Merchandise Ashley Roth, and member(s) of the team ownership.

Artman and the owners will be participating in high-level PCL and Minor League Baseball meetings. Flavin, I suspect, will be on the lookout for motivated ticket sales people and other business-side front office personnel.

Roth has the job that affects both you and me the most: she’ll blanket the gigantic Baseball Trade Show, looking for cool stuff to sell in the team store or to package as part of our season ticket promotions. She also represents Tacoma at the PCL travel meetings, in which they try to find the delicate balance between a) saving money and b) making my (and the team’s) travel less miserable.

They will all attend the Mariners affiliate dinner, which I have been to before and is kind of a trip: the Mariners host a dinner for all of their minor league affiliates. So in one room, we have front office representatives from the Mariners, Rainiers, Jackson (TN) Generals, High Desert (CA) Mavericks, Clinton (IA) Lumberkings, Everett Aqua Sox, and Pulaski (VA) Mariners. The ringleader is Mariners Director of Minor League Administration Hide Sueyoshi – who is the only person in the room who actually knows everybody, because he travels to all six affiliates every year. The dinner is fun and it gives people a chance to meet folks with similar jobs at other stops in the organization.

There will be lots of news coming out of Nashville all week. If you are on Twitter and want all of the national baseball news as it develops, make sure you follow @JonHeymanCBS and @Ken_Rosenthal – these two guys seem to get every story first.

It’s a wealth of news today, as Baseball America released their Seattle Mariners Top-10 Prospects list this morning.

Baseball America is the leader in this “prospect ranking” field. You can see the list right here – and if you are a Baseball America subscriber you can read all of the scouting reports right here. Also for subscribers only, there is a chat with BA expert Conor Glassey.

The big story, I suppose, is that catcher Mike Zunino has leapt all the way up to the No. 1 spot in just three months since signing with the Mariners out of the University of Florida.

Here is the good news for us Rainiers fans: it is quite possible, even likely, that we will see eight of the top-10 prospects in Tacoma at some point this season. Only Carter Capps (majors) and Victor Sanchez (he’s 17 years old) are unlikely to appear in a Rainiers uniform this season.

A large group of prospects in Triple-A is always fun to watch. Now, it doesn’t necessarily add up to Triple-A wins, but it is fun to watch prospects develop and get better over the course of a season. And sometimes a large group of prospects does win (see 2010 Rainiers).

Links:

  • The new full-time Mariners beat writer for The News Tribune is Ryan Divish, and he is blogging away from Nashville in his first full-time Mariners assignment. Divish had a pre-meetings story run in the today’s paper, and yesterday he put up a story on Jack Z‘s thoughts going into the meetings.
  • The Seattle Times sent Geoff Baker to Nashville, and he filed a pre-meetings story on the Mariners goals.
  • Larry Stone riffed on that Mariners Top-10 Prospects list.
  • Former Dodgers General Manager (and friend of the blog)¬†Dan Evans has a column on what the Winter Meetings are like from a GM’s perspective – this is a tremendous insider’s look.
  • Grantland’s Jonah Keri wrote a Winter Meetings preview which includes some very positive Mariners thoughts.
  • A Class-A team in a prime geographical location is using the Winter Meetings to hire a general manager. This is the type of thing that happens annually at the meetings.
  • So you want to be a Radio Guy? Low-level minor league teams sometimes hire RGs at the Winter Meetings – and apparently this year there are quite a few openings.
  • There are three new members of the Baseball Hall Of Fame and Rob Neyer has the lowdown. Count me among those who assumed that¬†Col. Ruppert was already in the Hall – whoops!
  • Former Rainiers infielder Alex Rodriguez is having another hip surgery and is out 4-6 months. Barry Bonds home run record is looking safer and safer…

Check back Tuesday – I expect to have things to write about all week!

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