Here’s the new Top 25. Notes Taylor Trammell, Jake Fraley, Robert Dugger, and Anthony Misiewicz have graduated and no longer qualify. As always, this is not a ranking of the most likely players to make the majors, to stay in the majors, or the highest ceiling, and the rankings are not based heavily on ETA. The difference between No. 8 and No. 14, for example, isn’t large. Neither is the difference between No. 15 and No. 29. Players with current injuries or injury histories likely rank lower than they otherwise would, so if you’re wondering, that’s often a factor. Players in the majors still qualify if they have yet to surpass the 130 ABs or 50 innings pitched limits, as ridiculous and arbitrary as those thresholds are, so Logan Gilbert remains ranked. Jarred Kelenic, OF Kelenic’s struggles in the big leagues didn’t expose long-term concerns, it merely showed he hadn’t received the kind of experience and development to help him get through such a stretch. High-end bat speed, hand-eye, bat-to-ball, swing consistency and above-average athleticism still point to a potential star. He’ll be back in the majors later this summer. Julio Rodriguez, OF Rodriguez is the best power bat in the system and isn’t all that far behind Kelenic overall, though he does come with more concerns about the hit tool. He’s just been promoted to Double-A Arkansas and while Jerry Dipoto won’t rule out a September call-up, I think it’d be foolish to take such a risk for a mere 120 PAs and limited upside. Rodriguez’s ETA remains more 2022, even if he does get a cup of coffee in a few months. Logan Gilbert, RHS Gilbert’s showing exactly why the club was as confident in him as any young player they have had in Dipoto’s time with the Mariners. He’s up to 97mph with front-side deception, an above-average slider, 45-50 curveball he hasn’t thrown much of late, and a changeup he’s gaining confidence in that’s flashed plus. He’s an easy No. 3 with a chance for more — just as we thought on Draft day three years ago. Noelvi Marte, SS Marte has moved up a spot since February based on his display of 60-grade power and improved plate discipline. He’ll still chase some, and isn’t going to stick at shortstop, but he flashes enough leather and arm to suggest he can stay on the dirt and offer well above-average offensive production. Whether or not he sees High-A West remains to be seen, but that league is blessed with a lot more stuffy arms than Low-A West, so the club should be cautious with the decision, since there’s nothing wrong with a 19-year-old spending all year in Low-A in his first stateside season. Emerson Hancock, RHS I’m not down on Hancock in the least, but Marte simply overtook him for the No. 4 spot, and Gilbert’s success in the majors made the 3-spot a no-brainer for him. The club’s 2020 first rounder has worked his way to starter workload and looked good last week in Tri-City where I laid eyes on him live for the first time. The mid-90s velo is easy, the arm speed is elite for a starter and he showed all four pitches, including a plus changeup and two average or better breaking balls. Because he made just four starts in college last spring and went 14 months without pitching in a competitive environment, Hancock may spend all summer in Everett, but his combo of stuff and command strongly suggest he can get consistent outs in Double-A right now, so don’t let a lack of a promotion tell you anything meaningful if he indeed remains in High-A all season. Baseball Things subscribers can hear my full audio scouting report on Stoudt right here! Not a subscriber yet? Change that here for $5/month. Cal Raleigh, C Like Marte, Raleigh moved up based on high-level, consistent performance at the plate, and even his “down” stretches look like serviceable production for an MLB-ready bat. Defensively he’s sound with no glaring weaknesses, an average to above-average arm with solid accuracy and an understanding of the position that far exceeds most other catcher prospects in the game right now. Every single day that passes and Raleigh is not in the majors is a surprise to me. The Mariners want Raleigh’s game planning to match his offense, so it’s understandable, but I’m a firm believer some development can and should happen at the big-league level. While I’m already surprised he hasn’t received the call, I’ll be floored if we hit mid-August and Raleigh remains in the 253. George Kirby, RHS Kirby has as much upside as any arm in the organization, but he also has as far to get there as any of them. In addition, he brings high probability and a high floor thanks to his plus control and above-average to plus command. He touched 97 for me last week and used all three secondaries, flashing a solid-average slider and changeup. The right-hander may simply need more time to get his off-speed stuff up to par, but he’s painting fastballs with plane to both sides of the plate and is at least on par with a former teammate of his (stay tuned) who recently received a promotion to Double-A Arkansas. Baseball Things subscribers can hear my full audio scouting report on Stoudt right here! Not a subscriber yet? Change that here for $5/month. Brandon Williamson, LHS Williamson dominated with deception and fastballs in High-A, but had the plus curveball, too, and in two starts in Double-A since his promotion has looked more than ready for the challenge, despite struggling in the middle three innings of his first outing. He’s throwing a mid-80s changeup with command and consistent arm speed and showing average fastball command to make it all work. There’s a slider in his arsenal, too, and right now it’s more of a short-sweeping version than one likely to generate swinging strikes. His curveball is average to plus in pretty much every start, showing two-plane break which allows him to throw it inside to right-handed batters without as much concern he’ll hang it in the middle of the zone. Williamson is a better athlete than some realize, and his control and command have taken a step forward since we last saw him in 2019. Don’t expect him to see the majors in 2021, but once the middle of next season arrives, all bets are off. It’s likely a future No. 4 profile, but there’s a caveat; he’s pitching comfortably in the low-90s right now, but has often sat 94-97 in the past, and that will always give him a shot a bigger projection. Connor Phillips, RHS Phillips, the club’s comp-round pick (64) last June out of McLennan CC in Texas has the best combination of present stuff, command, and projection among the Modesto starters. He’s had a few too many bouts of poor control, but generally stays out of the middle of the plate, and throws a lot of competitive off-speed pitches, headlined by a 55-grade slider and 45 curveball with promise. He’s athletic and touches the mid-90s, but comes with some role risk, thanks to below-average mechanics, led by a relatively long arm path that creates inconsistent release points. Phillips is just 20, however, so there’s time to remedy some of these issues and develop a mid-rotation starter. Levi Stoudt, RHS Stoudt comes in behind Phillips despite having better stuff for three main reasons; he’s had his own control problems very similar to that of Phillips, but he’s also two years off Tommy John (never a positive) and is already 23 years of age. Still, there’s a lot to like about Stoudt, including above-average velocity and a potentially plus-plus changeup. He’s athletic and brings a bit more projection than a 6-1, 195-pound frame might suggest on paper. While his floor lies in the bullpen, we’re talking about a high-leverage role where he may sit 95-100 mph with a 70-grade changeup and average slider. Baseball Things subscribers can hear my full audio scouting report on Stoudt right here! Not a subscriber yet? Change that here for $5/month. Adam Macko, LHS Macko is currently the best starter on the Nuts roster, showing heat into the mid-90s with ride up in the zone, and two competitive breaking balls. He creates deception with his front shoulder and arm path, and pitches effective in on right-handed bats with the fastball and above-average slider. He also has a curveball that projects to be at least average. Some scouts love Macko right behind the Mariners’ big three and ahead of Williamson, Phillips, and Stoudt, while others see traditional concerns with size and fastball value from a shorter pitcher. Lean the former until there’s reason to worry about his size being factor, because so far it hasn’t been. At all. Matt Brash, RHS Aside from spotty control and command, Brash’s development in 2021 is one of the stories of the farm system thus far. He was marked a reliever-only a year ago by several scouts, and perhaps the Padres saw it that way, too, pushing them to hand him to Seattle in the deal for Taylor Williams. Brash misses bats with a fastball up to 97 (he’s been up to 99 in side sessions), and an above-average slider he throws to both lefties and righties alike. He’s athletic and could stand to add more weight, but the delivery offers deception, and he’s reeled in some of the extras to allow him to repeat more consistently, giving him a real shot to start. Double-A might be a stretch for Brash in a starting role, but he’s 23 so it might make sense to get him a handful of outings in Double-A to end 2021. Zach DeLoach, OF DeLoach doesn’t come with big upside and lacks loud tools, but he’s sound in all aspects, from contact, to strike zone discipline, swing consistency, running, throwing, and fielding. He turned that into a huge month of June, and there’s reason to believe there’s more power to come, suggesting a shot at an everyday role in the majors. I could see the club pushing him to Double-A for the final month or so, where he could show signs of a fast-track bat, but we should remind ourselves he faced no live competition after the second week of March last year until the 2021 season opened, so getting him extended plate appearances is the main goal for 2021. Sam Carlson, RHS Carlson’s return has been fun to watch, despite mixed results. He’s missing bats with velocity into the mid-90s and a slider that projects as plus and has a chance to be one of the best in the system by year’s end. He’s shown feel for the changeup at times, and his new curveball is projectable, albeit inconsistent. His control has been below average, and his command leaves a lot to be desired at times, too, but he’s allowed just two long balls in 40 innings thanks to fastball movement and plane, and has tallied 51 strikeouts against 22 walks. On top of all that, he’s a tremendous athlete, perhaps the best in the system, and despite being 23 and having missed four years, there’s a big-league future here after Tommy John surgery and it may very well include a rotation spot. On ceiling alone, Carlson still would rank in the top 5-10. Juan Then, RHS Then may among the most likely of the arms in the Top 15 to land in the bullpen, but it’s far from a sure thing, giving the re-acquired right-hander… wait for it… a non-zero chance to start over the long haul. He’s 93-95 with his fastball and has touched 97 — like every other arm before him — and his slider flashes plus in most starts. He’s built a bit like Brash, but added 15 pounds or so between the shutdown and the 2021 season. Then throws a lot of strikes and his ability to locate his fastball and slider has not stalled despite his velocity ticking up since he returned from the Yankees for two months of Edwin Encarnacion. Then’s third pitch, a hard changeup at 86-90 mph, has been inconsistent to say the least, and despite above-average control, he hasn’t commanded his fastball as well in spots and it’s burned him a bit. One aspect of Then’s game I think gives him a true chance to start is his ability to generate ground balls. He’s producing high GB rates, and it should be sustainable based on the sink on his fastball and the fact he’s flashed the ability to run his changeup down and away to hitters from each side of the plate. Jonatan Clase, CF I’m high man on Clase, but not because I don’t see the risk. He turned 19 in May and is just starting his season in the ACL after hitting .300/.434/.444 in the DSL two summers back. The risk is in both the ceiling, and more specifically the swing-and-miss in his game. But he’s a 70-grade runner and projects well in center long-term, despite considerable work needed to get there. His game plan doesn’t match his swing, hence the strikeouts, but he’s added 25-30 pounds and drew 51 walks in 63 games in 2019. There’s a lot to do here, but Clase offers the foundation of a fireplug-type body that produces fringe-average or better power from the left side to go with the speed and defense, even if the glove has to move to left field. If he stays in center, there’s a chance he plays regularly. Starlin Aguilar, 3B Aguilar and Milkar Perez are similar in some ways; both are sub-6-foot, stocky-bodied infielders, but Aguilar has more athleticism and a better chance to stick at third base, and he happens to have better raw power, too. His defensive position is far from set in stone however, so there’s a ton of pressure on his ability to hit and hit for power, since LF, RF, and first base are next in line. On the upside, there’s a .260 or better hitter with 25 homers here. Austin Shenton, 3B Shenton’s raking in High-A and I expect him to see Arkansas at some point this summer. He’s a doubles hitter right now but there’s enough bat speed to support more home-run power. If we assume the current environment in MLB stays the same (it will not, it’s literally changing as we speak, but for context…), I’d project Shenton as a .250/.320/.450 hitter. Defensively, however, I’m not sure he sticks at third. If the power develops, corner outfield and first base in combo may be just fine as a Chase Headley, Mitch Moreland type. Andres Munoz, RHR The first pure reliever in the rankings has yet to pitch n the Mariners organization due to Tommy John surgery last spring. If things go right he gets things going in August and sees the bigs in September. At his best he’s 98-102 mph (yes, you read that right), and a slider in the 87-91 range that flashes plus and lives average to above average. Throwing strikes has been a problem for Munoz, however — 11.3% walks for the Padres in 22 games in 2019 and a career walk rate in the minors over 15% — but he did show well prior to his call-up two years ago, walking but 8.8% of the batters he faced in 19 innings at Triple-A. The ceiling here is a No. 1 reliever with high strikeout rates, but he’ll need to find his release point and avoid the base on balls to get there. Taylor Dollard, RHS Dollard dominated in Modesto and has now made a couple starts in Everett with good results. He’s mostly low-90s with the fastball, touching 94. His breaking ball and changeup project to average, perhaps a tick above, and his ceiling lives somewhere between No. 4 starter and high-leverage reliever. In the pen, Dollard’s fastball likely ticks up into the mid-90s regularly, but there’s physical projection left in his 6-foot-3, 200-pound frame and it’s a loose arm to dream on a bit. Kaden Polcovich, UT Polcovich was the club’s 3rd rounder last June, and while there were better players on the board, the former Oklahoma State standout has made the pick look just fine. He’s sacrificing some contact, and therefore batting average, for power, but he isn’t sacrificing OBP, so swing away, my friend. For me, what’s most exciting about Polcovich is how well he’s managed at both middle infield spots and center field, suggesting we may be watching a true utility player develop, and that’s pretty fun. He can handle third, too, runs well, and showed in college he can handle the bat. Milkar Perez, 3B Perez brings contact and a line-drive swing the club believes can eventually develop into a 20-homer bat. The concerns are his future position; He’s 5-foot-11 and nearing 195 pounds at 19 years of age, and has never been more than a fringe-average runner. He has a terrific arm, however, so there are options, including staying at third as what I like to call a Luis Sojo-like fit, where the defender doesn’t have ideal range but makes all the routine plays at a high rate thanks to good hands and arm talent. He’s a natural switch hitter that’s batting exclusively from the right side now. I expect him to put up good average and OBP numbers in rookie ball and start 2022 in Modesto, carrying a 50-grade ceiling OFP. Isaiah Campbell, RHS Campbell is a four-pitch arm that flashed dominance in the college postseason back in 2019, including 93-97 mph heat and an above-average. If there weren’t concerns about elbow soreness, he might have been a top 40 pick, but Seattle got him at No. 76 overall in the comp round. Campbell’s best secondary pitch is a slider at 82-85 and an 84-87 mph splitter isn’t far behind. He also has a power curveball with some promise, but it’s clearly his fourth-best offering. Campbell had a minor procedure to clean up that right elbow, so when he returns to the mound is not known, but it may not be this season, and as a result he’s been slid down here to No. 23 despite his chances to start or land in a multi-inning high-leverage role out of the bullpen. Carter Bins, C Bins has plate skills and offers solid-average defense, including a plus arm, and came to pro ball needing an improved swing to maximize his power potential. He’s abbreviated everything below his hands and is generating more pop from gap to gap, and more consistent hard contact. He’s still working pitchers into deep counts at times but is hunting and connecting on fastballs to get the extra-base pop. There has to be some attention paid to his strikeouts — 30% — but at least they’re coming with legitimate power. Bins, 22, should probably see Arkansas later this summer to see how the bat plays at the next level. Bins projects as a No. 2 catcher, but the more he hits the more likely he takes a sizeable portion of a catching time share, rather than a traditional backup role. Victor Labrada, CF The 21-year-old got started a little late but has hit since Day 1. He’s a 65 runner and 60 defender in center, but has 11 multi-hit games in 37 starts, and has drawn walks 16% of the time. He does strike out a bit too much for the profile, and since he’s not going to hit for power the club likely is working with him to close any holes in the game plan and swing. The ceiling here isn’t high, and the chances he plays regularly rely heavily on his on-base ability, but he’s performing at a high level already and is a threat on the bases from the top of the order. Just Missed(The following players appear in no particular order) Damon Casetta-Stubbs, RHSAsdrubal Bueno, SSWyatt Mills, RHRWill Vest, RHRJoey Gerber, RHRAlberto Rodriguez, OF George Feliz, OFRay Kerr, LHR Gabriel Gonzalez, OFPenn Murfee, RHR Kristian Cardozo, RHSYohan Ramirez, RHR Ty Adcock, RHRYeury Tatiz, RHS Wilton Perez, RHS Dutch Landis, RHS
POSTED: No. 2 — Julio Rodriguez, RF POSTED: No. 3 — Emerson Hancock, RHP POSTED: No. 4 — Logan Gilbert, RHP POSTED: No. 5 — Noelvi Marte, SS/3B POSTED: 6-10 — Three arms, a speedy outfielder, and the catcherPOSTED: 11-20 — Upside and heatPOSTED: 21-30 — Highlighted by young CF, relief helpPOSTED: 31-40 — Five Arms and power upside Monday, March 1: Best Tools Tuesday, March 2: How many Mariners prospects would be No. 1 elsewhere? Wednesday March 3: Projected 2024 Lineup, Rotation, Bullpen 1. Jarred Kelenic, OF Kelenic brings strength, speed, instincts, power and hitting to the field daily, and has performed well since Day 1 after the New York Mets tabbed him at No. 6 overall in 2018. Fun Note: Former one-time Prospect Insider writer Chris Hervey is credited as Kelenic’s signing scout. The left-handed batter has flashed plus hitting skills, including good plate coverage and an advanced ability to dissect situational counts. The swing is short, the bat speed is plus and it results in a powerful, compact swing he trusts versus good velocity. Combined with his ability to make consistent hard contact and find the barrel, Kelenic may be able to get to and beyond 30 home runs. He’s always done a good job avoiding the chase, but in Modesto in 2019 showed a tendency to lean out and over the plate for something to drive, which in turn made it more difficult to get to hard stuff up and/or in — pitches that ended up on his hands, yet in the zone. Kelenic’s instincts in the batter’s box are very good, and he’s already adept at using the middle of the field. He’s yet to see a steady diet of big velo and ungodly breaking balls — the best pitching he’s seen came against his own teammates last summer — but he’s been astute at avoiding getting longer with his swing, allowing him to battle effectively. He’s a plus runner with enough range to handle center, at least for the first several years of his career, but the Mariners pushed him primarily to left field at the Alternate Training Site where he was asked to clean up some basics. Despite the present speed, Kelenic has added size and strength and likely will continue down that path, so he may end up above-average, instead, suggesting he’s not likely to swipe a lot of bags, though he reads pitchers well and offers well above-average value on the bases. Kelenic’s offensive future is bright, but whether he’s a star or merely a solid player may depend on if he can remain disciplined with his game plan and let the power happen as a result of a premium swing. A power-driven approach means decreased contacts rates, therefore a strain on his batting average and on-base percentage. If he can stay within his strengths, we may be staring down a .320 hitter capable of 40 doubles and 30 homers. Despite recent even in the Mariners organization regarding service time manipulation, Kelenic is likely to start 2021 in Tripe-A Tacoma where he would receive valuable time versus a varied lot of experienced pitching. It’s easy to forget he’s played just 17 games above the California League and won’t be 22 years of age until July. If he indeed misses out on an Opening-Day assignment with the parent club, his time in Tacoma could be anywhere from 2-8 weeks, which heavier emphasis on the short side. Kelenic currently represents the Mariners’ best chance at a superstar. ETA: 2021 MLB COMPS CEILING: Matt Holliday MEDIAN: Trot Nixon FLOOR: Troy O’Leary Sure, Holliday is a right-handed batter and was bigger than Kelenic, but he was an underrated athlete who played a strong left field in his prime, and the dude raked. Granted, he represents the ceiling projection for Kelenic, but he did post three 6-win season, one of them a 7-win effort, plus three other 4-win years and two seasons of 3-plus wins. I’ve seen some Grady Sizemore comps for Kelenic, and those fit in a lot of ways, too, but such a comp doesn’t represent Kelenic’s hit tool nearly well enough, which is the same reason I don’t like the Bryce Harper comp some have broached, nor Lance Berkman comp due to defense and baserunning. Kelenic is better defensively than Holliday, and may get a chance to play some center field, where he projects at least as good as Mike Trout, potentially increasing his chances to compete for an MVP in his prime. Nixon posted four seasons of 3-plus wins, two others at more than 2.5 and peaked in 2003 at 5.0 fWAR. He had problems staying on the field, but posted a career .274/.364/.464 triple-slash, serving as a promising median comp for Kelenic. TOOLS HIT POWER FIELD RUN THROW OFP 65 60+ 55 55 60 60.5 NO PLAYER POS ETA BEST TOOL 2021 2 Julio Rodriguez RF 2022 POWER AA 3 Emerson Hancock RHP 2023 SLIDER A+/AA 4 Logan Gilbert RHP 2021 FASTBALL AAA/MLB 5 Noelvi Marte SS 2023 POWER A/A+ 6 George Kirby RHP 2023 COMMAND A+/AA 7 Taylor Trammell LF 2021 HIT AAA/MLB 8 Cal Raleigh C 2021 POWER AAA/MLB 9 Brandon Williamson LHP 2023 FASTBALL A+/AA 10 Isaiah Campbell RHP 2023 FASTBALL A/A+ 11 Juan Then RHP 2022 FASTBALL A+/AA 12 Zach DeLoach CF 2023 HIT A+ 13 Jonatan Clase CF 2025 RUN A/A+ 14 Austin Shenton 3B 2022 HIT AA 15 Sam Carlson RHP 2024 FASTBALL R/A 16 Andres Munoz RHP 2021 FASTBALL AAA/MLB 17 Connor Phillips RHP 2023 FASTBALL R/A 18 Levi Stoudt RHP 2023 FASTBALL A/A+ 19 Jake Fraley OF 2021 HIT AAA/MLB 20 Milkar Perez 3B 2024 HIT R/A 21 Ljay Newsome RHP 2021 COMMAND AAA/MLB 22 Anthony Misiewicz LHR 2021 CURVEBALL MLB 23 Will Vest RHR 2021 FASTBALL MLB 24 George Feliz CF 2025 HIT R 25 Braden Bishop CF 2021 FIELD AAA/MLB 26 Yohan Ramirez RHR 2021 SLIDER AAA/MLB 27 Joey Gerber RHR 2021 FASTBALL AAA/MLB 28 Adam Macko LHP 2024 CURVEBALL A/A+ 29 Wyatt Mills RHR 2021 FASTBALL AAA/MLB 30 Sam Delaplane RHR 2021 CURVEBALL AAA/MLB 31 Carter Bins C 2023 FIELD A+/AA 32 Alberto Rodriguez OF 2024 HIT A 33 Aaron Fletcher LHR 2021 SLIDER AAA/MLB 34 Kaden Polcovich 2B 2023 HIT A/A+ 35 Damon Casetta-Stubbs RHP 2024 FASTBALL A/A+ 36 Michael Limoncelli RHP 2025 CURVEBALL R 37 Kristian Cardozo RHP 2026 CURVEBALL R 38 Starlin Aguilar OF 2026 POWER R 39 Tyler Keenan 1B 2023 POWER A/A+ 40 Taylor Dollard RHP 2023 CHANGEUP A
POSTED: No. 3 — Emerson Hancock, RHP POSTED: No. 4 — Logan Gilbert, RHP POSTED: No. 5 — Noelvi Marte, SS/3B POSTED: 6-11 — Three arms, a speedy outfielder, and the catcherPOSTED: 11-20 — Upside and heatPOSTED: 21-30 — Highlighted by young CF, relief helpPOSTED: 31-40 — Five Arms and power upside Monday, March 1: Best Tools Tuesday, March 2: How many Mariners prospects would be No. 1 elsewhere? Wednesday March 3: Projected 2024 Lineup, Rotation, Bullpen 2. Julio Rodriguez, OF Rodriguez has done nothing but hit since a Tim Kissner-led Mariners Lat Am scouting department signed him nearly five years ago out of the Dominican Republic. The only problem is he’s amassed just 547 at-bats between the DSL, Sally League and his 17-game stint in Advanced-A Modesto to end 2019. The tools are loud, starting with 70 raw power and evidence he’ll make consistent enough contact to tale advantage. He’s a bit pull happy entering 2021, but has hit searing line drives to the middle of the field in BP and occasionally in games. His hand-eye is high-end and there’s bat speed to spare. In favorable counts versus lower-level arms he’s destroyed velocity and shown an improved ability to stay back on soft stuff. But there’s still work to do in this department, and better pitching may give him fits early. Despite the propensity to get himself out, he was a teenager playing at both full-season Class-A leagues the last time there were minor league games, and he still found a way to rake, including more than one dominating tear. The right-handed hitter does have a ways to go to be considered a surefire impact bat in the big leagues, which is why it’s more difficult to project him as such as easy as it is for the club’s No. 1 prospect. Rodriguez’s tendency to leak out as he stalks pitches results in some front-foot swings, opening him up for offspeed stuff and a relentless attack of the outer edge. His swing has at least one or two unnecessary parts to it, but he’s already made similar fixes the past few years, so I’m not overly concerned by its existence after 143 professional games. Athletically, the now-20-year-old has lost a step or so as he’s filled out — he was 180 pounds when he signed and was up over 220 last spring — reducing his foot speed to about average, which pushes him to right field regularly where he’s shown instincts and a 70-grade arm with accuracy. He’ll likely end up a fringe-average runner, but he does a lot of things well defensively that should help him stick for years. His makeup is off the charts and the kid oozes personality, including a persistent smile, giving him a great chance to be the darling, fan-favorite of the club’s top young players. If you’d never seen Rodriguez before in your life — live, video or a simple photo, you could pick him out in a ballpark full of baseball players, because he’d be the one having the most fun and making sure everyone within miles know about it. If he can improve his ability to cover the whole strike zone and use more of the field, the ceiling here is very high, up to and including a non-zero chance at MVP-caliber seasons in his prime, led by tons of extra-base power. He’s still a few years away, most likely, but Rodriguez has the physical tools and fortitude to compete and develop in a league where he’s among the youngest players, which will be the case from the get-go this spring. Rodriguez is likely slated for Double-A Arkansas where he’ll see pitchers 2-6 years his senior, offering the kind of examination he needs to take the next steps. I’m not sure how likely it is he sees Tacoma before year’s end, but Rodriguez isn’t your typical 20-year-old. ETA: 2022 MLB COMPS CEILING: Jim Rice MEDIAN: Danny Tartabull FLOOR: Jonny Gomes Rice won an MVP in 1978 and finished Top 5 on five other occasions, posting five 5-win seasons, two of them 6-win efforts and a 7.7 fWAR campaign when he won the American League MVP. Rice also had a cannon in right field and used instincts and routes to provide value in the field. Rodriguez has tools and a skills trend that suggest something similar is at least plausible. His profile-changer is the hit tool. I project average to above-average ability to hit for average and get on base — .265-.270, .330-.340 OBP — to support the power, but there’s a path for .280-.290 and .370-plus on-base marks, which could get him into some MVP conversations down the line. TOOLS HIT POWER FIELD RUN THROW OFP 55+ 65+ 50 45 70 58.5 NO PLAYER POS ETA BEST TOOL 2021 3 Emerson Hancock RHP 2023 SLIDER A+/AA 4 Logan Gilbert RHP 2021 FASTBALL AAA/MLB 5 Noelvi Marte SS 2023 POWER A/A+ 6 George Kirby RHP 2023 COMMAND A+/AA 7 Taylor Trammell LF 2021 HIT AAA/MLB 8 Cal Raleigh C 2021 POWER AAA/MLB 9 Brandon Williamson LHP 2023 FASTBALL A+/AA 10 Isaiah Campbell RHP 2023 FASTBALL A/A+ 11 Juan Then RHP 2022 FASTBALL A+/AA 12 Zach DeLoach CF 2023 HIT A+ 13 Jonatan Clase CF 2025 RUN A/A+ 14 Austin Shenton 3B 2022 HIT AA 15 Sam Carlson RHP 2024 FASTBALL R/A 16 Andres Munoz RHP 2021 FASTBALL AAA/MLB 17 Connor Phillips RHP 2023 FASTBALL R/A 18 Levi Stoudt RHP 2023 FASTBALL A/A+ 19 Jake Fraley OF 2021 HIT AAA/MLB 20 Milkar Perez 3B 2024 HIT R/A 21 Ljay Newsome RHP 2021 COMMAND AAA/MLB 22 Anthony Misiewicz LHR 2021 CURVEBALL MLB 23 Will Vest RHR 2021 FASTBALL MLB 24 George Feliz CF 2025 HIT R 25 Braden Bishop CF 2021 FIELD AAA/MLB 26 Yohan Ramirez RHR 2021 SLIDER AAA/MLB 27 Joey Gerber RHR 2021 FASTBALL AAA/MLB 28 Adam Macko LHP 2024 CURVEBALL A/A+ 29 Wyatt Mills RHR 2021 FASTBALL AAA/MLB 30 Sam Delaplane RHR 2021 CURVEBALL AAA/MLB 31 Carter Bins C 2023 FIELD A+/AA 32 Alberto Rodriguez OF 2024 HIT A 33 Aaron Fletcher LHR 2021 SLIDER AAA/MLB 34 Kaden Polcovich 2B 2023 HIT A/A+ 35 Damon Casetta-Stubbs RHP 2024 FASTBALL A/A+ 36 Michael Limoncelli RHP 2025 CURVEBALL R 37 Kristian Cardozo RHP 2026 CURVEBALL R 38 Starlin Aguilar OF 2026 POWER R 39 Tyler Keenan 1B 2023 POWER A/A+ 40 Taylor Dollard RHP 2023 CHANGEUP A
POSTED: No. 4 — Logan Gilbert, RHP POSTED: No. 5 — Noelvi Marte, SS/3B POSTED: 6-11 — Three arms, a speedy outfielder, and the catcherPOSTED: 11-20 — Upside and heatPOSTED: 21-30 — Highlighted by young CF, relief helpPOSTED: 31-40 — Five Arms and power upside Saturday: No. 2, No. 1 Monday, March 1: Best Tools Tuesday, March 2: How many Mariners prospects would be No. 1 elsewhere? Wednesday March 3: Projected 2024 Lineup, Rotation, Bullpen 3. Emerson Hancock, RHP Hancock has yet to throw a professional pitch but entered last spring as the favorite to go No. 1 overall in the draft. A few hiccups along the way pushed him down to the Mariners at No. 6, including two below-average starts of the four he made before his season was shut down in March. He also suffered a Lat strain in April his sophomore year, finishing unevenly. There are questions about his fastball, but not significant concerns; it’s a natural-sinking fastball he throws with plane and has yet to learn to attack the top of the zone in order to get more swings and misses from the pitch. But he’s comfortably 93-95 mph and up to 99 and generates some run to his arm side, which helps set up his secondaries. His best offspeed stuff includes an above-average changeup that flashes plus or better and can generate whiffs as he buries it off the fastball, and a sharp slider that darts down and away from right-handed batters and at the back foot of lefties. His curveball projects well, but like Gilbert it’s not likely to become an out pitch, instead a good weapon early in counts and versus left-handed bats to keep them off the straight stuff. Hancock is a superior athlete with a fluid, repeatable delivery, finishing strong and inline from a slightly-below three quarters arm slot. He stays closed and employs his lower half well, generating an aggressive, long stride toward the plate, yet stays on top well to keep everything on plane or with downward break. His sound mechanics help him throw strikes with his entire arsenal, and pitch effectively to both sides of the plate with the fastball. His plus control should lead to with plus command. Hancock profiles as a very good No. 3, but there’s a relatively strong chance he ends up a No. 2 with some dominant traits, including two out pitches and a fastball capable of generating ground balls as well as swings and misses when he attacks at or above the hands. If things work out right, Hancock is a strikeout pitcher with some solid-average ground ball tendencies, though some of the latter could be tempered by the club’s attempts to get more from his velocity high in the zone. Hancock probably headed for Everett to start 2021 and with some workload limits, but I expect him to move quickly through the middle of the minors and put himself in the big-league conversation in a year, year and a half, suggesting Opening Day 2023 is a real possibility, sans service time manipulation. ETA: 2023 MLB COMPS CEILING: Carlos Carrasco MEDIAN: Pete Harnisch FLOOR: Jeremy Guthrie While Hancock and Carrasco are built differently now, there are some similarities in body, style, and especially (potential) performance. Carrasco uses a two-seamer to mix up the fastball and gain varying movement, something Hancock does, at present, with the four-seamer, but both pitchers use slider-changeup before curveball, but have the slower of the two breakers in their hip pocket. Carrasco has three 5-win seasons despite being unable to remain fully healthy most of his prime, so keep that in mind when wondering if Carrasco is the right comp. There’s 6-win upside here with Hancock. His edge over Gilbert is minimal, but real, despite the No. 4 prospect holding edges in present probability and ETA, as well as projected fastball value. Hancock carries more ceiling, yet not a lot more risk in spite of all of the above. He’s a better athlete, too, and even with the 2020 MiLB season being canceled got deeper into his development sooner than did Gilbert. TOOLS FB SL CB CH CO OFP 60 (93-97) 60 (80-84) 50+ (76-79) 60+ (83-86) 60 56.5 NO PLAYER POS ETA BEST TOOL 2021 4 Logan Gilbert RHP 2021 FASTBALL AAA/MLB 5 Noelvi Marte SS 2023 POWER A/A+ 6 George Kirby RHP 2023 COMMAND A+/AA 7 Taylor Trammell LF 2021 HIT AAA/MLB 8 Cal Raleigh C 2021 POWER AAA/MLB 9 Brandon Williamson LHP 2023 FASTBALL A+/AA 10 Isaiah Campbell RHP 2023 FASTBALL A/A+ 11 Juan Then RHP 2022 FASTBALL A+/AA 12 Zach DeLoach CF 2023 HIT A+ 13 Jonatan Clase CF 2025 RUN A/A+ 14 Austin Shenton 3B 2022 HIT AA 15 Sam Carlson RHP 2024 FASTBALL R/A 16 Andres Munoz RHP 2021 FASTBALL AAA/MLB 17 Connor Phillips RHP 2023 FASTBALL R/A 18 Levi Stoudt RHP 2023 FASTBALL A/A+ 19 Jake Fraley OF 2021 HIT AAA/MLB 20 Milkar Perez 3B 2024 HIT R/A 21 Ljay Newsome RHP 2021 COMMAND AAA/MLB 22 Anthony Misiewicz LHR 2021 CURVEBALL MLB 23 Will Vest RHR 2021 FASTBALL MLB 24 George Feliz CF 2025 HIT R 25 Braden Bishop CF 2021 FIELD AAA/MLB 26 Yohan Ramirez RHR 2021 SLIDER AAA/MLB 27 Joey Gerber RHR 2021 FASTBALL AAA/MLB 28 Adam Macko LHP 2024 CURVEBALL A/A+ 29 Wyatt Mills RHR 2021 FASTBALL AAA/MLB 30 Sam Delaplane RHR 2021 CURVEBALL AAA/MLB 31 Carter Bins C 2023 FIELD A+/AA 32 Alberto Rodriguez OF 2024 HIT A 33 Aaron Fletcher LHR 2021 SLIDER AAA/MLB 34 Kaden Polcovich 2B 2023 HIT A/A+ 35 Damon Casetta-Stubbs RHP 2024 FASTBALL A/A+ 36 Michael Limoncelli RHP 2025 CURVEBALL R 37 Kristian Cardozo RHP 2026 CURVEBALL R 38 Starlin Aguilar OF 2026 POWER R 39 Tyler Keenan 1B 2023 POWER A/A+ 40 Taylor Dollard RHP 2023 CHANGEUP A
POSTED: No. 5 — Noelvi Marte, SS/3B POSTED: 6-11 — Three arms, a speedy outfielder, and the catcherPOSTED: 11-20 — Upside and heatPOSTED: 21-30 — Highlighted by young CF, relief helpPOSTED: 31-40 — Five Arms and power upside Friday: No. 3 Saturday, Feb. 27: No. 2 Sunday, Feb. 28: No. 1 Monday, March 1: Best Tools Tuesday, March 2: How many Mariners prospects would be No. 1 elsewhere? Wednesday March 3: Projected 2024 Lineup, Rotation, Bullpen 4. Logan Gilbert, RHP Simply put, Gilbert looks the part of a frontline arm capable of logging 120 pitches per start and covering 200-plus innings per season. He uses his 6-foot-6 frame to drive the ball downhill and pitch with life up in the zone, displaying a vertical attack unmatched in the system. The fastball is up to 96 mph, cruising 92-95 with armside run. His best secondary is a low-80s slider that flashes plus and works well off the four-seamer and in tandem with his average to above-average knuckle curveball which comes in at 74-77. Gilbert’s changeup is fringe-average at present, flashes above average and could end up a plus offering in time. His consistent arm speed and use of his lower half to finish strong out front helps everything play up, but the changeup may benefit most. His delivery is consistent, making him a safe bet to throw strikes consistently, and having come to pro ball nearly three years ago with average command there’s a good chance he ends up in the plus range. Gilbert won’t overpower hitters with velocity, but he should get good fastball value from its movement and his ability to fill up all quadrants of the zone. His ability to use his entire arsenal projects for some success immediately upon his arrival in the major leagues. He’s yet to show his best stuff for an extended period, since Gilbert has managed just 135 professional innings — thanks to an illness the summer he was drafted and the cancellation of the MiLB season a year ago — and they all came during the 2019 campaign across three levels. He’s 24 in May and around 225 pounds, so there’s no meaningful physical growth remaining, but the package of stuff, projectable durability, and command suggest a good No. 3 starter, with a chance for a little more depending on the further development of his changeup. The former first-round pick is ready to face big-league bats, and should get that chance early in 2021, whether it be in May or right from the get-go as a member of the club’s six-man rotation. ETA: 2021 MLB COMPS CEILING: Chris Carpenter MEDIAN: Andy Benes FLOOR: Trevor Cahill Pitch development and command can be improved, and both can be developed beyond present projections. If either happens for Gilbert his comps could change along with them, though Carpenter peaked as a 6-win starter and posted two other 5-win seasons and a 4.5-win campaign, so that’s a pretty darned good ceiling comp for the Mariners here. I do wonder, however, if there might be another tick of velocity coming, perhaps enough to get him more consistently into the mid-90s, which also can be a profile-altering development. TOOLS FB SL CB CH CO OFP 60 (92-96) 55+ (81-85) 55 (74-77) 55 (85-87) 50+ 55.5 NO PLAYER POS ETA BEST TOOL 2021 5 Noelvi Marte SS 2023 POWER A/A+ 6 George Kirby RHP 2023 COMMAND A+/AA 7 Taylor Trammell LF 2021 HIT AAA/MLB 8 Cal Raleigh C 2021 POWER AAA/MLB 9 Brandon Williamson LHP 2023 FASTBALL A+/AA 10 Isaiah Campbell RHP 2023 FASTBALL A/A+ 11 Juan Then RHP 2022 FASTBALL A+/AA 12 Zach DeLoach CF 2023 HIT A+ 13 Jonatan Clase CF 2025 RUN A/A+ 14 Austin Shenton 3B 2022 HIT AA 15 Sam Carlson RHP 2024 FASTBALL R/A 16 Andres Munoz RHP 2021 FASTBALL AAA/MLB 17 Connor Phillips RHP 2023 FASTBALL R/A 18 Levi Stoudt RHP 2023 FASTBALL A/A+ 19 Jake Fraley OF 2021 HIT AAA/MLB 20 Milkar Perez 3B 2024 HIT R/A 21 Ljay Newsome RHP 2021 COMMAND AAA/MLB 22 Anthony Misiewicz LHR 2021 CURVEBALL MLB 23 Will Vest RHR 2021 FASTBALL MLB 24 George Feliz CF 2025 HIT R 25 Braden Bishop CF 2021 FIELD AAA/MLB 26 Yohan Ramirez RHR 2021 SLIDER AAA/MLB 27 Joey Gerber RHR 2021 FASTBALL AAA/MLB 28 Adam Macko LHP 2024 CURVEBALL A/A+ 29 Wyatt Mills RHR 2021 FASTBALL AAA/MLB 30 Sam Delaplane RHR 2021 CURVEBALL AAA/MLB 31 Carter Bins C 2023 FIELD A+/AA 32 Alberto Rodriguez OF 2024 HIT A 33 Aaron Fletcher LHR 2021 SLIDER AAA/MLB 34 Kaden Polcovich 2B 2023 HIT A/A+ 35 Damon Casetta-Stubbs RHP 2024 FASTBALL A/A+ 36 Michael Limoncelli RHP 2025 CURVEBALL R 37 Kristian Cardozo RHP 2026 CURVEBALL R 38 Starlin Aguilar OF 2026 POWER R 39 Tyler Keenan 1B 2023 POWER A/A+ 40 Taylor Dollard RHP 2023 CHANGEUP A
POSTED: 6-11 — Three arms, a speedy outfielder, and the catcherPOSTED: 11-20 — Upside and heatPOSTED: 21-30 — Highlighted by young CF, relief helpPOSTED: 31-40 — Five Arms and power upside Thursday: No. 4 Friday: No. 3 Saturday, Feb. 27: No. 2 Sunday, Feb. 28: No. 1 Monday, March 1: Best Tools Tuesday, March 2: How many Mariners prospects would be No. 1 elsewhere? Wednesday March 3: Projected 2024 Lineup, Rotation, Bullpen Ben VanHouten/Seattle Mariners 5. Noelvi Marte, SS As Marte has added strength and now looks the part of a corner bar with plus power. While it’s not out of the question he sticks at shortstop — I’d put the chances at 10-15% — most signs point to the 19-year-old eventually moving to the hot corner where his plus arm, good footwork and projectable range fit the hot corner well. He’s still a ways away, but there’s a lot to like about Marte’s ability to get the bat head out front, use the middle of the field, and cover the zone both vertically and horizontally. The bat speed is plus and he generates natural leverage. The swing is free and easy and he’s developed a better two-strike swing since signing nearly three years ago, including simplified usage of his lower half. As a result, Marte’s ability to stay back on soft stuff, yet trust his hands suggests advanced hitting skills and a projectable hit tool. While I’m not quite as bullish on the hit tool as some, at lest not with so little experience and no live look for yours truly, I do buy the raw power and its chances to reach beyond plus levels and eventually show up in games, and from right-center to the left-field line. Marte projects to play everyday, likely at third base, and hit 20-30 home runs with above-average batting averages and on-base marks. Since he’s still maturing physically, the power grade is a bit fluid, and he may end up merely an average runner despite being scouted a burner at 16. He’ll likely start 2021 in Modesto to work on making more consistent contact versus better pitching. There’s a chance he earns his way to Everett this summer. Considering at least two of the club’s Top 5 prospects project to graduate in 2021, Marte likely ends the season in the Top 3. It’s not out of the question he’s the club’s No. 1 prospect by July, and a Top 40 prospect in baseball by September. ETA: 2023 MLB COMPS CEILING: David Wright MEDIAN: Bill Hall FLOOR: Willy Aybar As Marte gains experience, advances through the minors and becomes more skill-oriented rather than a tools-based prospect, his floor and median comps will increase in value, though both are relatively high considering his lack of experience at timeline. Marte’s ceiling comp could get better, too, specifically in the power department. Among the most optimistic and aggressive comps I’ve heard this winter include Matt Williams, Adrian Beltre, and Alex Bregman. TOOLS HIT PWR FIELD THROW RUN OFP 55+ 60+ 50 60 50+ 53 NO PLAYER POS ETA BEST TOOL 2021 6 George Kirby RHP 2023 COMMAND A+/AA 7 Taylor Trammell LF 2021 HIT AAA/MLB 8 Cal Raleigh C 2021 POWER AAA/MLB 9 Brandon Williamson LHP 2023 FASTBALL A+/AA 10 Isaiah Campbell RHP 2023 FASTBALL A/A+ 11 Juan Then RHP 2022 FASTBALL A+/AA 12 Zach DeLoach CF 2023 HIT A+ 13 Jonatan Clase CF 2025 RUN A/A+ 14 Austin Shenton 3B 2022 HIT AA 15 Sam Carlson RHP 2024 FASTBALL R/A 16 Andres Munoz RHP 2021 FASTBALL AAA/MLB 17 Connor Phillips RHP 2023 FASTBALL R/A 18 Levi Stoudt RHP 2023 FASTBALL A/A+ 19 Jake Fraley OF 2021 HIT AAA/MLB 20 Milkar Perez 3B 2024 HIT R/A 21 Ljay Newsome RHP 2021 COMMAND AAA/MLB 22 Anthony Misiewicz LHR 2021 CURVEBALL MLB 23 Will Vest RHR 2021 FASTBALL MLB 24 George Feliz CF 2025 HIT R 25 Braden Bishop CF 2021 FIELD AAA/MLB 26 Yohan Ramirez RHR 2021 SLIDER AAA/MLB 27 Joey Gerber RHR 2021 FASTBALL AAA/MLB 28 Adam Macko LHP 2024 CURVEBALL A/A+ 29 Wyatt Mills RHR 2021 FASTBALL AAA/MLB 30 Sam Delaplane RHR 2021 CURVEBALL AAA/MLB 31 Carter Bins C 2023 FIELD A+/AA 32 Alberto Rodriguez OF 2024 HIT A 33 Aaron Fletcher LHR 2021 SLIDER AAA/MLB 34 Kaden Polcovich 2B 2023 HIT A/A+ 35 Damon Casetta-Stubbs RHP 2024 FASTBALL A/A+ 36 Michael Limoncelli RHP 2025 CURVEBALL R 37 Kristian Cardozo RHP 2026 CURVEBALL R 38 Starlin Aguilar OF 2026 POWER R 39 Tyler Keenan 1B 2023 POWER A/A+ 40 Taylor Dollard RHP 2023 CHANGEUP A
POSTED: Nos. 31-40POSTED: Nos. 21-30 Monday: Nos. 6-10Wednesday: No. 5Thursday: No. 4Friday: No. 3Saturday, Feb. 27: No. 2Sunday, Feb. 28: No. 1Monday, March 1: Best ToolsTuesday, March 2: How many Mariners prospects would be No. 1 elsewhere?Wednesday March 3: Projected 2024 Lineup, Rotation, BullpenThursday, March 4: Projecting the Top 10 Prospects after the season The Seattle Mariners farm system is as deep as it’s ever been. There’s big-league talent beyond the club’s Top 20. Below is prospects Nos. 11-20. Important note: There’s not a significant difference between 20 and 13, at least not as much as seven entire spots in a good farm system would suggest, but here’s a delicate balance between upside, risk, and ETA. NO PLAYER POS ETA BEST TOOL 2021 11 Juan Then RHP 2022 FASTBALL A+/AA 12 Zach DeLoach CF 2023 HIT A/A+ 13 Jonatan Clase CF 2025 RUN A/A+ 14 Austin Shenton 3B 2022 HIT AA 15 Sam Carslon RHP 2024 FASTBALL R/A 16 Andres Munoz RHR 2021 FASTBALL AAA/MLB 17 Connor Phillips RHP 2023 FASTBALL R/A 18 Levi Stoudt RHP 2023 FASTBALL A/A+ 19 Jake Fraley OF 2021 HIT AAA/MLB 20 Milkar Perez 3B 2024 HIT R/A 20. Milkar Perez, 3B Perez is still raw and because he lacks athleticism is limited defensively. The Mariners believe his arm strength and hands allow him to work at third base, but there are questions as to whether or not his power will. He’s a switch hitter but is better from the left side and the difference may be stark enough to eventually abandon the efforts from the right side. For now, he shows above-average raw power as a lefty. Perez’s calling card is bat-to-ball skills that generate hard line drives thanks to good bat speed. But the power is critical here, as he’s not athletic enough to project to the outfield, though his arm would play, and a move across the diamond to first does nothing but add pressure to the bat. He’ll have to hit regardless, and if the power doesn’t come he’ll have to hit an awful lot to profile as a regular. The Mariners like a loot of the intangible, however, and a .280/.350/.450, doubles-driven bat isn’t that far from what Kyle Seager brought to the table in his prime, so… no sneezing. TOOLS HIT PWR FIELD THROW RUN 55 50+ 45 60 45 19. Jake Fraley, OF Like Bishop, Fraley is starting to run out of time to show he’s an answer to a question Seattle is asking. What we know is Fraley can run some and cover ground in the outfield. He displayed improved power in 2018 and 2019 after adding some bulk to his frame, but his game plan in his short stints in the majors was exposed and he wasn’t given a lot of time to make adjustments. The swing is short enough and the bat speed is above-average, but he’s had problems staying back on soft stuff and since he may not profile in center he’s unlikely to serve as anything more than a part-time option if he doesn’t piece together a hit + doubles package at the plate. He’ll be 26 in May and has a shot to break camp with the big club. His shot to show he’s more than an extra may be limited to a few weeks of at-bats, or come with another team. TOOLS HIT PWR FIELD THROW RUN 50 45+ 50+ 45 55 18. Levi Stoudt, RHP After Tommy John surgery two summers ago, Stoudt’s arm strength is all the way back as he touched 97 this past fall. He came to pro ball with an above-average split-grip changeup projecting to be plus or better in time. He’s going with the slider as his breaking ball of choice, but has a curveball in his pocket if he ever wants to go back to it; it was below-average at Lehigh, but flashed depth. I’m not as high on Stoudt at this stage as most others because he’s yet to throw a professional pitch and lacks physical projection at 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds — not to mention has the zipper on his resume now, and is already 23. I think there’s a very good chance he’s a reliever, but has a shot to be a good No. 4 or a light if things break right, and the fact he projects for average command lends confidence to the median projection. He’s at least two and a half years away in a rotation role, but if he’s transitioned could move rapidly to the majors as a legit three-pitch arm capable of pitching in high-leverage situations. TOOLS FB SL CB CH CO 55 (93-97) 50+ (82-86) 45+ (77-81) 60 (85-88) 50+ 17. Connor Phillips, RHP Phillips is certainly more of a project than is Stoudt, but there’s a lot more projection in the frame (6-2/190) and despite technically being a college draftee (McLennan JC, TX) he won’t turn 20 until May. He’s tagged 98 mph with his fastball and his cruising velocity is an easy 92-95 with some run. He added curveball last summer, but his hard slider has flashed plus and on occasion last spring showed an average change. He’s further away from his ceiling, but there’s probably another step for Phillips that isn’t there for Stoudt, and both come with there own risks. For Phillips, it’s inconsistent control and command, and a delivery that’s come apart with runners on base. TOOLS FB SL CH CB CO 65 (93-98) 55+ 45+ NEW 45+ 16. Andres Muñoz, RHR Muñoz is an easy scouting report. Prior to the injury he was 97-102 mph with an average slider that plays up because the velocity is essentially burning cheese. Muñoz is not afraid to throw in on right-handed batters, and his heat shows effective run to his arm side and tons of life at the top of the zone. The control problems stem mainly from his high-effort delivery yanking him hard to the first-base side of the mound at release point. If he can stay in-line more everything, including (as ridiculous as it sounds) the triple-digit heat. But there are also some arm path adjustments that could me made to help him with consistency. How much the Mariners want to mess with that with the righty coming off March, 2020 Tommy John surgery remains unclear, but a healthy Muñoz sees the majors this season and when he does it’s must-see TV, even though it would surprise no one if he wasn’t living in the upper-90s right out of the gate. One reason the Mariners might be aggressive in trying to clean up Muñoz’s mechanics is his history of arm issues, almost exclusively with the elbow. Seattle is hoping he can be their relief ace moving forward, and the stuff suggests that’s plausible. There’s just a ways to go for it to occur so I have a hard time ranking him higher than this. TOOLS FB SL CO N/A N/A 80 (97-102) 60 (84-87) 40 N/A N/A 15. Sam Carlson, RHP I’m high-man on the now 22-year-old Carlson despite the fact he’s coming off 2019 Tommy John and has faced just 13 batters in three and a half years since the Mariners selected him in Round 2 of the 2017 Draft and handed him $2 million. Why? He possesses a projectable starter’s repertoire, including an advanced changeup, sinking fastball up to 96 mph, and potential for an average or better slider thrown from a true three-quarters slot. He’s also an absolute beast, both physically and in terms of mental toughness. Carlson is one of the best athletes in the system and as built himself into a monster, adding good weight and maintaining an explosive lower half. This is the ultimate high-risk, high-reward for many, but I see No. 3 upside with a good middle reliever’s floor, and I think he’s going to move a little faster than one might otherwise think because he’ll get a lot of value out of his sinking fastball in the lower minors. I imagine Carlson has a chance to start in Modesto in May, but it wouldn’t be shocking if Seattle held him back a bit to easily manage his workload in what we all hope is his first full season in pro ball. TOOLS FB SL CB CH CO 60+ (90-96) 50+ (83-86) 40+ (76-80) 55+ (83-85) 45+ 14. Austin Shenton, 3B I may also he high-man on Shenton, but I believe in the hit tool and think his power will show up more after he gets to the big leagues, not unlike Kyle Seager, who managed just 22 homers in 1245 plate appearances spanning 269 minor leagues games. What Shenton doesn’t quite have — or at least hadn’t shown through 2019 — is Seager’s hands and feet at third base. I think he ends up fringe-average at best defensively at the hot corner, but there’s a chance the bat plays and then some, covering a move to a corner-outfield spot. He sees the ball well and might be the smartest hitter in the system. Shenton’s strengths also fit T-Mobile Park very well; he likes to use both gaps for doubles, can go line-to-line in contact situations and his pull power plays to Mobi’s right-field naturally. Shenton may be fit to start 2021 in Double-A Arkansas with a chance to see Tacoma by year’s end. TOOLS HIT PWR FIELD THROW RUN 55 50+ 45 50 45 13. Jonatan Clase, CF And I KNOW I’m high-man on Clase. The 18-year-old kid starred for the DSL club two summers ago, despite most of the attention going to his more famous teammate, Noelvi Marte. Clase swung and missed a bit too much during that stint, but has bat speed, instincts, can run for days, and has shown the organization a work ethic that makes player development staffers giddy. He’s actually grown a few inches and put on some good weight, but I’m told remains explosive out of the box and in the field. His speed and quickness give him a solid chance to stick in center field, though he needs a lot of experience and coaching, and a throwing program has helped him project to average arm strength. He’s years away, and is still raw at the plate, but won’t be 19 until late May, and when he’s anywhere near a field is as energetic as any player you’ve ever seen. He does nothing half-assed, and has a chance to impact the game in a lot of ways, though power isn’t likely to be one of them to a great degree. I’ll take a player like Clase over a high-probability back-end starter or a relief arm any day of the week and twice on game day. Clase is likely starting the season in extended awaiting the rookie season to start. TOOLS HIT PWR FIELD THROW RUN 50 40 60+ 50 70 12. Zach DeLoach, CF I warned on DeLoach three weeks after the draft when a team analyst told me DeLoach was the best ’20 Draftee he saw in 10 days watching fall ball. DeLoach has above-average raw power to his pull side, but otherwise is a better bet to use the middle of the field, make a lot of hard contact and get on base a ton. There may be 16-18 homers in the bat, but if there isn’t the bat may be light for a corner, putting pressure on his instincts to take over in center and make up for average speed and fringe-average arm strength. DeLoach, too, is a left-handed bat that profiles well at T-Mobile Park, and I’m a little more bullish on the power developing than some, explaining why I have him 4-10 spots higher. I’d like to see the Mariners ship DeLoach to Everett in May to get started. TOOLS HIT PWR FIELD THROW RUN 55 50+ 45 60 45 11. Juan Then, RHP Then, properly pronounced more like ‘Tayn’ (silent ‘h’) but likely to be Americanized to ‘Ten,’ is a bit undersized at 6-feet tall but put on some good weight over the past year-plus and his velocity exploded in instructs, reportedly touching 100 mph and living 95-plus in short outings. The lower slot he’s deployed might impact his ability to throw a legit, repeatable changeup in a starter’s role, but it’s added deception and movement to his fastball and slider. He has a chance to start, and the ceiling lies somewhere in the middle of the rotation, but the floor may be as a high as the next Edwin Diaz. He’s a good athlete and in years past has thrown enough strikes to believe he’ll continue to do so moving forward, despite the added effort and difference in release angle. Then should start 2021 in Everett, where play-by-play great Pat Dillon should have one of the best rosters in AquaSox history from which to create more audio memories for the rest of us. TOOLS FB SL CH CO N/A 70+ 50+ 45+ 45+ N/A
Saturday: Nos. 31-40Sunday: Nos. 11-20.Monday: Nos. 6-10Wednesday: No. 5Thursday: No. 4Friday: No. 3Saturday, Feb. 27: No. 2Sunday, Feb. 28: No. 1Monday, March 1: Best ToolsTuesday, March 2: How many Mariners prospects would be No. 1 elsewhere?Wednesday March 3: Projected 2024 Lineup, Rotation, BullpenThursday, March 4: Projecting the Top 10 Prospects after the season The Seattle Mariners farm system is as deep as it’s ever been. There’s big-league talent beyond the club’s Top 20. Below is prospects Nos. 21-30. Important note: There’s not a significant difference between 40 and 18, at least not as much as 22 entire spots in a good farm system would suggest, but here’s a delicate balance between upside, risk, and ETA. NO PLAYER POS ETA BEST TOOL 2021 21 Ljay Newsome RHP 2021 COMMAND AAA/MLB 22 Anthony Misiewicz LHR 2021 CURVEBALL MLB 23 Will Vest RHR 2021 FASTBALL MLB 24 George Feliz CF 2025 HIT R 25 Braden Bishop CF 2021 FIELD AAA/MLB 26 Yohan Ramirez RHR 2021 SLIDER AAA/MLB 27 Joey Gerber RHR 2021 FASTBALL AAA/MLB 28 Adam Macko LHP 2024 CURVEBALL A/A+ 29 Wyatt Mills RHR 2021 FASTBALL AAA/MLB 30 Sam Delaplane RHR 2021 CURVEBALL AAA/MLB 30. Sam Delaplane, RHR Delaplane jumped onto the radar when he sat 95-98 mph for a bit in Modesto in 2019, but he was more 92-95 in Arkansas, with a reach-back for a bit more, rather than living in he high range. His plus breaking ball looks like a spiking slider, but it’s a curveball at 83-87 mph with legendary spin rates and late break that results in swings and misses. The right-hander is a strike thrower, but does struggle with location and when he doesn’t have his best fastball batters will lay off the breaking ball. I have some durability concerns along with questions about how deep into his appearances he can hold the mid-90s or better heat or I’d rank him 10-plus spots higher, but he can answer those question very quickly this spring where it’s not out of the question he makes the big club. 29. Wyatt Mills, RHR Mills is more projectable than Delaplane and while the last time we saw him pitch in games his raw stuff was merely average for a reliever, he’s shown improved velocity and breaking balls shape. Mills was essentially the consolation prize in Round 3 when the Mariners schemed Sam Carlson into their second-round and paid him $2 million. Mills has proven to be a fine choice for the under-slot play. He was essentially 91-95 mph in 2019 but in the fall was often 94-96 and touched 97. He throws from a true sidearm slot, adding deception and sink to the arm side life on the pitch, setting up a 55-grade slider that plays well off the fastball. Like Delaplane, Mills has an outside shot to break camp with the big club, and if not likely sees the big leagues at some point later in the season. 28. Adam Macko, LHP Macko is a fun left-hander to watch; he’s aggressive, very athletic, and works fast. He also has an above-average curveball that projects to plus, and if you know anything about me at all you probably know I love me some left-handed curveballs. Macko lacks the stature of the protypical, projectable arm at just 6-feet and 180 pounds, which is part of the reason he doesn’t rank 10 spots higher. He’s touched 93-94 mph, but in Everett two summers ago was mostly 89-90, and it remains to be seen how he handles the workload of a pro starter. On the flip side, he might be a four-pitch arm, and has separated himself as the best of the club’s prep arms for their 2019 draft class. 27. Joey Gerber, RHR Gerber offers size, some athleticism, deception from a three-quarters slot and a sinking fastball up to 98 mph. He was mostly 93-95 in the big leagues last summers, and at times struggled to stay above 92, and the slider was quite flat. He’ll have to finish better through his release point to get the bite on his slider and command both his pitches better. Doing so could lead him to a setup-style role with some chances in high-leverage situations, but there’s work to do here despite a lot of success in the minors, including a 112-30 K/BB ratio across four levels. Gerber enters camp with a chance to show he’s ready for a big-league role, but the better bet is he starts in Triple-A Tacoma and is one of the first handful of relievers to get the call as the season progresses. 26. Yohan Ramirez, RHR Ramirez’s raw stuff is pretty good, and it kept him from disastrous results in 2020 despite walking more than 21% of the batters he faced. He’s up to 98 mph with the fastball and he ditched the curveball for a plus slider in the low-80s. Ramirez has to throw more strikes to get back to the big leagues, and that means repeating his delivery and finishing through a consistent release point. I’m projecting he starts 2021 in Tacoma, considering the additions Seattle has made to the reliever corps over the winter. 25. Braden Bishop, CF The former UW standout still possesses the elite defensive chops and at least 65-grade speed, but he’s struggled in sporadic opportunities in the majors, showing shaky discipline and some timing issues. The swing isn’t clean, but he’s worked to kill a trigger tick that should allow his above-average bat speed to play better, which suggests a better shot to make consistent contact and take advantage of improved raw power. His raw speed has never resulted in a lot of stolen bases, but he’s a very good baserunner and can handle the bat in small ball opportunities. Bishop’s defensive instincts are terrific — the best I’ve ever seen from a prospect. He gets very good jumps, reads balls off the bat at an elite level and his routes are pristine. He also throws well, generally receiving above-average grades. If he hits even a little bit he’s a major leaguer, even as a fourth outfielder or platoon option, but he’s running out of time, both in terms of age (27) and chances in Seattle. He has an option left, but could earn a spot on the Opening Day roster as part of the at-least temporary solution in left field prior to the arrival of Jarred Kelenic. 24. George Feliz, CF The Mariners signed Feliz as part of their 2019 July 2 class for his athleticism, advanced hitting skills and legitimate chance to stick in center. He projects for a lot of above-average tools, with present plus speed, a plus arm and a hit tool reminiscent of a .300 or better hitter with good OBPs. He’ll get on the field for the first time this summer, so Feliz is a longer-term prospect. He has received comparisons to Nationals centerfielder Victor Robles from some, though I’d cut a bit shy of that, to be honest. At least for now. 23. Will Vest, RHR Vest was the club’s Rule 5 pick in December, plucked from the Tigers’ organization after his velocity ticked up beyond the mid-90s in the fall. A starter at Stephen F. Austin State, Vest has taken to the relief role and his arm speed has turned into 93-96 mph velocity and a slider that was sharper as he added velocity. He’s going to make the club out of camp barring injury, and has a chance to be a very good middle reliever, somewhat similar to Sam Dyson with better control, and therefore a better chance at consistency. 22. Anthony Misiewicz, LHR Misiewicz exhausted his rookie status in 2020 due to pro-rated service time rules, but his 20 innings pitched certainly doesn’t remove the prospect tag. The lefty was pretty good in those 20 frames, including a 30%-7% K/BB ratio and a 98th percentile barrel rate. But he still gave up a lot of hard contact and right-handed batters did almost all of that damage (.308/.386/.590), and all of it off his cutter and curveball. He can use the cutter more effectively in on righties, or use his 93-95 mph four-seamer more often. But command is a rather large part of the success in these situations, too. Misiewicz’s ceiling is multi-inning middle reliever — but he’s ready to take on a similar role immediately (since he did it fairly well last season), so his lack of reward is mitigated some by both ETA and probability. 21. Ljay Newsome, RHP Newsome is a fascinating prospect, partially because he wasn’t one at all until his arm took well to gas camp two years ago. Until then, the right-hander was cruising at 84-86 mph and touching 88, winning with volume strikes and fringey overall stuff. He also lacks physical projection at 5-foot-11 and a listed 210 pounds that might be a few kilos light. Newsome came out firing in 2019, however, sitting 91-93 mph and even touching 95. Later that summer the velo faded, but he was back at it last summer in the majors, averaging 91.7 mph on the four-seamer. He’s still a command-and-feel arm with fringe-average stuff, and lacks an out pitch, but I’m not convinced we’ve seen his best curveball or changeup, and he’s used a cutter in the past that might help him versus lefties (.379/.400/.724). The best news is the command is consistent, includes all of his pitches, and at least borders on plus. He has a shot to be a back-end starter and hang around the bigs awhile, but could also be effective in a long role. Newsome enters camps as the No. 7 or 8 starter, and falls behind Logan Gilbert on the ultimate depth chart for 2021, so there may not be a lot of chances for him to start for Seattle. Or is there? James Paxton isn’t necessarily finishing the season with Seattle, Justin Dunn may not be a starter OR a big leaguer, and injuries are always a consideration. Newsome likely starts in Tacoma, but he’ll be back at T-Mobile in 2021.
Sunday: Nos. 21-30, Nos. 11-20.Monday: Nos. 6-10Wednesday: No. 5Thursday: No. 4Friday: No. 3Saturday, Feb. 27: No. 2Sunday, Feb. 28: No. 1Monday, March 1: Best ToolsTuesday, March 2: How many Mariners prospects would be No. 1 elsewhere?Wednesday March 3: Projected 2024 Lineup, Rotation, BullpenThursday, March 4: Projecting the Top 10 Prospects after the season The Seattle Mariners farm system is as deep as it’s ever been. There’s big-league talent beyond the club’s Top 20, including right here with Nos. 31-40. Below is the start of the Top 40, broken into groups. NO PLAYER POS ETA BEST TOOL 2021 31 Carter Bins C 2023 FIELD A+/AA 32 Alberto Rodriguez OF 2024 HIT A 33 Aaron Fletcher LHP 2021 SLIDER AAA/MLB 34 Kaden Polcovich 2B 2023 HIT A/A+ 35 Damon Casetta-Stubbs RHP 2024 FASTBALL A/A+ 36 Michael Limoncelli RHP 2025 CURVEBALL R 37 Kristian Cardozo RHP 2026 CURVEBALL R 38 Starlin Aguilar OF 2026 POWER R 39 Tyler Keenan 1B 2023 POWER A/A+ 40 Taylor Dollard RHP 2023 CHANGEUP A 40. Taylor Dollard, RHP Dollard is an athletic sinker-slider starter who came to pro ball with underdeveloped changeup and some concern about fastball value. At Cal Poly in 2019, he sat 88-89 mph a lot, but touched 91-92, and has some 93s on the board for some scouts. There’s some physical projection left here, but he’ll need to answer some repertoire questions to stick as a starter. Seattle didn’t draft him in the 5th round last June because they thought he was the next great Mariners reliever, so he’s going to get a long look in the rotation, and the fact he throws a lot of strikes could go a long way. It doesn’t hurt that Poly is a pretty good school for arms. 39. Tyler Keenan, 1B/3B Keenan is a big, slugging left-handed bat with significant concerns about his ability to man third base, which puts pretty much every ounce of pressure available on his ability to hit and hit with power. He generates easy loft with a classic power swing but at Mississippi made consistent contact and proved adept at working counts and taking walks. He might be a three true outcome bat, but there are signs of more if given time to adjust to professional pitching. 38. Starlin Aguilar, OF Aguilar, just signed in January out of the Dominican Republic, is a sturdily-built left-handed hitter with a chance to hit for corner-type power thanks to a short swing and plus bat speed. Most project him to move from his listed position of second base over to third. I have him as an outfielder; there’s enough athleticism and arm to fit in left field and while he can field a ground ball, he lacks natural infield actions and likely outgrows both second and third, so I’m skipping that move, though Aguilar will be given every opportunity to prove he can handle it — and hit enough to profile there. 37. Kristian Cardozo, RHP Seattle swooped in late on the Venezuelan Cardozo after the Los Angeles Dodgers back out in July, 2019. The right-hander offers some projection from his 6-foot-2, 175-pound frame (at signing), and a fastball already into the low-90s without much effort. His 71-76 mph curveball has varied shapes, but projects as at least average, and he’s shown good feel for a tailing changeup. Cardozo has a legitimate chance to develop as a starter and sure looks the part physically. 36. Michael Limoncelli, RHP Limoncelli had Tommy John surgery before the Mariners made him their sixth-round pick back in 2019. He was up to 94 mph the previous summer with a projectable curveball. He’s a good athlete with foundational arm action, and should be jumping out of his sleeves to get pitching again this spring. He’s likely to start the year in extended spring training, and may not leave Peoria all season, but once he’s rolling he could move quickly through the lower minors with command of his top two offerings. 35. Damon Casetta-Stubbs, RHP Casetta-Stubbs, 21, was the club’s 11th-round pick in 2018 out of Vancouver, Wash., and has flashed four pitches and maturity in his 26 professional appearances. He’s touched the mid-90s with his fastball, but as a pro he’s been more 88-92 mph. He has two breaking balls, both of which may be big-league pitches. The slider is the better of the two right now, and the changeup should develop over time thanks to consistent arm speed and deception. DC-S, all 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds of him, remains a project and is future role is up in the air, but the physicality and projectable velocity suggest a strong chance of a valuable arm. 34. Kaden Polcovich, 2B Polcovich was overdrafted in Round 3 last June, but he’ll do a lot of things that could push him through the minors fairly quickly. First off, his only flaring weakness is power at the plate; he’ll make contact, draw some walks, he runs well and can play at least two infield positions — second base, third base — and should be able to handle at least left field, if not center if given the chance. He will reach the gaps, so don’t let his 5-foot-10, 185-pound frame fool you … well, not too much, anyway, since most scouts tell me he’s more like 5-8. But he performed in his short time at Oklahoma State and the plate skills are legitimate. 33. Aaron Fletcher, LHP Fletcher came over with Taylor Guilbeau in the deal with the Washington Nationals in July of 2019. He’s up to 96 mph when he’s right and the funk in his delivery offers deception, thanks to an aggressive from leg, a tucked front shoulder and a long slingshot-style arm path behind it all. His slider is below average, though it plays up some as a sweeper versus lefties, but it lacks depth. He’s flashed a fringe-average changeup that may be key for his chances versus right-handed batters. Fletcher is purely a reliever and made his debut last season, walking seven and striking out seven in 4.1 innings of work, showing off his profile in one simple line. If he throws strikes, he has a chance to stick this season and be a difficult at-bat, ala Tony Sipp. 32. Alberto Rodriguez, OF Rodriguez is a difficult profile, since he comes to Seattle with corner-outfield defense and an up-the-middle bat. He’s just 5-foot-11 and 186 pounds, but has a compact swing and has made a lot of loud contact in the DSL and Gulf Coast League. He should continue to show consistent contact rates, but the Mariners could view Rodriguez as a real candidate for some swing adjustments and a little more power, as scouts do like his quick wrists and ability to cover the strike zone. He’s just an average runner with a 50-55 arm, so left field seems about right, but even without much power there’s a chance the bat value grows through on-base skills and a high average. 31. Carter Bins, C Bins’ swing was a mess most or all his college career with aggressive rotation and too many parts, but he knows the strike zone and uses a lot of the field. Seattle made progress in Year 1 with the swing and he smacked seven home runs in 49 games in Everett just weeks after signing. His bat speed is fringey, but he’s worked to shorten it with good results. Bins has some defensive chops, and looked better late in the year in terms of getting his glove down and using his feet for lateral range. He has terrific arm strength, but his accuracy was inconsistent at UNLV and his first stint in pro ball. Bins profiles as a backup led by above-average raw power and the ability to draw walks.
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. More Rankings: Nos. 6-10 | Nos. 11-15 | Nos. 16-20 | Nos. 21-30 | Nos. 31-50 | No. 5 | No. 4 | No. 3 | No. 2 Get FULL Scouting Reports, Tools Grades, Pitch Types & Velocities, ETAs, Comps and Scouting Scale Analysis by Subscribing to the Baseball Things Podcast for less than $1 an episode right here. 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. More Rankings: Nos. 6-10 | Nos. 11-15 | Nos. 16-20 | Nos. 21-30 | Nos. 31-50 | No. 5 | No. 4 | No. 3 Get FULL Scouting Reports, Tools Grades, Pitch Types & Velocities, ETAs, Comps and Scouting Scale Analysis by Subscribing to the Baseball Things Podcast for less than $1 an episode right here. 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
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 Get FULL Scouting Reports, Tools Grades, Pitch Types & Velocities, ETAs, Comps and Scouting Scale Analysis by Subscribing to the Baseball Things Podcast for less than $1 an episode right here. 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.
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 Get FULL Scouting Reports, Tools Grades, Pitch Types & Velocities, ETAs, Comps and Scouting Scale Analysis by Subscribing to the Baseball Things Podcast for less than $1 an episode right here. 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.
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 Get FULL Scouting Reports, Tools Grades, Pitch Types & Velocities, ETAs, Comps and Scouting Scale Analysis by Subscribing to the Baseball Things Podcast for less than $1 an episode right here. 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.
This 2020 Prospect Rankings will be released in February. Here’s what the coverage will look like, when it will be available, and how to get it. What Top 50 Rankings Full Scouting reports Strengths & Weaknesses 2020 Outlook Overall Projection Tools Grades Pitch Arsenals Pitch Velocities Future Value Probability Assessment Scouting Scale Primer Projected 2020 Assignments Top 50 Demographics: By Position, Acquisition Path When The full guide via PDF will be available to Baseball Things subscribers February 3. Forever subscribers can request their copy on this date by sending a blank email to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’re not yet a subscriber to the Baseball Things podcast, click here and gain access to all full-length episodes and the 2020 Prospect Rankings Guide. Simple rankings of the entire Top 50 will be posted here at Prospect Insider via the following schedule: *Note: The basic report is a short synopsis and does not includes tools grades, comps, ETAs, et al. February 5: Nos. 50-21 (ranking only)February 6: Nos. 20-16 (ranking only)February 7: Nos. 15-11 (ranking only)February 10: No. 10 (includes basic report)February 11: No. 9 (includes basic report)February 12: No. 8 (includes basic report)February 13: No. 7 (includes basic report)February 14: No. 6 (includes basic report)February 17: No. 5 (includes basic report)February 18: No. 4 (includes basic report)February 19: No. 3 (includes basic report)February 20: No. 2 (includes basic report)February 21: No. 1 (includes basic report)
(Photo of Cal Raleigh by Mark Wagner/Travs) For this Prospect Rankings Update, here are a couple of notes: For many of the rankings, there isn’t much difference between players ranked 5-10 spots apart, sometimes more. So if you see a player at 13 you expected to be at 8, or a player at 23 seems to be underranked, maybe the only difference there is microscopic. Like always, I prefer upside to high probability, so if the risk factor is within two points (2-8 scale) I’m taking the upside play every time. Positions matter. Catchers and shortstops are inherently more valuable than first basemen and left fielders. Handedness matters, albeit a lot less than positions and other factors. If all else is equal, a lefty usually gets the nod. Arms with a chance to be a No. 3 or better starter will always rank higher than a pure reliever, based on value and how difficult it is to find them. This goes back to the ‘positions matter’ note. I included all signed draft picks from the 2019 class in the consideration phase Michael Limoncelli has Top 25 upside but until he’s further along in his recovery or pitches in a game, he’ll be left out of rankings. Same goes for Levi Stoudt. The movement you’ll see below is based on .performance, scouting reports, injuries, and timelines; if a 24-year-old was ranked No. 33 in April but isn’t ranked now it could be for many reasons, including the draft depth pushing the player out or the player simply not performing enough to keep him in. Some players have a shorter shelf-life because they have less time to make enough progress, which is why you see a lot of players 22-24 years of age in West Virginia or Modesto drop off quickly if they get hurt or don’t perform enough. Click HERE for the scouting scale in real life, updated for the current MLB environment, flush with what the grades looks like in MLB terms. For example: How many home runs in the majors results from 60-grade power? These rankings are not about the players most likely to make it to the majors. They’re also not a ranking of the players with the most upside. Since someone will ask, understandably so, I asked six in the industry about where the Mariners’ system ranks right now. The highest: 8-10. The lowest: 15. Seriously, click HERE first. RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL 1 Jarred Kelenic OF 20 AA Kelenic has weathered a slump and now is looking like the star he appeared to be the first two full months of the season. The hit tool continues to improve as he’s challenged by better pitching, he’s still hitting for enough power, despite having just turned 20 and facing California League arms, and there are no weaknesses showing. Kelenic is on pace to start 2020 in Double-A Arkansas with a big-league ETA of somewhere between late 2020 (highly optimistic, yet not out of the question) and early 2022 (in a case of unforeseen stagnation in development or an injury setback). RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL 2 Logan Gilbert RHS 22 AA Gilbert has been challenged a bit in the Texas League but he’s shown he’s up for it. He’s responded with a better pitch mix, throwing a few more changeups, blending both curveball and slider into the arsenal and showing more consistent 93-94 mph velocity than he was earlier in the year. I still think there’s a chance Gilbert ends up living 93-96 with three offspeed pitches and that’s why for me he’s the best pitching prospect in the organization and it’s not remotely close. Gilbert is closer to Kelenic than he is No. 3. RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL 3 Julio Rodriguez OF 18 A Rodriguez, who won’t be 19 until after the season and has shown tremendous Kelenic-like maturity and development in such a short time in pro ball, and an even shorter time in the states. It’s 60 or better raw power and signs of a 50 or better hit tool. He’s likely a corner outfielder with a 55-60 arm, instincts and average speed, but his footspeed doesn’t tell the tale of his athleticism. I see a lot of Moises Alou here and another comp that fits is current Mariners right fielder Mitch Haniger. RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL 4 Justin Dunn RHS 23 AA Dunn is within a year or two of a crossroads, but he’s performed well, throwing strikes consistently, showcasing an improved slider — more late bite and some added tilt in some starts — and bouncing back from tough innings or outings. The crossroads is, at 23 and headed for Triple-A/MLB, the club will have to decide on Dunn’s role. In order to start long-term, he’ll need to show significant improvement with the changeup and fastball command to left-handed batters. But there’s no reason to make that decision now or anytime before this time next year, really. RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL 5 Justus Sheffield LHS 23 AA Sheffield has been consistently good in Double-A Arkansas and his next stop is Seattle — not Tacoma. He’s sitting 90-93 mph with the fastball, but in two of his last three starts it’s been more 92-94 — fewer 90-91, more 92, 93, and even a few 94. Could be random, could be a good sign. The slider has been better the last handful of starts, too, and he’s throwing more changeups as a result of the control and command being better — he’s in more changeup counts, and executing the pitch better. Without a full return of velocity — he was 92-94, touching 95-97 some starts a year ago — Sheff likely falls short of a No. 2 projection, but still fits nicely in the middle of the rotation. But development never stops in baseball these days, suggesting there’s a chance he gets back some or all of the veloc he teased us with last season in the Yankees org. RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL 6 George Kirby RHS 21 SS-A Kirby has a chance to move as quickly as Gilbert, or close to it, based on a combo of command, control, fastball value and consistency in the secondary stuff, although Gilbert entered 2019 with a more polished arsenal after the fastball. Kirby is a very good athlete, which bodes well for continued success repeating his delivery and supplies a high floor of a No. 4 starter for the 2019 first-round pick. I can’t express enough how much I love the way Kirby uses placement on the pitching slab and his arm slot to create angles with his fastball and breaking ball, and his delivery is of the low-to-medium effort variety, suggesting many positive possibilities moving forward, including more consistent velocity in the mid-90s. I saw him live 92-93 mph and easily reach back for 96 in a start at Tri-City in July and again in Vancouver in his next outing. Kirby could reach No. 2 starter status, and the Mariners got him on the cheap. I considered swapping out Kirby for Sheffield. RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL 7 Cal Raleigh C 22 AA Raleigh again moved up a few spots here, and he did so because he showed there was a very short transition to Double-A pitching the past three-plus weeks. He’s making contact after a slow first 10 games, and now the power is showing up, too. While he’s never likely to be a plus defender, he does have some defensive tools that project in that direction, including throwing/controlling the running game and receiving. In the end he could grade out as average or even better behind the plate, though his bat is likely to get him to the majors before his defense catches up, which is the opposite of how backstops generally develop into major leaguers. I considered Raleigh at No. 6, in case you’re wondering. RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL 8 Kyle Lewis OF 24 AA Lewis has shown a better hit tool the past six or seven weeks and the power is showing up a bit more, too. The ceiling here still is too high to place him below significantly higher risk prospects or those with a ceiling well below that of the former first-round pick out of Mercer. If one looks close enough, Lewis’ season production isn’t that far off Evan White’s, since Lewis has a 25-point advantage in on-base percentage, and the scouting report still favors Lewis due to positional value and raw power. Lewis does have a shorter shelf life in this spot since he’s a year older and hasn’t shown the game power that profiles well in a corner outfield spot, which is likely where he ultimately lands in the majors. RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL 9 Noelvi Marte SS 17 R Marte isn’t Julio Rodriguez — they are different players with different strengths and weaknesses and play different positions. But Marte may be on a similar path as Rodriguez as he performs well in the Dominican Summer League. He’s recovered from two or three mini slumps already, is showing power, some plate skills and some noticeable improvement defensively, which may be the biggest question on Marte’s future The physical tools are there to stick at shortstop; lateral range, instincts, arm strength. But the consistency in footwork in terms of getting himself in a position to make a quick, accurate throw is a work-in-progress (better the last four weeks, I’m told), and he’s shown the occasional rush job in fielding cleanly to transfer. The good news here is he’s 17, has gotten better this summer, and has allt he tools to move to second, third or center if the Mariners decide shortstop isn’t his future. He’s a 70 runner with good baserunning skills (base stealing, too) and has a good feel for the barrel at the plate, suggesting at last average power. He’s years away, of course, but there’s a very good chance we see him in the states next season. Whether that’s a full-season assignment like Rodriguez earned or a short-season gig next June after more time in extended, we’ll have to wait and see. RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL 10 Jake Fraley CF 24 AAA I like Fraley a lot and believe more than most he has a chance to be an everyday player. That everyday profile will have to be led by defense, baserunning and the hit tool, however, because despite a large tick in the right direction with the power production, there’s probably not a ton of room left there. But he can play center — and he’s good enough to start there, and if he ends getting that nod, the bat should play regularly if he evens things out some versus left-handed pitching — and could bring a Shane Victorino-level value to the Mariners if things work out in his favor in some areas. I’ve also heard David DeJesus, Darrin Erstad, Trot Nixon and Randy Winn. All of which started a lot of games in the majors. But there is certainly a chance he’s merely a good extra outfielder on a contending team. If Fraley was 21 or 22 and in Double-A, we could dream a little more ceiling here. But he’ll be 25 next May, suggesting the clock is ticking on the upside. RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL 11 Isaiah Campbell RHS 21 NA Campbell slides up without pitching based on nothing he’s done or not done. But to sum it upm he’s a power arm with a chance to start and a floor as a legit three-pitch high-leverage reliever. He’s constantly into the mid-90s as a starter, has three secondaries and has the physical tools to hold up in a starting role. Command will likely dictate, but he’s going to start for a while once he gets his pro career under way next spring. I expect Campbell, provided he’s fully healthy coming out of spring training, to join Kirby, among others, in the West Virginia Power rotation in April. RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL 12 Evan White 1B 23 AA White’s consistent hit tool has answered some questions this season. Still remaining, however, are the real question about power — questions I wouldn’t be concerned about all that much if White were a middle infielder or at least playing the corner outfield spots. He’s probably the best defensive first basemen in the minors and among the Top 4-6 in all of baseball, but the value of an elite defensive first baseman does not match that of elite defenders at… any other position. There are so outs generated in baseball right now that are not ground balls, meaning first basemen isn’t as involved as the position once was, not to mention the impact of shifts. White currently projects an average to above average hit tool, which suggests reaching a .280/.350 double-slash is a legit possibility. What’s not apparent is a .320/.400 line that would better support what appears to be average to slightly above-average power. Citing a .280/.350/.450 triple-slash, which could very well be the upside here offensively, merely puts White in the average range. And that’s the upside. The average qualified MLB first baseman in 2019 is posting a .266/.353/.477 line as of July 13. In the end, White has to hit for power to be more than an average first baseman. Average first basemen are not nearly as difficult or expensibe to acquire as the same at any other position in baseball. But that’s not to say White’s profile is not valuable, nor good enough to warrant being the Mariners’ first baseman of the future, because it is and it does. And White has proven adept at adjustments that help his swing. Physically, the tools are there for 25-homer power. If he gets there, it’s a different conversation. Let’s talk then, but in the meantime, White received consideration as high as No. 9 and as low as No. 13. RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL 13 Brandon Williamson LHS 21 SS-A Williamson remains a bigger upside play than either Kirby or Campbell, as well as Dunn or Sheffield. There’s more risk here, too, because there’s spotty command and inconsistent secondary stuff, but the lefty has shown more than flashes of above-average stuff in Everett, including mid-90s (been mostly 92-93) heat and a power slider. Both have been swing-and-miss pitches this summer. I’d label Williamson as a potential No. 2 with significantly more risk on that than the arms ahead of him, but he, too, comes with a relatively high floor as a power reliever that could sit 95-plus in shorter stints. RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL 14 Shed Long 2B 23 AAA Long is on the IL with a finger injury but he’s shown me he’s about average at second base and good enough at third and in left field to be used in a multi-position role for a good team. In the near future, a healthy Long should be playing regularly at second base in the big leagues where we’ll eventually see a little more power, as his Triple-A .466 slugging percentage suggests. Long’s hold at this spot is likely short-lived, however, since he’ll either graduate or lose traction if he hasn’t performed enough to stick in the majors at this point next summer. RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL 15 Austin Shenton 3B 21 A I’m still not entirely sold on Shenton’s glove at third or the hit tool — but I buy the long-term power and my grip on the hit tool question is getting a little loose. He’s done nothing but hit and show evident plate skills since signing, even since being promoted to West Virginia, where he’s started to show more of the plus raw power. If Shenton proves he’s a third baseman, he might be a top-10 prospect. He still might be if he’s moved to right field and shows he can be average there. If he has to move to first it’s going to put a lot of pressure on the bat to shoot up this list further than he already has. I liken Shenton to Mike Moustakas, whose glove at third was questioned basically his entire minor and major league career but he ultimately showed he was just good enough to stick, and built on that until he was about average. The bat played, of course, and now he’s shown such strong instincts in the field and such reliable hands, the Brewers have used him at second base. Shenton fits this mold, too. RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL 16 Sam Carlson RHS 20 NA We’ve recently learned Carlson will not face live hitters this summer but all else is well in his recovery. When he’s healthy, Carlson throws a heavy, sinking fastball up to 96 mph, setting up a quality changeup that projects as plus and a promising breaking ball. There’s physical projection, left, too, and there have been some loose comps to Tyson Ross, Carlos Carrasco and Rick Porcello. Carlson has a shot to perform his way back into the Top 10 next summer. Perhaps beyond. RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL 17 Braden Bishop CF 25 MLB Bishop falls a bit more here, for two reasons. He’s 25 and running out of valuable development time, and he’s still hurt. That doesn’t mean can’t prove he can hit major league pitching, he just may not get as long a look as he otherwise would have if he weren’t on the IL thanks to the presence of other young players that could profile in center, too, such as Fraley. Bishop gets to the barrel very well, has come a long way, and despite a bit of an advanced age for a prospect, is likely to keep getting better. He’s found what works for him as a hitter, has proven he’ll seek out answers and that he has the ability to put them to work in games. I don’t see a star or anything here, but scouts that stick their nose up at any chance Bishop is more than a fourth or fifth outfielder get the lazy tag for me. There’s more to a player and his chances to succeed and get better than what’s shown in live games. RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL 18 Damon Casetta-Stubbs RHS 19 SS-A If you told me Casetta-Stubbs’ season has been of mixed results, I’d call hogwash. He’s 19, has fought admirably through some struggles, but keeps competing, coming back from off outings with good performances and has earned his spot here at No. 18. Scouts see some Tanner Roark, Kyle Gibson, Chris Tillman similarities, though DC-S already boast a firmer fastball than Tillman displayed the majority of his career, but it’s a strong comp nonetheless because Tillman was living in the low-90s early in his career. Still a bit of a project, but I can’t wait to see what Casetta-Stubbs does in his second full season. RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL 19 Juan Then RHS 19 SS-A Then is a fastball (91-94 mph), curveball, changeup right-hander with average present control and command. His changeup is ahead of the curveball but the latter pitch has bigger long-term promise thanks to depth and consistent spin. He’s a full step better now than he was when Seattle traded him. In case you were wondering. I’d be higher on Then, but I don’t love the delivery; there’s little projection in it and the fastball tends to flatten. It’s an easy ask and difficult to execute, of course, but adding a cutter or two-seamer could be ideal, at least in theory. RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL 20 Ricardo Sanchez LHS 22 AA Sanchez lacks frontline upside but comes with probability on a No. 4 starter profile. He reminds some of the Marco Gonzales mold, and that’s fair, but Sanchez has shown more velocity as a starter — up to 94 mph — and in side work has touched 96. RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL 21 Aaron Fletcher LHR 23 AA Fletcher is a fastball, slider reliever with a rock-and-fire delivery similar to that of former Mariners southpaw James Paxton. Fletcher, though, tucks his front shoulder and uses more effort. Acquired with No. 24 in the trade with the Nationals on Deadline Day (Roenis Elias, Hunter Strickland), the Houston Cougars product sits 92-96 with life all over the zone. The slider is about average. He gets on the side of it sometimes and it flattens and it lacks depth. He will sweep it a bit versus lefties, but there’s little bite to it — it’s really more of a cutter right now. Fletcher ranks higher than Guilbeau right now for me because I see a chance he can start. I don’t have any idea whether or not Seattle sees that or is considering it, but in comparison with his fellow former Nationals teammate, Fletcher gets that nod. As pure relievers, Guilbeau is better now and projects better in the majors because he has a second big-league pitch at present. Not sure Fletcher has that. RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL 22 Danny Chang LHS 19 R Chang is a fastball, curveball, changeup lefty with tons of projection left on a 6-foot-3, 180-pound frame. He’s mostly upper-80s but it’s easy velocity making it just as easy to project at least a low-90s fastball down the line. The curveball has depth and the changeup is his second-best pitch at present. RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL 23 Ljay Newsome RHS 22 AA Newsome projects as a back-end starter with a classic profile of a command-and-feel talent. The velocity spiked early in the year but he’s mostly 87-90 mph now and the secondaries haven’t been consistent. While there’s no physical projection here of which to speak, if there’s another tick of velocity in there we might be able to bump him from a future No. 5, and Newsome did make velocity progress between last season and 2019. RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL 24 Taylor Guilbeau LHR 26 AA Guilbeau might rank higher here if he weren’t 26, but I didn’t penalize him much for it since he’s a pure reliever and likely falls entirely off this list due to graduation and exhaustion of eligibiluty or a failure to do so over the next year or so. Scouts told me on Deadline Day he was 92-95, touching 96, with a slider. But what I saw in Tacoma was 94-96, touching 97 with an above-average changeup that induced swings and misses thanks to sink and fade. So yes, for now, Guilbeau is the highest-ranked pure reliever in the system. He’s basically a lefty version of Jake Haberer, but he throws more strikes and is closer to the majors. RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL 25 Dom Thompson-Williams OF 23 AA Thompson-Williams has the physical tools of a Michael Brantley but his swing leaves his raw power packed away because it’s about the middle of the field and the opposite field. DT-W can handle center field but projects better in left field. Matt Lawton? RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL 26 Juan Querecuto SS 18 R He’s a good athlete with raw tools and after an injury sidelined him for the first half of the short season, he’s back. He hasn’t hit much, but shows strikezone judgment and should be able to handle shortstop long-term. The bat was always going to be the question, and it still is. RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL 27 Jake Haberer RHR 24 AA It’s easy velo up to 98 mph with a power reliever’s delivery and breaking ball. Most upside among pure relievers in the system. Haberer has experienced spotty control and command or he’d be in the big leagues right now. While it’s not as extreme a situation, he’s a bit like Dan Altavilla; great raw stuff, command and control holding him back. But that’s common for power relievers. RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL 28 Carter Bins C 21 SS-A Defensively Bins projects very well and there’s power and pateince in the bat, but not quite enough consistent contact early in his pro career. From what Is aw in about 10-12 plate appearances, the swing needs a rehaul. Maybe a complete rehaul. RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL 29 Raymond Kerr LHR 24 A+ Kerr has touched 100 mph and sits 93-97 with easy effort. The breaking balls flashes above-average and he only gets into trouble when he loses fastball command or the breaking ball flattens, which is happening far less now than it was as a starter. Kerr also has a changeup in his arsenal, is a terrific athlete and has put in a lot of work to get better in a very short period of time. RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL 30 Jorge Benitez LHS 20 SS-A Benitez pitches aggressively and if he can add a tick or two of velo he has the pitchability to fall into a back-end starter role. RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL 31 Joey Gerber RHR 22 AA Gerber hides the ball well, is up to 96 mph with life up in the zone from a slightly lower than 3/4 slot. His 82-86 mph slider flashes plus, but he sets it up well by moving the fastball all over the zone to get ahead. He’s faced some challenges in the Texas League and has been good in general, but a few too many walks. It’s a small sample, but he also walked 19 in 38.1 innings at Modesto and is something he’ll have to clean up to be a big-league option. RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL 32 Brayan Perez LHS 18 R Perez has been as advertised, which is to say he’s been 89-91 mph with command of a breaking ball and signs of a solid-average changeup. Word is, he’s been up to 93 in side work, suggesting more velo could be in the offing long-term. We’ll wait, but it’s been a short season of mixed results and scouting reports. RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL 33 Sam Delaplane RHR 24 AA Delaplane typically throws a lot of strikes, using the upper zone and a tight curveball to keep hitters guessing — and swinging and missing. There’s no physical projection here, but he might be ready to serve in a middle relief role in the majors right now. RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL 34 Dutch Landis RHS 18 R Landis has the best present fastball of the club’s handful of prep arms selected in June’s draft. He’s been up to 94 mph and sits 89-92 with some life up in the zone. The curveball (73-76 mph) and changeup (79-82 mph) are a ways away, but time he has. RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL 35 George Feliz CF 16 NA The club’s top international signing ($900,000) has an advanced feel for the game and projects as an everyday centerfielder with an above-average hit tool. If the power comes, he’ll be fun. RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL 36 Wyatt Mills RHR 24 AA Mills creates deception with a low arm slot and the stuff plays up as a result. He’s found his release point of late and shown some dominance with the sinker-slider combo. He’s up to 95 mph and sits 91-93. RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL 37 Tim Lopes UT 24 MLB Lopes brings a 50 hit tool, 40 power, 50 shortstop glove, and 60 speed. He’ll make hustle plays and if he sustains high contact rates is a better UTM option than Dylan Moore — and might be even if he doesn’t. RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL 38 Jonatan Clase CF 17 R Multi-tooled athlete with compact swing, mature approach, some pop and plus speed. He just turned 17 in May. I considered Clase for the top 30, but since I haven’t laid eyes on him at all for context, I stuck with the tone relayed to me by a scout and an assistant trainer. FTR, there are a handful of Clase’s teammates, outside of Marte, that were considered for the Top 40 and likely show up here as early as this offseason, and certainly next spring and summer, including OF Arturo Guerrero, C Ortwin Pierternella, 2B/SS Asdrubal Bueno, Milkar Perez, C Jose Caguana, RHP Wilton Perez (!!) and LHP Jose Aquino. RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL 39 Tyler Driver RHS 18 R Driver has a kitchen sink full of pitches, including a solid-average slider and two fastballs. There’s physical projection there on a 6-foot-2, 185-pound frame and an org belief he possesses the makeup to max out his natural abilities. Sounds to me like Driver is not interest in failing, either. RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL 40 Josias De Los Santos RHS 20 R De Los Santos has pitchability, some physical projection from a 6-foot-2, 175-pound frame and an above-average breaking ball. De Los Santos will touch 93 mph and pitch comfortably at 90-92. He has a slider (81-84 mph) and 85-87 mph changeup. He can throw all three for strikes, gets some armside run on the fastball and has good armspeed on the change, though it lacks sink and fade at present. The slider is fringe-average now, but can be a problem for De Los Santos’ frame may not carry a lot more weight and scouts don’t love the delivery, but he has as much helium as any arm not already in the Top 15 and is not a name you should forget. I won’t let you, anyway. Next Group I could list just about every decently-performing or tooled up player here, but that’s not the point, so … Donnie Walton, SS — Walton makes contact with a line-drive stroke, has underated shortstop defense (at least by me initially) and is an above-average runner. There’s no true standout tool, however, and he’s 25 already, but there’s a useful skillset here. If Walton is back in the org next year — he has to be added to the 40-man roster or be exposed to the Rule 5 over the winter — I expect him to start the season in Triple-A Tacoma, making it feasible he sees time in the majors in 2020.Erik Swanson, RHP — Swanson has fallen pretty far since the start of the season after initially showing 92-96 mph velo and now sitting 90-93. The slider remains below-average and there are no signs of a third big-league pitch. His fastball hasn’t ticked up in velo or value in a relief role and he’s 26 in September. If the velocity is stuck in the low-90s, they should probably keep developing as a starter.Anthony Tomczak, RHP — Tomczak is up to 91 mph with sink and armside run to set up a mid-70s curveball and a hard changeup.Art Warren, RHR — Injuries and now age (26) are cutting into Warren’s chances to contribute. Fastball up to 99 mph. He returned June 8 after missing most of the first half and has been 93-97 with more strikes.Gerson Bautista, RHR — He throws hard and the slider is above average but the command is well below average… which is a problem.Connor Kopach, UT — Like the player but would like to see production in Double-A — he’s still in Advanced-A Modesto. 65 runner. Manages at SS, plus at 2B, has been playing left, right and occasionally center, too, but it’s a work in progress out there.Max Roberts, LHS — Has missed the entire 2019 season, but an intriguing project.Luis Liberato, CF — There are some tools here, and some performance, and if this list went to 50 he’d be in it, but it’s tough to buy the hit tool right now.Nolan Hoffman, RHR — Status is stagnant, but not a down trend.Joe Rizzo, 3B — Not enough power for any position he profiles for, not likely to fit at second base, left field.Matt Festa, RHR — Start him or there’s zero staying power.Darren McCaughan, RHS — 55 command and 60 control. Might be a No. 5/swingman or a strong three-inning relief option, but lacks the fastball value and swing-and-miss offpseed pitch to be more.J.T. Salter, RHR — When he throws strikes with 95 and the curveball, he’s nasty. Still working on control.Deivy Florido, RHS — Long-term prospect with command and feel. Fringey present stuff, but he’s 18 and competing well as he’s bounced between three leagues.Robert Perez, 1B — Another long-term prospect, but he’s without a position and hates breaking balls.Levi Stoudt, RHS — The club’s third-round pick was a slight overdraft and I see a relief profile from the get-go due to lack of projection and present stuff. He had Tommy John over the winter.Tim Elliott, RHS — This year’s fourth-round pick has average velocity a fringe slider and potential average changeup.Michael Limoncelli, LHP — 2019 sixth-round pick had Tommy John but brings some projection and has been up to 94 mph. He’ll rank once he shows the velo is back next spring.Blake Townsend, LHP — Projectable at 6-foot-4 and already showing velocity increases.Arturo Guerrero, RF — Solid athlete with plus raw power and arm strength, but showing improved hit tool.Yeury Tatiz, LHP — Projectable frame with promising secondaries and command. Was promoted from DSL to AZL this summer.Ortwin Pieternella, C — Good athlete, plus arm, power and advanced strikezone judgment.Nolan Perez, 3B — Plus bat speed and raw power, but an overaggressive approach may hold him back.Ty Adcock, RHR — 93-96 mph with life and a hard curveball.Wilton Perez, RHP — Projectable at 6-foot-3, 175 pounds with easy 85-88 mph velo. He turned 17 in March.Daniel Santos, C — Solid swing and plate skills, has the physical tools to stick behind the plate.Jake Anchia, C — 60 power, 55 arm strength, 35 but improving hit tool.Miguel Perez, CF — Good athlete with some leverage in the swing. It’s a plus glove and 55-60 speed, but he’s still learning to hit.Ryne Inman, RHP — 92-95 mph and a plus curveball suggest a relief role fits. Make the move, he’ll skate through Class-A. Strengths It’s been a little while since discussing Mariners farm system strengths was anything but a joke, but here we are. 1. Starting Pitching Gilbert is legit, Dunn and Sheffield have a good chance to be at least No. 3 or 4 starter, Kirby has probability and upside, while Williamson, Casetta-Stubbs, Chang, Campbell, Carlson, Driver, Limoncelli, Landis bring lots of upside, despite the fact most are projects. 2. Outfield Kelenic and Rodriguez may be destined to flank whoever ends up the centerfielder of the future for the Mariners and both have a chance to to be above-average players, perhaps all the way to all-star levels. Weaknesses 1. Catching This exists for most of the league, but beyond Raleigh there doesn’t appear to be a potential No. 1 backstop in the org. There are a few backups, however, and with improved player development a profile can change in short order, so there’s hope, even down here in the weaker areas. of the system. 2. Infielders This started off as ‘Middle Infielders’ but the club lacks impact and depth at the corners, too, with White and Shenton the lone corner infield prospects to rank in the top 15 and there are serious questions as to whether or not Shenton stays at third. Player Development No matter which side one falls on with regard to Jerry Dipoto and Andy McKay, it’s inarguable the Mariners player development staff is greatly improved and Dipoto and the scouting staff are finding fits for their organization’s strengths. This isn’t to say they’re setting the pace in Major League Baseball, but players are succeeding up and down the system and most of them were drafted and signed by the club, not acquired from another organization’s developmental system. I wouldn’t necessarily say the foundation now is set for Dipoto to start putting together a sustainable winner at the big league level, but it’s not far off, that is for certain. Top 40 Breakdown Arms: 25Bats: 15Starters: 17Relievers: 8IF: 6OF: 7C: 2LHP: 8RHP: 17LHB: 6RHB: 8SW: 1DRAFT: 19TRADE: 10INT: 8 FA: 32015: 12016: 22017: 102018: 162019: 11