Top 5 Prospects for 2015: Seattle Mariners by Marc Hulet March 19, 2015 This 30-part series will look at the projected Top 5 freshman contributors for each big league club for the year ahead. The rankings take into consideration a mixture of ceiling, readiness and potential playing time allocation, which is to say some players with lower ceilings may be ranked ahead of others with higher ceilings because they project to have a greater impact in the coming season. In a Nutshell: Seattle has a lot of young players residing in the upper levels of the season that could provide a shot in the arm to the club throughout the season as it looks to take a shot at the playoffs in 2015. The Top 5 Freshman for 2015 1. D.J. Peterson, 1B: The club’s first round draft pick from 2013, Peterson shouldn’t require much seasoning in the minors. He reached Double-A last season, slugged 31 home runs in the process, and has a .914 OPS in his pro career. Logan Morrison currently projects as the everyday first baseman in Seattle but his career has been derailed by injuries. He’s entering his prime so he had best take advantage of that or Peterson could wrestle the gig away by mid season. The prospect is a legit middle-of-the-order threat. 2. Carson Smith, RHP: Smith has all the makings of an excellent big league reliever: He has good stuff, deception, throws strikes and induces a plethora of ground-ball outs. He’s allowed just four home runs in 155 career innings at the minor league level. With current closer Fernando Rodney’s contract up at the end of 2015, both Danny Farquhar and Smith could be in-house favorites to assume the mantle of closer — sooner if Seattle falls out of playoff contention. 3. John Hicks, C: Seattle opens 2015 with significant questions behind the plate. Sophomore catcher Mike Zunino suffered through a nightmare (J.P. Arencibia-like) season at the plate and is currently re-working his swing and approach. The back-up job will likely fall to Jesus Sucre, a 27-year-old rookie who’s known more for his defence than his offence. Hicks doesn’t have the same pedigree or tools that Zunino possesses at the plate but he’s a former fourth round pick whose hit quite well for a catcher, aside from a poor performance at Double-A in 2013. He’s also known as a solid defender and good leader. 4. Pat Kivlehan, 3B: Kivlehan’s defence game is lacking in part due to his time spent focusing on college football, and he’s played multiple positions (1B, 3B, OF) and none overly well. His bat is a different story, though. The 25-year-old prospect has produced strong batting averages throughout his career. He may not be quite as successful in that department in the Majors, though, because his approach still needs work. He strikes out too much and could stand to be more patient. Still, he also has some pop in his bat so he should be a useful piece for Seattle. He’s not going to push D.J. Peterson out of the first base picture and he may not be strong enough on defence to be an everyday player anywhere else. 5. Dave Rollins, LHP: Rollins has been a favorite of mine since his first pro season and it was somewhat surprising to see Toronto part ways with him and then to see Houston leave him unprotected in the Rule 5 draft (He’s exactly the type of arm they could use). Rule 5 picks don’t typically play significant roles on big league clubs but the lefty could probably surprise some people because he’s more advanced than most prospects in similar situations. He’ll likely open the year as the long man in the ‘pen but could earn some starts before the year is out. The biggest downfall to his game is his fly-ball tendencies.