Yeah, so, the Seattle Mariners are in contention in the American League by way of finishing No. 2 in the West. Entering play Monday, the Houston Astros held a 1.5 games lead on Seattle, which essentially extends to 2.5 games because the defending division champs already have clinched the tiebreaker: head-to-head.

But the burning questions, plural, surrounds top prospects Jarred Kelenic and Logan Gilbert.

1) Should the Mariners call up one or both to enhance their chances to catch Houston?

2) If they do, what are the service time ramifications?

3) Should those ramifications even matter?

Should Seattle Summon Kelenic, Gilbert?

This is a question only the Mariners can answer. Why? Because they are the only ones to have laid eyes on these players all year with any regularity.

One can easily take a leap on Gilbert being more likely to help than one or more of the current arms residing in the big-league bullpen. He was close enough when 2019 concluded and the club admitted their original plan for the right-hander this season included a summer call-up.

But we don’t know a thing about how things have gone at the Alternate Training Site in Tacoma. At least not the kind of stuff we’d need to even begin to make an assessment on how ready he might be to help a club in some role.

Again, though, it’s reasonable to believe in Gilbert more than, say, Seth Frankoff or Aaron Fletcher. If only it was as simple as believing based on others being bad and how things were trending a year ago, the last time Gilbert pitched in a game.

With Kelenic, it’s more difficult to reasonably suggest he’s ready beyond guessing, which is what some have done the past few weeks. Unfortunately, “well, he was in Double-A last year and has hit like 5 or 6 homers in Tacoma this summer” doesn’t qualify as practical evidence.

My argument for calling up both players centers on how easy it would be to protect them from some kind of developmental disaster.

Gilbert doesn’t have to be asked to go five or six innings. Use him out of the bullpen a few times.

Kelenic doesn’t need to be asked to hit in the top 6 in the lineup and play center field daily. Use him in favorable matchups (versus right-handed pitchers), bat him seventh or lower and if the test looks rough early, curb his usage even further.

The range of potential results for both players in the majors extends from one end to the other. Both could struggle mightily in the short stint, or they could both be very good, or somewhere in between.

If handled properly, I don’t feel there’s a lot of developmental risk if the task proves to be a bit much for them right now.

The Mariners are asking the same thing from inferior talents, and have all year, and it hasn’t worked. The minuscule downside doesn’t scare me at all.

What are the Service Time Ramifications?

There seems to be some confusion on how service time works, so let me start with some basics.

First, players require 172 days to earn one year of service. Those 172 days can come all in one season or over parts of multiple seasons.

Second, most MLB seasons are 184-187 days long, but players are maxed at 172 days. If a players earns service time for the entire season, they receive 172 days, not the pure number of days in the season. Yes, it’s dumb.

For 2020, players are receiving prorated service time. For every day they spend on the 2020 roster, it means 2.8 days of credited service. This means if Kelenic or Gilbert were called up and spent 10 days with the big club it would count as 28 days of service.

The impact of those 28 days, just for example, are as follows:

  • Both would start 2021 needing just 144 days to earn a full year of service.
  • The potential for eventual Super 2 arbitration status must be considered. Super 2 status is a when a player ranks in the top 22 percent (in service time) of all players with less than three but more than two years of service. These players get a fourth year of arbitration starting a year sooner.

If both Kelenic and Gilbert earned 28 days of service in 2020, in order to hold them off from ending 2021 with a full year to their ledger — which means they get to arbitration and free agency sooner — Seattle would have to hold both players out for 45 days or more next season, suggesting a mid-to-late May call-up.

If neither player gets a day in 2020, the club can wait as few as 14 days (depending on the exact length of the 2021 season).

For the record, the Super 2 number is usually around two years and 120-135 days, though last season it was just 2.115.

It would relatively easy to manipulate both arbitration and free-agent service time concerns for both Kelenic and Gilbert if they received 25-30 days of service for 2020. It may, however, disrupt the club’s roster plans if that is the case, and if GM Jerry Dipoto and staff decide not to make the move, that may be a significant factor.

Should Service Time Even be a Consideration Right Now?

Yes.

If a big part of the club’s long-term plan includes starting fresh in 2021 with the players in question, it does matter, because not being able to do so right smack in the middle of a rebuild and right in the middle of offseason planning (yes, right now is the middle) is a pretty major issue.

While the counterargument of “yes, but you have a chance to get to the postseason” carries a little bit of weight, let’s hash that out for a second here.

It’s a small chance at the postseason regardless of who does or does not get called up this month. That matters. It’s also a very, very small sample for which these players would theoretically be upgrades. Entering Monday, Seattle has 16 games remaining.

For context, the best player on the planet has been worth 1.3 wins over replacement to lead all of baseball over the last 16 games. Even if we assume the players Kelenic and/or Gilbert replaced were worth, say, a quarter-win below replacement level for those 16 games, that still requires the call-up to be worth as much as a top-10 player to make a difference.

Of course WAR can’t account for the little things; a catch Kelenic makes that Phillip Ervin or Dylan Moore doesn’t. a batter Gilbert gets out that Fletcher or Frankoff may not. Those events, with specific context, are worth more than WAR accounts for in the grand scheme.

So, yes, service time should matter. But it shouldn’t be the deciding factor in anything. Almost ever. There rare occasions when waiting a day or two more may serve the club down the road.

As far as options go, there is an impact.

There’s a great chance Kelenic starts 2021 in Tacoma regardless of what happens the final few weeks this season, call-up or not, perform or not. There’s also a chance Gilbert does, too. Not as good a chance as Kelenic, perhaps, but it’s there. If the two are called up this month, it means being added to the 40-man roster, which in turn means if they are optioned to the minors next year, even just prior to the season opening, it burns an option.

It’s my opinion, however, options aren’t much of a concern in this situation. Players get three option years (or four in super-rare scenarios when a player has less than five season of pro experience — majors and minors — and hasn’t been on a pro roster for 90 days or more in any on season, and hasn’t posted a 60-30 active roster/IL split in any one season), so it’d be an upset if Kelenic or Gilbert ran into option issues down the road.

In the End

The Mariners are in no position to rush a prospect. There will be no need to start either player on the Opening Day Roster next spring, and it very well could benefit both from spending six or eight weeks in Triple-A.

But there’s no reason to hold off on 2020 because of 2021. So if the Mariners believe 30-40 PAs and some outfield time from Kelenic helps them compete better to finish things this season, he should be called up for 10-14 days.

If the club believes Gilbert has a better chance to get some outs than Frankoff, Fletcher or Brady Lail, he should be summoned, too.

It may not make a difference in their chase of the Astros. Both players could play well and Seattle still may come up short. Both players could struggle, too

But the same way the sample may not be long enough to make a meaningful difference on the club’s chances to make up 2.5 games, it’s also not enough to damage these players’ futures.

Kelenic is probably at a point now similar to where Evan White was to start 2020. He’s struggled, but the club keeps running him out there. Gilbert is probably close to where Justin Dunn was in March, and he, too, has shown he can handle it and keeps getting starts, despite struggles.

This is a ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ scenario for the Mariners, and it’s not wrong to hold the players back.

But not only does the upside outweigh the risk (development, service time, offseason & 2021 planning), I think the most likely outcome does, too.…

Because there are no games, I’ve had to keep in contact with more folks that have seen the top draft prospects for this year’s class, so I thought I’d get back to putting together a board of sports.

The following rankings are based on conversations only. I’ve seen a few of these prospects in small batches, but not enough for my own personal assessment to matter enough for rankings — without outside info.

In the coming weeks, I’ll update expand this to 40.

20. Jordan Walker, 3B — Decatur HS (GA)

The 6-foot-5, 220-pound Walker edged Pete Crow-Armstrong, Cole Wilcox, C.J. Van Eyk, Carson Montgomery and Jake Eder here, and you can argue for any of them, but I received slightly better reports on Walker.

For Mariners fans, he might remind you a bit of Kyle Lewis in some of his early video at Mercer. He’s a bit raw and doesn’t run well enough to project well in the outfield, but the power is legit and he has the swing to back it up.

He has a very good arm, and projects to third OK for now, though there are a lot of area guys penciling in a walk across the diamond.

When I asked two checkers to rank Walker, Van Eyk and Crow-Armstrong, Montgomery, Wilcox and Eder, one had Walker No. 1, the other No. 3. Eder received the other No. 1 vote, but was ranked last in the group by the first scout. Crow-Armstrong was ranked No. 2 and No. 3 and would have been No. 21 had the rankings gone that far.


19. Garrett Mitchell, OF — UCLA

There are a lot of folks that have Mitchell going in the Top 10 — I’ve seen him around the interwebs as high as No. 5 — but it’s not a Top 5 profile.

Despite good size at 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, Mitchell is a hit and run player. He defends well in center and should stick there, but scouts don’t love the swing when it comes to generating power.

“I think he can make an adjustment and get to more,” said an area scout. “We see that happen. But yes, you read my notes on him and you’d think he was 5-11 and 180 pounds.”

He has a good arm, so if had to move to a corner it works fine, and he makes good contact with his line drive swing.

If Mitchell was a prep prospect, clubs might see him as the perfect Top-10 pick, since it’s easy to get value from his speed, defense and ability to make contact and hit for average, while you hope to instruct more power out of his physical tools by helping him make swing adjustments.

He has shown decent power in BP, but one checker sees the swing changes as “pretty big, this isn’t an overnight thing,” so I see why he landed here.

I noticed Keith Law had Mitchell at No. 23 in his first rankings from the middle of March, so it would seem he’s heard the same on the UCLA star.


18. Clayton Beeter, RHP — Texas Tech

I was turned to Beeter by a former scout now coaching in the Big 12.

“Just get a look at Beeter. Nobody’s talking about him out there.”

So I started asking, and sure enough, area scouts like him a lot and a few were trying to keep his name out of the media in hopes they could get him after Round 1.

I don’t know if that’s plausible.

Beeter made four starts before the season was shut down, covering 21 innings and wiping out 33 batters against just four bases on balls.

He’s built like a mid-rotation arm at 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, sitting 91-94 mph and touching 96 on occasion. But his knuckle curveball is absolute fire, the best in the class without question, inducing tons of swings and misses, and he commands it well in and out of the zone.

Beeter’s fastball-curveball combo is very good, and despite other college arms having a velocity advantage, the ball explodes out of his hand and with a lot of life up and to his arm side.


17. Ed Howard, SS — Mt. Carmel HS (IL)

I’ve seen Howard ranked as high as the Top 10 and an area scout I spoke to thinks he’s Edgar Renteria, who peaked as a 6-win shortstop and posted four others season over three wins.

He’ll be 19 in August, which is a bit of a ding, but he runs well and has a great shot to stick at shortstop. He keeps it simple at the plate and his current swing isn’t likely to produce more than fringe power, but he has the tool to create more torque and pop enough to warrant everyday work for years– like Renteria.


16. Jared Kelley, RHP — Refugio HS (TX)

Kelley is kind of the tweener between the other two top prep arms in the class. He doesn’t offer the physical projection of Abel or Bitsko and he’ll turn 19 in October, but relatively speaking Kelley offers more probability.

“He might be the safest of the three you’re talking about,” said one crosschecker. Love the fastball, the arm (action) is clean and he’s pretty aggressive with his changeup.”

Kelley has the best velocity of the three at present, touching 98 mph and living 93-96.


15. Nick Bitsko, RHP — Central Bucks East HS (PA)

Bitsko is intriguing beyond the frame and raw stuff, because he’s also a bit younger than most prep prospects — he won’t turn 18 until June 16.

“I only saw Abel a little bit here and there, but from where we stand, if we want to add a kid with big upside, time to develop and now-stuff, this (Bitsko) is probably where we go.”

Bitsko is up to 97 mph and has a plus curveball. He throws a lot of strikes and there’s promie with the changeup, too.


14. Robert Hassell, OF — Independence HS (TN)

Hassell, a Vanderbilt commit, which is important here because Vandy keeps their commits as well as any elite program in the country, is an athletic outfielder with what might be the best chance to hit among prep prospects.

It’s a sound swing offering above-average bat speed and at least average power down the road. Some see him as an average glove in center field, but I did find two area scouts who see him adding a little more weight to his 6-foot-2, 200-pound frame and developing into more of a corner player in the Nick Markakis mold.

He has a good arm that fits right field and has the highest ceiling among prep position players in the 2020 class. He got some Top 10 thoughts, but going by the profile — risk, reward, timeline, signability — Hassell may not be Top 20 for me. I’d need to erase signability concerns altogether and buy either his chances to stick in center OR his chances to hit for the kind of power that fits in a corner.


13. Garrett Crochet, LHP — Tennessee

Crochet could land in the top 10 and might be the No. 3 college starter in terms of projection, but he made just one start in 2020 and is lasted three-plus innings. He’s battled a bit of a shoulder issue, though a back injury is what kept him out until March. It’s not considered serious enough at this point to knock him too far down clubs’ boards.

But they’re going to want to see him throw, even if it’s via video with radar readings, and if any more concerns pops up, all bets are off for Round 1. When he’s right, Crochet is up to 99 mph, but will need to clean up his command and find more consistency with his slider.

The changeup was plus last season and at 6-foot-6 and 220 pounds, Crochet fits the bill as a frontline arm from a physical tools standpoint.

Crochet might be an under-slot play in the Top 5 if the back and shoulder concerns and washed away.


12. Heston Kjerstad, OF — Arkansas

Little surprised Kjerstad got this kind of love despite the “ranking” community running with this range from Day 1.

Why?

Because college players with hit tool questions should scare everyone, and Kjerstad is not a great athlete, so it’s his bat you’re leaning on for value.

But Kjerstad was off to the kind of start to 2020 you want to see from a prospect entering the year with such questions. He went 30-for-67 with seven walks, five doubles and six homers.

“I think of Kjerstad was a right-handed hitter we wouldn’t hear Top 10 talk about him. He’s not a first-rounder for me,” said one scout tasked with helping put his club’s board together. “Interesting player, yes, but some work to do there, and honestly I’m not certain I see a big enough payoff in the end. What’s the upside here? Ryan Klesko?”


11. Mick Abel, RHP — Jesuit HS (OR)

All along, my preference among the prep arms has been Abel, followed closely by Bitsko and Kelley. But I didn’t get that sense from the industry until now, though Bitsko was a close second.

“I see a lot more to dream on with him,” said one crosschecker. “Better athlete, too. I think it’s a better place to start with him than the other two, because of the room for growth.”

Abel is 6-foot-5 and 195 pounds, offering a fastball consistently into the mid-90s. It’s a four-pitch mix, too, including a slider and changeup that project to plus and a curveball that should be good enough for him to keep for the long haul.


10. Reid Detmers, LHP — Louisville

Detmers improved his stock over the short spring, showing a plus curveball — maybe the best in the class and certainly the best left-handed curveball in the group.

Detmers is athletic, touches 95 mph and the fastball plays up thanks to deception created by the delivery. I’m not as sold on the changeup as some, but if scouts are asked to pick nits, it’s “he is what he is,” not the stuff.

It’s true, Detmers doesn’t bring a lot of physical projection at 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds, but the floor is high and he might be the first of the 2020 class to get to the majors.


9. Patrick Bailey, C — North Carolina State

Bailey might be the only catcher to go in Round 1, though positional scarcity could punch a Round-1 grade for Arizona’s Austin Wells and prep star Drew Romo. Also, I’m a big fan of Ohio State’s Dillon Dingler, but not in Round 1.

Bailey is a sound performer with no significant weaknesses, led by above-average defense and arm strength and no issues with contact or swing mechanics. He’s a switch hitter with some power upside from both sides.

Bailey’s unlikely to be a star, but the value of an average player at catcher is markedly more valuable than the description suggests. Plus, I think he’s a better player than Shea Langeliers, who went No. 9 a year ago, illustrating the dearth of catching in baseball.

Scouts seem to love the idea Bailey leads with instincts and isn’t afraid to take charge. He gives up his body and has an accurate throwing arm.

When I asked for a comp, I got Will Smith, Roberto Perez, Jason Varitek, Michael Barrett and Mike Lieberthal.


8. Cade Cavalli, RHP –Oklahoma

If you’re a Baseball Things subscriber you got the full deal on Cavalli when I mocked him in the Top 10 last week.

He’s a strong, sturdy, 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds and is 92-96 mph with an above-average slider, average curveball and a changeup that flashes. He’s a very good athlete — he was a two-way player until this season at Oklahoma and hasn’t take on a big workload since he didn’t pitch full-time before 2020 and didn’t start pitching until high school.

The delivery is clean and allows for easy velocity and some deception. He lacks ideal control and command grades at present time, which could hold some clubs back, and he’s had a few injuries — albeit not as a full-time pitcher, and he hasn’t had any ‘pitcher’ type injuries — but everything else suggests a Top-10 talent with No. 2 upside.

He reminds me a little bit of Kevin Gausman, who went No. 4 overall to the Orioles in 2012.


7. Max Meyer, RHP — Minnesota

Meyer is listed at 6-feet but scouts believe he’s 5-11 at best. But pay no attention to that.

Meyer has terrific arm speed and hit triple digits this spring to set up a power slider. It’s a clean delivery, and not one that uses tons of effort to the point of significant concern. He’s more Sonny Gray here than Tim Lincecum.

There’s arm side run to the fastball and he’s flashed a solid-average changeup.

I wouldn’t be shocked in Meyer went Top 5, possibly for a little under slot, since there are enough questions surrounding power arms of his stature he may take $5.5 million as, say, the No. 3 pick ,over full slot 4-8 picks later (all under $5.5M).


6. Zac Veen, OF — Spruce Creek HS (FL)

While this may seem, to me, too, like a ‘Churchill’ ranking — I love Veen and think he’s easily a top 8 player in the class; if I’m KC at No. 4, he doesn’t get past me, no way — I was surprised to see him get this kind of support in my conversations this month.

He’s likely to end up in left field, rather than center, thanks to his physical projection (6-4, 190) and the fact his arm gets average grades. but beyond the plus power, scouts believe in the hit tool and that’s generally the toughest tool to trust in prep players.

He creates leverage with good bat speed and sound swing mechanics. There’s very little wasted movements and he does a good job maintaining balance in his weight transfer. One thing I like watching game video of Veen is the swing is the same as in BP; he gets his hands in good position early in the process and triggers without loading up aggressively.

He’ll need to work on getting his front foot down early enough and it’s likely he’ll have to work on shortening up a bit if he wants to hit for average, but we all said that about Cody Bellinger, too, and he’s the best player in the National League right now.


5. Austin Martin, CF — Vanderbilt

For me, Martin is probably a Top-3 prospect, despite the fact it appears his move to center is sticking with scouts.

He’s a very good athlete who could easily handle third base, and his arm and speed play well anywhere. I’m not sure he’d be bad shortstop, but like Alex Bregman, he can be plus somewhere else.

“For me he’s the best player in the class,” said one crosschecker. “Take the better athlete that also has a pretty high floor. That’s Martin this year.”

Scouts love the projectable bat and the fact Martin controls at-bats well, rarely chasing and handling pitches in all areas of the strike zone.


4. Emerson Hancock, RHP — Georgia

I was pleasantly surprised to hear Hancock get top-5 grades from checkers, because the small-sample that is the 2020 season shouldn’t rip the projection OR previous production from a prospect’s profile.

Hancock did look a little off in his early-spring starts, showing less polish on the mechanics than late last season and lacking a feel for his changeup, an important aspect to his projection.

These are all fixable and not necessarily significant concerns, however. Hancock, in four starts, threw a lot of strikes, posted a 34-3 K/BB ratio and at 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds of athleticism brings a frontlin physical profile with the mid-90s heat.

I wouldn’t hesitate with Hancock at around slot anywhere in the Top 10, and I don’t think he gets past Seattle at No. 6.


3. Nick Gonzalez, 2B — New Mexico State

If I trust the profile entirely of both players, personally I’d have Martin here and Gonzalez at No. 5, but that’s not the slightly-prevailing word from scouts. I do think GMs and scouting directors will swap the two enough to justify my preference, but both players could go as high as No. 1, each with a very solid shot at being the Orioles’ pick at No. 2.

Gonzalez is the better bet to hit, and I think that’s the big draw to area scouts and checkers; its a very high floor.

He’s a good athlete, but not a great one, but I think his defensive profile has been picked on too much by some; There’s no reason he can’t be Martin Prado defensively, with Paul Molitor offensive upside.

Most public reports have Gonzalez’s power grade in the 45-50 range, which is probably spot-on, but don’t be scared away by his 5-foot-10, 190-pound frame. We’ve learned that lesson.

Hitters who can square up good pitching consistently can learn to generate more loft and exceed their original power expectations. Jose Altuve did just that. Ketel Marte in 2019, too. Mookie Betts is 5-foot-10 and under 200 pounds and he hits for big power. I’m not comping Gonzalez to Betts, but let’s not sleep on the power. He’s got big bat speed and terrific hand-eye.


2. Asa Lacy, LHP — Texas A&M

Lacy not only held up his pre-season ranking but seems to have hopped over Hancock as the best of good group of college arms.

In the abbreviated 2020 season, Lacy was up to 98 mph with an average slider and changeup, both of which flash, and the breaking ball projects as a swing-and-miss pitch.  He throws enough strikes, but fastball command is inconsistent.

The Athletic’s Keith Law suggested he might be fine if he worked 92-94 mph, easing off the effort in order to finish with better and locate his pitches with more consistency.

Perhaps that’s true, but there’s a No. 2  starter here and 93-98 with a plus slider and average command might be a No. 1.

Lacy punched out 46 versus eight walks in his 24 innings of work this spring, allowing just nine hits. It’s a prototypical build at 6-foot-4 and 217 pounds, the delivery carries no red flags or significant concerns and he uses his lower half well.

He creates some deception by staying closed from an angle, and stays in line to the plate well. He’ll work mostly from the third-base side of the rubber,

If I’m the Orioles at No. 2 and Lacy is available for around slot, this is my pick, even if Torkelson is on the board.


1. Spencer Torkelson, 1B — Arizona State

If Torkelson ends up going No. 1 he’ll be the first first baseman to do so since Adrian Gonzalez went No. 1 to the Florida Marlins in 2000. Before that, we have to go all the way back to 1977 when Harold Baines was the top pick of the Chicago White Sox. Ron Bloomberg was the No. 1 overall selection in 1967 by the New York Yankees. That’s the entire list of first basemen to go 1-1.

The 6-foot-1, 225-pound Torkelson, however, would the first college first sacker to be the first pick.

But Torkelson, while likely restricted to first base with the glove — he’s played a little left field, but is fringey there — he’s strong at first with a good arm, hands and feet, and is great bet to hit and move quickly through the minors.

The power is plenty adequate to profile in a corner, but Torkelson’s ability to work counts, force pitchers to throw strikes and maximize his opportunities to fat-part the baseball is second to none in recent draft classes.

“I’ve seen him take 10-12 pitches in three at-bats, then hit a rocket out to straight-away left, and a screamer out to straight-away right. Impressive.”

There are scouts that think he’s Paul Goldschmidt. There’s a few that think he’s better.

For the record, I’d rank Lacy No. 1, Martin 2, Torkelson 3, and Gonzalez 4 without outside influence.…

External prospect rankings started when Baseball America nailed the concept in 1983. In the near-30 years since, it’s grown into an industry of its own.

I’ve ranked Seattle Mariners prospects since 2004, so I can go back to that point using my own history and notes. But I wanted this project to be an all-time thing, so I spent hours researching, including dozens of electronic communications with scouts and other baseball personnel, to produce the Top 10 prospects in Seattle Mariners history.

Each prospect will be graded on the peak of their prospect status and then compared to others. ‘All-time’ means from the start of the franchise, which was 1977, despite the fact there weren’t external prospect rankings at the time.

Here’s my all-time Top 10 Mariners prospects.

1. Alex Rodriguez, SS — 1995
Rodriguez was 18 years old when he made his big-league debut in 1994, after starting that season in Class-A Appleton, which is the mid-90s equivalent of the West Virginia Power. Yeah, three minor league levels before the majors.

But A-ROD returned to the minors in 1995 and tortured PCL pitching by mashing .360/.411/.654 with 15 home runs in 237 PAs. Of his 77 hits, 30 were for extra bases. He was also playing big-league caliber defense at shortstop.

While pretty much no one will admit this, Rodriguez is the best player ever to play for the Seattle Mariners, even though he wasn’t in uniform for the club long enough to be deemed the franchise’s greatest.

There’s an argument here for Nos. 2 and 3 on this list because each spent more time as elite prospects, neither quite reached the peak of Rodriguez in 1995 before the Mariners called him up for 48 games, plus the postseason.

“Everything seemed to come so easy for him,” said a former GM. “You saw him up in Seattle early in his career. The swing produced huge power and it looked so smooth. And it was a big swing, but it was under control. He was a good athlete, too, and we don’t talk about how good he was out there at shortstop. That kid was a top-5 defender for awhile. Was a shame the Yankees moved him to third. He made (Derek) Jeter look like a child in comparison.”

“He was the most complete player I’ve seen,” said a former scouting director now serving as a special assignment scout for an NL club. “We didn’t get the chance to take him, of course, but we went to see him anyway, because he was special in high school and I wanted to see it for the entertainment value. He was plus in every area of the game. Hit, power, run, throw, field. Until (Mike) trout, he was the most complete player we’d seen since at least (Willie) Mays, and he showed that off everywhere he went in the minors. He was a man child in A-ball. Didn’t belong. He was less than a year out of high school, and got a late start, too. Just a tremendously gifted player.”


2. Felix Hernandez, RHP — 2005
One can argue Anderson should be here at No. 2, but I saw both and while Anderson was as projectable as even Rodriguez, he came with more risk because of command and control concerns, and he was generally going five innings, rather than six and seven on a regular basis — partially due to higher pitch counts, partially due to general workload concerns that followed Anderson around after he competed in a prep league that employed abbreviated counts; every batter began his plate appearance with a 2-1 count.

Hernandez, on the other hand, threw strikes and had a more complete arsenal that included a fastball up to 97 mph and a plus curveball. He had a slider in his hip pocket, too, that many believed was the best of his offspeed pitches, and he was on his way to the big leagues in short fashion.

“There’s nothing more to see here, nothing to scout anymore,” said a pro scout and former big-league pitcher. “Just water him and watch him grow.”


3. Ryan Anderson, LHP — 2000
If the 2000 version of Anderson were a prospect today, he’s be very much compared to the likes of James Paxton and Forrest Whitley, among recent arms, and there would be talk of a relief role. Outings were shortened due to control problems and he had yet to show, even in Triple-A, a consistent third pitch. He was essentially 94-98 mph and a plus two-plane slider with depth, but remained raw, despite how quickly he ascended through the minors.

Still, he was just 20 at this point, with promise of ace-like production in the near future, one often compared to the Big Unit Randy Johnson due to his tall, lanky build.

“He’s a dream prospect,” said former major league pitcher and longtime pitching coach Roger McDowell in 2002. “That’s the kind of talent you want to coach. There’s so much potential there and it’s hard not to think about what he can be. Keeping him healthy is another story.”

Anderson would experience arm and back problems that ultimately would derail his career, but he was an elite prospect until that point, overpowering hitters and flashing Cy Young stuff.

Anderson was Baseball America’s No. 8 prospect after the 2000 season in which he pitched 104 innings, allowing 83 hits and punching out 146 batters. His ERA landed at 3.98. He was 20 and spent the entire season at Triple-A Tacoma.


4. Roger Salkeld, RHP — 1991
Salkeld was the Mariners top prospect for three years in a row, missing bats with his fastball and curveball and showing improved control and he moved up the minors. When he got to Calgary in 1991, he was just 20 years of age and looked like he’d be in a Mariners uniform in short order.

But he’d have shoulder surgery and miss all of 1992 before making 16 appearances in 1993, including three with the Mariners.  But the arm strength never came back all the way, nor did the command, and Salkeld’s once promising future was limited to 45 total games, including 29 with the Cincinnati Reds in 1996. By the end of the 2000 season he was out of baseball at age 29.

At his best he was up to 95 mph and was athletic for a 6-5, 220 pounder.

“I pitched against him a couple of times,” a current scout and former minor leaguer said. “He was damned good. He was in control. He was the guy we talked about as a team heading into the series. Were set to face him? What day? The stuff was good. It would play today. He was missing bats when it wasn’t all that common to do so.”

In 1991, Salkeld, at the age of 20, made 27 starts, 23 at Double-A Jacksonville and four at Triple-A Calgary, and posted a 3.28 ERA over 173 frames. He struck out 180 and tossed five complete games.


5. Ken Griffey Jr., CF — 1988
It might seem crazy that Junior sits this low, but the reality is he wasn’t in the minors long enough to wow folks with production. He was highly regarded as the son of a quality major leaguer and the No. 1 pick in the 1987 draft, but didn’t get the chance to build on that much. Having said that, there’s not a big difference between Griffey here at No. 5 and Salkeld at No. 4.

Griffey played 129 minor league games and only 17 above Advanced-A ball — Vermont in 1988 where at age 18 he batted .279/.353/.492. Impressive, but in such a small sample it was difficult to put much stock into it. He was a very good prospect, but not enough evidence to make him as elite as he’d become in the majors.

One question baseball folks had was how much power he’d end up with in the big leagues and whether or not he would he stick in center. “The two don’t often go hand-in-hand,” one scout noted. “If he adds the strength to hit 30 or 40 (homers) it likely means he’s growing out the middle of the field. Unless he’s Willie Mays or Hank Aaron. And we found out very quickly that’s exactly what he was.”


6. Marc Newfield, OF — 1994
Newfield fits nicely between Nos. 7 and 10 here, offering a blend of both Kelenic and Rodriguez. Newfield was a five-tool prospect expected to offer plus right field defense, power and some speed.

He might be one of the more perplexing prospect failures in team history, and while I can’t find evidence — let alone confirm — the club is to blame, I can’t help but wonder if things turn out better had Newfield been moved to another club earlier in his career.

In 1994 at the height of Newfield’s status, a current scout and then-player thought we were looking at a right-handed Daryl Strawberry or an Andrew Dawson.

In 1994, Newfield batted .349/.413/.593 with 44 doubles and 19 home runs at Triple-A Calgary.


7. Danny Tartabull, SS — 1985
Tartabull was given a shot to play shortstop thanks to a great arm and the fact his bat was expected to cover for any shortcomings. He’d ultimately outgrow the position, but in 1985 he was the closest thing to Cal Ripken Jr. and Alan Trammell the minors had to offer.

Of course, Tartabull would get the majors and play 18 seasons, including three with the Mariners, and he blasted 262 home runs. One scout I spoke to recalls two mistakes the Mariners made in the handling of Tartabull.

“I really thought the first move should have been to slide him over to third and give him a real shot to stay on the infield. He’d played a little third, a little second, a little short as he moved up, but they went from shortstop to the outfield, which made him a little less special.

“Then, they traded him for what amounted, even at the time, to bulk.”

The trade was to Kansas City for Scott Bankhead, Mike Kingery and Steve Shields. Of course, if Tartabull had been playing third base at the time, the Royals don’t make that deal, since they had a certain Hall of Famer named George Brett manning the position.

Tartabull’s best year in the minors came in 1985 when he batted .300/.385/.615 with 43 home runs at Triple-A Calgary at age 22. Calgary was a smaller ballpark, but the numbers were still considered enormous and Tartabull a top prospect.


8. Jarred Kelenic, OF — 2020
Kelenic’s 2019 was one of the more impressive years a Mariners position prospect has had in 20-plus seasons and there’s a chance by the time he’s a mainstay in the big leagues he’ll be top five on this list.

We’re a lot more informed in 2020 about how the minors’ performance translates and how to apply that to our analysis, but Kelenic checks all the boxes for probability, upside and ETA, which is why he’s a top 8-20 talent in all of the minors, depending on who is asked.


9. Jose Cruz Jr., OF — 1996
Cruz was the darling of the club’s system in 1996 and 1997 before being traded to the Toronto Blue Jays for Mike Timlin and Paul Spoljaric. Cruz was a very good athlete, similar to that of Kelenic, but he lacked centerfield instincts. He was, however, physically gifted and the Mariners believed they were giving up a future all-star when they moved him.

His career was a disappointment based on his prospect status, especially in terms of the hit tool, but he was among the better prospects in baseball at the time.

Cruz batted .293/.397/.474 with 48 extra-base hits and 13 stolen bases in 1996, split between three levels of the minors, including Triple-A. He was Baseball America’s No. 12 prospect entering the ’97 season.


10. Julio Rodriguez, OF — 2020
There’s a very good chance Rodriguez moves ahead of Cruz and perhaps Newfield before he hits the majors, but if there’s no minor league season in 2020, we’ll have to wait for his star to rise for a little while longer than we’d like.

The 19-year-old has moved up the ranks quickly — both in terms of his value and the level in which he’s competed — and has a chance to continue that trend. He may not have the “status” ceiling Kelenic has, but he’s already on the fast track to a status that means a helluva lot more: Star major leaguer.

Also strongly considered: Darnell Coles, Mark Langston, Adam Jones, Taijuan Walker, Gil Meche, Pat Lennon, Jeff Clement, Mike Zunino, Dustin Ackley, Mickey Brantley, Arquimedez Pozo, Dave Henderson, Tino Martinez.

 …

Many are wondering where Jake Schneider is, or why Dayeison Arias wasn’t even noted in The Next 42.

Well, ranking every player in the system is futile and merely a gesture, not a value add, so I didn’t do it.

But I did save a small handful for this conversation.

They didn’t rank, but they very well may see the majors at some point.

Penn Murfee, RHP
Low arm slot, crossbody action but he stays in line to the plate with his lower half, lots of deception, sinker, slider, with a four-seamer effective above the hands. Pounds the zone, but needs a better way to attack left-handed batters. He’s 26 in May and has just six appearances above the California League but in shorter-than-starter stints Murfee projects to be an effective option in the majors as early as 2020.

It would be more than a mild surprise if Murfee didn’t see the big leagues. If Seattle likes the idea of a multi-inning Opener, Murfee fits the bill versus a right-heavy lineup. There are scouts who haven’t given up on Murfee staying in the rotation, and ‘given up’ is not a term I will use, either, but I will say it’s highly unlikely he’s a long-term starter.

Several pure relief prospects landed in the Top 50. Fine them here, here and here. Others landed just outside the rankings.

Here’s Murfee:


Eric Filia, OF/1B
Has always been able to put bat to ball well with a line-drive stroke. It’s average bat speed, but a short swing, though not much power has come of it, as Filia has slugged .430 for his pro career. He’s a fringey defender and 45 runner, too, but the on-base and contact skills should get at least a cup of coffee at some point, despite being suspended three times, twice for testing positive for drugs of abuse — which means he’s tested positive three times — and once in college for plagiarism.

Sure hope the drug suspensions weren’t for a serious drug that affects his life on or off the field moving forward. He’ll be 28 in July, so ‘prospect’ doesn’t really fit, but that doesn’t mean we won’t see him in at T-Mobile in 2020.

Here’s Filia from this winter:


Joseph Odom, C
When you’re a catcher that can frame, throw, and block, the big leagues are waiting.

That’s it, that’s the write-up on Odom.


David Ellingson, RHR
Up to 95 mph with a power breaking ball suggests a half-tick better control and command and Ellingson moves quickly. He finished 2019 at Modesto and just turned 25.


Brian O’Keefe, C
He’s a 40 defender but has above-average power and some OBP skills. If framing remains a thing (electronic strike zone would eliminate the value of it), there’s no reason O’Keefe can’t become more valuable behind the dish and serve as a backup.


Dark Horse

Connor Hoover, UT2
Hoover isn’t a shortstop option, but has just enough arm talent to manage at third base and in the corners of the outfield in short stints. He runs well, works counts and packs a little more thump than his 5-foot-10, 185-pound frame might suggest.

Fun fact: Hoover played at all six stateside affiliates for the Mariners last summer, most of it with the two short-season clubs where he put up numbers at 23 years of age.

Photo of Joseph Odom by Jason Ivester, licensed via AP Images

The Seattle Mariners farm system is filled with depth, mixed with impact and ceiling, but perhaps one of the more underrated aspect of the status of said farm is how many of the Top 50 prospects may very well see the big leagues in 2020.

Here’s every Top 50 prospect with an ETA of 2020.

One thing to note: Roster expansion in September will be limited to 28, just two additional active spots than the regular season. This could impact some of the ETAs below from coming to fruition.

48. Gerson Bautista, RHR
Bautista made his MLB debut in 2018 with the Mets and pitched in eight game for Seattle a year ago. There’s a ton of reliever competition this season, but a stretch of fringe-average control may get Bautista a look.

Top 50: Nos. 31-50

44. Donnie Walton, UT1
Walton made his debut last September, playing in seven games and receiving 19 plate appearances. The club is stacked with extra infielder and utility options, but Walton probably sees the majors again in ’20.

42. Tim Lopes, UT1
For me, Lopes is better than Dylan Moore, but the Mariners like Moore’s power potential and are likely to send both Walton and Lopes back to Tacoma to start the season, unless one of the two is the 26th man. Lopes is debuted last September.

29. Art Warren, RHR
Warren made six appearances last September and looked solid, giving him a chance to break camp with the big club in March.

Top 50: Nos. 21-30

27. Sam Delaplane, RHR
Delaplane has ‘opener’ written all over him and may have a shot to start the season as one of eight or nine relievers. At worst, he sees he bigs over the summer.

24. Wyatt Mills, RHR
Mills is another reliever likely to see the big leagues at some point in 2020.

23. Yohan Ramirez, RHR
Ramirez was the club’s Rule 5 pick in December and enters Cactus League play looking to give the Mariners a reason to carry him to start 2020.

22. Aaron Fletcher, LHR
He’s up to 95 mph with a 55 slider. Going to be tough to keep Fletcher from the major leagues this season.

21. Joey Gerber, RHR
Among the higher-ceiling relievers in the system, Gerber’s combo of velocity (93-97 mph), fastball life, a plus slider and projectable command strongly suggest a 2020 debut.

19. Taylor Guilbeau, LHR
Guilbeau is a reverse-split lefty with a 95 mph fastball and a good changeup. He made his debut last August and may break camp in the bullpen next month.

Top 50: Nos. 16-20

18. Braden Bishop, CF
Bishop saw the big leagues last year — he was on the Opening Day roster and returned after a strong stint in Tacoma — but injuries derailed his attempt to get his feet wet. Could make the club out of spring training for the second straight spring.

17. Jake Fraley, CF
The injury to Mitch Haniger could help Bishop and Fraley both start 2020 in the majors. Fraley’s 2019 also ended with a stint on the IL, but he did get 41 plate appearances with the parent club.

14. Jose Siri, CF
Siri has the biggest upside of the center field prospects but also needs the most work at the plate. Despite several options, the former Reds prospect should see the majors at some point this season.

Top 50: Nos. 11-15

11. Justin Dunn, RHS
Dunn debuted last September with a handful of short outings, but should get some starts with the Mariners in 2020, provided things go well enough in the minors early in the year.

9. Evan White, 1B
White was always going to have a chance to earn his way to the majors in 2020, but the Mariners, perhaps somewhat unwisely, have already made the decision he’ll start the season as the regular first baseman.

Top 50: Nos. 6-10

8. Justus Sheffield, LHS
Sheffield debuted with the Yankees in 2018 and made eight appearances for Seattle in 2019. He’ll be in the bigs to start 2020.

7. Kyle Lewis, RF
Lewis needs time to polish up his plate coverage, pitch recognition and … well, a lot of things, but he debuted last September and showed big power. He’ll see the majors in ’20 but the question is when. I do not believe it’s wise to start Lewis in the majors.

3. Logan Gilbert, RHS
Gilbert almost certainly starts the year in Arkansas, but as long as he’s healthy will see Seattle at some point over the summer months.

Gilbert Scouting Report

These Five Have a Chance, Too

I don’t have 2020 ETAs on any of these five, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if we see every one of them get the nod in 2020.

35. Raymond Kerr, LHR
Power lefty up to triple digits with a 55 breaking ball sounds like a major leaguer already. Better command gets him there.

33. Jake Haberer, RHR
Haberer has a big fastball up to 98 mph and a power breaking ball for swings and misses. He’ll need to find the strike zone more, but the stuff is unquestionable.

32. Ljay Newsome, RHS
Newsome is a strike thrower whose stuff jumped last spring when he flashed a fastball up to 94 mph and more consistently into the low-90s, something he’d never shown in games before. He fell back to the upper-80s later in the season, but he commands everything and profiles as a No. 5 or swing man.

5. Cal Raleigh, C
If Raleigh shows better contact rates in Arkansas he could pave his own path to Seattle by the end of the year, though he likely sees Tacoma for a bit before getting the call.

Raleigh Scouting Report

1. Jarred Kelenic, CF
Kelenic is probably on a faster track than Raleigh, so, do the math.

Kelenic Scouting Report

What About The Next 42?

Believe it or not, there are quite a few from The Next 42 that also could see the big leagues in 2020. Some more likely than others.

Sam Haggerty, UT2
Darren McCaughan, RHR
Ian McKinney, LHS
Phillips Valdez, RHR
Jack Anderson, RHR
Anthony Misiewicz, LHR
Kyle Wilcox, RHR…

Initially, I was planning to simply place a group of names here and explain why I think they could rank in the Top 50 next year, or perhaps even push through to the monthly Top 25 updates during the year (when prospects in the majors don’t count or may already have exhausted their eligibility).

Instead, I thought I’d break it up into two sections: One, the most likely minor leaguers to reach the big leagues (whether it be in 2020 or not), and those with the most upside, offering the best chance to take the bigger leap forward in 2020 and beyond.

To avoid listing pretty much every single minor league player in the Seattle Mariners farm system right now, there will be a few interesting players that go unmentioned here. It’s also worth noting I did not automatically list every recent international signing, though it may be warranted in a lot of cases.

Reminder: These names are in >addition to the Top 50, and just because they aren’t noted here OR on the Top 50 doesn’t mean I think they’re bad player and/or cannot make the majors. One has to draw the line somewhere, right?


2020 Prospect Coverage

  • All 2020 Prospect Rankings
  • Get the FULL reports, including tools grades, player comps, ETAs, pitch types & velocities and more by subscribing to the Baseball Things Podcast right here.

Highest Probability Major Leaguers

Luis Liberato, OF
Liberato, 24, is a very good athlete whose tools suggest a chance to play a lot in the majors, but the development to game skills hasn’t taken off just yet.

While it’s unlikely he ends up a regular, the physical gifts keep Liberato in pro ball and could get him to the big leagues in his mid-20s.

Joe Rizzo, 3B
Rizzo is the opposite of Liberato; he’s not a great athlete but the skill portion of his game is solid, and his defense has gotten better the past two years, perhaps making him playable at third base. The issue is the bat.

While he rebounded from a bad 2018 (.241/.303/.321) to hit .295/.354/.423 — amid some swing adjustment, and in a repeat of the Cal League at age 21 — it’s still very difficult to project enough power to profile as an everyday third baseman. Maybe he’s Juan Uribe, but so far that’s all the upside I see.

Darren McCaughan, RHR
Easy low-90s, has touched 95 mph, slightly low three-quarters slot with an average slider that flashes better. It would not be a surprise if McCaughan saw the majors in 2020.

Ian McKinney, LHP
One of the more interesting arms in the system that narrowly missed the Top 50 and could easily have made the Top 40. The 25-year-old McKinney sits 88-91 mph with average command and control, but offers a plus curveball and good deception, inducing strong swinging-strike rates (12.6%) and a 4-1 K/BB rate in Double-A Arkansas in 2019.

He’s undersized at 5-foot-11 and has not displayed a present average changeup, but if he were shortened up in a relief role, there’s probably room for him to sit 90-93 and get through multiple innings with the breaking ball.

Sam Haggerty, UT2
Haggerty is a non-shortstop utility option with no power but has produced good OBPs in the minors. He also offers plus speed and has very good hands and overall defensive instincts that travels well to the outfield.

Haggerty will have to make more consistent contact for the raw OBP skills to play in the majors.

Phillips Valdez, RHR
Valdez sits 92-94 with a four-seam fastball, setting up an average slider and changeup that each offer promise to be more. He’s already 28, so time is of the essence, but he’s started, relieved and has a chance to miss bats. He’s also on the 40-man roster, giving him a leg up on some others in the trek to the majors.

Jack Anderson, RHR
Anderson, 26, was dominant in Arkansas last year with a submarine slot, tremendous sink on the fastball and a slider that plays.

I’d be a bit surprised if he didn’t see the big leagues in 2020.

Anthony Misiewicz, LHR
There’s enough stuff here to suggest a swing man role for Misiewicz and he throws strikes with three pitches. He’s 25, a very good athlete and there’s potential here for more than just a cup of coffee, up-and-down arm.

Misiewicz, an 18th-round pick in 2015, is one of but a handful of players in the system worth discussing that were not acquired by the club with Jerry Dipoto at the helm.

Kyle Wilcox, RHR
Wilcox is another, however.

It’s a power delivery, up to 98 mph and a power curveball, which sounds like a major leaguer until his command and control are brought into the equation. Wilcox issued 49 walks in 61.2 innings last year, but he also whiffed 91 batters.

More strikes and he, too, probably sees the big leagues in 2020.

Nolan Hoffman, RHR
Hoffman’s 2019 was cut short in May when he had to undergo Tommy John surgery and it’s unclear when his 2020 will start — if at all — but a healthy Hoffman is interesting and likely hits the majors as a middle reliever.

He’s sidearm up to 92 mph and the fastball has good sink, generating ground ball outs. His slider is above-average and he has a fringe-average changeup that could help him push his way north without a plus pitch.


Upside Plays

Anthony Tomczak, RHP
The club’s 15th-rounder last June offers present strength and pitchability. He was up to 92 mph prior to the draft and there’s some physical projection left in his 6-2, 195-pound frame.

Blake Townsend, LHP
He’s still raw but flashed last summer in a few chances to throw in the Arizona League. He’s 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, so while there’s projection, it’s mostly in experience and how he learns to use the physical tools he already possesses.

Throws strikes and has life on the fastball.

Ortwin Pieternella, C/1B
Intriguing offensive skill set for a catcher in that Pieternella can run and offers a dream on the power. Whether or not he sticks at catcher remains to be seen, of course, but the athleticism is there for him to do the job, or move to a corner and be just fine.

Arturo Guerrero, OF
The swing is powerful, producing above-average pop and he generates good leverage, but his overall discipline needs work and the swing gets long quite often.

He’s a good athlete and at 6-foot-3 and 175 pounds, there’s a lot on which to build here. Very interesting long-term project.

Kelvin Nunez, RHP
I think Nunez is a reliever long-term because he’s yet to show a potentially-plus offering, but he has consistent arm speed and 50-grade command of his fastball. He’s still just 20 and command opens a lot of doors.

Axel Sanchez, SS
One of the more interesting of the club’s 2019 international class, Sanchez is a very good athlete with quick feet and enough arm strength to stick at shortstop.

He’s wiry strong and the frame should be able to handle 190 pounds. In the batter’s box the swing might remind some of Alfonso Soriano — but that’s not a player comp, Soriano has insane bat speed with a clean swing.

Robert Perez, 1B
Perez held his own in Triple-A Tacoma for a stretch last year and flashed at least an average hit tool in Everett. He’s a better athlete than his defensive display suggests, but if he’s stuck at first base his path to the majors is going to be tough because there’s not a lot of power upside in the swing and physical profile.

Miguel Perez CF
Perez stands out for his wiry, projectable frame (6-2/170) and while the numbers are ugly (.170/.277/.323) if you look closer the triple-slash told us more good than bad.

He walked 29 times in about 250 PAs as an 18-year-old in the Northwest League where he was nearly three years younger than the average player. He hit five homers and the 150-point differential in his average and slugging percentage tell us there’s some pop to work with here.

He played a lot of right field, but looks like a potential long-stride defender in center. Needs to shorten up some in order to make more contact, but this is a fun developmental opportunity.

Connor Kopach, UT1
Kopach can handle shortstop and has the arm to play some outfield, too. He can really run and has shown legitimate stolen-base ability (41 of 50 as a pro) since being the club’s 25th-round pick in 2018.

Kopach needs to make more contact for the bat to play but he works counts and takes walks. Kopach, for me, is Haggerty after a night’s stay at the Holiday Inn Express.

Max Roberts, LHP
Roberts has always intrigued me and I once called him a potential lefty/poor-man’s Doug Fister. Missed all of 2019 after Tommy John surgery.

Downhill, solid athlete, projectable 6-foot-6 frame…

Adam Macko, RHP
Macko, Tomczak, Tyler Driver and Dutch Landis — all from last year’s draft class — all have a chance to be major leaguers and there’s not a huge difference for me between the group.

Macko offers less physical projection but may have the best present three-pitch mix.

Juan Mercedes, RHP
Mercedes, 20 in April, pounds the strike zone, but the stuff is merely average at present. The breaking ball has a chance to sharpen and be average or better, but he does throw strikes to both sides of the plate.

Osiris Castillo, 2B
Castillo is another candidate for a UT1 role, but has shown some advanced skills at the plate in terms of pitch selection and patience.

Gunn Omosako, RF
Omosako has some tools, including above-average raw power and a plus arm, but he’s coming off shoulder surgery and a missed 2019 season. Like Guerrero, Omosako’s present strength and 6-foot-4 frame offes a good place to start. He’ll be 19 in May.

Nolan Perez, 3B
Perez plays a power position (has the arm and feet to stay there) and takes a big hack, but the swing and game plan aren’t matching up just yet.

He showed barrel ability last summer, but he’s very aggressive and will chase. He’s 21 in May, so time is running out for him to stay on schedule, but the physical tools keep him interesting for another year.

Cesar Izturis Jr., UT1
Another utility type, Izturis lacks strength, but runs well and has terrific hands. I’d like to see him start playing the outfield and even get some time at third base to broaden his defensive horizons, because there’s probably no chance to bat earns him a regular role.

Josias De Los Santos, RHS
De Los Santos will hit the Top 50 next year and he might go further than that. What kept me from ranking him there this year was the straight fastball and below-average control, but there’s profile here I like.

He was up to 94 mph last year in West Virginia and is a far better prospect than Mariners Internet favorite Devin Sweet. JDLS is 20, there’s physical projection at 6-foot-2 and 175 pounds and the breaking ball is average at present. He’s very consistent with his arm speed, but his delivery needs some work.

Jose Aquino, LHP
One of the top two pitching prospects from the 2019 DSL roster, missing bats with a fastball-slider combo and showing a changeup and curveball. Solid athlete with arm speed that could end up sitting 90-94 mph. He’s 6-foot-3 and 180 pounds and will turn 18 in June.

Luis Baez, RHP
After a strong 2018, Baez’s command went backwards in 2019 and he ended up pitching out of the bullpen the final few weeks before being shut down.

It’s a projectable frame (6-3/172) but the step back has to be a concern, whether it’s physical or otherwise. Baez just turned 19, however.

Asdrubal Bueno, SS
Bueno played just 21 games last summer but showed advanced plate discipline and an ability to use most of the field. He’s not real physical yet, but he’s 18 with good bat speed.

Defensively he’s most likely a second baseman or utility option, but has the arm to stick at short.

Jose Caguana, C
Caguana’s power potential led me to him but I’m told there’s a good arm and athleticism to spare. The biggest problem is position. He’s a catcher now, but at 5-foot-10 and 180 pounds, the chances he stays there aren’t good, despite time to add strength — he’ll be 18 in April.

Caguana does a good job generating loft, but he digs in for power a lot, leading to strikeouts, and some overaggressive two-strike swings.

Jose Corniell, RHP
Signed last summer and will likely debut in the DSL in June. He’s 6-foot-3 and 175 pounds, and will be 17 all season. Has shown 85-88 mph fastball.

Deivy Florido, RHS
Florido has a great chance to land in the rankings next year and probably threatens the monthly 25s during the season. He’s mostly 86-89 mph, but the delivery is smooth, the velo is easy and he commands everything well, including a slurvy breaking ball and changeup.

There’s projection left at 6-foot-2 and 165 pounds and he won’t be 20 until the minor league season is complete.

Adbdiel Medina, RHP
Just 5-foot-11, but the arm speed is above-average and he’s already spinning a consistent breaking ball. Turned 18 in January.

Andres Mesa, SS
Mesa is another of the club’s 2019 IFAs and there’s potential for four average tools here.

David Morillo, RHP
He’ll be 18 all season and posted a 41-14 K/BB ratio on the DSL last summer. He’s up to 90 mph with plane and sink, and there’s plenty of projection left.

Joey O’Brien, RHP
O’Brien was a two-way player at the same college that “produced” Bryce Harper, and showed well in six games in 2018 after he was the Mariners’ 6th-round pick. He missed all of 2019 after having Tommy John, but barring setbacks should get back on the mound this summer in the Arizona League.

He’s been up to 93 mph with a cutter, a true slider and a hard changeup, and has toyed with a two-seamer. The biggest downside is he’s 22 with just two games of pro experience.

Milkar Perez, 3B
Milkar doesn’t look like a third baseman but has a chance to produce average power to go with an ability to hit for some average and draw walks. He’ll be 18 all season, and could be a right-handed Kyle Seager in time.

Wilton Perez, RHP
Projectable at 6-foot-3 and 175 pounds and hit upper 80s as a 17-year-old last summer. Good plane, some sink on fastball.

Joseph Rosa, UT2
Rosa is a second baseman for me but has a chance at a big-league reserve type career thanks to 55 speed, contact skills from both sides of the plate, and the ability to work counts and draw some walks. He’s 22 and still needs to add strength, but may see Double-A Arkansas in 2020.

Yeury Tatiz, RHP
Tatiz received the rare mid-season promotion from the DSL and despite a 5.70 ERA battled fairly well in the AZL last summer, striking out 19 in 23.2 innings of work.

The fastball often is straight but when he creates plane from his 6-foot-3 frame and high three-quarters slot, he gets a lot of ground balls. The secondaries all need work, but the changeup, while his rawest pitch, may have the biggest upside. Tatiz won’t be 20 until November.

Luis Veloz, RF
Veloz flashed in two years in the DSL and got a shot in the AZL last summer. He struggled to make contact, but the bat speed and strength are legit and more work with the swing plane could go a long way in his development at the plate.…

The real-life equation goes beyond tools grades, scouting reports and statistics, and that’s an advantage the employer of Jarred Kelenic and Julio Rodriguez has on the rest of planet Earth. The rest of us will rely on the aforementioned factors … and historical trends.

Kelenic is very good athlete, offering plus present speed and a plus arm to go with terrific instincts across the board that drive his tools toward refined skill and production on the field. He’s added a lot of physicality to his game since Draft day and it showed up in the power department in 2019.


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Kelenic came to pro ball a five-tool talent, led by an advanced hit tool despite hailing from a northern territory where baseball is a tertiary sport. He’s now performed at four levels while being young for the league each time.

Rodriguez is a solid athlete with well above-average strength and the best barrel ability in the entire Mariners farm system. He’s mature well beyond his years and already has forced an adjustment in his initial projections as a power bat.

He remains at least an average runner and moves well laterally, while showing off a plus arm.

There are a lot of similarities between Rodriguez and Kelenic in terms of physical tools, developing skills and all the upside in play. But there are three areas where I project potentially-significant differences.

Power
In terms of raw power — raw meaning not yet shown in game play, absolute upside — Rodriguez has a full grade advantage over Kelenic. The bat speed is a tick better and the swing naturally creates leverage and loft.

Kelenic has worked to generate more leverage and proved it’s working with his pop last season.

If nothing changed from here on out, however, we’re talking about the difference between a potential 40-homer right-handed stick and a 28-32 homer left-handed bat.

Advantage: Rodriguez

The Hit Tool
Here’s where Kelenic gets even.

Not to suggest Rodriguez has significant shortcomings in terms of making contact and hitting for average, but Kelenic has the edge in both strike zone judgment and plate coverage, and he’s shown both at higher levels of the minors, lending more present confidence in projecting the hit tool to the big leagues.

Hitting — consistent contact, overall discipline, covering the strike zone, two-strike swing — allows the power to play to its full potential.

Advantage: Kelenic

Speed & Defense
Rodriguez projects as at least an average right fielder — and I think above average — and he’s a smart base runner, showing an ability to make good reads. It’s far from a weakness for the 19-year-old.

Kelenic, on the other hand, has superior speed by as much as a full grade, and is a better bet to steal few bases. Kelenic also offers more quick-twitch athleticism, allowing him noticeable better jumps and ultimately a chance to play some center field early in his career, making his offensive profile that much more valuable.

Advantage: Kelenic

Positional Value, Probability & Conclusion
Both Kelenic and Rodriguez are big-league regulars and if someone tries to tell you Rodriguez is better, don’t argue. I wouldn’t. The gap between the two for me isn’t large, but I can rely on Kelenic’s profile more than that of Rodriguez for the reasons noted above.

It basically comes down to a combination of a very similar upside — albeit different, since Rodriguez would lead with the power bat and Kelenic with more of an all-around profile — with probability, defensive value, base running and timetable favoring Kelenic.

While the difference for me is more than a coin flip, it’s not a significant gap, and it’s one Rodriguez can overcome in 2020.

The good news is, choose one and win, no matter which way you lean. The great news is, the Seattle Mariners have both.

Advantage: Kelenic

What About Logan Gilbert?
The gap between Rodriguez at No. 2 and Gilbert at No. 3 is greater than the one between Rodriguez and Kelenic. But the gap between Gilbert and No. 4 prospect George Kirby is even larger, mainly because we’ve yet to see Kirby ‘start’ in pro ball, going through the lineup three times.

Oh, a scout told me during this past week I was a tad low on Gilbert’s upside and a bit high on his floor, so there’s that. I’ll buy the former, but not the latter. No chance Gilbert is a reliever or No. 5 starter.

George Kirby, et al vs. Evan White
Kirby’s ranking at No. 4 — five spots higher than Evan White at No. 9 — is not indicative of either player’s value in comparison to the other. There’s some gap in upside, leaning Kirby, and a bit of a gap in probability, leaning White since he’s on the brink of the majors now, but Kirby makes up for it and then some with positional value.

Cal Raleigh at No. 5 is a ranking I explained right here in Raleigh’s prospect profile.

Evan White at No. 9
I would argue a bit on rankings of White in the Top 5 and as high as No. 4. There’s just not enough upside here.

Prospect rankings shouldn’t be about ranking a player’s upside, or even ranking the players in order of their most likely end-result. I ask myself “would I trade this player for that one?” And if you ask me if I’d trade Evan White, on the cusp of the majors, for Noelvi Marte (No. 6), the answer is yes.

You can have all the 50, 55 first basemen you want. I’d trade them all, individually, for shots at what Marte can be. And while it’s never purely an upside play, the point is to draft, sign and develop stars. Stars win World Series. Stars drag scrubs to the postseason. Stars carry 50-55 grade first basemen when they slump. It’s much easier to find average to above-average first basemen than, say, above-average catchers, No. 2 starters, or everyday shortstops.

Where’s the biggest gap from one rank to another?
It’s probably a 12-way tie, but doesn’t start until at least the mid-teens. The gap between No. 1 and No. 5 is significantly larger, however, than the gap between No. 5 and No. 10 or between No. 10 and No. 15.

Best chance to jump more than 10 spots in 2020
There will be a lot of graduations in 2020, but there are several talents with the kind of raw tools which could make big pushes this season:

  • George Feliz
  • Elvis Alvarado
  • Brandon Williamson
  • Isaiah Campbell
  • Jonatan Clase
  • Danny Chang

Feliz has Top-10 ability, maybe more. Clase’s hit tool will be under fire in the states, but he’s a burner with head-to-toe quick-twitch actions and added strength. Williamson and Campbell will get a shot to stretch out as starters. Chang’s fastball-curveball combo needs a friend, but he’s athletic and repeats his delivery.


Monday: Future Top 50 Prospects


Photos of Jarred Kelenic & Julio Rodriguez licensed via AP Images

Jarred Kelenic, Mariners scouting report

1. Jarred Kelenic, CF
HT: 6-0 WT: 195 BATS: L THROWS: L AGE: 20

Kelenic did three things in 2019 to more than live up to his scouting report, starting with turning raw tools into production at the plate.

Bat speed and barrel awareness produced well above-average power, and despite moving from the Class-A Midwest League all the way to Double-A Arkansas by the end of the season, Kelenic’s advanced plate skills helped him avoid long slumps.

The top prospect in the Seattle Mariners farm system took such a big jump in 2019 he’s likely closer to the big leagues than he is from the trade that shipped him west.


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Regardless where Kelenic ends up in the power department, he’s built a foundation at the plate strongly suggestive of an everyday major-league bat with the floor of a platoon option. His swing lengthens a bit at times but when he keeps it simple, he sprays line drives from the left-center gap to the right field, and with power. An adjustment in his setup – where he started his hands – seems to have made a significant difference.

YR LEVELS PA AVG OBP SLG HR BB SO
2019 A, A+, AA 500 .291 .366 .516 23 50 111

The one concern is Kelenic will occasionally get overaggressive with the power swing and dig himself into pitcher’s counts against better pitching. There will be a few adjustment periods between now and the day he hits the majors, but mainly Kelenic simply needs to see good velocity and four-pitch mixes on a regular basis in order to prepare him for the cruel world of big-league pitching.

I tossed a 65 grade on Kelenic’s power a year ago and while that may have been slightly aggressive at the time, he’s justified the long-term prognosis – for the most part. The bat speed and swing path project 25-30 home runs and 30-40 doubles a year, but how he incorporates the power into his game plan remains a work in progress.

Defensively, Kelenic displays plus routes and average jumps in center field, and his arm grades out as plus. There are no wasted steps and he positions himself well without much assistance from the bench.

He’s not a burner and may end up closer to an average runner as he continues to add strength, but he does show good instincts on the base paths and does a good job reading pitchers and getting good jumps on stolen-base attempts.

Kelenic moved two levels in 2019 and may do the same in 2020. After some play in the Cactus League in March, he’s likely to return to Arkansas this spring with a chance to end the summer at T-Mobile Park.

The 20-year-old projects as an above-average outfielder who may stick in center early in his career. His current offensive trajectory suggests a corner-worthy profile, however, so if he must slide to left or right the only thing that really changes is the first letter of his positional abbreviation.

Aside from the solid-to-plus tools across the board, Kelenic is an intelligent player with an uncompromising work ethic, and continues to carry star-level upside.


There’s a more-than-decent chance the Mariners’ top two prospects are two-thirds of the big-league club’s starting outfield in 2021. The bigger question is who the third piece is. If it’s Kyle Lewis, Kelenic is the starter in center. But it could also be Braden Bishop, Jose Siri or Jake Fraley, or even a player not currently in the organization, which likely lands Kelenic in a corner.

When Jerry Dipoto took over as GM in September of 2015, Kelenic had just received his driver’s license and Rodriguez was three months from turning 15. Now both are on the brink of the major leagues, and potentially stardom.


Photo of Jarred Kelenic by Darron Cummings, licensed via AP.

2. Julio Rodriguez, RF
HT: 6-4 WT: 225 BATS: R THROWS: R AGE: 19

Rodriguez enters 2020 carrying the highest upside of any bat in the entire organization. Last season, the Dominican native displayed an absurd level of maturity when he performed well early, hit the IL for two months, only to return without skipping a beat and ultimately performing well enough to earn a promotion to Advanced-A Modesto by year’s end. At 18 years of age. In his first full pro season. And his first year in the states.

Rodriguez is a solid athlete but does not possess great speed or lateral agility. He does, however, possess average or better tools across the board, including hitting, power and arm strength.

His jump in 2019 – not the jump in levels, but the advancement in skills – suggests a little higher upside than I originally projected with a little less risk and a shorter path to the majors.

And all of that adds up to… a lot.


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It’s plus bat speed and an aggressive swing that drives balls to his pull side. His improved plate coverage came at no expense of power or his ability to make hard contact, instead opening up more of the strike zone for him.

YR LEVELS PA AVG OBP SLG HR BB SO
2019 A, A+ 367 .326 .390 .540 12 25 76

His setup and swing are loose and athletic and he uses his lower half well without disrupting his timing. His belligerent game plan hasn’t been challenged much yet, but eventually he will see quality pitching that forces him to be a bit more selective with steeper consequences.

What sells me on Rodriguez most — outside his tremendous maturity and power potential — is his ability to adjust with two strikes, use more of the field and avoid wasting at-bats.

Defensively, he profiles well in a corner and has enough arm to handle right field in a traditional alignment. He’s shown instincts, well above-average routes and jumps, and he tracks balls well.

He’s also a solid base runner, making good reads, leading with aggression.

Rodriguez likely starts 2020 back in Advanced-A Modesto and ends it in Double-Arkansas, which puts him on track for a big-league debut in 2021. If he stays healthy, the stay in the Cal League may not last but a couple months, but the Texas League projects to be a legitimate challenge for him at the ripe age of 19.

Barring unforeseen bumps in the road, Rodriguez sticks in the big leagues by 2022, which lines up well with the organization’s timeline to contend in the American League.  The power, hand-eye, maturity and instincts all suggest an all-star level talent, and Rodriguez has a chance to mash his way to stardom.


Photo of Julio Rodriguez by Freek Bouw/Phrake Photography, licensed via AP

Logan Gilbert Mariners No. 3 Prospect 2020

3. Logan Gilbert, RHP
HT: 6-6 WT: 230 BATS: R THROWS: R AGE: 22

Gilbert did exactly what clubs should want from a first-round college arm in his first full season in pro ball, and that’s move quickly. But he may have moved a little quicker than most expected, ending the year in Double-A Arkansas after stop at both A-ball levels to start the year.

Gilbert is a four-pitch starter – fastball, curveball, slider, changeup – and all four project as major-league offerings. He’s big, strong, athletic and has handled everything thrown at him thus far. His next developmental step puts him on the brink of the big leagues.


More Rankings: Nos. 6-10  | Nos. 11-15 | Nos. 16-20 | Nos. 21-30 | Nos. 31-50 | No. 5 | No. 4

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The fastball comes easy at 92-94 mph, but he’s up to 95 often and touches 97. There’s good life on the pitch up in the zone with a touch of arm side run. He has two breaking balls, the curveball of which I tend to favor; it’s a spike curveball, or a knuckle-curve if you will, at 75-78 mph with sharp downward bite that comes late in its path to the plate.

The slider (81-85 mph) may have the most upside as a strikeout offering, and Gilbert’s changeup has flashed average, though it’s a ways from being polished enough to throw to big-league bats with confidence.

YR LEVELS G IP H SO BB HR FIP
2019 A, A+, AA 26 135.0 95 165 33 7 2.71

The right-hander does a good job filling up the zone with his entire arsenal, but gets good value from the fastball, moving it around the zone effectively and getting swings and misses at the top of the zone and in on right-handed batters.

He’ll showcase above-average command at times, but will need more consistency finishing out front in order max out the raw stuff and physical tools.

Gilbert, the No. 14 overall pick in 2018, projects comfortably as a No. 3 starter and has a chance to push that to No. 2 status with a jump in fastball command and added effectiveness of the changeup.

He’s built for 220-inning seasons and a long career, and figures to get said career started sometime this coming summer.

The second-year pro likely starts 2020 back in Double-A Arkansas, especially if there’s belief Triple-A and MLB will use the same ball used in the regular season a year ago.

He may hit some bumps in the road this time around, but if not the Mariners could push him to Seattle before the All-Star break. Gilbert will be on some kind of workload limit after reaching the 135-inning plateau in 2019, but that shouldn’t slow down his arrival much.


Photo of Logan Gilbert by Larry Goren/Four Seam Images, licensed via AP.


George Kirby Mariners/ Elon Athletics

4. George Kirby, RHP
HT: 6-4 WT: 205 BATS: R THROWS: R AGE: 22

Kirby was among the most efficient college arms in history at Elon in 2019, and rode that to first-round status and a solid first run in pro ball.


More Rankings: Nos. 6-10  | Nos. 11-15 | Nos. 16-20 | Nos. 21-30 | Nos. 31-50

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He’s an athletic 6-foot-4 with a strong build up over 200 pounds. His profile seals out a lot of the risk that’s typical of a small-college starter, including a four-pitch arsenal, pitchability and mound presence to spare.

Kirby sits 90-93 mph with an easy delivery he repeats well, touching 95 and manipulating movement like no other arm in the system. In fact, only Marco Gonzales can brag he’s better at it in the entire org.

YR LEVEL G IP H SO BB HR FIP
2019 SS 9 23.0 24 25 0 1 2.04

Kirby’s two-seamer shows good sink and he stays on top of everything well to maximize spin and break. His slider grades about average and his curveball a bit better, but his changeup has flashed plus and should give him at least one above-average big-league secondary pitch, which pairs well with his fastball command.

The right-hander doesn’t possess the ceiling of an arm like Isaiah Campbell, but his floor is higher and he’s likely to mow down low-level minor leaguers and hit the big leagues at similar rate as Logan Gilbert, who is likely to debut in 2020.

Kirby likely starts 2020 at Class-A West Virginia as a future No. 3 starter, but the polish, command and ability to mix fastballs for additional value offer Kirby a shot to end up a No. 2 in the mold of a Rick Porcello or Chris Carpenter.


Cal Raleigh Seattle Mariners

5. Cal Raleigh, C
HT: 6-3 WT: 215 BATS: B THROWS: R AGE: 23

Cal Raleigh was a third-round pick by the Seattle Mariners in 2018 and came to pro ball a bat-first option behind the plate, one with significant questions surrounding his abilities to defend.

Since then, Raleigh has hit for power, showed signs of an improved hit tool, and taken a full step forward defensively across the board.


More Rankings: Nos. 6-10  | Nos. 11-15 | Nos. 16-20 | Nos. 21-30 | Nos. 31-50

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YR LEVEL G AVG OBP SLG HR BB SO
2018 SS 38 .288 .367 .534 8 18 29
2019 A+ 82 .261 .336 .497 22 33 69
2019 AA 39 .228 .296 .414 7 14 47

Raleigh’s left-handed swing is more powerful but he does a good job staying within his limits as a right-handed batter, and could end up a better hitter for average from that side of the plate.

As a lefty, the raw power is plus, and it’s shown up in games since he debuted in Everett in 2018 thanks to leverage, loft and what appears to be better bat speed.

He has average, perhaps slightly above-average arm strength, he’s accurate, and has improved his footwork and overall technique from catch to throw. Raleigh is not a great athlete in the traditional sense, but he’s worked hard to greatly improve his chances to develop, and is strong throughout his lower half and torso. In 2019, he showed he can handle a projectable workload.

Raleigh still has work to do controlling the strike zone and ultimately making more consistent contact, so he’s not likely to be on the fast track to Seattle, per se, but he’s come a long way defensively and now projects to land somewhere in the fringe-average to average range, with a chance at a bit more than that.

I suspect the club’s top catching prospects heads back to Arkansas (AA) to start 2020, but as long as he’s healthy there’s a non-zero chance he sees the big leagues in September. In fact, I’d bet on it, even though he probably sees more minor-league development in 2021 before sticking permanently.

On the upside, Raleigh is an average or so defender who is terrific handling a staff and game planning, with a power-first offensive approach that struggles a bit to hit for average but offers consistency and stability behind the plate. His peak years could border on All-Star offensive performances.


Why Raleigh at No. 5, Ahead of Marte, Lewis, White, et al?

While there’s little difference between No. 4 and No. 10 in these rankings, this one is easy for me. Considering the risk involved with Noelvi Marte and Kyle Lewis, among others, the relatively limited upside for Evan White, and the upside in value of Raleigh — despite some inherited risks with catchers — I’d trade the equivalent of more than one White, Marte or Lewis for one Raleigh. Here’s why:

Catching is the most difficult position in sports to fill with a player that doesn’t have to be graded on a severe curve.

In 2019, just 10 catchers played enough to receive 400 or more plate appearances. Not at-bats, plate appearances. Just eight of those posted a wRC+ of 100 or better — 100 is league average — and only five catchers with 400 or more PAs posted a 100 or better wRC+ in 2018.

J.T. Realmuto is among the top 5 full-time defenders at the position in baseball, which is why his career 108 wRC+ is worth so much, and he’s generally considered the best all-around backstop in baseball right now.

A 108 wRC+ is far from special — 103 batters with 400 or more PAs posted a 108 or better in 2019.

Did You Know?

Did you know only 13 catchers put up positive offensive runs above average metric via FanGraphs in 2019 (min. 200 PAs), and among those only nine put up positive defensive runs above average?

Nine.

Nine catchers in Major League Baseball had 200 or more plate appearances and didn’t post below-average runs on either side of the game.

Again… NINE. That’s out of 42 catchers that had the 200 PAs to qualify.

Despite merely above-average — and slightly at that — offensive production, Realmuto was highly sought after when the Miami Marlins opened up talks, and the Philadelphia Phillies paid a premium to get him. In offensive numbers alone, Realmuto is far from a star. He’s rather ordinary most of the time. But he’s also the rarest commodity in sports and is probably going to cash in on a large contract sooner or later.

Yasmani Grandal is a bat-first catcher whose framing makes him above-average defensively, and he’s made $40 million in his career to date and will make $75 million more over the next four seasons ages 31-34.

I’m not saying Raleigh is Realmuto or Grandal (he’s not), but the scarcity of the catcher position alone provides an easy path to Raleigh’s ranking, but the rest of it resides in Raleigh’s profile and the offensive upside that comes with it, not to mention his timetable to get to the big leagues.

Corner outfielders with plus power and above-average athleticism are a dime-a-dozen in comparison to even league-average catchers. Same goes for even good first baseman, let alone those that project to the league-average range.

White, specifically, is a lot more likely to get to and stay in the majors than is Raleigh, and more likely to be average or better. But isolated from organizational context, I’d trade more than one White for just one Raleigh any day of the week and twice on game day.

And I bet Jerry Dipoto would, too.…

(Photo of Isaiah Campbell courtesy U of Arkansas Athletics)

As we work our way toward Jarred Kelenic, Logan Gilbert, George Kirby and Julio Rodriguez, among others, let’s continue the countdown of the Top 50 Seattle Mariners Prospects entering the 2020 season.

Down the page here, you’ll find prospects 11-50, including the update after the Mariners lost No. 31 Ricardo Sanchez on waivers to the St. Louis Cardinals Thursday.

Here are Nos. 6-10 in reverse order:

To get the full scouting reports, including ETAs, pitch types & velocities, comps, and tools grades, subscribe to Baseball Things right here.

10. Isaiah Campbell, RHS
HT: 6-1 WT: 185 BATS: R THROWS: R AGE: 20

Campbell did not debut last summer after pitching his Arkansas Razorbacks into the College World Series, ending the year with over 118 innings.

The Mariners selected Campbell with their competitive balance pick, No. 76 overall, and were lucky to get a shot at him. He has had elbow soreness that concerned some clubs

Campbell, a Portugal native, is a power arm with a bulldog mentality. The lazy scout screams ‘bullpen,’ but the right-hander is strong, has four projectable pitches and holds his velocity deep into games.

Campbell will sits 91-95 mph and touch 98 beyond pitch 100. He creates good plane from a high three-quarter slot that enables good tunneling with his 82-85 mph slider. He did a good job in college keeping the ball in the yard.

The curveball is fringe-average but flashes depth and good shape and the changeup is useful with a good chance to be more.

There’s No. 2 upside here and a relatively elevated floor if Campbell ends up in the bullpen. He’ll have a swing-and-miss breaking ball — if he can tune up the consistency on the slower version of the pitch — and heavy fastball from Day 1, so I’ll take my chances he develops the command and changeup.

Campbell could follow Logan Gilbert’s path from a year ago — which would mean a pro debut in Class-A West Virginia — though it’s difficult to see him match his predecessor’s product up the ladder in his first year.


9. Evan White, 1B
HT: 6-3 WT: 210 BATS: R THROWS: R AGE: 24

White answered some questions many scouts had about the former first-round pick’s bat, but the developments can’t be properly measured by traditional statistics.

White went from average hitter with average power potential to half-tick better, at least, on both departments. He’s unlikely to get much beyond the 18-25 homer range, but that could come with 35 doubles and solid OBP.

He’s great athlete owning an elite glove at first base with a plus arm, and carries 60 foot speed that impacts games.

At the end of the day, he’s likely — at least ultimately — an average offensive first baseman with a chance to be Matt Holiday lite if all goes well.

White is expected to be the starting first baseman on Opening Day, though I have some question how much he’s going to hit early.


8. Justus Sheffield, LHS
HT: 6-0 WT: 205 BATS: R THROWS: R AGE: 21

Sheffield opened the 2019 season without the top-range velocity or playable command he needs to thrive, and the juiced ball didn’t help him pitch through his time in the PCL.

He then joined now-Marines pitching coach Pete Woodworth in Double-A Arkansas and began to look more like the arm the club hoped to get in the deal that sent James Paxton to the New York Yankees.

Sheffield was inconsistent in multiple stints with the Mariners last season, but flashed mid-rotation or better stuff, including a fastball up to 95 mph and averaging around 93 — just not the command necessary to make it work for the long haul. The slider flashed plus, with sweeping deception and late bite.

The lefty is a three-pitch arm who relies on deception and movement rather than overpowering velocity and pitch mix, and might benefit from more ways to attack right-hander batters.

He’ll start 2020 in the club’s rotation where he’ll get a long look in order to determine his immediate future value. On the downside, Sheffield could be a very good multi-inning reliever.


7. Kyle Lewis, RF
HT: 6-4 WT: 215 BATS: R THROWS: R AGE: 24

Lewis made strides in 2019 learning to generate consistent backspin and it showed well in his September call-up. But he continues to struggle to make contact and hit for average.

He’s above-average athlete with a plus arm and good defensive range in a corner, and can spell the starter in center, too.

If he’s to earn a regular role with the Mariners as early as 2020, Lewis will need to find his timing and stay off his front foot. Some of that will come with better chase discipline, all while maintaining his swing leverage so he’s not pounding ground balls into the dirt.

The former first-round pick could open the season in the big leagues with Mitch Haniger out until at least May, but there’s a lot of work to do here with the bat in order to unlock the impact power.

He’s Justin Upton meets Sammy Sosa if it all comes together, but the power will help him stay on the map if the hit tool takes additional time to develop.

6. Noelvi Marte, SS
HT: 6-1 WT: 190 BATS: R THROWS: R AGE: 18

Marte acquitted himself quite well in his first shot at pro ball last summer in the DSL and he’ll make his stateside debut in 2020.

At 18, Marte projects to hit and with power, and boasts speed grades ranging from 65 to 75, depending who is asked. As he fills out he may settle closer to 65 than the upper end of that range, but can run and has above-average skills on the bases.

His power extends from his extreme pull side to straight-away center and projects above-average to plus. He’ll need some time to learn to get to it consistently without selling out, but all the tools are present be an impact bat.

The questions come on defense, and not due to a lack of arm strength or athleticism, but he did go on a nice run last summer showing some consistency with his hands and with his footwork on throws. If he can’t stick at shortstop, second base, third base or even center field could make some sense.

Marte could see West Virginia in 2020, but it’s uncertain if he gets there in April on a full-season assignment or stays back in Extended and earns his way to the Sally League in July or August.

NO. PLAYER POS AGE BEST TOOL 2020 PROJ
11 Justin Dunn RHP 24 SL Tacoma (AAA)
12 Brandon Williamson LHP 22 FB West Virginia (A)
13 Sam Carlson RHP 21 FB Arizona (R)
14 Jose Siri CF 24 RUN Taoma (AAA)
15 Juan Then RHP 21 FB West Virginia (A)
16 Kristian Cardozo RHP 17 FB DSL (R)
17 Jake Fraley CF 25 HIT Seattle
18 Braden Bishop CF 26 FIELD Seattle
19 Taylor Guilbeau LHP 25 FB Seattle
20 Austin Shenton 3B 22 HIT Modesto (A+)
21 Joey Gerber RHP 23 FB Tacoma (AAA)
22 Aaron Fletcher LHP 24 FB Tacoma (AAA)
23 Yohan Ramirez RHP 25 FB Seattle
24 Wyatt Mills RHP 25 FB Tacoma (AAA)
25 George Feliz CF 17 FIELD DSL (R)
26 Jonatan Clase CF 17 RUN Arizona (R)
27 Sam Delaplane RHP 25 CB Tacoma (AAA)
28 Damon Casetta-Stubbs RHP 20 SL West Virginia (A)
29 Art Warren RHP 27 FB Seattle
30 Brayan Perez LHP 19 CB West Virginia (A)
31 Carter Bins C 21 FIELD West Virginia (A)
32 Ljay Newsome RHP 23 CMD Arkansas (AA)
33 Jake Haberer RHP 25 FB Arkansas (AA)
34 Juan Querecuto SS 19 FIELD Arizona (R)
35 Raymond Kerr LHP 25 FB Arkansas (AA)
36 Ty Adcock RHP 23 FB West Virginia (A)
37 Adam Hill RHP 23 CH Modesto (A+)
38 Danny Chang LHP 20 CB Everett (SS)
39 Michael Limoncelli RHP 20 CB Arizona (R)
40 Dom Thompson-Williams OF 25 RUN Arkansas (AA)
41 Jorge Benitez LHP 21 SL West Virginia (A)
42 Tim Lopes UT 25 RUN Seattle
43 Levi Stoudt RHP 22 CH Arizona (R)
44 Donnie Walton UT 26 RUN Tacoma (AAA)
45 Elvis Alvardo RHP 21 FB Arizona (R)
46 Tyler Driver RHP 19 CB Everett (SS)
47 Tim Elliott RHP 22 SL Modesto (A+)
48 Gerson Bautista RHP 25 FB Tacoma (AAA)
49 Ryne Inman RHP 24 CB Modesto (A+)
50 Dutch Landis RHP 18 CH Arizona (R)

(Photo of Juan Then courtesy Eden Douglas/West Virginia Power)

As we work our way toward Jarred Kelenic, Logan Gilbert, Kyle Lewis, George Kirby and Julio Rodriguez, among others, let’s continue the countdown of the Top 50 Seattle Mariners Prospects entering the 2020 season.

Down the page here, you’ll find prospects 16-50, including the update after the Mariners lost No. 31 Ricardo Sanchez on waivers to the St. Louis Cardinals Thursday.

Here are Nos. 11-15 in reverse order:

To get the full scouting reports, including ETAs, comps,and tools grades, subscribe to Baseball Things right here.

15. Juan Then, RHS
HT: 6-1 WT: 185 BATS: R THROWS: R AGE: 20

Then originally signed with Seattle in July of 2016 and was traded with J.P. Sears to the New York Yankees in 2017. He was re-acquired last summer in exchange for DH Edwin Encarnacion.

Then was very good after the trade, making 10 appearances at Short-Season Everett and Class-A West Virginia at 19 years old.

He’s put up good weight since being traded away and now sits 91-93 mph and touches 95.  He also has a curveball and changeup, the latter of which is a better present offering.

He’s made progress using his lower half in his delivery and locates the fastball better to his glove side than away from lefties.

Then likely starts 2020 back in West Virginia.


14. Jose Siri, CF
HT: 6-2 WT: 180 BATS: R THROWS: R AGE: 24

Siri was claimed off waivers from the Cincinnati Reds February 3, 2020 and joins a strong group of good defensive center fielders.

He’s toolsy, including 70 speed and a 65 arm, and offers some promise in the power department thanks to good bat speed and strength.

He’s still learning to get to the power in games and he’s a bit aggressive early in counts, but he’s a great athlete — maybe the best on the system — and if he can get to his pull power with loft there’s a Melvin Upton profile here.

Siri likely spend lots of time in Triple-A, but he could see the bigs sometime in 2020.


13. Sam Carlson, RHS
HT: 6-4 WT: 205 BATS: R THROWS: R AGE: 21

Carlson has lost a lot of development time to injury having faced just 13 batter in pro ball — and none since 2017 — but the physical tools and raw stuff cannot be ignored.

The right-hander is an absolute beast with athleticism to burn and pre-Draft sat 91-94 mph with sink and plane, touching 95, and showing an average slider with shape and a changeup beyond his years.

He’s likely to face workload restrictions in 2020, of course, but there’s also a chance his role is non-traditional as the club gets him time and avoids risk.

He may be capable of facing Sally League hitters, but Seattle might be thinking a softer landing in the Arizona League, which means lots of time in Extended this spring to build up arm strength.


12. Brandon Williamson, LHS
HT: 6-6 WT: 215 BATS: L THROWS: R AGE: 22

Williams was the club’s second-round pick last June and sat 91-93 mph for me in three appearances, but touched 94 and has been up to 96 in the past.

He has two projectable breaking balls, the slider the best one at present. His changeup needs work if he’s going to max out his upside, but there’s a lot to like about the physical profile.

The southpaw could be headed for West Virginia — likely joining a number of other high-ranked pitching prospects.

11. Justin Dunn, RHS
HT: 6-2 WT: 205 BATS: R THROWS: R AGE: 24

Dunn hasn’t fallen as much as been passed up by those now ranked ahead of him, but I do have a little more concern about his future role than I did a year ago.

With a power approach, Dunn’s fastball is 91-95 mph with life up in the zone, but late in the year he sat mostly 91-93 and the slider flattened — both of which can be chalked up as fatigue. But Dunn’s changeup did not improve to the point where it yet projects as even big-league average, and that’s a problem.

If he ends up in the bullpen he could be 95-99 with a better slider than Edwin Diaz, but I’d like to see Dunn get 15-20 more chances, at least, to see if he can start long-term. Seattle is no hurry for the answer and banishing arms like Dunn’s to relief work this early is ridiculously shortsighted, which is why I don’t think Seattle makes the move just yet.


NO. PLAYER POS AGE BEST TOOL 2020 PROJ
50 Dutch Landis RHP 18 CH Arizona (R)
49 Ryne Inman RHP 24 CB Modesto (A+)
48 Gerson Bautista RHP 25 FB Tacoma (AAA)
47 Tim Elliott RHP 22 SL Modesto (A+)
46 Tyler Driver RHP 19 CB Everett (SS)
45 Elvis Alvardo RHP 21 FB Arizona (R)
44 Donnie Walton UT 26 RUN Tacoma (AAA)
43 Levi Stoudt RHP 22 CH Arizona (R)
42 Tim Lopes UT 25 RUN Seattle
41 Jorge Benitez LHP 21 SL West Virginia (A)
40 Dom Thompson-Williams OF 25 RUN Arkansas (AA)
39 Michael Limoncelli RHP 20 CB Arizona (R)
38 Danny Chang LHP 20 CB Everett (SS)
37 Adam Hill RHP 23 CH Modesto (A+)
36 Ty Adcock RHP 23 FB West Virginia (A)
35 Raymond Kerr LHP 25 FB Arkansas (AA)
34 Juan Querecuto SS 19 FIELD Arizona (R)
33 Jake Haberer RHP 25 FB Arkansas (AA)
32 Ljay Newsome RHP 23 CMD Arkansas (AA)
31 Carter Bins C 21 FIELD West Virginia (A)
30 Brayan Perez LHP 19 CB West Virginia (A)
29 Art Warren RHP 27 FB Seattle
28 Damon Casetta-Stubbs RHP 20 SL West Virginia (A)
27 Sam Delaplane RHP 25 CB Tacoma (AAA)
26 Jonatan Clase CF 17 RUN Arizona (R)
25 George Feliz CF 17 FIELD DSL (R)
24 Wyatt Mills RHP 25 FB Tacoma (AAA)
23 Yohan Ramirez RHP 25 FB Seattle
22 Aaron Fletcher LHP 24 FB Tacoma (AAA)
21 Joey Gerber RHP 23 FB Tacoma (AAA)
20 Austin Shenton 3B 22 HIT Modesto (A+)
19 Taylor Guilbeau LHP 25 FB Seattle
18 Braden Bishop CF 26 FIELD Seattle
17 Jake Fraley CF 25 HIT Seattle
16 Kristian Cardozo RHP 17 FB DSL (R)
Braden Bishop, Mariners

As we work our way toward Jarred Kelenic, Logan Gilbert, Kyle Lewis, George Kirby and Julio Rodriguez, among others, let’s continue the countdown of the Top 50 Seattle Mariners Prospects entering the 2020 season. Here are Nos. 16-20 in reverse order.

Down the page here, you’ll find prospects 21-50, including the update after the Mariners lost No. 31 Ricardo Sanchez on waivers to the St. Louis Cardinals Thursday.

To get the full scouting reports, including ETAs, comps, and tools grades, subscribe to Baseball Things right here.

20. Austin Shenton, 3B
HT: 6-0 WT: 200 BATS: L THROWS: R AGE: 22

Shenton was the club’s 5th-round pick last June and he raked from Day 1, batting .298/.376/.510 at two stops, including Class-A West Virginia.

At present, Shenton has a better hit tool than game power, but there’s enough bat speed to suggest that could change over time. He finds the barrel and can spread hard contact to left-center with doubles pop.

I have as many questions about Shenton’s chances to stick at third as anyone — he’s not a great athlete — but I’m not sure where else he fits as an everyday player, which he may not be in the end for multiple reasons. But I like the chances the offensive profile changes in time because solid hit tools open a lot of doors in the development phase.

Shenton likely heads to Modesto to start 2020.


19. Taylor Guilbeau, LHR
HT: 6-4 WT: 230 BATS: R THROWS:AGE: 25

Guilbeau came over in the trade with Washington last summer that also landed the club Elvis Alvarado in exchange for Roenis Elias and Hunter Strickland. At the time, I was told he was a fastball-slider southpaw with reverse split issues who touched 95 mph. What I saw in Tacoma — and what Guilbeau showed in the majors later that month in the big leagues — was a true power lefty up to 97, sitting 93-95 with a plus changeup and fringe-average slider.

The fastball sinks and has run to his arm side, and the slider isn’t a lost cause, so there’s hope he gets better versus left-handed batters. He’s a good bet to see the majors early in 2020, perhaps as a member of the Opening Day roster.


18. Braden Bishop, CF
HT: 6-1 WT: 195 BATS: R THROWS: R AGE: 26

Bishop had a great start to 2020 in Triple-A but injuries derailed his chance to see big-league pitching and make some adjustments. He looked over-matched in his limited chances.

It remains a 70-grade glove and 60 speed, but Bishop’s ability to hit will dictate his future role, despite the defensive value at a premium position.

He showed at least doubles pop last spring and has improved every year, so despite being 26 already, I have hope he can get to a point where he’s making enough solid contact to hit .260/.320/.400 and justify playing a lot.

He’ll have a shot to win a job this spring, but he’s at least goo enough — today — to be among the 26 that go north with the club come the regular season, especially with the roster down Mitch Haniger for the time being.


17. Jake Fraley, CF
HT: 6-0 WT: 195 BATS: L THROWS: L AGE: 25

Fraley battled a few nagging injuries last summer, too, but he showed he can get to his average pull power, showing a more complete profile than in years past.

He will have to show better versus left-handed pitching, but he can handle hard stuff and is a plus defender himself, albeit with a below-average arm that over the long haul likely limits him to part-time play or a left-field gig.

Like Bishop, Fraley, too, will have a shot to start the year with the big club with Haniger out til May or longer, but there’s a lot of competition and it could down to who makes the most consistent contact in March.


16. Kristian Cardozo, RHS
HT: 6-2 WT: 185 BATS: R THROWS: R AGE: 17

Cardozo became available when the Dodgers had to back out of their agreement to use pool money elsewhere and the Mariners did a great job staying with the right-hander and getting a deal done.

There’s physical projection to dream on but it’s not all wishing well on Cardozo, who was touching 89-90 last spring and the pitch offers movement to his arm side and natural sink late in its path to the plate. He also throws a low-70s curveball and firm changeup that flash some polish.

He’ll spend all of 2020 as a 17-year-old, but is strong and sturdy in his lower half and shows good athleticism. He’s likely bound for the DSL come June.


NO. PLAYER POS AGE BEST TOOL 2020 PROJ
50 Dutch Landis RHP 18 CH Arizona (R)
49 Ryne Inman RHP 24 CB Modesto (A+)
48 Gerson Bautista RHP 25 FB Tacoma (AAA)
47 Tim Elliott RHP 22 SL Modesto (A+)
46 Tyler Driver RHP 19 CB Everett (SS)
45 Elvis Alvardo RHP 21 FB Arizona (R)
44 Donnie Walton UT 26 RUN Tacoma (AAA)
43 Levi Stoudt RHP 22 CH Arizona (R)
42 Tim Lopes UT 25 RUN Seattle
41 Jorge Benitez LHP 21 SL West Virginia (A)
40 Dom Thompson-Williams OF 25 RUN Arkansas (AA)
39 Michael Limoncelli RHP 20 CB Arizona (R)
38 Danny Chang LHP 20 CB Everett (SS)
37 Adam Hill RHP 23 CH Modesto (A+)
36 Ty Adcock RHP 23 FB West Virginia (A)
35 Raymond Kerr LHP 25 FB Arkansas (AA)
34 Juan Querecuto SS 19 FIELD Arizona (R)
33 Jake Haberer RHP 25 FB Arkansas (AA)
32 Ljay Newsome RHP 23 CMD Arkansas (AA)
31 Carter Bins C 21 FIELD West Virginia (A)
30 Brayan Perez LHP 19 CB West Virginia (A)
29 Art Warren RHP 27 FB Seattle
28 Damon Casetta-Stubbs RHP 20 SL West Virginia (A)
27 Sam Delaplane RHP 25 CB Tacoma (AAA)
26 Jonatan Clase CF 17 RUN Arizona (R)
25 George Feliz CF 17 FIELD DSL (R)
24 Wyatt Mills RHP 25 FB Tacoma (AAA)
23 Yohan Ramirez RHP 25 FB Seattle
22 Aaron Fletcher LHP 24 FB Tacoma (AAA)
21 Joey Gerber RHP 23 FB Tacoma (AAA)

The Seattle Mariners lack impact on the mound in the organization — though it’s not entirely void of it — but they do have depth and some long-term upside plays. Such talents are reflected in this set of rankings.

MORE: Prospects Rankings Nos. 31-50


Friday: Nos. 16-20
— Rankings
— Abbreviated report

Saturday: Nos 11-15
— Rankings
— Abbreviated report

Sunday: Nos. 6-10
— Rankings
— Abbreviated report

February 10: No. 5
— Rankings
— Abbreviated report

February 11: No. 4
February 12: No. 3
February 13: Nos. 1-2
— Rankings
— Abbreviated Report

Get the full report right NOW, including tools grades by subscribing to Baseball Things here.

February 14: Why 1 over 2
— The differences in the Top 50

February 16: The Next Group
— Which prospects are on the brink of the Top 50

Here are Nos. 21-30 in reverse order, including their best tool, and 2020 projected starting assignment.

NO. PLAYER POS AGE BEST TOOL 2020 PROJ
30 Brayan Perez LHP 19 CB West Virginia (A)
29 Art Warren RHP 27 FB Seattle
28 Damon Casetta-Stubbs RHP 20 SL West Virginia (A)
27 Sam Delaplane RHP 25 CB Tacoma (AAA)
26 Jonatan Clase CF 17 RUN Arizona (R)
25 George Feliz CF 17 FIELD DSL (R)
24 Wyatt Mills RHP 25 FB Tacoma (AAA)
23 Yohan Ramirez RHP 25 FB Seattle
22 Aaron Fletcher LHP 24 FB Tacoma (AAA)
21 Joey Gerber RHP 23 FB Tacoma (AAA)