Outfielder Michael Saunders #55
25 years old; Experience: three years
Michael Saunders is the kind of player that is maddening to fans, more maddening to his manager, and probably most maddening to the scouts. The fans hear of this guy who can seemingly do it all at such a young age. The manager gets a kid who has been doing it all in AAA, and the scouts are the people who are sure he can do it in the major leagues. But year in and year out, Saunders has failed his big league opportunity. On pretty much any other team, Saunders wouldn't have gotten another major league chance. But the Seattle Mariners aren't any other team. They are the Seattle Mariners, where hope springs eternal and opportunities knock on your door, and your neighbor's door, and your landlord's door until they find someone who knows how to hold a baseball mitt.
Saunders has shown he can hit for power throughout his minor league career. He is a serviceable outfielder with a good arm and he gets good reads/jumps on balls. His biggest problem has been that his hitting has never translated to a serviceable level in the major leagues. In 2010, through 100 games Saunders was able to hit 10 home runs. But he did it while batting a paltry .211 with an OBP of .295. That year was his best year with the Mariners.
The biggest problem with Michael Saunders is he has a tendency to preform well enough in Spring Training that it is clear he either belongs on the roster or is the first person to be called up. This might be Saunders last year to show he belongs consistently on a major league roster. For that to happen, Saunders needs to desperately cut down on his strikeouts and just learn how to put the ball into play better. With the injuries to Franklin Gutierrez and Mike Carp to open the season, Saunders has his best opportunity to show he belongs in the future plans of the club right now. At best, he could be a pretty decent outfielder with some solid pop and a good arm. At middle ground, he could be a pretty good fourth outfielder. At worst, he will be what he has been the past three years - which isn't very much. But is his career doesn't take off with Seattle; Saunders is young enough to probably catch a contract with another major league team. Those players then tend to find their swing and be super fantastic (hello Michael Morse anyone?) so lets hope he finds success with the Mariners.